Tales From 2012
Tale From Guildford
Paul Edwards establishes base camp in deepest, dampest Surrey.
I decided to leave early for Guildford and arrived in mid-afternoon. For much of my journey through the middle of England there were flooded fields, rivers in spate and the deep greens of soaked foliage. Fresh showers there were, too, although not as frequent, nor as heavy as we have had recently. The skies were every shade of grey, from ash through taupe to charcoal, as the clouds jostled each other for the privilege of unloading the latest downpour.
We arrived in London. You might think cities are much more immune to the vagaries of the weather, but it is not so, and no one who has been in London during a heat wave or New York in a snowstorm could think so. What one can do, of course, by transferring from train to tube and back to train is stay under cover, but even that was uncomfortable this steamy July.
Everywhere one looked in the capital conventional directions had been supplemented by lurid pink stickers directing the Olympic millions to Eton Dorney or Wembley, Horse Guards' Parade or Lord's. The five-ring city is sponsored and chartered to the nines: such and such company - official energy supplier to the Olympics; this and that organisation - officlal timekeeper to the Olympics. I knew the Games were big, but I didn't know they were this big. Soon we were at Waterloo and I caught the train through Surrey's commuter belt. Surbiton, Hersham, Walton-on-Thames. Memories of sitcoms and pop songs. I shall be glad not to be in London later this month.
I arrived in a drenching shower, but for a couple of hours thereafter there was sunshine: fragile, tentative, and for ever looking over its shoulder. In early evening I did about four slow circuits of the Woodbridge Road ground, which is surrounded on three sides by trees and has been carefully prepared for the biggest week of its year. Nottinghamshire are the visitors for a CB40 game on Sunday, but the main attraction is the match against Lancashire, which begins tomorrow.
Everything has been set out as neatly as possible in the full knowledge that spectators will disarrange it all. My friends at Liverpool or Southport know exactly the amount of work that goes into one of these games and, yes, the number of times the weather forecast is scanned in the days prior to the match.
We had all the seasons except winter in the hour I was there, surveying this empty theatre in which no play was taking place. I had the ground to myself apart from a security man and his dog, Bau. Bau is a Groenendael, a Belgian shepherd dog and I reckoned it wise not to get on the wrong side of him. Even the right side was risky; it's about the height of James Taylor.
I treasure these evenings before a four-day match in a relatively unfamiliar town or city. I see things I may not notice when my attention is given to the cricket. There are villas perched on the hills around Guildford, for instance, and one notices how the county which accomodates part of London also boasts plenty of rural land. Then, later this evening, I glanced out of my window and saw slim blue-suited delivery boys about to ferry pizzas out to their customers. These drivers wore baseball caps and their uniforms had red piping: they could have been mistaken for England's one-day squad.
A few minutes ago the lights on the hillside were winking brightly. The Woodbridge Road ground had long reteated into the shadows. Only the steady thrum of traffic and the tang of the lush damp leaves were left.
Photo (c) Nigel French/EMPICS
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd