Despite being a Thursday, it was actually the fourth day of what is now, with hindsight, the totally ironically named MCC Spirit of Cricket Test Series. I had bought the tickets a year before with the intention of taking clients and having a drunken day out on the company corporate card. In the event, I left the invitations too late. I decided to take my wife and my four month old daughter.
My wife’s only other trip to Lords had been to watch England v Bangladesh several year ago before we were married so I think she was quite pleased at the step up in ticket price and perceived match quality.
However, I had an extra ticket to get rid of and due to the wife and baby couldn’t get any mates to come with me. Therefore we arrived early so that I could stand by the North Gate ticket booths and sell it.
There were a number of interested people, including the bus driver of the Marine Band, which later gave a lunch time performance and also vertically challenged comedy person Andy Hamilton. He almost bought the ticket but in the end said he wanted to buy a Rover ticket. I have wondered since how a day next to Andy Hamilton would have panned out; maybe some early banter about the baby and fatherhood, perhaps then getting a few drinks for each other, maybe ending the day with him offering complimentary tickets to a recording of Radio 4’s The News Quiz?
After about 15 minutes, a man called Tony bought it and paid face value without trying to haggle. He had made lots of money from the City and was up for the day from his house in Hampshire.
During the course of the day, I resisted the temptation to get hideously drunk, conscious of my responsibilities and instead took my wife and baby for a walk around the ground. I bought us both pie, gravy and chips for lunch but nothing from any of the gift shops. I had previously bought myself a T-shirt, my dad an Ashes coffee mug and my mum one of those ‘when the last man’s out the first man’s in’ tea towels and couldn’t see what else anyone would want. There are children’s clothes but nothing really for babies so mine will have to wait.
Back at our seats in the Grandstand, we were in full sun, so much of the extra clothing that my wife had insisted on bringing for the baby was superfluous. But I have since learnt that whatever I say or do, from now on I’ll end up carrying a kit bag’s worth of stuff for any given outing with the child.
Luckily, our row was on a concourse, which meant that we had a lot of leg room and could accommodate the extra baggage with ease. It also meant that an exuberant Australian woman somewhere between 30 and 45 years old would stop every time she walked past to get to the bar, and consequently the loo, to make a comment about the baby to my wife.
The last comment – ‘mate, I could eat her up’ – was delivered with a roar around 5pm.