Tour Diary 2012 – by Alex Fenton

Tour diary 2012 – for pictures from the tour click here

As some of you will know, during the part of the season formerly known as early, but this year as cancelled, I proposed that we Disband the Greys Cc and reform as the Greys Drinking Club. Just the same but without the cricket. Rob as the new skip, as he’s experienced at getting people drunk. The “Rain Game” hardly raised the spirits, so with the weather soothsayers foretelling the end of the world some time on Sunday, and postponement of the tour being discussed on the Wednesday before Tour Friday (there’s a name for that day in the Christian calendar but I can’t remember what it is), the MGDC idea seemed to have some legs, and spirits were as damp as Ricky’s emergency towel.

However, we are the mighty greys and it has been suggested that we oughtn’t to be fucked with, and so it proved. Ben found a house and inspired me to find one too. The forecast improved just enough and suddenly we were on again, what’s more, in the lap of luxury. Hoorah for us!

Jerry, who proved a more than useful house elf was first in to the Hayloft, and discovered that amazingly, it matched the promise of the photos, and what’s more had 11 beds. We arrived in dribs and drabs, final members being from Terry’s car, who on the way had stopped for a commando style raid on an industrial estate for bladder emptying, and all found equally inappropriate places to urinate in public, and also stopped to ask an innocent by stander “Who am I?”.

It’s one of the amazing features of the greys tour that we all somehow bring the right things without that much planning. I would be tempted to used the word synchronicity if it wasn’t so pretentious, and the name of an album by the Police. Food, booze, music, and other things were all supplied in the correct quantities, and everyone found their role. Del produce two great dinners, Jerry cleared up, I made breakfasts, Jerry cleared up, Ian was in charge of the fire and keeping people out of the en suite toilet in his room, Ben took the role of swinging from the chandeliers and looking thoughtful on his balcony, Dave and Ricky did the entertainment, Ibu was a barometer of straightness against which the rest of us could measure our selves. Most of the team registered at least 7.2 Ibars on both nights.

Rob, Biff, and Terry had of course driven, so were entitled to take it a bit easier, but still supplied music, ways to designate the rooms, and sage advice and directions, in that order.

Rooms were allocated after the football (time for the familiar agony of renewed hope), Ben winning the coins against the wall competition, took the master bedroom but all the rooms were lovely, so it didn’t really matter that he had a room to himself with its own balcony and king size bed. Not at all.

Much merriment ensued, with spiffing Wiff-Waff sessions at various intervals, things getting steadily worse after Ibu turning in, and leaving us without a base mark at the low end of the scale. We were no longer tethered to trying stay in contact with reality, and now the only measure of decrepitude was at the upper end of the scale…..trying not to get as fucked as Del, or getting to the point where you actually understand what Ian is trying to say. As the night wore on, the ratio of laughter to words coming out of Ricky increased to the point where you could only make out the occasional intelligible utterance in between whatever it is that he finds so bloody funny. Memory does not recall whether we did cover Ben in oil and shoot him off the mezzanine on to the dining table, but what followed in the early hours may become known as The Wrong Trousers. Or The Piss – Rug moment.

My understanding of what happened is as follows. Ricky entered Terry and Daves room, sat down on Daves bed as he removed his trousers, and then stood up to relieve himself on the sheepskin rug and Daves shoes. “What the fuck are you doing, Ricky?”, said Terry. “it’s alright, it’s a towel, it will soak it all up!” replied Ricky, who then sat down again, put on Daves trousers and left the room. Shortly afterwards, Del also felt the need to seek the wisdom of Terry. He walked into the room, looking nervous. “What are you doing, Del?”, asked Terry. “I’m looking for something”, said the token colonial, philosophically. “Well, you won’t find it here”, said Terry, “the path to true wisdom rarely involves standing on a piss soaked sheepskin rug”. Del saw that our sage was indeed correct, and left, none the wiser, but with wetter feet.

We awoke the following day surprisingly free of dampness, and bits of dried grass stuck to our faces, and remembered that we were still in a house not a campsite. Breakfast complete, we moved to the business of the day, laughing at Ricky’s expedition, and at Dave emerging from the room saying “where the fuck are my trousers?”. As Ricky pointed out, lucky that no one got too out of it.

“are those Great Tits or Coal Tits on the bird feeder, Biff?”, I asked post breakfast….”great tits”, said Ricky, involuntarily.

We reached Sidbury to find the village fete is timed to coincide with our tour, but we pressed on to the game, and with the darkening skies, we were beginning to think we may not have to play cricket after all. But with an attitude to the welfare of their square that can only be described as gung-ho (ok, maybe cavalier would work, too), Sidbury declared the wicket fit after a short deluge, and opting to bowl first, we squelched on to the field and took up our positions. Slightly reminiscent of the Rain Game, the scene brought my mind back to the sight of Biffolini, or Pol Pot Belly, as he prefers to be known, standing in the doorway of the balcony changing room at St James’ in his underpants, doing a passable impression of the commandant of the concentration camp in Schindler’s List. Except without the rifle. Or any Jewish people being shot. Or being German. The tension was mounting as we waited to see if Rob was going to be sick into the pile of sawdust at the end of his run up, but no, he just about managed to bowl his first ball and we were off.

It is a peculiar feature of a Greysman that under certain conditions, he will play better when horribly hungover. When you get a whole team in that condition, apart of course from Ibu, (who I think was introduced to alcohol with a can of Australian lager, and has vowed never to drink again, unsurprisingly. I gather he uses the same technique during Ramadin, when he spends the daylight hours thinking about the economy range at Asda), we can be quite formidable. Overlord and the Undertaker conceded a miserly 11 runs, Dave taking 2 for 4 and Rob 3 for 7. Ibu and E-o bowled without much luck, but kept the run rate slow, helped by and an outfield as wet as Daves shoes, and some good fielding. This included the PSM, possibly the first time merely stopping the ball has won, when to everyone’s surprise a ball hit hard and slightly to my left was in my left hand and not shooting through the wet grass 10 yards beyond me.

The point about the state of a Greysman and cricket performance was rammed home by Ricky, who ran in and took a wicket with his first ball. He ended up with 3 for 6 off 4 overs. Skip brought himself on, and did exactly what he does most weeks- bowl a beamer no ball first and then take wickets which belong to Dave. He took 2 for 4 in an over and a bit, and wrapped things up with Sidbury all out for 45. 5 wickets fell to leading or top edges, so it may have been a difficult wicket to time the ball on, we thought as we consumed the lovely tea and chatted with Bish, who to Biff’s relief isn’t Bish any more, and now has his former role fulfilled by a posse of other people. There was also an ex ex-pat, with numerous stories of getting handsomely paid for not doing much in Zambia and Tanzania for 30years. And we discovered that someone at Sidbury thought one of us was a policeman (hah!). I wonder which one of us?

Biff and Jerry opened and made batting look a bit easier, scoring at a good rate, including a trademark guide into slips hands by Jerry (juggled and then dropped). Jerry hit 3 fours (to match Sidbury’s total boundaries), before being caught. Del came to the crease and failed to get a century (no, I don’t see what Maths has got to do with it), and saw us home, with Biff undefeated on 17 and Del on 11.

The game complete, we headed to the pub, which the ex ex-pat had very kindly phoned ahead to get open for us, and mulled over the events of the day. We were dispatched to the supermarket to secure some more supplies, and a flavoured Vodka. Deliberations were long, and many flavours were considered, but in the end we decided on Petrol, just winning out over Anti-freeze and Armpit. Luckily it became quite drinkable in that twilight period between forgetting your own name and losing the feeling in your legs. Although, having said that, Ricky did finish it off by pouring most of it on to the floor and then all over his face while insisting on using the lid to drink from, so maybe he was really just getting rid of it without actually pouring it down the sink. But I digress.

On our return we consumed another fine Del’s Dinner, and did it all over again. Highlights included-

The formation of The Uncoordinations, and brand new dance and vocal quartet (although we are still working on the vocal bit, I think it’s safe to say we nailed the dance. We just need to work out how to be a bit blacker…..and then get a time machine).

The wearing of the hat. Ian and Ricky had gone to the Village fete and returned with a couple of cakes and a straw hat that all of us put on for a photo. At least we have the Algerian Hacker boys to thank for preventing the use of our website. On the plus side the cake was like eating mud, according to the guy who bought the hat.

I’m pretty sure we played the game that Terry suggested, a variant on the Ben missile game, where we tie Biff to the table and then lob Ben, Ibu, Del and maybe Jerry from the mezzanine in Biff’s general direction. Which ever one lands on Biff probably won’t be dead. Thinking about it, that may not have happened. And the rules need a bit of work, anyway.

Del standing up asleep while still being health conscious enough to eat a satsuma, and even offer some to me. What a guy.

Ian and Ricky were the last ones up, but Ian produced one of the moments of the tour for me, and only me, by waking me up at about 9.30am by singing in his sleep. A series of sounds that sounded like words followed by a drawn out “baaaaby” at the end. Twice. Bit like The Cocteau Twins and Billy Ocean.

Breakfast again, followed by a tidy up. It’s was at this point the absence of Dave from the kitchen for the entire weekend became clear, when he asked the whereabouts of the cutlery drawer……and the kitchen.

And so to the Luppitt fixture at the picturesque Middle of Nowhere Ground, with the clouds gathering again and the collective hangover theory a distant memory. We didn’t in the end stop to allow Ricky to ask a local “Who am I, and where are my trousers?”, but we should have. Trying to function after the second rave up in a row, on even less sleep than the night before does tend to take its toll on us at Luppitt, that and the fact that they still have all those kids who are now rather good young cricketers.

Luppitt batted first, and Rob again bowled with great accuracy and removed 3 of the top order for a parsimonious 14 runs off 7 overs. Perhaps helped by Del throwing the ball at one of the batsmen’s head, although he pointlessly chose the one wearing the helmet. This was in stark contrast to the carnage taking place at the other end, where the young bucks took a distinct liking to Overlord’s bowling. He tried a succession of Mulberry’s, Omaha’s and even a Juno, but nothing could stop the batsmen taking advantage, and he suffered the unique ignominy of conceding a 6 in each of his first 4 overs. One of these finished in the hedge, and Terry performed his one footed stamping dance, although unlike last year at Sidbury, he didnt rotate slowly around as he did it. I think its a kind of semaphore and I must remember to ask him what it means. Please help me, I’m old and confused? I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with finding the ball. Dave recovered somewhat after The Undertaker had obligingly removed one of the more destructive batsmen, and finished with none for 38 off 7. Ben accused Biff of failing to go for a catch he could have reached, but responded with “what, Inspector Gadget?” as we changed around at the end of the over I walked past Ian who muttered “Inspector Fat Git”. ( This reminded me of another brilliant witticism from Ian last year when Rob was being hard on himself with his bowling. I shouted “don’t beat yourself up about it Rob”. A moment later Ian said, “But if you do, take your glasses off first”. Classic.) And then it rained….a lot.

After the break it was a different game. We had come in with them on 60 odd for 3, but scoring and not getting out was proving difficult now, and some tight bowling and again some great fielding did us proud. Before the rain, Terry had taken an excellent catch on boundary, and Ibu a sharp one a slip, both off Robbie Bruce Lee Hoare, and it carried on after the deluge. Two catches at slip diving forward, one by Dave and one by Rob were both excellent, but in the opinion of the team they were trumped by the PSM, which went to another diving forward catch, to dismiss their best batsman, this time by me at point. This had followed another quite good stop, and prompted much celebrating, amidst calls of “What’s happened, Al?” and “Jonty!”. Dave kindly explained to me afterwards that PSM isn’t just about the quality of the event, it’s also about who did it and how surprising it is. I know I was surprised I had the ball in my hand afterwards, let alone that I’d actually gone for the catch. Ibu took his first wicket of the season, Ricky chipped in with another 2, as did Del and we dismissed the 10 men of Luppitt for 105, 8 of them caught. Ben kept really well in difficult conditions, (in both matches, as it goes), and continued his “Hit when they are in, missed when they are out” attempted run out/stumpings policy. And high pitched over enthusiastic appealing.

Best tea of the year so far, and although it’s early days it’s going to take some beating. This year we decided not to reverse the batting order, but it made little difference, as the runs scored before the rain proved decisive. Biff was removed early doors by another sharp catch at slip, off the spinner who opened the bowling. Skip hates this. One of these days we’ll play someone who opens with an 11 year old spinner, with a double barrelled name and black shoes using a pink ball and Biff will actually explode. With the keeper standing up to everyone, and catching a few balls in his moobs, scoring was very hard. Jerry and Del did brilliantly but fell in quick succession for 18 and 25 respectively (Del’s innings including a great 6), but after they were out we slowed dramatically. One run off 5 overs with myself and Terry at the wicket was torturous, and attempting to up the scoring rate, myself and a succession of greysmen fell to catches, being bowled slogging or being given out LBW by Jerry. There may have been an exception to this, as I’ve a vague memory of a bat being chucked, Terry shouting “Run, Ian, run!”, when he was already at top speed, and some swearing. In the end Terry was out trying to guide us to victory off a ball that could have been waist height or over, but we were never going to do it, IMHO.

We retreated to the pub type arrangement afterwards, to lick our wounds, do Greys business and try to make peace between Ian and Terry.

And that’s it. A wonderful weekend and needless to say, Ricky had the last laugh.

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