|Trent Bridge - and a beautiful blue sky.|
|The Trent Bridge Inn, overlooking the|
cricket ground and part of the
Yesterday, Pat and I sat in the garden enjoying a morning cup of coffee. It was glorious and as we sat there I looked up into the cloudless blue sky and the words of one of my favourite school hymns came into my mind –Thomas Carlyle’s wonderful “So here hath been dawning another blue day”. It was a short hymn that I have stood in assembly and sung hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times over the years. We both, coffee cups in hand, sat and sang it - the neighbours must be getting seriously worried about us!
So here hath been dawning
Another blue day:
Think, wilt thou let it
Slip useless away?
Out of Eternity
This new day is born:
In to Eternity
At night will return.
Behold it aforetime
No eye ever did:
So soon it forever
From all eyes is hid.
Here hath been dawning
Another blue day:
Think, wilt thou let it
Slip useless away?
|Harold Larwood (left) and Bill Voce|
in their England blazers - ready to
cause sporting history in the
|Australian Captain Bill Woodfull|
ducks to avoid one of Larwood's
"body line" fast balls. The huge Adelaide
crowd behind showing their anger at
the English tactics.
Perhaps the sentiments in Carlyle’s verse sound a bit twee and old fashioned today but I like them. I also love the wonderful words, the sound of them, the feel of them as they roll off the tongue – no concessions here to the awful Plain English Campaign which is simply a euphemism for "couldn't care less English"! What a lovely word is "aforetime"; and "out of eternity this new day is born, into eternity at night will return" - what wonderful use of language, it pinpoints exactly the uniqueness of every hour and day but says so much more with the choice of words like "eternity", "born" and "return"! As Pat and I sipped our coffee and looked up at the azure sky yesterday morning the words and sentiments seemed just right: another blue day..... a new day that is totally unique and will never again be repeated......when it ends it is gone, forever..... are you going to waste it.....don’t waste it.......... . When I was teaching I often used the words as a prayer when I was leading assembly or as a piece of handwriting for the class. Perhaps some of the children I taught will remember it - I'd like to think so.
And this morning – another beautiful blue day – I went out in my car. The sun shining, the air con on (yes, bad for the environment, I know!) and a lovely morning for a drive. On my way to the local shops I drove past Trent Bridge Cricket Ground here in Nottingham – one of the six great Test Match venues of England: Lords, the Oval, Trent Bridge, Old Trafford, Headingly and Edgbaston. Although it was early the crowds were already gathering for the fourth day’s play in the England v West Indies Test. Young men and women, older married couples, gentlemen and ladies with walking sticks and straw sun hats perched on their heads and all carrying their plastic bags or shouldering their rucksacks full of picnic items for a long day at “the test”. The gates were open and as I drove past I caught a glimpse of the greensward which is the outfield and in the middle the twenty two yard strip where the action takes place – the wicket.
|The Adelaide Oval - a beautiful |
ground - and a lovely blue sky!
I turned down Radcliffe Road at the side of the ground and past the world famous Trent Bridge Inn - a building which is soaked in the history of cricket and with it the history of England and Empire. As I slowed in the traffic I glanced up Fox Road which runs along the back of the cricket ground and I could just see the sign for the Larwood & Voce Tavern. The very name conjures up pictures of mighty deeds and great sportsmen – Larwood and Voce. Two of the greatest - and both sons of Nottinghamshire. Harold Larwood and his partner Bill Voce were the two great fast bowlers, lowly Nottinghamshire coal miners, who tore Australia and the great Don Bradman apart in the infamous bodyline test series of 1932/33. In doing so they almost brought the British Empire to its knees and were instrumental in making the Ashes tests between England and Australia the keenly contested encounters that they always are.
As the traffic again began to move my mind drifted back to a few years ago to when Pat and I were in Australia and I visited the Adelaide Oval with our Australian friend, Gary. The Adelaide Oval is the great Australian test match ground where Larwood and Voce did so much damage to the Australian batsmen in the third test in 1933. The day we visited was another beautiful, azure day (the norm in South Australia!) and as we toured the ground and looked at the memorabilia, walked on the hallowed turf and gazed at Bradman’s illustrious statue I can remember reflecting on how Adelaide and Nottingham, two places on the opposite side of the planet, will be forever connected because of the deeds of Larwood, Voce, Bradman, Woodfull and the rest on those few days in January 1933. When I was on my tour of the ground we were in a small group of about eight or ten. The gentleman leading the group, proudly sporting his South Australia Cricket Club blazer and tie asked each of us where we were from. When I replied "Nottingham", his face lit up and he shook my hand warmly – even though seventy five years earlier the fifty thousand plus Adelaide citizens were baying for the blood of those two sons of Nottinghamshire, Larwood and Voce! As he shook my hand I'm sure that I heard him mumble something like "Bloody cheating Poms" but I'll forgive him for that! Wonderful man!
|Outside the Adelaide Oval with|
|In the trophy room looking at|
the photographs of the 1933 test
And half an hour later, this morning, as I drove back from the shops and back past the Trent Bridge ground and saw its world famous outline against the blue sky, the crowds were now thronging in as eleven o’clock approached. It all seemed right: the sun shining, a brilliant blue sky, not a cloud in sight, a test match in progress, the archetypical English summer's day. The problems of the economy and austerity, the shallow celebrity culture that dominates so much of modern Britain, the horrors of terrorism and middle east wars, the awfulness of Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks and their News International cronies, the dubious practices and beliefs of politicians, bankers, Premiership footballers and the rest, the commercialism, crassness, jingoistic nationalism and tat of the coming Royal Jubilee and Olympics and all the other ills of the world........they all seemed to pale into insignificance against the blue sky and the smiling fans
The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearl'd;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven--
All's right with the world!
Indeed it is, and as I finish this blog, I’ve just heard that England have won the Test Match against the West Indies – Trent Bridge will be emptying, thousands of happy people will be wending their way home through Nottingham's streets. Everything is indeed “alright with the world”!