Hurrah! The rain has stopped. Clitheroe’s match on Saturday was uninterrupted and often played in that rare commodity, sunshine. The wicket was more like one to be found in April, though there is still a hosepipe ban imposed by United Utilities. Clitheroe won and remain on the top of the Ribblesdale League, which still seems a strange thing to say after their pitiful performance last year – plus ca meme chose plus c’est la difference ?
Third Man’s son made his debut as an opener and posted 60. Here is the result of the cap taken round for him by the shy but affable Josh Marquet. £22 pounds or so. Hard work against a Kewi pro and a Derby IIs tweaker with a ‘modern’ action.
The sun shone yesterday (Sunday) and the grass was cut. Strangely dressed persons started arriving at the Cottage at 7.00pm. All was explained when Third Man was ushered out of his home so as not to get in the way of a Murder Detective dinner being held by his daughter and her friends, who are trying desperately to distract themselves from the inevitability of Thursday’s A level results.
He was persuaded by the promise of a portion of fish pie at The Inn at Whitewell which would tempt anyone out on a sunny Sunday evening – orders until 9.30 pm.
The Inn is on the other side of Longridge Fell (the most southerly use of the word fell in the country) which is ‘traversed’ by way of Jeffery Hill and which offers spectacular views stretching from the Fylde coast to the Trough of Bowland. The Bowland Fells fill the view.
Farmers in the Trough were taking advantage of the sun and contractors’ tractors mowed the small fields into those familiar striated patterns. The drone of their machinery had filled the day and would continue through the night.
Down from the fell, the lanes to the Inn follow the course of the Hodder which eventually passes through a narrow gap (the gullet of the trough) at Whitewell which is therefore overlooked on all sides by uplands.
The Inn itself and the surrounding estate is part of the Duchy of Lancaster, which means that this is the Queen’s pub. She is the Landlord, though Gore Smith manage it for her. Speculation surfaces now and then that somewhere around here will one day become a very special Retirement Home, but that is usually when someone else wants to sell their nearby home whose value they believe could be enhanced by the quality of the neighbours. But think of the security, dear.
Whilst waiting a while at the summit of Jeffery Hill and taking in the whole panorama it occurred to Third Man that the Trough is a trough indeed for cricket. He knows of no cricket team in Dunsop Bridge, Slaidburn or Newton-in-Bowland.
Then he remembered that the Inn at Whitewell had been the “mission to eradicate pomposity and pretension from fine living while taking care not to sacrifice style, comfort and, above all, humour.” of Richard (Dick) Bowman who played 26 first class matches principally in 1957 when he received his Blue for Oxford.
The Inn is exactly as Third Man imagines Squire Weston’s pile to have been. It sits on a sweep kink of the Hodder and there is a terrace on which the intrepid can eat outside. Inside are a myriad of rooms each with their own personality and each with their own open wood fires. The floors are stone and dogs are welcome. In fact a dog can be provided for those who forgot to bring their own – you know the type of place.
The Bowman humour is still in evidence five years after his death. The rear end of a fox disappears through a cupboard door high above a passageway that leads to the lavatories.
The Gentleman’s Lavatory has alas been modernised in recent times but was once a homage to the Sixties, to Bowman’s cricketing and school activities and indirectly and, in a way that TM cannot explain, to James Bond. He seems to remember that the walls were pasted not with wall paper but with newspapers from that decade.
The best of the cricketing and other ephemera remain: a photograph and scorecard of a match to celebrate the Centenary of Lancashire CCC in which Bowman sits with Sir Frank Worrell, Brian Close, Denis Compton and other immortals; the scorecard of Essex v Oxford University (probably 1957) in which Bowman, coming in at number 9, made 75, having previously taken 7 for 60 in the Essex innings.
He must therefore have been in good form as he went on from Chelmsford to Lord’s and the ‘Varsity Match’ where he toiled through 39 overs and defeat by an innings.
Bowman used to patrol the Inn and light the place up with his smile, good humour, infectious welcome and a rhubarb and custard tie. It is therefore odd to find this one photograph of him at Cricinfo with only a trace of that smile.
As TM returned home to creep up and spook the dinner party like a real murderer, the contractors were still going strong, the headlights on their tractors lighting up the fields and an exactly half moon hanging above the Irish Sea directly over the Isle of Man.
(more photographs later – what a promise!)