It’s quite some time since I wrote a blogpost that wasn’t related to academic work. This year of pandemic has squashed many of the things that made life feel worth writing about. Restaurants – shut for half the year, many hushed when briefly open – have given way to the pleasure of cooking at home. Music venues, a miserable trip to Covent Garden aside, have been silent. And museums. Having Seurat’s Bathers to myself for half an hour at the height of summer was glorious. Having to follow a prescribed route around places that should be intellectually bumbled through like a feu follet was less so.
And then there’s sport. Especially cricket. A new found love for golf can’t eradicate a sense of loss at not having attended any cricket since a very cold day at Lord’s at the beginning of the season.
This year is the 75th anniversary of The Cricket Society, whose Executive I recently joined. In his appreciation of the TCS, our President John Barclay talks about the empathy of cricket which makes attending a match unique,
I believe this empathy with the game is what The Cricket Society is all about: friendship and good company often long after playing days are over; and an antidote to loneliness, a condition that has recently come into much sharper focus and for which Society meetings, lunches and dinners continue to be such reassuring get-togethers.John Barclay, The Cricket Society Bulletin, November 2020
Even those of us fortunate enough to live with caring families will recognise the value of an antidote to loneliness.
Crowds and sociability are themes of the cricket of many of my cricket photos and they make for poignant perusal now that a cricketless summer has passed.
The Nursery at Lord’s, the place to catch up with friends (or have a nap) at the cricket. Well, when it’s not raining.
And the good thing about The Cricket Society is that it’s not just about the big games, though of course they feature. It’s also about the experience of cricket, whether watching at a Test ground or playing for your local club.
Another common aspect of lockdown for this city dweller has been a reconnection with nature. And looking through the cricket photos it made me realise how much I appreciate cricket for its connection with nature.
Constable at Dedham
Even at a big ground like Lord’s the sky is often the best thing on show.
Solitude of course is also part of the game. Going to the match on one’s own can be a solitarily covivial thing. And even on the pitch there are moments when you’re alone with your thoughts.
But as John Barclay says the best of cricket is friendship and good company. And God bless The Cricket Society for celebrating 75 years of celebrating that. And here’s to many more to come.
Friendship, good company, a beautiful sky and music at The Oval in 2016. And yes I do want you cricket, very much.
Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).