Aint It a Pity...

St Johns Church
…there’s to be a new city to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I mean have you seen the list. Well, the South East part of the list. Tower Hamlets, Croydon, Luton, Southend, Chelmsford! Chelmsford is the only one with a cathedral, which since 1540 has been one of the qualifications for city status. You might just as well put Fulham, we’ve got a nice church, or Putney (even nicer) on the list. The point is that Croydon and Tower Hamlets are already part of the City of London. And anyway how can a hamlet also be a city. Chipping Sodbury will be applying next. Surely we need to be looking at bigger towns which make more of a contribution to the country if we really have to have a new city I gather Perth, Middlesbrough, Doncaster, Bolton and Wrexham are also making bids for city status. At least they have a distinct character and a history of contributing to our culture, trade and industry. But why do they want to become cities, what’s wrong with being a town? Do you think its got anything to do with football.
I mean do Bolton really hanker after being Bolton City, rather than Bolton Wanderers. Would the addition of city help Middlesbrough attract more support? Or play better football. No, of course not. It’s all about money as usual. And a few people who are going to benefit.
The marketing men, the council leaders, the local business men. Everyone else will have to pick up the bill in higher rates and taxes.
We don’t need more cities. We need to improve the ones we’ve got.
If we really want to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, lets make a determined effort to get rid of the slums that are part of every city!

Sheer Poetry

I went to Lords on Monday afternoon. Middlesex were playing Kent. A quintessential English scene. Sitting in this idyllic setting, with the sun shinning, I was reminded that there were a lot of cricketer/poets and even more poems about cricket. Lord Byron wrote about cricket at Harrow, Siegfried Sassoon about the varsity match at Lords. P.G. Wodehouse and Alfred Cochrane both wrote poems about catching. Cochrane’s, The Catch, about one heroic catch that saved the day, and Wodehouse – Missed! – about a bungled catch that lost the game.
Edmund Blunden wrote about the opening of the season. A.A. Milne (Hymn on Tompkins’ Action) and John Betjeman (Cricket Master) are two good poems. The list is endless. Perhaps the most famous cricket poem of all was written by Sir Henry Newbolt - There’s A Breathless Hush In The Close Tonight - with its unforgettable line, Play up! Play up! And play the game! Unfortunately it seems that many modern Britons have forgotten the line – and what it means.

If you’re interested in cricket writing, prose as well as poetry, there’s an excellent anthology by Christopher Lee entitled Through The Covers, published by Oxford University Press. There are also several good websites .