Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Fantasy Bob supposes it is his own fault. He just didn't think it through. The unintended consequences. Long suffering readers may recall how he and Mrs FB enjoyed the opera at La Scala and how Mrs FB's enjoyment of the occasion was greatly enhanced by the appearance on stage of a horse and a donkey. 

For Mrs FB's equine obsession matches, and may well exceed,  FB's fondness for cricket.  For her, the appearance of a horse in any situation brightens the day and gives it new meaning.  Many times as FB negotiates a particularly tricky country road she will suddenly say from the passenger seat, 'Look at that lovely bay.' 

Early in their relationship this confused FB, for he seemed to be nowhere near the sea-side.  However little by little he gained an understanding.  'Look at that lovely bay, what a lovely boy.'  FB maintains a dignified silence; he knows what is coming next.

'Hello, lovely boy - what a lovely field of grass you have.'   FB admires Mrs FB's persistence in attempting to have a conversation with a horse from behind the closed window of a passing car.  He accepts no blame - the suggestion having been made that even this interaction is an improvement on his conversational skills has not been verified

So he is aware of his life partner's predilections. But he failed to take into account how they had been heightened by the experience at La Scala.

So when they made their way to Edinburgh's Festival Theatre for a performance by Scottish Opera of Carmen his researches had left him unprepared.  He had established beyond reasonable doubt that there is little of cricketing interest in the opera - it being written by a Frenchman was probably a sound indicator of that. So his expectations were not particularly high. 

But Mrs FB was on another tack, and as she perused the synopsis she said,  'Ah, Act I -  a square in Seville.   Now they should be able to get some horses into that.'

FB looked with a certain trepidation into her eyes.  She went on 'Remember we went to Seville and there were horses everywhere -  those lovely Andalusians.'  FB had to concede this point and she continued, 'Oh yes I am sure they'll use some Andalusians here.'

Her speculation was silenced as the lights went down and the orchestra started up.

As the curtain fell on the Act she said,  'Well that was disappointing - they could easily have a had a horse there.  Perhaps in the next Act.'

Sadly, for Mrs FB the next Act came and went, with no horsey interest.

She perked up over the interval prosecco, noting from the programme that the next Act would see the arrival of Escamillo the toreador.

'Now any bull fighter worth his salt will have a horse - I imagine he will enter on a beautiful white Analusian.'

FB did not wish to quell her enthusiasm as the lights darkened again.

'They must be saving the horse for the Final Act,' she said containing her disappointment at the horse free third act.  'After all, it is set at the bull ring.......'  She looked towards the stage eagerly. 

But there was no horse - not even a stray bull fight poster with a picture of a horsepeeling off the set. There was no bull either, for that matter.

Mrs FB spent the journey home questioning the artistic sensitivities of the Director. 'The whole thing was crying out for a horse,' she remarked several times.

FB might have responded by saying that he understood her pain.  He might have described the many times he had sat through a performance that could have been lifted to a new level by a simple cricketing reference.  He might have shared with her theatrical directors of international reputation had eschewed such artistic insight.  He might have shared how his hopes had been repeatedly dashed - even the trip to La Scala had not helped restore them for cricket had been ignored there too. He might have gone on, but she had that far away look in her eye - already she was imagining her next trip to La Scala orher next conversation through the car window with a passing horse. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Storm Abbi

Fantasy Bob is sure that his remaining handful of worldwide readers will join him in wishing the Scotland women's cricket team every best wish for their forthcoming participation in the ICC Women’s T20 Qualifier in Thailand. The team depart Scotland's storm-battered shores this week and after a couple of warm up games get down to the business of the competition proper with a match against Papua New Guinea on 28 November.

FB's particular good wishes go to the quartet of players from his own go ahead Edinburgh club Carlton. Great girls all.  Three of them have had the misfortune of playing in his company and even worse under what he laughably describes as his captaincy.   He is sure that they have learned much from him - in particular how not to play leg spin bowling.

Carlton's 4 - from top left - Annette Drummon, Katie McGill, Abbi Aitken, Ollie Rae
The skipper of the side - all rounder Abbi Aitken - is also affiliated to Carlton but she has had the good sense to resist FB's invitations to join his adventures in the lower leagues of the East of Scotland Cricket Association.  She feels that she knows enough about facing leg spin bowling without seeing FB's practical demonstrations of how not to do it.

Abbi hails from Montrose - a town that FB is familiar with mostly from passing through it on his childhood journeys from Aberdeen to, well practically everywhere else.

Abbi is not the first sporting icon or great all rounder to come from Montrose.  Henry Waugh Renny-Tailyour played rugby and football for Scotland and also played first class cricket when his army duties allowed.  He played in the first FA Cup Final in 1872, finishing on the losing side. He also was on the losing side in 1874 but finally got a winner's medal in 1875 - when he was also on the scoresheet.  In 1872 he also represented Scotland against England at rugby - the match was played at the Oval.  In 1873 he played in the first Scotland - England international in England, again at the Oval and had the distinction of scoring Scotland's first international goal. Rumour has it that his selection owed much to his convenient location in London for the Scottish authorities could not afford to transport the full complement of players from Scotland. This is a selection policy on a par with that which has ensured FB continued selection on account of his big Volvo being able to transport a full team of junior players and their voluminous kit to away fixtures.
Renny-Tailyour's cricketing achievements are more modest - he played only 28 first class cricket matches with no great distinction but also turned out for Aberdeenshire and Strathmore.

FB is sure that Abbi will seize the mantle of greatness from this illustrious forebear.

Readers may have wondered if there was any point to FB's recital of Mr Renny-Tailyour's long forgotten achievement.  They might think themselves fortunate.  For FB was planning to link Abbi and Storm Abigail which has just done pounding Scotland's cricket grounds.  He was perfecting all manner of jejune remarks about how another storm Abigail was about to be released on Thailand. But his researches suggest that Abbi is not an Abigail, she is simply an Abbi, so readers can mutter merciful thanks as they as spared the full horror of what FB might have produced.

So here's the best of luck to Abbi and all her teammates. 

FB is sure they will do everyone proud!!

FB will be following the Scotland team's progress in the run up and during the competition on Twitter: @Wildcatscricket he is sure that his handful of readers will do likewise.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


Fantasy Bob has recently had minor surgery to his forehead. 'Checking for any remaining brain cells,' as one wag put it.  Ha, ha.

Having completed their gory deed, the medics swathed him in what seemed to him a disproportionately sized bandage.  FB suspects they did this for comic purposes.  However he has got the better of them by disporting himself  in a rather smart beanie, thus hiding the bandage and displaying his unswerving loyalty to the Scottish rugby team.  Wearing his hat throughout the business day has stimulated a mixture of amusement curiosity and fashion criticism from his colleagues.

Thus festooned he sat watching the annual Festival of Remembrance last weekend.  It is always a humbling experience to be reminded of so many sacrifices - sacrifices that still continue. FB finds the hymns and the military band music stirring, significantly more so than the contributions of such as Rod Stewart and Pixie Lott.

He is never sure exactly what it is that the producers of these shows think such artists bring to this event.  However his general scepticism of such contributions was challenged when the smooth baritone of Gregory Porter gave a splendid rendition of Amazing Grace.  FB had never heard of Mr Porter, far less seen him, but he became an instant fan.  For this was a  performance of the highest class.

Gregory Porter with hat giving it laldie at the Albert Hall
Or was FB just drawn to Mr Porter because he habitually sports a distinctive headgear - a bulbous cap kind of thing which looks like it has a hood under it.  Perhaps no quite so stylish as FB's millinery, but distinctive nonetheless. Apparently Porter started wearing this peculiar rig a number of years ago and explains, "I've had some surgery on my skin, so this has been my look for a little while and will continue to be for a while longer. People recognize me by it now. It is what it is."

It is what it is.  As FB says when his headgear is pointed at.

Perhaps if Rod Stewart has worn similarly interesting headgear, FB would have felt affinity and would be showering his praise on him.  On the other hand, pigs might fly.

Thursday, 5 November 2015


Many cricketers have observed on the remarkable similarity between Fantasy Bob and Nigella Lawson who returned to our TV screens this week.
Hard to tell her and FB apart.....

'It's uncanny..........,'  they say to each other.
'.........they might have been separated at birth................'
'...........yes, neither of them has a clue against leg spin bowling..........'
'.......only Nigella Lawson is slightly better.'

At that point the comparison rather breaks down and the conversation proceeds in other directions - either extolling Ms Lawson's dress sense in the kitchen or lamenting over the pointlessness of yet another bowling spell by FB up hill against the wind.

Nevertheless, FB has frequently, and with some success, sought inspiration from Ms Lawson's recipes.  Not he hastens to add, on the cricket field, although some commentators have suggested that Ms Lawson's often stated view that cooking is a metaphor for life finds an uncanny parallel in FB's own belief that a spell up the hill against the wind is a metaphor for something similar.

FB therefore dutifully placed himself in front of the TV screen for the return of his heroine.  He had resigned himself to the probability that there would be little of interest from a cricketing perspective. However he was confident there would be compensations for this oversight.

But he was unprepared for what came next.  After traipsing round some smart London street philosophising to the camera - without offering the cricketer any insight into how to bat positively on the variable wickets so frequently found in lower league cricket - Ms Lawson repaired to the kitchen to prepare her favourite breakfast.

It was at this point that  FB began to part company with his heroine.  She put forward a radical alternative to any conception that FB would accept as breakfast.  For FB, breakfast consists during the months of summer time in fruit muesli occasionally with a topping of yoghurt, and during the winter months porridge, shamefully eaten a la sassenach (ie with milk and brown sugar).

Why either of these is not good enough for La Lawson is a mystery to FB.  Rather than explain herself on this point - which would have been a suitable topic for another monologue as she traipsed around yet another fashionable street - she proceed to prepare an avocado, mixing it with a larder-full of stuff - dill, lime juice, salt, ginger and goodness knows what else - then spreading it on a piece of toasted German bread, topping it with some radish.

Radish?This is breakfast?

No wonder she can't play leg spin bowling.