Early season, I always try to take in a day of county cricket with my old friend, Charley “The Gent” Malloy. It helps us both to get over the winter withdrawal symptoms.
Before long, we were tucking in to salmon bagels (honey roasted salmon, not the more common smoked variety) and washing it down with a very quaffable Kiwi Riesling. During the afternoon, we ate some cashews (bye bye Riesling), Parma ham sandwiches (hello cheerful Aussie red wine), several varieties of fruit and some flapjack-inspired biscuits.
Spending time at cricket with Charley is a bit like being on an unstructured television quiz show, just without the quiz master confirming or stating the answers. And without the chance of prizes.
“What role did Sir Pel-Ham Warner have in the bodyline incident?” asked Chas. Unsure, I chose to turn the question around. “His name is pronounced Plum, not Pel-ham, Chas,” I replied. This naturally started a debate about whether Plum is a nickname or an actual correct pronunciation of the name Pelham.
I quoted the name Leveson-Gower, which should be pronounced “loosen gore” in evidence for my point. Sadly, Chas was unaware of this correct pronunciation too. Seemingly, the Surrey fans all around us were similarly unaware, despite HDG’s role in the history of their club. The Middlesex contingent with whom we were sitting at that hour were similarly perplexed, being of the MCCC variety rather than MCC. We saw Posh Margaret in the distance and waved at her – she’d have known – but she was too far away to join in this discussion.
“But why?” asked Chas. “It’s daft pronunciation. Or daft spelling.”
“Because extremely posh people want to make people like us feel inadequate whenever possible,” I replied. “One way of doing that is to have ridiculously pronounced names which, in order to avoid embarrassment, require you either to be born an insider or to do a great deal of studying. It’s a relic of a bygone, oppressive era; one of those ridiculous, upper-class English things.” The Middlesex and Surrey masses seated around us in the Upper Compton gave me a little whoop of subversive appreciation.
Charley then changed the subject again by asking a question about Zander de Bruyn. In unison, the surrounding Middlesex and Surrey fans cried out: “It’s pronounced de-brain, not de-bruin.” One fan even muttered: “Doesn’t that geezer know anything about cricket?”
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