Tuesday, 27 April 2010

That's Just Not Cricket

It almost felt like summer, as I schlepped across the field with smallest chap, two dogs, new fold up chairs and picnic to watch middle chap playing cricket for the school teams 1st XI. This is a momentous occasion, as having arrived here last summer this is the first cricket season he has had an opportunity to show the new school his great bowling and batting skills.

I know I may sound like a terribly pushy mum, but to be frank, although I like to watch a bit of the cricket, I'm afraid I am fair weather attendee and I see it as an opportunity to get a little sun and participate in a little polite chatter with other parents.

Attire is not the main focus, and layers are sensible as the pitch is quite exposed and the temperature and wind tend to fluctuate, naturally there are some schools when clothing is a little more considered and this was one of those matches, so I went for some Gstar jeans, t-shirt underneath a Michael Kors over sized cashmere cardigan and my oh so comfortable Bensimons and all topped off with my newest purchase, a Eugenia Kim panama hat.

We placed ourselves in a great viewing spot and more importantly in direct sight of the sun, and I began to unpack the picnic not a huge feast as the teas at cricket are magnificent, just a few titbits to munch on.

It was just as I was biting into a Royal Gala, when I saw them marching towards the pavilion, the opposition mothers, a formidable selection of finely tuned, tanned long limbed ladies, with the leader of the pack, a fine specimen of female perfection, barking orders at the others. I was not intimidated in the slightest actually I was amused as I watched their lovely heeled shoes slowly sinking into the grass as they began to quicken their pace in an attempt to avoid getting completely stuck. They planted themselves right in front of the pavilion doors, so boys coming in and out would have to walk around them and the leader delegated the unpacking of chairs, rugs, cushions, hampers, coolers and an enormous umbrella to keep the shade off. All this would have looked at home in some bygone era of the Indian empire, but here in this world it all looked rather affectacious.

The match began and the visitors batted first. We politely clapped as they scored the odd run here and there, and did the same when they were bowled out, caught out and on one occasion run out. The opposition mothers screeched and screamed loudly whenever a run was scored, and remained silent and sullen when one of their boys were out. This is pretty poor behaviour for a cricket match, where rules and etiquette are keenly observed. However, I could have gladly dealt with this without being bothered but it was the behaviour of their coach that was highly questionable. I won't bore you with the details, as you may not be familiar with the rules of cricket, but basically there are a limited number of overs in a game and it is normal that whichever team bats first, declares after tea giving the other team the same amount of overs to reach the winning target. For the first time since I have been watching my sons play cricket, this did not happen and the visiting team continued playing until they had played 30 overs, leaving only 14 overs for our home team. This just isn't fair play, just not cricket, not gentlemanly and an outrageous example of bad sportsmanship to set as an example to these boys of privilege.

This turned out to be one of the most exciting matches I have ever watched (except of course the Ashes) and our boys were completely brilliant, our first two batsmen scored fast and furious taking us to within 4 runs of a win with 4 balls left. My son was batting at number 4 and as the other two boys has been batting brilliantly it seemed unlikely he would get walk onto the pitch in order to bat for the school, but with all the excitement, one boy was caught out, and then another boy having scored 3 of the four runs needed was run out, which meant my middle chap on his debut had to come on and score one run to win, with only one ball left to bowl - this was a do or die moment. Now I knew he would be nervous under normal circumstances, as he would want to prove himself more than capable with the bat, but this pressure was immense, what if he was bowled out, what if he couldn't score a run, or was caught. I could barely watch, as I felt a mother next to me squeeze my knee in support as he walked on looking cool and calm and in control.

We watched in silence as he walked to the stumps, lined himself up and looked out. The bowler made his run up and bowled so fast I could not see the ball, but I saw middle chap raise his bat and heard the thump as he smashed it away. We had won and I jumped up and screamed, the other parents in our group all jumped up too and we hugged and cheered and I had tears of joy and pride which I could not hold back.

I turned to the pitch and saw middle chap take of his helmet and raise his bat in victory, he then walked over to the opposition captain and shook his hand and in the true spirit of Cricket showed the opposition there and then how to behave like a gentleman..

Friday, 23 April 2010

Oh, This Old Thing

School holidays are over and spring is upon us and I have now begun the delicious ritual of replacing my winter wardrobe with my spring wardrobe, taking care not to get too enthusiastic by unwrapping summer pieces just yet, I don't like to tempt fate. I so enjoy sealing away winter in my vacum seal bags from The Holding Company and gently opening, unwrapping and unleashing spring.
Being a creature of habit I put aside two days for this event to ensure I can focus entirely on the job at hand as it is vital that no errors are made in the packing up process and all items have already been checked carefully to establish if any repairs or dry cleaning is needed. I always begin with the heavy items such as coats, jackets and boots and follow on with lighter pieces until I reach my cashmere section, and after removing a few of my more delicate pieces suitable for chilly spring and summer evenings, I reach the point where caution is needed as any potential nasty moths need dealing with in advance. I have taken advice from the experts and add some gorgeous scented wooden balls into the airtight environment for the summer and they really do seem to do the trick as my knitwear is completely unblemished.
On day two, when I have a beautiful assortment of sealed joy laid out before me, all labelled and dated, and the familiar sense of satisfaction washes over me I embark on the packing up process and all items are carried to the loft which has a constant cool temperature which is ideal for clothing storage (except fur which goes into professional storage), and placed in wooden packing cases which have been adapted with hanging rails or shelves for flat items. Everything is closed up and it is only then that I commence the unpacking of Spring.
Bags have been unsealed, boxes sliced open and tissue removed and everything has been placed out in order to be appraised for selection. Our tastes do change from season to season and what was gorgeous last spring, can look out of place a year later. For example, a Jil Sander very sleek but now seemingly dull dark coloured long silk hooded top and skirt is so wrong with this seasons soft pastels. However, more significantly, what has really changed for me and my wardrobe of beautiful clothes is that countryside chic is very different from London chic and I have hit a tremendous potentially life changing dilemma. Do I need all this stuff, are these clothes really going to serve me well here, am I just holding on to my London life through them, when will I wear them, and will the heels of my Giuseppe Zanotti shoes survive the uneven stones and paths I now tread. Attitudes to clothes is very different here compared to London, and it has become obvious that having 14 coats and 16 jackets (not including suits) is perhaps a tad extravagant, and although I wonder to myself why women on the school run only seem to ever wear one coat all winter and one jacket during the summer is there anything wrong with that. Should I just keep what I need and pieces that will be useful and off load the rest, or do I say, I am what I am and if I want to wear heels and a Matthew Williamson dress on the school run, than I shall.
I did ponder on this big question, and decided that I am a North West London Girl In The Country and I shall always hold my head high, be true to myself and not bow to the masses, I will always have my hair blow-dried, have regular manicures and facials, and above all I will always find any excuse to dress up.


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