“Have you brought the actual bottle of red wine you forgot to bring last time?” I asked, as I arrived to find Charley the Gent Malloy in the front row of the Mound Stand.
“Absolutely – here it is,” said Charley, showing off a very appealing-looking bottle of Chianti. “I’m not sure how much of it I’ll want to drink myself, though,” he added. “I have an early start in the motor tomorrow and don’t want to drink too much today.”
“I’ve had plenty to drink in Ireland over the last couple of weeks and am back here with Daisy on Sunday,” I said. “So a relatively light day on the soup will suit me too.”
Charley then asked me to explain how we had ended up with front row seats in the Mound Stand for day two of a Lord’s Test, given that I said to him on our previous visit that I hadn’t even bothered to order tickets for this match through the priority booking system.
“Simple, Chas. The day after your visit in April, I popped backed to Lord’s and asked in the ticket office if they by any chance had a couple of Test match returns. After the standard line about only restricted view seats still being available, the helpful fellow in the ticket office then took an actual look through the returns. When I confirmed that it was just two that I wanted, he said that he, by chance, had a couple of returns in the front row of the Mound Stand. He then asked me, just to be sure, whether I wanted to buy those.”
“Magic,” said Chas.
While making headway into our picnic, going gently with my bottle of Alsatian Gewürztraminer to accompany the food, we got chatting to some friendly folk sitting next to us. Turned out that they were marketing and advertising alumni from a large global corporate. A regular group for day two of the Lord’s Test, although sadly two men short this visit due to unforeseen circumstances. Their tales of derring-do, sponsoring cricketers and attending matches in days of yore, were way beyond our Cricket Badger-style and Heavy Roller stories, so Charley and I simply listened in awe and wonder.
They were a jolly bunch and delightful company for a few hours. Soon they were offering us some of their grub and some colourful cocktails, all of which we politely declined. One of their number was now marketing cocktail mixers, which only partially explained how and why this group were knocking back extravagant-looking drinks. Chas and I made slow, steady progress through my bottle of white, while the picnic was going down very nicely and eventually, so was the sun.
Late in the day, Charley offered to open the Chianti, but we both agreed that it would be a waste, as neither of us really wanted to drink any more. We got some quizzical looks – perhaps they were looks of pity – from our newfound, cocktail-sodden friends. Still, Chas and I agreed that the bottle of Chianti should live to fight another day. Indeed, our planned trip to see Essex v The Australians in a few weeks’ time should be ideal for it.
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