A man’s life is a long time waiting

“I could be wasting my time so much more productively”

20:30. If you added up all the moments spent by men waiting for their better halves, it should roughly equate to the same amount of time it has taken for humans to decode DNA. It’s a very, very long time, just waiting and waiting and waiting.

I am here, sitting on my sofa, waiting for her to get ready. We’re only going down the road for a pint, but at 20.30 on a Saturday, I’m definitely ready to have several. Yet despite three precursory warnings of “So then. Shall we?” and “Let’s go?” and “Do you want a drink?”, I’m still waiting, stuck in a warp of existential anxiety; really keen for a drink, but knowing that I probably don’t have enough time to get twatted without really going for it. Waiting so long, in fact, that I decided I may as well write about it.

I was taken back to when I lived with my best mate. Then, we would make split-second decisions. “Pint?” This question was followed by what seemed an eternity for both the proposer and the recipient. It probably amounted to no more than five seconds, yet such is the questioner’s urgency – and his mate, so aware of how crucial his answer has now become – that those five seconds feel almost as long as the 45 minutes I have spent waiting this evening. But, decision made – “yeah, quick one” – we’d be inside the pub and a third of the way down our first pint in under 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, we’d be setting yet another gut-wrenching ultimatum. “‘nother one?” Another five-second chasm before the inevitable “well, one more won’t hurt, will it?” Once the third pint has disappeared, there’s no point asking or answering any more questions. The drinks will keep coming and you’ll keep watching them slip down your throat.

It’s those snap decisions you realise men and women, both, cannot make together. Well, we can. They can’t. And I will never understand why!

20.42. Still waiting.

The Beer Lover’s Guide to Cricket

Yes, it’s true. It exists! It’s about proper beer and proper cricket and it’s all in one pint-sized hardback piece of goodness.

The Beer Lover's Guide to Cricket

There are many books about cricket and many on beer, but this is the first book to bring the two subjects together. Leading beer writer and cricket enthusiast Roger Protz has visited the major grounds of all the First Class counties to prepare in-depth profiles of them – their history, museums, memorabilia and notable records. Many of the museums, including Lord’s, Trent Bridge, Taunton and Old Trafford help trace the history of the game with fascinating collections of ancient bats, balls, blazers, books, caps and trophies. “The Beer Lover’s Guide to Cricket” also details some of the great cricket victories, including Jim Laker’s 19 wickets in a Test; Botham’s remarkable feat at Headingley in snatching victory from the jaws of defeat against the Australians and the pulsating 2005 Ashes series. The pleasure of each visit is rounded off with a detailed description of the best pubs in the vicinities of the grounds and the real ales they sell. The book also traces the fascinating story of the birth of the modern game at the Broadhalfpenny ground in Hampshire opposite a pub, the Bat & Ball, and shows how the tradition of good beer and cricket is kept alive at many grounds.

Get this immediately.

Trinis deny Gestapo-like rules at World Cup

If there’s one aspect of modern life I cannot stand, it’s the nanny state. I’ve ranted about it before but, on the eve of the World Cup, nanny is back: and she wants more.

This is probably less about a nanny state, more corporate greed. Plastic bottles, tins and alcoholic drinks are all banned at every match venue in the Caribbean (some claim this is for health and safety reasons; others have their doubts). Consequently, the prices inside the grounds are exorbitant as Michelle McDonald discovered.

I scanned the concession stands for meals and prices. I was on the hunt for two fish meals. One stand was selling steamed fish which would have been ideal. Price? J$800 each. Normally, such a meal would cost approximately J$350 maximum, sometimes less. I continued my search, scanning price lists as I went along.

The bottle of water, thrown into a Pepsi cup, was indeed J$150. A Red Stripe Beer was $200. A beer drinker said he would normally have paid J$150 – J$160. I saw a friend with Tropicana Fruit drinks, lamenting the high J$180 price tag. What would have been a normal price, I asked. “J$80!” she exclaimed.

With some creative combining, for my J$1,000, I managed to get a Tofu meal, a small Tofu wrap, a small cup of spilt peas soup and one bottle of water. We would have to share the water.

Quite remarkable, and it’s happening all over the world. I’m sure it isn’t limited just to cricket, either. But the West Indians aren’t going to be all British about it (moan, complain, stiffen the upper lip and “get on with it” [1]). They’re fighting it:

When fans got into the venue and realised that all the food and drink prices, nuts and doubles included, were in US dollars, that was another story.

By yesterday’s match between Pakistan and South Africa, we Trinis found the way to beat the rules. It was no longer rum, beer, water, juice and soft drinks in bottles and cans, but zip-lock bags.

At the end of yesterday’s games, some people were boasting how many bags of beer they drank and others how many bags of rum they had guzzled. A couple of people also hid small plastic bottles of water and less sobering drinks in between their sandwiches and lunch boxes and were able to sneak pass the security checks.

Rock on, Trinis! That zip-lock-bag trick is one to remember.

To what extent these Gestapo-like rules (copyright M Atherton) will affect the traditional Caribbean atmosphere normally associated at grounds in the West Indies, we’ll find out soon. It’s dispiriting though. The region’s addiction with cricket has waned in the past decade and, although this World Cup should aid the sport’s resurgence, the public should just be allowed to have some fun – rum, beer, water, picnics or whatever they wish.

[1] Reminds me of a joke Eddie Izzard once told. Wondering why the British Empire collapsed, he suggested it was the Englishman’s tendency to say “Oh, really?” and “Jolly good!”)

Rip-off cricket

Reader ‘Glamorous Organ’ has a moan.

Watching Test cricket, or just about any other sport is no longer a pursuit for the working man. Even at the “liberal” enclave of Lords fussy stewarding depresses the spirits. A friend who went to the Oval last summer was so hacked off with the rip-off prices for crap beer and greasy burgers, he’s sworn never to go again.

He’s not the only unhappy camper. During today’s play, BBC legend Jonathan Agnew told how he has to drink decaffeinated coffee (I’d lose the will to live without real coffee, but I digress) and since it wasn’t supplied at the media centre at The Oval, he brought his own. But the Oval stewards confiscated it off him.

Now if Aggers can’t escape the rip off mentality that has enveloped the world’s cricket grounds, what hope is there for the rest of us?

He also said that £5 bottles of wine were going for around £35 at The Oval. That’s nice if you can get it.

At Brisbane, a half-pint is going for $5.50, so about £2. So work out how much a day at the cricket is going to cost you given your own drinking habits. Even if you are a more sober sort of individual, don’t expect water or soft-drinks to be much cheaper.

Anyway, consider this to be an open forum for readers to list their favourite gripes about rip-offs at the cricket.

Corporate monsters couldn’t give a Fourex

Couldn't give a fourex
Australia’s chief selector, scourge of Poms and all-round good guy Allan Border has been forced to resign his post as chairman of selectors because of a ‘conflict of interest’ involving beer sponsorship. I am not making this up.

The former Test captain recently fronted advertisements for XXXX Gold, owned by Lion Nathan, which is sponsoring beach cricket this summer in Sydney, the Gold Coast and Perth. Border will represent Australia in the tournament, alongside greats such as Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson and Dean Jones.

That, however, does not impress Foster’s, a major sponsor of cricket. It recently announced a new deal with Cricket Australia, in which it would no longer be the naming rights sponsor of the triangular one-day series, but increase its commercial involvement at grassroots level.

Geoff Donohue, corporate affairs spokesman for Foster’s, said the XXXX campaign involving Border was little more than ambush marketing.

“We think ambush marketing is fairly un-Australian,” he said. “I will leave you to decide whether what they are doing with their current advertising campaigns is ambush marketing.

“I guess Allan has [resigned as a national selector] in pursuit of his own commercial interests. But we are thrilled with our association with Cricket Australia and the Australian cricket team, and we’re more than happy with the access we have to the current players.”

If you are that thrilled to be associated with Cricket Australia, then I’m sure you won’t be that miffed with Allan Border continuing his association with the XXXX brand that has been ongoing for the past twenty years.

Fosters: couldn’t give a fourex about, well, anyone.

Escape in the city

Now then, why have I not been here? My boss will say “because you’re a disorganised f******” and he’d have a point. But in my defence, it’s not well known and nor would you stumble across it, yet it’s slap bang in the middle of London. Here, in fact.

Go there and read a book; watch the cricket; drink tea, or beer (the only two things permissable while watching cricket); enjoy a cigarette and ponder life’s mysteries.

Escape in the city...


RIP Australian cricket

There was a story doing the rounds on September 12 that Marstons, the English brewery and now official “drink of England,” had run some adverts in the Australian press cheekily reminding them of losing the Ashes 12 months ago. I emailed the marketing manager who sent me the PDFs which are below for your enjoyment (or annoyance, if you’re Australian)

The death of Australian cricket

The death of Australian cricket

My boss has done a few lines on this in his The Week That Was for Monday. And Marstons, bless’em, have even given us a whole stack of beer to give away during the Ashes as competition prizes. So stay tuned.

Darkness falls

I want to allay fears that this scene epitomises English cricket, but I can’t. A couple of pints of beer, feet up…it’s what happens, and it’s pretty great too. Terrific shot from Nottingham…apart from the ugly bar running across the middle.

Darkness falls

The User.

The beer worm at Headingley

Even Getty were photographing this during the third Test at Headingley. Cricket: it really is the new football…

(video link)

A brief winter rumination

Greetings from Adelaide. I haven’t put finger to keyboard for a while, for the fairly obvious reason that the Australian cricket team is having a well earned break. And what is good enough for the boys in Baggy Green is good enough for me.

Having said all that, I am starting to get bored. It does seem like a long time ago that Jason Gillespie scored a double century, and the Ashes action doesn’t fire up again until November 23, still four months away.

Well, if Justin Langer can have a cameo to keep the cobwebs at bay, then so can I. I was glad to see that he got himself a decent old 300, because there has actually been cricket in Australia this month, with a semi-triangular tournament featuring Australian A sides against ‘A’ sides from India, Pakistan and New Zealand. And in the four day game that was played Phil Jaques scored 240 and 117 against India A.

Langer also made a point to tell Merv Hughes off for complaining that Australia were too chummy with the English last year. The best traditions of the game are that you fight like hell on the field and then you have a beer and a laugh off it. Rather a pity that Merv of all people forgot that. It’s not like Merv was not a bit of a beer-drinker himself.

Apart from that little conflab, there’s not much else to report from Australia. Notes are being taken about all these injuries that England are suffering. I don’t think the people who are paying a fortune for tickets on e-Bay really want to see a second-string England get ripped apart by the Australians though. That would just be deja-vu all over again.