“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
Many years ago, a few of us had a shared fairy tale of playing for England, cricket preferably but football would do, infact tiddlywinks would have been okay.
We acted out many of our sporting fantasies – and a few others – at the home of the Tattersalls, the house we all wished we lived in and with no sleight intended on any of our families.
This beautiful, rambling bungalow set in a huge garden had a games room, a well-stocked bar, Mr Tattersall’s Aramis collection and a drum set we all failed miserably to master.
We played cricket on the long driveway hoping to improve our techniques; whether we were trying to impress the future First Team Captain, eldest son David aka “Tatts” who knows? But we played hard and long, no quarter given.
The driveway was constructed out of block paving which, in its infancy, was likely to crack quicker than a wicket on the sub-continent.
The English Cricket Board (ECB) now send their development squads abroad to work on turning wickets but we had Willow Gardens as a finishing school of sorts.
It was great practice for all of us hoping to make future England tours of the subcontinent. With fielders crowding around the bat and our future captain doing a passable impression of the Pakistan spin bowler Abdul Qadir, the pressure to survive was on.
Batting against a tennis ball on an uneven surface with fielders under your nose was seriously good practice; kids of today please note. But we just enjoyed the competitiveness plus the knowledge that biscuits would soon follow in abundance.
Tatts worked for United Biscuits so the regular tea breaks – supplied by his lovely mum Winnie – were wonderful feasts of chocolate digestives and Jaffa cakes. Amazingly, obesity was never an issue largely because the older lads made us younger ones bowl all day.
A life in sales back in the 1970s was relaxed and Tatts could generally get his work done in the mornings. The only threat to play was the lunchtime arrival of dad Denis in the company Jaguar who insisted on retaining his parking slot suspending play for an hour.
Although this was longer than the standard test match forty minutes, none of us felt up to mentioning this to Denis. We were never quite sure that he shared his eldest son’s approach to flexible working practices so it was always wise to abandon the arena until he went back to work. With the Jag off in the distance, we regrouped and it was game on again and more fielding.
The house was a marvellous party house too and many of the victorious times of the 1980s ended at Willow Gardens enjoying generous hospitality.
We spent long hours in the games room with equally fiercely competed games of snooker on the six-foot table as middle son Richard failed to convince us he could be the next drummer for The Eagles. There were guitars too, though none of us could play these either.
One night my mate Duck & I challenged each other to a streak to the top of the street and back; sometimes it was as if we lived there and had written Hotel California all on our own.
Sadly, we all began to grow up and eventually Denis reclaimed the driveway, safe now to order the new Jaguar. Sixty years they have been there and what a wonderful place to be.
The Demise of the VW Golf
As Big Al and I dispersed from The Scruffy last Friday we encountered one of the cars termed as “vehicles of choice” for the local knobheads; in this case a VW Golf.
Fortunately we still possess a deceptive turn of pace when faced with the prospect of being mown down by a retard. We found the safety of of the pavement as the car screamed up the back of the old Bell Chapel – a narrow street – doing at least 40mph.
Amazingly the halfwit driving stopped to engage us.
“What’s up with you?” he challenged, sat low in his car sporting one of those three quid haircuts with the one size fits all bowl and a free dollop of gel “I were only doin’ eight mile an hour!”
This the big man and I found a little unbelievable. True enough, a few decades ago we were one of the slowest central defensive pairings in Sunday football history but, even now, we were unlikely to be threatened by such modest speed.
With two titanium hips the big man can still move, especially at opening times.
We quickly surmised that confrontation would engage a mobile phone hotspot and ACAS also seemed a waste of time. Fearing a deluge of Toyotas and VWs we reasoned that it was pointless and it was clearly VW’s fault for a dodgy speedometer.
Still, if this really was his version of 8mph then I would hate to see him driving at 30mph close by a school for instance. Sadly, some people are just too thick to be allowed anywhere near a car.
A Tale of Two Cities – Part Ad Infinitum
As another cricket season approaches, at the professional end of the scale, Yorkshire have serious issues. Headingley their home ground and an international venue, is in desperate need of a facelift in order to secure international status. Remove that status and the nearest international venue would be in Lancashire, perish the thought!
Cue Leeds City Council who appear to have brokered a £35m deal with institutional money although the terms of this deal have yet to be revealed. Yet, with Yorkshire almost £25m in debt, have they appointed the Wizard of Oz as Financial Director?
Across town the English Cricket Board continue with their own pet project, namely a white elephant called Bradford Park Avenue. With the promise of a couple – at most – county games in 2019 assuming Headingley is completed what good value for £5m plus. I am sure the twenty odd spectators that rock up will think so too.
One Hundred Years Ago
Some sobering tales from the Western Front here.
How many council employees does it take to plant a tree? Well, more than it takes to chop one down and still counting. As this farcical situation rolls on I am thinking of offering the halfwits accommodation.
Visit number five was made this week to paint the street again with the aim of planting the promised new tree in a different place. Could you make up such incompetence?
Have a great weekend and watch out for law abiding Golf drivers crawling along at 8mph!