Cricket makes nothing happen, as the Squire once told Auden.
It was another wet day in October. The Squire and his house guests were in the Long Gallery indulging their rainy-day passion for re-enactment (with attendant members of staff, including Third Man).
The Pitch is Queered
A seaside track – the tide is in – a West Indian fast bowler – lithe and tip-toe action – strikes Third Man on the head – the ball flies from temple – one bounce – to the boundary. Beyond that unconsciousness – four LEG byes signalled. Gully and short leg laugh
There had been a languid air about the re-enactment. The Ashes had been one long yawn through that summer.
The truth desperately avoided by the Authorities and the Commentariat (C&A): the Ashes Did Not Quite Happen
– Cricket’s wearisome linearity: one ball followed another: their order did not matter
In re-enactment they chose to leave retinal cricket behind and explore the adjacent factual
– Time to re-arrange the air flow, everyone
(change the ball when you cannot change the order was the Squire’s Rule of Thumb)
While the Smith – who else? – went in search of a new wiffle ball, the guests congregated around a marble plinth which supports the work known as Fountain and is set at the North West end of the Gallery.
– Oh yes, it is the original all right. Brought back from New York by Marcel himself in token of the inspiration – the Squire’s upturned protection discarded at the end of a long innings, worn by Else Plotz in a Danse Macabre that night in the Ball Room and signed R Mutt ‘13. A hundred years ago this very weekend.
« Ok, ça va très bien » echoes of Duchamp’s voice fill the Gallery
Let the re-enactment re-start
It does. TM is taken to Accident and Emergency. The ball is retrieved.
– Darn it Third Man, if we are going to get this right we have to get it all to make sense
– Why? Nothing made sense at that moment, your Grace. There were stars and a ringing in the ear
< A doctor on the ground had been kind enough to come over to the pavilion to examine him >
“One must look here for brain matter. And here.”
The C&A have a problem with the concept of false negatives.
“But if there were brain matter seeping from the ear it would help us with the diagnosis. The absence of brain matter does not preclude a cracked skull. But its presence is most informative.”
Returning to the re-enactment:
Third Man received compensation for his injury. A dozen golden years of runs.
strode to the
wicket; the ball
as big and bright as
the harvest moon; the
bat as wide as this cherry tree.
The Smith at long leg – ready to reprise retrieving the ball – from beneath a deck chair.
TM thought for a long while. – Ideally – he began
But there was no time for his answer, Zadie Smith was beginning her approach, lithe and on tip toe, across the ancient boards.
False echoes: “I threw it in their faces as a challenge and now they admire it for its aesthetic beauty.”