I can imagine great difficulties for many. Especially two working parents with children and no garden. Very tough. But for us there have been more pluses than minuses. First, our increasing bank balance - no restaurants, bars, or cinemas. No air tickets. Very little petrol. Second, the opportunity to catch up with any amount of Test cricket on TV. Also past Open Championships, made the more exciting having forgotten who won! Meanwhile the saving grace has been our beautiful greyhound bitch whose essential walks and feeding have been keystones of our existence. The main downside has been reduced contact with the grandchildren, particularly the stop to our regular taxi services. .
1940, aged 5 in wartime. I was in a Scottish boarding school at first assembly. Born in Italy and brought up there mixing Italian and English, I was an oddball amongst young Scots lads. The boy in the desk in front turned round and asked “What hooss (sic) are you in?”. Unfamiliar with the boarding school procedure of splitting groups of children into different “Houses”, the question had no meaning for me and I was unable to conjure a reply – not least because the school was in a castle, not a house. So the locals had me marked down as a bit of a dimwit from the beginning. Add to that my prominent nose and where I had come from and I was l labelled the “Italian Jew”. Pretty tough on a 5 year old Gentile away from home for the first time and, yes, a painful experience.
2003. My son Thomas and Daughter- in-Law, Catherine had produced a boy child, Edward and I was able to rush from London to Wolverhampton in time to hold the babe in my arms within a few hours of the birth. Imagine the thrill for us Grandparents when a new pregnancy took hold and was only a few weeks from fulfilment. Then the dreadful news came that something was wrong and the baby was lost. When we went to the cemetery for the burial, I experienced for the only time of my life acute physical pain to accompany the total anguish. Bad enough for me let alone the parents. I pray that none of my family will ever have to suffer similarly in the future.
I have suffered numerous serious surgeries to my feet, knees, hips and lower back. All these have involved varying degrees of pain but it is a temporary pain. Memory is funny that way. It seems that psychological traumas are the ones that really hit you for six and stay with you forever.
2006. Catherine announces a new pregnancy. Tremendous jubilation but this time tinged with inevitable concern about the final outcome. As the due date nears, a decision is made to induce the child a little early, not taking any chances. During the previous months, we prospective Grandparents lit candles in churches all over Europe praying for a little girl red-head – like her Mum. Elizabeth is now three years old and has a wonderfully unruly mop of auburn ringlets. Our prayers were miraculously answered in the most pleasurable way possible.
1959. On my first major cricket tour in Australia, I had lost “form” completely with the bat. Everyone tried to help me but without success. Now we were in New Zealand and, short of fit players, I was pencilled in to the Test side at Christchurch. At practise the day before, John Mortimore, the Gloucestershire off-spinner made a seemingly casual observation – “ you are gripping the bat with the blade open.” So I turned the handle 30 degrees anti-clockwise with immediate results. The pleasure of hitting the ball sweetly again after many weeks of mis-hitting was like a soothing balm.
I batted number 6 and England were hardly sitting pretty with the score at 126 for four , then171 for five with the likes of Graveney, Cowdrey and May back in the pavilion. I made my first Test hundred (141).
2003. A decision to retire from my “Sports” PR business which paid the bills for 25 years gave me time to look back. It gave me satisfaction that pioneering work in two elements of the great game of Cricket had become accepted as the norm all over the world : in computerising cricket statistics for use on TV and also in devising and promoting International Cricketer Rankings (Batting and Bowling).
1963. I was Captain of the England Test Team in Australia. After a “drawn” first Test, it was a daunting prospect to rejoin battle at the huge Melbourne Cricket Ground. In perfect weather for both players and spectators we played in front of over 300,000 Australians over 5 days. The smallest crowd was over 40,000 on the last day. England needed 240 to win and I was nothing if not pensive as I walked out to bat with The Rev David Sheppard. “ Now then Ted” said the great man “ remember this is a fifth day pitch – not a big shot day”. So we started pinching singles. Soon the bowlers were cursing the fielders and the Captain was moving them around like a puppet show. For a couple of hours we ran them ragged: by the time I was run out we had inflicted mortal damage and the match was nearly won. It was not till I had finished the interviews and found a seat on my own in the team bus back to the hotel that the full magnitude of what we had achieved started to seep through. It was probably my one sporting triumph of real significance.
1978. In those days, Scratch Handicap Amateurs (Golf) were excused from Regional Qualifying for the Open Championship. Thus I found myself teeing up for a 36 hole Final Qualifying at Leven Links with dreams of a start at St Andrews the following week. I was in the mix after 18, The wind got up and scores soared so there was a chance, I survived a string of tough holes “into the teeth” until turning downwind at the 16th, a straightaway par four, about 390 yards. I gave it a full smash down the middle and my dream seemed pretty close. My partners played their seconds but no signs of my ball. We walked on and on, virtually to the green which had an “old fashioned “ trench bunker all round the front. Then I saw the ball – a last roll had brought it to rest right under the back lip of the hazard. It added up to a six – but after making a par three at the next it transpired that a par at the last would still qualify. Back into the wind I needed and got a long low draw to have a chance of clearing the burn guarding the green. As I neared my ball an old golfing acquaintance suddenly appeared. As I took out a three wood I thought I heard a loud sucking of teeth. Now I had doubts. OK, lay up and go for the pitch and a putt. “ I thought you of all people would have had a go, Ted” he said as a parting shot. My pitch was decent to about six feet. The putt was true – but just too firm, lipping out. I had tied – finishing 6,3,5. The four man play-off for the last remaining place started at 9,15 p.m. Only one man birdied the first and sadly it was not me. A minor disaster in the great scheme of things but a disaster nevertheless for me at the time.