Whenever Ged goes to the Test, he is literally sustained by a succession of culinary marvels. My test match sustenance, on the other hand, is more metaphorical than literal, being largely a succession of pointless and asinine conversations. But just as when Harry Morgan’s closes its doors for the evening, the source of our interlocutory morsels occasionally fails, and uncomfortable silence falls. It is at moments such as these when the Times Saturday Review section comes to the rescue.
Aside from being very badly named (it is published on a Saturday morning, for god’s sake), its usefulness as a trigger for drunken conversation is unsurpassed. Not the least of its delights is the puzzle section, and the edition I grabbed on my way out of the house could not have been more appropriate. The Two Brains quiz comprised the following questions:
1. Which England cricket captains share their surname with a British Prime Minister?
2. Which first name is the most common among a) British Prime Ministers and b) England Cricket Captains, and how many times does the most common of the latter occur in the list of the former?
(This second question I interpreted as asking a numerical question, as opposed to the answer being “Gaz” or “Kev”.)
During an hiatus at the conversation, I asked the lads these questions. Several people in the locality overheard, and soon it became the main point of discussion in our part of the stand. Answers were flying in from all over the place. The first PM / Captain surname combo was knocked off quite quickly, but the others took some time. My suggestion of Derbyshire opening batsman Des Rayleigh was dismissed as made-up nonsense, which was true, but I didn’t think gave it sufficient credit. Therefore I repeated it a few times till it was at least acknowledged.
The captains’ first name question also didn’t take too long, but the prime ministerial version took a lot longer.
To finish, we did the Word Finder puzzle, to find as many words as you can from the letters Y, D, E, D, S, U, N, T, U, R, four letters or more, all containing the first of these letters (Y), no proper nouns, no conjugated verbs, no comparatives, superlatives or plurals. A ten-letter word does exist, we are told. Getting 13 words is described as “average”. 18 is “good”, 26 is “very good”, and 34 is “excellent”. We also added a rule that any word we could associate with cricket, however loosely, would score two points.
Our combined total of words by stumps, taking into account the double-points amendment, was coincidentally the same as that of England test wins in this series at that moment.
It wasn’t all pointless rambling though. We also asked and answered the question, “Is First Slip the most redundant position on a test match field?”, and debated whether or not the observation (made by one of us) that he preferred the South African whites was acceptable in this day and age.
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