I write this [Ed. No, The Freak writes this. Ed2. And The Natural.] as the sole fully literate diarist on the team that has a Test batting average unmoved since the Tour to India.
Yet I write this in a rehydrating mist of continuous celebration since Sunday. It is like pedalling through a Nantucket fog on a cycling tour – others are around you breathing hard, opening cans, stripping banana skins, talking, coughing, bumping; the sounds are distinct, but trapped in a complex space-time helix that would befuddle Schrodinger’s cat. I think it is now Monday evening.
The first thing I remember from this fog was singing the soprano notes for the new stanzas of Under the Southern Cross Sarah had written, suspended from the ceiling of the Player’s rooms at the SCG. It was windy and I was close to a big flag. I remember the corrugated roof of the Members stand needed some work.
The last thing I remember was Coach2.0 wrapping each of our playing shirts in brown paper for our counterparts in the English team, and grabbing a cold bottle to meet Andy F on the SCG pitch. The Prof had his binoculars on them the whole time. He lip read what he could.
“How are you?” Coach2.0 asked Andy,
“Bleeding gutted… and you”
“Having fun with victory”
“Do you think The Captain will get an OA?”
“Are you running for PM in 2016?”
Coach let that one through to the keeper “Only if you get a gong yourself Andy.”
The Prof said they didn’t piddle on the pitch.
It is dark outside and inside. I think I have been nodding. I must turn on the lights. I do. The phone rings. It is The Prof. He says he can’t talk long. He is in the bar with Hollywood, Trapper, and Puff. You can hear them in the background talking up the South African tour. He rattled off the long list of festivities for the evening.
“Have you opened the shoe box yet?”
“Ah. No”, I replied
He told me where to meet him and hung up.
I opened the battered shoe box on the dining table. It contained a cheap pre-paid phone, and assorted one-liners and half-completed thoughts The Prof [Ed. And I. Me also.] had scribbled, presumably for posterity, during the evening for they had no other obvious use. His friendly missives were etched on all sorts of paraphernalia: coasters, napkins, toilet paper, the preface of a book (I have part of the preface; the book is elsewhere), a piece of cloth cut from the brim of an English cap, another piece joined to what looks like waist elastic (it has a curry odour) and the inside of a dented box, which I bagged immediately, with the attached flies, for forensic analysis.
Some notes were written in Greek (play up, play up and play the game); others in an unknown Walloon dialect (winners are grinners). I think he tried his hand at writing hieroglyphics across someone’s buttocks – Sarah mentioned she had done something outrageous. I recognised my lost sharpie in the accompanying video he had on his phone very quickly when I zoomed in on the moon theme.
He wrote on wet towels, on the inside of lockers, on a ceiling somewhere [Ed. Players rooms, SCG 10.15pm Sunday. Don’t you remember?], anywhere he could fit a line, including along each of The Captain’s Seven Spartan blades with a portable blow torch, along the match stumps and around the match balls. I understand Coach2.0 supplied a list of other ‘opportunities’.
It was only later that I understood that he had signed them all “the 17th Man”.
The Prof is a big thinker. His phone captured most of the chronology of Sunday night. The first entry was of the front facade of the 3rd floor of the Reserve Bank Building in Martin Place which sported a neat pink quote on it “the fierce dreams of sheep”, time stamped 2.17am Monday morning. Other random statements were spray painted across bus lanes down George Street about Victory (2.54am), drop-in pitches (3.06am) and broken bats (3.54am), Jimmy “age shall not weary him more than the years condemn” (4.15am), Swanny “unsighted not unbowed” 4.32am), and KP “heated steam left overnight. Henri Pascal” (4.47am). There were even some on the Stock Exchange Building in Bridge Street “rivers always flow towards the sea” (10.17), “free English cricket” (10.20), and “I have been Boofed” (11.30am Monday). There is a blurred photo of me posing next to each location, sometimes propped up between Tatts and The Freak; at other times holding up a shaky teammate.
Some of these, including the last three, appeared to be copycat crimes. The Police said ‘my art’ became criminal when the thread to Ashes victory became too obscure and crowds began to disrupt morning traffic. No one believed my denials of authorship, not even the graffiti experts at police headquarters, even after they found 6 points of similarity with The Captain’s signature. The fact was they discovered 3 cans of spray paint in my locker, a portable tattoo machine, and 7 punnets of blueberries.
I spent some time in a holding cell earlier today with a drunken criminal barrister from England, while Sarah organised for my release, conditional on destroying photographic evidence of her buttocks anagram which she had discovered in the mirror. I promised I would try. I showed it to the barrister, who gave me his card. It said he was a CAN banker. Oh, sweet joy.
On the way out I explained to Sarah “An anagram is like a symmetrical pair of buttocks. Readable from both ends. Unfortunately yours is also a pink tattoo.” She winced.
Not even Schrodinger’s cat can begin to explain comprehensive victory?