Tag Archives: Ted Dexter

Homes Fit for Heroes – A Bank Holiday Bonanza

Third Man is grateful to Chunter for directing him to the photograph of The Botham (above), an apartment on a Persimmon development built on the site of the former Aylestone Road cricket ground in Leicester (see here).

The Botham and the Boycott (below) excited his ever sensitive imagination if not his wanderlust.

The Squire is presently renovating the East Lodge with the help of Miss Pamela Kueber who has described herself in Homes and Obsessions as (and this proved irresistible to His Grace), ‘your mid mod mad guide’

“Just the person we need for the renovation of the East Lodge.  Très Mid Century.”

 “Would that be the Mid-Seventeenth or the Mid-Eighteenth Century, Y’Grace?”

“Enough of your nonsense, TM.  Hold my Leica and let’s take Pam for a spin in the old Type III to trawl up some ideas.”

Published below are images ‘stolen’ on that trip from the homes of mid-century cool cricketers, including one taken in Boycott’s mother’s bathroom where, so to speak, the young Geoffrey cut his teeth and perfected his Backward Attack:

The Parfitt bathroom:

The matching Parfitt bedroom:

A bedroom in The Gower:

The pool  in The Compton:

The Dexter, note the roof styling and use of diamond bricks:

Suitably fastidious and symetrical tiling in the Edrich:

And finally bathroom features in The Boycott where the flamingos prefigure a South African infatuation:

 Plenty in the cabinet to aid the dyspeptic.

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A Vision of Perfection

It is high summer in Leicestershire and it is a glorious early evening.  For someone who played his schoolboy cricket in Hampshire, Sussex and Somerset, and now watches his son play on the league grounds of Lancashire which are utterly urban, Leicestershire takes on the character of an unsought dream.  The fields are in stubble and dotted with neat hay stacks, like chip towers served in some affected restaurant*.

The village pub that Third Man is staying in has at 8pm and without warning told him that no food is served on a Monday and he sets off irritated and intemperate in search of a pub that will serve him.  Three disappointing attempts later he is driving down a country road between the villages of Church Langton and Thorpe Langton when hunger finally sends him into delirium.

On the roadside, in the gloaming, between high trees, he spots the spectre of an enchanted cricket ground.  Passing by in an instant he is certain that he has seen the mythic cricket ground that all lovers of the game believe one day they will stumble on. 

It cannot be, so he drives on; his need for food and the lateness of the hour getting the better of his cricketing instincts.  But a mile or so down the road by the village sign of Thorpe Langton he finds his senses, turns the car, follows his nose and, not really expecting actually to find a cricket ground behind those trees, drives west cheating the evening.

But here it is**  Exactly where he glimpsed it.  A small country cricket ground surrounded by trees, and easily missed from the road.  With good sight screens and a set of expensive covers.  He turns left down a lane to the corner of the ground, parks the car and walks in through a short track.  The groundsman is watering a wicket used that day.  Four or five players still in their whites are sitting outside the pavilion, finishing their beer and talking of the day. 

Third Man stands in awe.  Still disbelieving.  Pinching himself.  Hunger and thirst have gone.  He is in a special place.  He waits while the light entirely dies and only the painted skeleton of the pavilion can be seen by mortal eyes.  The players have drifted home.  With care, the groundsman has coiled his hose and locked away the roller in its shed.  All but Third Man have amble down that short track to the village.

He turns to follow them.  Half in jest – the moment has been so utterly entrancing – he says out loud, “Naturally there’ll be the perfect pub just through there.”

And there is!  The Bell Inn.  Because this is East Langton Cricket Club.  It’s players are so fortunate.

And once, a few years back, Dexter played here.  Now that would have been a vision.

* The peerless Peter Ashley of Unmitigated England fame photographed these towers at about the same time that Third Man was visiting Leicestershire.

** The excellent Liberal England has kindly posted a photograph of the ground and allowed TM to link to it here.

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They called tails

Yesterday, Third Man was able to change every clock in the cottage except the one that really matters, his own body clock.  So he is wide awake at 5 am.

The thought with which he woke was the realisation that many of the favourite cricketers of the late 1950s and early 1960s all had one thing in common.

On the list are Butch White, Colin Milburn and Fred Trueman.  As TM mulls the theme others coming to mind include Brian Close.  Can you guess?

Yes, they all had trouble with the tails of their shirts.

Butch would leave the pavilion spruce and well groomed.  Within six balls his hair would be out of control, his shirt drenched in sweat and at least one his shirt tails would be refusing to stay tucked in.

Trueman, despite a heavy smearing of Brylcream and a very tight trouser waistband had the same problem. Colin Milburn’s shirt tails were on the move after walking one single down to third man.

I seem to remember that when Brian Close was playing the fastest West Indian bowling ever seen, stopping each ball in the middle of his unprotected chest, he was between overs spending his free time tucking his shirt tails back in and chatting idly to Edrich.

Third Man once had one of Tom Graveney’s cricket shirts.  A very large white Clydella.  For many years it was his favourite possession and first choice batting shirt.  Sorry Tom, but it was a tent with tails like the genoa jibs on a tea clipper.

Third Man’s mother was an excellent judge of a cricketer, but the highest marks in her ratings were reserved for those with a neat appearance rather than a good average.  She insisted that TM wore Vyella perhaps having rapped him in Dayella swaddling clothes at birth.  [Note for the young: these had a high woollen content, would shrink to half their size in the laundry and so had to be carefully hand washed and required a process known as ironing.]

The arrival of the elasticated waist band may have eliminated the problem.  (Were these first sported by that great innovator Tony Gregg?)  Fittness, dietry care and overall weight loss may also have contributed.  The arrival of today’s nylon cricket, shirt perhaps modelled on the old Surrey Smock favoured by shepherds, brings its own difficulties but when dishevelled still lacks Truemanesque character.

What did Dexter wear, boys?  Turnball and Asser of course.

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