|Boreas - making things difficult |
for Ancient Greek cricketers
As a native Aberdonian, Fantasy Bob grew up unfamiliar with winds other than balmy summer breezes faintly drifting off the sun-dappled North Sea. However decades of struggling along the streets of Edinburgh in the teeth of the daily gale have steeled him. For Edinburgh is surely the windiest city in the universe, and possibly beyond. The clouds high above may be hanging motionless, but at ground level in Edinburgh conditions will be approaching hurricane force. Beaufort will be going off his scale.
Edinburgh's winds are cruelly anonymous. And in these secular times they are godless. But the ancients ordered things differently. Cricketers in Ancient Greece, considering how many layers to stuff in their kit bag would mutter - 'Boreas cruel north wind bringer of winter is still blowing better put in another golden fleece.' Even Spartan players, well known for rashly playing in short sleeves early in the season would invoke divine intervention - 'Oh Zephyr, Zephyr,' god of the gentle warm west wind, come to our aid,' they would text, 'We want to cast our clouts, but it's still blowing a hoolie - can you fix it.'
Today's cricketers have no such recourse. The Gods have abandoned them to their fate. And even more cruelly, Edinburgh's cricket grounds have been strategically placed where the winds blow strongest and coldest. For example, the prestigious Peffermill displays the unique metereological phenomenon of a howling gale coming from every direction at once. Even the Greeks had no name for such a wind. It is truly godless. It reduces FB to shivering confusion. For he is long used to bowling arduous spells up the hill against the wind. There he has to bowl against the wind and with the wind at the same time. He is even more ineffective than usual.
But Edinburgh's cricketers bravely battle on in bracing conditions. Unlike the cricketers of Cape Town, where wind stopped all play across the city earlier this year. If Edinburgh followed this example, there would be no cricket at all.
It will shortly be the 450th birthday of Claudio Monteverdi - not known to be cricketer of any distinction, but one who surely captured the sentiment of all cricketers who (clouts firmly uncast) emerge into the bracing air at this time of the season wishing for the return of the warm west wind:
Return O Zephyr, and with gentle motion
Make pleasant the air and scatter the grasses in waves
And murmuring among the green branches
Make the flowers in the field dance to your sweet sound;
Find it on this link into a fantastic rendition by Nuria Real and Philippe Jaroussky - Rock and Roll.