Laurence Elderbrook is beginning his Odyssey and Laurence Elderbrook will return as king of Ithaca. After an unexpected issue with my flights, I instead opt to travel to Australia by ship, the way all the greats did.
The long hours during the trip give me plenty of time to practise, so I mime drives in the nude in front of the mirror. Devoid of my cream flannels, I still look immaculate.
I find the experience liberating and feel that my technique is improving rapidly. This can only be down to the lack of clothing. Clearly clothing hampers my movements. I make a note.
Later in the trip, I plan an evening of cricket with a couple of fellow passengers. They at first seem reluctant, but I eventually manage to persuade them. I laugh heartily when one chap’s wife says I have browbeaten her husband into it. She admires my keen debating skills. She admires me.
I prepare for the match as I would prepare for a crucial league fixture. I drink gin for several hours beforehand so that I’m good and limber when the time comes to bat.
Glen is bowling. Derek is fielding. I heft my bat from one hand to the other. It feels good. I feel good. Glen’s first ball is full and wide. I aim a drive, but fail to make contact.
I feel restricted. I disrobe.
With the air buffeting my downy pelt and the moonlight glistening on my taut adonis flesh, I am ready.
I launch another drive at Glen’s next ball, but the humid sea air has rendered the grip of my bat slippery. The bat soars into the air, describing a high parabola with its destination being over the side of the ship.
I throw back my head and let fly a huge, bestial roar before exploding from my position. As I throw myself headlong to take the catch, I feel a hand on my bare ankle, hauling me back.
I choose to allow several members of the crew to drag me back to my cabin by my armpits, departing the scene with the serene dignity afforded to only the very few. A crowd has gathered and every last person has a look of astonishment on their face. They admire my restraint. They admire me.