I prepared a splendid picnic, though I say so myself, for me and Daisy to enjoy on the Saturday of the Lord’s Ashes Test. Breakfast muffins stuffed with juicy coriander prawns was the centrepiece of the midday feast. The main event, though, was focaccia-wiches, containing Big Al deLarge’s latest discovery of amazing Parma ham. Following a successful use of the latter fare the previous week, when Dave The DJ came round to my place for a guitar/ukulele jam, Daisy was envious as crazy and expected nothing less.
These days, Daisy and I choose to hide from the sun in the “unfashionable but good for priority bookers” front reaches of the Lower Edrich. This time we were surrounded by delightful Middlesex CCC people, many of whom we knew at least by name from the internet radio and website chats in years gone by. It was like an impromptu gathering of the e-clan.
Mid-afternoon, I ventured alone round to the posh side for a pee. As I have reported many times before, you get a better class of floor piss round there. But as I approached the Tavern Stand loo, I saw that Mr Johnny Friendly, who had sent me and Daisy the MCC Rules of Real Tennis only a few weeks previously, was standing in the doorway, engrossed in reading his electronic tablet. It seemed to me, momentarily, that I was always running into Mr Friendly in or near those toilets and that he might mistake my repeated presence as sinister, or perhaps a quest for additional gifts. As he was deeply engrossed and I was sure he hadn’t seen me, I decided to save embarrassment by walking a little further round to the Allen Stand loo instead.
When I got back to our stand and reported my sighting to Daisy, she was most put out. “But supposing Mr Friendly did see you? He would surely see your lack of acknowledgement as a snub – and after he has shown us such kindness in the matter of Real Tennis. Surely the correct etiquette now would be for you to write and apologise profusely to Mr Friendly for your rudeness.”
I said that I thought the correct etiquette in the circumstances would be to forget the whole thing. But, you see, I come from the wrong kind of family and only went a few modest steps up the lower rungs of the social ladder by winning a scholarship to almost the right kind of school. Do not scorn or reproach me, dear reader – pity me.
Daisy was both unsure and upset. “Oh drains to oiky pater and that common, lawn tennis court he built for us. Why couldn’t we have had the real thing, then none of this Mr Friendly dilemma would have happened?”
There was no point consulting the good folk of Middlesex CCC around us. Good, honest, stout yeo-folk to be sure, but not the sort of people equipped to advise us on etiquette paradoxes. Where are the MCC posh boys when you need them?
“I know how we can resolve this dispute,” I said. “Let’s consult Jane Austen…”
… by which I meant the Complete Works of Jane Austen, which we always have to hand on our e-book readers. Unfortunately, Daisy misunderstood me and got straight on the mobile to Jane Austin, sister of the mighty Ian Austin, the greatest all-round cricketer that Baxenden CC, nay, perhaps even the whole of the Ribblesdale League, has ever produced. Daisy asked Jane Austin her etiquette question, listened politely to the answer, said: “Thank you very much indeed,” then put the phone down.
“What did she say?” I asked.
“Art tawkin’ ter me or chewin’ a brick?” said Daisy.
“I think that means she agrees with me,” I concluded.
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