Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Autumn Leaves

When Fantasy Bob responded at the weekend to the summons from the Doughty Groundsman for assistance in raking the leaves which cover the Grange Loan HQ of go ahead Edinburgh cricket club Carlton, he did not realise that he was taking such a serious risk.

For he now reads that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that over 76,000 people a year are medically treated for injuries related to non-powered garden tools, including rakes. The report tells FB in no uncertain terms 'Improper use of lawn tools along with the potential for tool-related accidents further compounds the risk of injury.'  

The very thought of improper use of lawn tools is something that is anathema to FB so stern has the been the doughty Groundsman's tutelage of him.  It was not always so.  FB has wittered before about a period long ago in his carefree youth when his relations with lawn tools were shamefully casual.  Perhaps as a consequence of those days, he spent many subsequent years assiduously avoiding any use of lawn tools.  A period of lawn tool self denial that ended when he came to Carlton and fell under the tutelage of the DG.

Had FB been aware of the risk he was running in grabbing his rake and getting down to work, he might have examined his insurance arrangements to make sure they cover the consequences of improper use of lawn tools.  He feels lucky to have survived.

Jacques Prevert
For these autumn leaves are so abundant across the ground that they have to be raked into orderly piles and heaped where they are unlikely to smother the grass.  It is one of the seasonal rituals of ground maintenance that must, FB has presumed for many years, have inspired the great standard song Autumn Leaves.  This great song was written in 1946 by Joseph Kosma and Jacques Prevert for the film Les Portes de la Nuit.  It was given its English lyric the year after by Johnny Mercer and has been a standard ever since.  Despite its obvious inspiration in cricket ground maintenance the lyricists toy with the listener since neither the French nor the English lyric contains any obvious reference to cricket grounds.  This may not be too much of a surprise since Prevert was a symbolist poet with associations with surrealism.  The listener has to look for the references.   But more worryingly given what FB has lately read, is that there are no reminders to the listeners about the risks of improper use of lawn tools.  No doubt the French are less concerned about such risks.

It is not clear from the career of Jacques Prevert exactly what his attitude to lawn tools was.  What is known is that he was a great screenwriter being responsible for the screenplays of some of FB's favourite films of all time including Les Enfants du Paradis and Le Jour Se Leve.  FB's admiration of these films is despite their failure to address any serious cricketing issue.

There are many versions of Autumn Leaves.  Nat King Cole's version, which was the soundtrack to Robert Aldrich's film Autumn Leaves (1956) which starred Joan Crawford, is among the best known.  But that film did not depict the challenges faced by Doughty Groundsman when leaves fall across their grounds.  Instead it was a melodramatic tale of an older woman, a younger man and mental illness.

But here is an interesting version of this great song from an unexpected source.  Eric Clapton recorded this version on his 2010 album Clapton.  There is some fine guitar work on it.  It is also clear from the blues licks he uses in his solos that likely that he gets the symbolism in the lyrics.  Of course Clapton is a recognised celebrity cricketer so this is no surprise.

A man who knows
about improper lawn tool use

1 comment:

  1. The DG was grateful that FB answered the call for assistance, as indeed he invariably does. He is also grateful for the number of the usual suspects that also returned up.

    But he was disappointed that none of the younger players appeared.