Sunday, 13 February 2011

The food of love

Is a cricket ball
a better aphrodisiac?
The great playwright Harold Pinter once said, 
I tend to think that cricket is the greatest thing that God ever created on earth - certainly greater than sex, although sex isn't too bad either.
Fantasy Bob endorses that sentiment entirely.  Pinter, a keen cricketer, was of course the master of the pause in his plays.  So much so that audiences occasionally began to get up to leave, thinking the play had finished, so long did pauses become.  But there is no truth in the rumour that Pinter's inspiration for the pause came from him accidentally having seen FB at the crease one day and becoming entranced by that extended moment of time between the ball pitching and FB determining that an attempt to hit it was appropriate.  No truth at all.

But as usual FB digresses; Pinter's quote came to mind as FB scoured the shops for a suitable token to send anonymously to his true love on 14 February.  It is pretty miraculous that this anonymous thing still works and his true love doesn't cotton on to who might have left the card on the breakfast table as her pulse visibly quickens at the thought of a mysterious admirer - but there you go, hope and love conquer all.

And cricket and love are the same.  In youth, they inspire the same deep hope, the same yearning, the same tight rope of despair and elation.  They both mature so that in later years there is a comfortable familiarity - you know which are your scoring strokes and which balls to leave.  The run up to the wicket is practised and rhythmic and with any luck it won't put your back out this week.  Net practice becomes less interesting and the tea interval of greater importance.

Taking guard
in Twelfth Man
All this has been observed by the poets down the ages.  Indeed they have pretty much obsessed with the love side of it - sadly ignoring cricket.  But FB has rediscovered a lost lyric by that great Warwickshire batsman William Shakespeare.  Working from Will's ink splattered manuscripts was always a challenge for the copyists and perhaps they can be excused for misreading the title of his cricket play Twelfth ManTwelfth Night is a great play but it could have been greater had the ink smudge been in a different place on the page leading to the loss of this wonderful opening speech by lovelorn batsman Orsino:

If cricket be the food of love, play on;
Give me a six to hit, that, surfeiting,
A fifty maybe scored, and so, tea.

That ball again;--it is a lover’s call;
O, it came onto the bat like my sweet love,
Who with her quicker one disguised,
Undoes my defence and squares me up - how’s that?
'Tis not so sweet now as it was before.
O she bowls with pace, how quick and fresh is she!
That, notwithstanding a wayward line
I nicketh one to slip, nought goes in the book,
O that I could get out to the pitch of it,
But fall onto the back foot and her low bounce
Undoes me and she’d bowl me! So full of hopes is batting,
That love and it are high-fantastical.



  1. Excellent blog Sir! I hope to partake of its splendid offerings frequently.