It was one of those ridiculously fortunate errors. November 2012. Ged Ladd, distracted, filled in his Lord’s 2013 International Application Form carelessly, failed to tick the box which says “do not send tickets for lesser seats if the area I have chosen is not available”. Naturally, the ticket office saw the error and thought, “aha, we can send this mug some shady Lower Compton tickets”. I was none too pleased – last time I bought tickets down there we near froze to death in the cold breeze and I swore never to buy down there again.
Roll the clock forward eight months. Daisy was looking forward to a day at the Test, of course, but dreading a whole day in the blazing heat-wave sun. “Fear not”, said Ged with his chivalrous voice. “I have bought tickets that are guaranteed to be shady and comparatively cool all day.”
Very different crowd down there, in those shady lower stands, compared with the mix of stout yeoman county members and Hooray Henries in the uppers, roasting in the sun. Next to us, to our left, a father and son combination from Perth – a little grumpy at first, then friendly around lunchtime, then grumpy again as the day wore on. To our right, a father and son combination from Bucks – both a little grumpy at first, then the son became increasingly friendly while the dad became increasingly, perhaps totally, blotto.
Naturally, I had prepared the picnic. We made early headway into assorted delights of my picnic bag – some mini croissants from the artisanal bakery that kindly opened a couple of years ago no more than 50 yards from my front door. Then on to the smoked trout bagels I had lovingly made, with my own special recipe horseradish butter and lemon. The fishy delight needed white wine; I brought a very interesting little Austrian Riesling. Some readers might already know that Ged and Daisy abstain from all forms of Australian wine for the duration of Ashes series. I thought the choice of Austrian was a little edgy, but safe enough.
After the smoked trout, smoked eel bagels – embellished in similar fashion to the trout. Daisy found the eel a little rich for her taste. Bags of pork scratchings and some portions of soft fruit kept the afternoon interesting enough in the food department.
I visited the poshly refurbished toilets at the Nursery End and then took what I thought would be a short stroll round the ground, stopping off at the Middlesex Office to check the county score (you try getting wireless or 3G reception at Lord’s on a big match day). I was walking back past the pavilion when I bumped into a delightful old MCC member I knew through work years ago, who has been retired for several years. I have spoken to him at Lord’s more than once before on county days, but he seemed oblivious of that fact, a little merry and delighted to “discover” that I like cricket. Wanting neither to disabuse him nor diss him, I stuck around for the same conversation he and I have had about three times now; but on this occasion it was a Test match, so I suppose that made that conversation so much more important and pleasant this time around.
When I returned to my seat, I found Daisy making a start on the home made shortbread (not home made by me, you understand) which I found a little impolite – perhaps even disloyal. “I waited and waited until I could wait no longer”, was her excuse and who could disagree with that?
Later, the ham sandwiches on tomato bread encouraged us to launch into the bottle of red – a jolly little Tuscan number. The delightful day at Lord’s came to an end – we wandered home – we fell asleep ludicrously early and then woke up ludicrously early the next day.