Many years ago, your old idiot chum, Scrobs, played a few games of cricket with two clubs - one was the village, and the other was the Summer version of the Rugby Club, as they had a lot of serious drinkers, and at five-bob a head, the kitty wasn't that onerous!
To be fair, I was never actually going to get beyond Number Eleven in the batting (some suggested perhaps twelve, or even thirteen), but my fielding (apart from dropping a doddle at mid-off once) wasn't that bad, and when I was allowed to come closer to the bat than about four miles away, I'd shine like a beacon in a dull Sussex sky!
In the RFC Cricket section, we had a superb chap, who knew everything about the game, and was one of the best bowlers I'd ever seen. If I say his name (David Vale), someone might sue me, but who cares, I was only number eleven, so that's enough!
David always poked fun at me in a friendly way, and I usually told him to sod off, so that was that. In one particular game, however, he went all serious.
'Scrobs', he shouted, 'Get close to the bat at silly mid off'!
Bugger this, I thought! It was their number three at the crease, and he'd been clonking fours and sixes everywhere on the park!
David re-made the order.
'SCROBS, GET BLOODY CLOSER'...!
'Over by the far canal'! I was within about three inches of the batsman's glove and still being told to get even closer! A mild repost to David was met with disdain, a smirk, and complete bollocks.
So, down came the first ball.
Next ball, a tentative prod to leg.
Next ball; a superb off-spin which turned almost ninety degrees, and left the batsman in a real mess, so he tried to belt it, missed the meat of the bat, popped up an edge which went about three feet away from his pads, then turned away.
Scrobs did the unfathomable. Being right-footed, and still in diarrheic fear of a smack right in the chops from either bat or ball, (or perhaps both), the ball hovered about a yard above the batting crease like a full moon does on - er - a batting crease..
Scrobs' full length of five foot seven and three-quarters leapt straight out and left-handedly grasped the ball an inch above the grass. It was the catch of a lifetime, and while I sit here, thinking about how great life is an' all that, I'll still remember the look on the bowler's face as he notched another wicket...
Last week, I was tinkering about here, reading something on the PC, when Mrs Scrobs called through to say that she'd just read that Robert Hardy had died. We're great fans of his TV stuff, and although I knew he was getting on, it was still a saddening event to record.
Just a few seconds later, she added that ''someone" Bennett had also died. I didn't hear who, and I thought she'd said 'Jill Bennett', so I Googled the lady, only to find that she died by her own hand ages ago.
So, reading the Wiki entry even further, it mentioned that Alan Price (a favourite musician here), sang a special song 'Is that all there is', while the assembled friends cast her ashes on The River Thames, together with those of Rachel Roberts, another lovely lady from the same time. Lindsay Anderson made his last film here.
The video is here. (it may need a rewind to the beginning).
It's a poignant piece, and so very thoughtful. The slow brass piece at just over half-way (3:14) with the flowers floating on the water is heart-breaking and I fill up everytime I see it.
Bessie Smith recorded the first version, and of course, she was 'The Mistress' of such fabulous music. Her rendition is here. She was just magnificent!
A few weeks ago, I met an old friend whom I hadn't seen for forty or so years. We swapped all the old yarns, laughed a lot, had several beers, and agreed that we'd do the same again soon. I had been saddened though, to learn of one particular lovely friend from the seventies, who was losing a battle against a terminal condition. We'd been good friends, and she'd been to our wedding, and we went to hers years ago.
Just more recently, there was a big funeral for a famous old local chap, whom everyone knew and admired, because he'd overcome all sorts of physical indignities all his life, and had beaten them all. It was a huge wake, with several hundred people in a marquee the size of a small village. The drinks flowed like water, and the chat was outstanding. I'd only heard about the funeral that morning, and was determined to go - even making a collar-button extension for the only shirt that fits me at the moment...
My friend was too ill to attend, but I learned that her battle was getting harder and that made me feel a bit mortal to be honest. Her husband - another old chum from the past - was there, and must have been feeling pretty rotten too.
Getting back to the Jill Bennett story, Mrs Scrobs explained that it was indeed 'Hywel' Bennett who'd joined the 'Virgin Soldiers' on high, and that was also a sobering thought, as 'The Family Way' came out at the same time as I was wondering what to do if or when I eventually got a girlfriend...