The Pine Marten is a mysterious, some would say ‘mythical’ bird. Anthropologists have claimed that references to the winged mustelids appear in the writings, carvings and cave paintings of almost all the great civilisations throughout history. It’s even been posited that the Aztec God, Quetzalcoatl – ‘the feathered serpent’ – worshipped throughout Mesoamerica since 400BC, shares a common ancestry with the Pine Marten of Indo-European spiritualist traditions. Germanic cave paintings that date from the very dawn of European settlement seem to back this claim, depicting the Pine Marten wearing a conch shell breastplate similar to that of the one worn by Quetzalcoatl in carvings found in archeological sites in numerous locations across central america.
Only a very few scholars, working at the fringes of their respective fields, have risked their reputations to suggest that the Pine Marten actually exists as a physical entity outside of the spiritual realm. To do so is to attract scorn and derision and probable exile from the academic community. The problem with verifying the birds existence is that is seems only to appear to those at the very apotheosis of meditative concentration or to those in the foulest depths of hallucinogenic fever. If ever these witnesses return from their journeys to the edges of the human mind their testimonies are not trusted by a scientific community interested only in empirical evidence.
In his book The Teachings of Don Juan Carlos Castaneda describes a shamanic training ritual in which a man can not only see but ‘inhabit’ the body of Pine Marten and fly through the air, witnessing the world from the bird’s perspective. Whilst his critics claim the book to be a work of fiction, his supporters believe they describe actual happenings that Carlos himself lived through. The true nature of the Pine Marten remains mysterious and accounts of ‘sightings’ of the bird have become extremely rare in the urbanised 21st Century world.
Lets start at the end. A famous victory for The Mighty Greys – a first on tour since 1872, back when Terry Burgess was just a simple infantryman fighting for the British Army in the Nukapu Expedition – and a thumping victory at that. Biff, showing off by juggling the ball before grasping it, took the second of two fantastic catches at long on to seal the victory and give Chief Turning Ball his 6th wicket of Sidbury’s short innings (I think they got 70-odd) – an incredible bowling performance that saw him concede just 11 runs. His unerring accuracy was complemented by some fine athleticism in the field – Jerry, panther-like, taking a sharp low catch behind the stumps not long after Alex had snared one diving forwards at shortish-point.
Double D had precipitated the Sidbury collapse early doors by bowling Bolton the opener for 0 with a beauty. QB kept things tight at the other end and did for the other opener, affecting a run out after sharp work in the field from Bish but special mention needs to go to this lad people were calling Ricky. I hadn’t seen him on campus before but as soon as I laid eyes on him I knew it was love. Tall, rakishly handsome, jumper slung over his shoulders and tied round the neck, sunglasses on; something about him spelt trouble……and I couldn’t get enough of it. He could have had their young danger boy caught behind with his previous delivery, but the disappointment of the dropped catch didn’t phase Ricky; he took off his sunglasses, turned his head toward me, winked, put his sunglasses back on, then bowled danger boy with his very next delivery. Well, got him lbw really but that doesn’t sound as good. Whoever got to ride off into the sunset that night on the back of Ricky’s motorbike, wind rushing through their hair, was very lucky indeed.
Earlier that afternoon our Grey heroes had posted 225 in their 30 overs. Messrs Day and Edwards finishing Not Out, meaning that the latter now had a rounded average of exactly 50 from his last 2 games – a man in form. Things had not started so swimmingly however as The Greys slumped to 8 for 3 in the early afternoon – the period of the game when hangovers were still at their most voracious. Wig had proved the most resilient of the top order, scoring all 8 of the runs posted before Bish and your humble (hahahahahahahahahah!) scribe came together at the crease.
‘Bish’ I thought. Could we get him to play for us permanently? (Could we rename Jerry and Rik ‘Bash’ and ‘Bosh’ so our top order is called Biff, Bish, Bash and Bosh??) He’s nice and laid back. I like his voice – he’s got a nice accent and its calming. Ooh look he’s just hit another 4, he’s pretty bloody good at this cricket malarkey too. That was a good over. Oh he wants to have a little chatty meeting in the middle between overs. Lovely. Can’t remember what he said but he’s got a lovely voice and he seems very nice. Suns out now. Lovely. This is a nice place ya know – trees all around the ground, a babbling brook running through the little wood at one end. That was a good over. Oooh lovely, another little chat! I’ll do anything you think is best. I wonder if Bish is short for ‘Bishop’? The Archbishop of Wavy-Haired Lovliness. He should play for us. Ooh he’s just hit an amazing straight six to bring up his 50. Bloody well done.
We’re doing pretty well here. I must have scored a few as well. This is nice. All the wildlife round here. They must play games. Mammals are definitely into it – not sure if they grasp the finer points of cricket but they love a good ball game. I wonder if birds are into it? The gift of flight would add an extra dimension. Actually that would ruin it I think. This is a game best played on the ground. Especially today, I’m a bit woozy. Hit that one well though – another good over. ‘How much time during the week do you spend thinking about playing cricket on a Sunday’? Try and take this in. ‘How many crap nights sleep do you get on the night before games cus your too excited for the next day?’ The possibilities each game brings. Sometimes I wonder if you’re still a child. Ooh I hit that one well. “Driver-less cars….it’ll never happen! I’m fackin’ tellin’ ya. As soon as one of ’em smashes into a pedestrian and kills ’em that’ll be it. Won’t fackin’ happen”…..ha, the things that come into your head when you’re in a daze. The conversations we’ve had round that fucking table in the Constant. Anyone who’s ever been given a lift to the game by Eeyo knows we’ve had driver-less cars for fucking years already. I’ve played some bloody front-foot shots here ya know! Cricket shots. My dog would like it here. She’d run after the ball when I hit it though and chew it to bits – wouldn’t go down well. I love that dog.
Been out here a while now. Not sure how long actually. Could be five minutes, could be five hours. Do Gnomes live in all these little houses? Am I dehydrated? Single to backward square. What the fuck is that!? That isn’t a fucking bird. How is it hovering above the pavilion like that? Is that a conch shell? Is that a…………Is that a………….
I’ll tell the grandkids about this. If I have any. I’ll be a bloody old man if I do and I’ll surely have forgotten most of the details. The story, whittled down over time as the memory fades, reduced to one sentence babbled over and over again – a nonsense mantra emerging from some groggy old sod. Poor little bastards wont have a clue what I’m on about, but I will, and hopefully it will still make me smile like it did last Saturday.
I saw a Pine Marten in the sky.
I saw a Pine Marten in the sky.
I saw a Pine Marten in the sky.
and then the party started….