“DIDN’T you fancy going to the match with them?” asked She Who Must Be Obeyed late on Sunday morning. “You know your son had a spare ticket.”
I was a tad abrupt in my reply, mainly because I was busy treating my right eye to a thorough rinsing with Optrex (I’m not much of a gardener but here’s a handy tip – try not to squirt industrial strength weedkiller in your face).
“I didn’t even think there would be anything of a match today,” I said, curtly. “Joe Root’s already out so it will all be finished by two o’clock. Come on, let’s walk the dog, they’ll be back in time for a barbie…”
What. A. Plonker.
At about 3.30pm I turned the TV on to check how many England had finally been bowled out for.
But what was this? Not only was the nervously bespectacled Jack Leach standing at one end of the Headingley wicket, shaking like a dog with diarrhea and holding a cricket bat, but at the other end Superman had grown a ginger beard and painted his cape white.
What. On. Earth?
Such as the Guvnor knows anything about cricket it was that I’d told her England have faster ins-and-outs than a Thai brothel on half-price Friday. But general cricketing ignorance notwithstanding, she stood transfixed alongside me in front of the tellybox for the next hour, receiving a running lesson on the Ashes and the sheer sporting impossibility of what we were witnessing.
In the moments after Ben Stokes smashed the winning four away through the covers and the residents of north Leeds were shaken by an emotional eruption of volcanic proportions, I swear the missus had tears in her eyes. And no, it was not in sympathy for my bloodshot, Weedol-sprayed eyeball.
What a performance. What a man. When we finally encountered my still ‘emotional’ (and wobbling) 23-year-old son the next morning, all he could say was: “That was the best day of my life. Best day of my life, that was...”
It was the best day of Ben Stokes’s life, I’d guess – a lot better than the morning two years ago when he woke up in a police cell to face public humiliation for the viral video of his staggering late-night brawl.
A good old English jury subsequently – pretty unbelievably actually – cleared Stokes of affray. I suspect that right now he could give a member of the Royal Family a smack in the chops and not a jury in the land would convict (particularly if it was creepy Prince Andrew – especially while he was kissing Fergie).
If there was one disappointment in Stokes’s reaction to his miraculous feat, it was that he only acceded that it was “certainly up there” as career highlights go.
Up there, lad? This was Geoff Hurst’s Wembley hat-trick against West Germany in 1966, Johnny Wilkinson’s 2003 World Cup drop goal, Ian Botham’s 1981 Ashes innings all rolled into one. I mean, what other World Cup have we ever won? Oh yes, the 2019 Cricket World Cup golden over miracle, courtesy of a certain Benjamin Stokes.
Do you think they’ll even bother going through the motions of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award this Christmas?
ISN’T it wonderful that something as materially inconsequential as a bloke defying the odds on a cricket field can so enthral and exalt a nation?
I mean, Ben Stokes didn’t exactly save the world, or even save a life. Heck, he didn’t even win us the Ashes – all he probably did was delay the inevitable, because this is as rubbish an England Test batting line-up as I can remember. And that’s saying something.
But let’s just wallow in SuperBen’s reflected glory for now, because sport really does have that mythic ability to seize a nation’s imagination and captivate us.
He didn’t achieve the physically impossible – clearly – but it was the highly, highly unlikely and the dramatic manner of those closing minutes will be spoken of for years. I’d re-watched that last hour four times by the time I went to bed on Monday night.
And then our scorching, fabulous bank holiday was over and reality was back biting us on the bum. Brexit. Bloody Brexit, everywhere you looked.
By Wednesday I simply had to avoid anything BBC-related at all, because it had surrendered whatever objective spirit it had remaining to the melting, shrieking Snowflakes, screaming “it’s a coup, it’s a betrayal of democracy, a constitutional outrage,” over Boris’s decision to call a new Parliamentary session.
There was no mention from the BBC that a Queen’s Speech and beginning of a new Parliamentary programme is massively overdue – almost entirely due to the self-same wailing MPs’ protracted efforts to overturn the 2016 referendum.
No mention that this was entirely proper by a new Prime Minister, and that it’s most grievous ‘sin’ was that it inconvenienced all those two-faced hypocrites still trumpeting their lies that they “want to deliver Brexit” just not a no-deal.
No mention that this ‘prorogation’ effectively only removes a few days from the Parliamentary calendar – and I didn’t hear MPs clamouring to cancel their nice long summer holidays in order to halt Brexit.
Just get on with it Boris. Head down, one ball at a time just like our very own Sir Geoffrey Boycott.
And if they haven’t quietened down by next Wednesday, SuperBen will be back at Old Trafford hopefully to distract the nation for a few more days and give us hope again.
IT’S oh so reassuring that Paula Sherriff and Tracy Brabin insist they will battle mightily to ensure Parliament gets to hear the concerned voices of their beloved constituents – Miss Sherriff “with every fibre of my being”. Crikey, there’s a bit of Churchillian “we shall fight them on the beaches” for you.
Ms Brabin took to social media to issue her war-cry – and reading some of the public comments, I’m not sure she understands her audience too well. Talk about ‘sticks and stones’.
But pray tell ladies – whose voices exactly are you eager to convey to Prime Minister Johnson? We know which community you are at the beck and call of, but are they all determined Remainers? Because local canvassing at the 2016 referendum suggested not.
And it’s understandable too, with unfettered eastern European migration putting huge stresses on the jobs market, social housing and, not inconsequentially, the ‘black’ economy.
Nearly 60% of local voters marked ‘Leave’ on June 23rd 2016, and you two have been at the forefront of trying to silence their voice. So Tracy, Paula – shove your ‘we want to deliver Brexit but not with no deal’ bull where the sun doesn’t shine – because we can see right through your insincere rhetoric. You’re stamping your feet and having a hissy fit for yourselves, not your constituents.
“WHY are you whispering?” asked the wife last week.
“In case that new Alexa gadget is listening to us,” I whispered back.
“You don’t believe all that conspiracy rubbish do you?” she said.
“I suppose not, silly me, ha, ha, ha,” I said.
“Ha, ha, ha,” she echoed.
“Ha, ha, ha,” said Alexa...