Humbug's Blog - Pieterson Free Zone

Humbug's Blog - Pieterson Free Zone

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I was standing at the till in Waitrose waiting for the cute girl to checkout my plums when my thoughts wandered to what a great effort has gone on in the club since the great flood of January and February when up to 18” of water was in the clubhouse. Mould covered everything and the clubhouse fixtures and fittings have all had to be ripped out so that the clubhouse became a shell. But the tide is turning. Donations and Grants are flooding in, about £3,500 in donations and a tremendous £7,300 in grants that Lardy has secured for covers and bowling machine. Waves of support for our little band of Canutes have not washed over us and we are truly grateful. I think a ripple of applause is called for, not least for my terrible puns. Orbes has been receiving wedges of cash down the pub, Braywood, Cookham Dean, Littlewick and Pinkneys have all made generous donations as have a number of individuals.
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You'd think that during the winter the club would go quietly to sleep and dream of success in 2014. Not a bit of it. There was cricketing poetry in Mike Walnut sourcing sandbags. Unfortunately this was about as likely in keeping back the Thames as Veggie getting one to turn, though the wicket this year may well favour his filth. The clubhouse and equipment is in a sorry state, £9,100 damage to the clubhouse and £7,000 to equipment. Most of it will be covered on insurance, but additional cost will be incurred for the club in a tight financial year. Our new Secretary must be wondering what he has let himself in for sorting this mess out with insurers, well done Graham. Crazy, I was writing about the flooding this time last year and musing on duck racing. Jeff has some lovely but sad photos of the flooding which I hope will go on the website.
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Now that the race for the Ashes has been won by Alistair Cook and not Cheryl Gascoigne there is a sense of the season winding down. Strangely, my 88 year old mum has started taking an interest in the cricket. I am not sure whether it is an attempt to better bond with her moody son or a natural and understandable dislike of Australians born of 20 years of hurt. She did not like Shane Warne trying to blag a tennis court on commentary and I must admit to finding his accent grating let alone his attack on Captain Cook. He should have more respect for the namesake of his founding fathers. As for starting every sentence with ”LOOK”, I hate that affectation, Blowers does not need it to get attention for the number 47 heading to Vauxhall.
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There is a mythology, language and culture about cricket that does make it different from all other sports, especially if the sun shines. Where else would a Serbo-German yanked from the pub on a Friday night to make up the numbers but in village cricket. Milo was inevitably run out without facing a ball and stood rigid to the spot where he was told to field. Well done to Dumb and Dumber for their unusual recruitment.
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This missive arrived in my inbox. A pint of Rebellion for the first person to indentify the Mystery Blogger
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It is April already and spring is supposed to be here, heralding the start of a new season. Cricketers by their nature are optimists, this season always promises to be better than the last, but will it turn out that way? Our erstwhile scribe has hung up his trusty quill in a fit of melancholy at the prospects of our playing strength, and who can blame him? So I have taken it upon myself to try and keep our reader entertained with the goings on at Shepherds Lane and in the wider world. Hopefully Wing Commander Mary will take up the scoring role for the first XI if Humbug doesn't reconsider.
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Well, happy 2013 to my reader. How can this year be anything but brilliant? After floods and snow drifts we must be due an epic summer in which the flame haired one will even divest herself of at least two layers. I did go a little stir crazy during the last dump of snow. I briefly considered a cat as a companion, however as they are selfish, happy to trade the occasional cuddle for warmth, food, accommodation and 36” telly I could just as well get a Russian wife off the internet.
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When I was young, the ideal Christmas gift was a model of Tracey Island. Now I am all grown up (brain 21, body 75) I want a Veggie Love Island. It is very small, it is generally covered in stubble and the foothills have a strange, pungent odour. There is a small castle made of sticks, but within minutes of playing usually one or all of them have become dislodged.
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It's blogging time again, a bit like Hammer Time but without the cool. I am inspired by a magnificent Club Supper in the George Holyport last week. I would like to thank the 41 who made the effort to have a really good night and support the club and chide those who had not made it a priority or are basking on the newly discovered Veggie Love Island. Ringo's referral to Chesney and the implied lovelorn years hit home with a few of us. It is evenings like that which can reignite enthusiasm for our great little club.
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Is it me, or is there a legacy to the Games when I look at Jess Ennis or the other body beautiful lady athletes and think 'I could do that?' Why has the GB triple jump coach got three names? Will we be seeing the many faeces of Clare Balding on our TV screens during the Para-Dressage?
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Ok, it has been a bit of a lull since the last blog. A combination of depressing results for Hurley and the brilliant Olympics dampened my ability to blog. I was initially anti the Olympics as the BBC thrust it down our throats in the lead up, but now I regret not going for tickets, and I don't mean just beach volley ball. What is it with the Keirin, Taekwondo and dressage anyway?I did find it a bit disconcerting seeing Clare Balding pop up everywhere though, and just as I settled down for the night preparing another fantasy about Gwyneth Paltrow and taramaslata, up pops Clare to spoil the girl on girl action. I swear I saw her down Waitrose as well, and the bloke in the petrol station looked suspiciously familiar.
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I experienced intense pain this week, but learnt a valuable lesson. Never leave the oven door open in a dark kitchen, it is at shin height. But the pain is nothing to this season and almost every Saturday finding us scrabbling around to put out 2 teams. This is no longer fun. The problem is many fold and is not unique to us. The five year plan is having a difficult birth, but there is nothing more important than strengthening membership and I really hope not to hear that it is more a problem than a challenge. It's not as difficult as Lords Reform, a dedicated playing committee should address this critical issue. Many are not enjoying league cricket, but I doubt we can survive as a club outside this form of the game.
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After all these jubilee celebrations, I have started to look obsessively at union flags to see if they are flying the right way up. At Denham on Saturday I noticed one upside down. Now, not many people realise that flying the union flag upside down is a sign of distress. This was quite prophetic as the 'Denham' weekend was one of distress and the worst I can remember for the club. We desperately tried to get two sides out, the first Xi arrived with eight men, one 9 year old 'mini me' Cole and Howie who orbits a planet of his own. The second Xi fared better, somehow scraping to 11 but were dismissed for 28 and were home to surprise the wife by 3pm. I think that is what many 'better halves' think is an acceptable game of cricket.
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Last week saw a roller coast of emotions. It has never been pleasant travelling to Hamersham Mill, not least for the speed camera that sent me to a 3 hour speed awareness course or the emptying of the nose by one of their players in front of Mary last year. My mood plummeted on being greeted by the Orbes with the news we only had 9 men. This eventually went up to 10 with the addition of J-Lo, but no umpire as well. My mood lifted as the home side didn't employ their usual tactic of 'common buddie' after each ball possibly because the nose blower was absent this year with a nose bleed. We scored a comfortable 251 to put us well placed at tea and Roy of the Rovers smacked a car door panel of an unsuspecting horticulturist in the allotments. He was most unlucky, and most upset but got little sympathy when he marched into the club demanding compensation for his dented courgette. After a good tea, my mood quotient was about 8/10. It would have been 9 had the chill not started to creep up my leg and it was bloody late May!
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I have been musing on the nature of panic buying triggered by politicians and people of authority telling Joe Public not to panic. Consequently, Joe panic bought Jerry cans, petrol and now stamps. So I would just like to assure everyone down the club not to panic at a lack of beer, burgers, runs and wickets. DON'T PANIC as the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy would also recommend. The drought may also cause more panic, and all those Jerry cans can now be filled with water. I have already noticed a lack of watercress and water melons in Waitrose. Come to think on it I have not spotted any Water buffalo in the last few days; strange.
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The cricket season seems to be getting closer as I say hello to feelings in my toes and goodbye to a huge dew drop on the end of my nose. Spring brings change, though some things remain. England loose in the sub-continent and I wast four days of my life watching those tossers in the second Test (and I don't literally mean the Pakistani spinners). I wasted 5 days last year watching our 50 over debacle against India. My sofa now has a comfortable butt imprint but I feel nothing to show for my dedication except a few suspicious stains. If I hear another England player with 6,000 Test runs under their belt say they must learn from the experience I will ritually burn my 2b and keep the ashes in a small urn.
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I recently went to Royal Berks to check out a 'floater' in my eye. I naively thought floaters were something the Dawkins nervously did before a match, but no. I had to suffer drops to dilute the pupils and walked out of the hospital like Mr Burns in the Simpson's Halloween Special. But it didn't open my eyes to how we can make Club Supper less of a hassle and persuade more people that it is a good night out to thank people and support the club. We saw 33 committed souls gather on Saturday at Bird Hills Golf Club, an excellent medieval stylie venue, good food, some awful jokes and reward for our talented youngsters and seasoned veterans. But it was a disappointing turnout. The flame haired one was desperately drumming up support late into the evenings like a failed African despot. Maybe the days of a sit down meal and lounge suits are gone and new ideas are needed. How about a curry on long tables in the clubhouse and better jokes? At least the beer would be cheaper, better and maybe people would feel more comfortable in a familiar venue and cheaper event, not that once a season the club supper is expensive. It's a shame, it used to be the pinnacle of the season.
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What a depressing end to the 1XI league season. I think I have just about got over the missed opportunity against Little Kingshill and the selling of Mikel Arteta. A much improved squad (Hurley not Everton) with the additions of Dean, Clemons, Varun and a rapidly improving Ross finished the season only 2 points and one win better than 2010. Not even Ringworm's BBQ and a few beers after our limp display against Little Kingshill or some racey pics on…, better not say whose phone could lift my mood. I think the latter just depressed me more. Then again, I could be going through 'the change', cricket to football. Maybe we need a plan next year as detailed and professional as that for the colts. Still, kudos to Yassir for his astonishing 200*.
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I'm getting sad again. Only 3 league games to go just as the 1XI have got going. Last Saturday was almost perfect, a stonking win, opposition in disarray, doughnuts for tea and Ross looking a very classy bat. At Littlewick we worshiped the zero, is 'nothing' sacred? I am sure Howard Siliconchip can correct me but the 1XI have used 27 players so far this season. I think this is both a strength in our membership and a weakness in availability, 8 players were probably under 25, the average number of appearances per player is 5.25. The thing that really excites me on a Saturday is this mix of some very useful cricketers and a good cadre of youngsters indicating an exciting future for Hurley CC. I could not see a future for Hurley not too long ago, but now I am optimistic and I might now get some new pens and score another year. This strength in depth has a knock on to the 2XI and to have two teams relatively comfortable in Divisions 2 & 3 is better than many other local clubs.
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I have been changing my mind about where we are as a club faster than Shane Warne has had a make over, and both of us have had a Hurley to heart. Mind you, his has more bumps than our outfield. Stonking maximum pointers for the 1XI against the hated Hammersham Mill and the new boys of Pinkneys has fired expectations, but dented by the 2XI falling off the pace. It just shows that with a few absentees we are down to bare bones and I don't mean the skeletal form of Onmytodd. Of course the burgeoning colts are brilliant but it also exposes our lack of numbers as they now exceed senior paid membership. Ramadan is not going to help 2XI either as 3-4 players bow out for the holy month. Sun set this week 8.41!
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