It’s just not cricket!

Following on from my previous blog about hobbies, I just remembered that my life is pretty damn full of another past time….I just forgot about it being old and all that!

Every summer from April to September I take on a magical role, a very important role (to some!) A role I have always wanted to do ….. I do tea and I’m proud!

Let me explain. My son has played cricket for many years now and if I say so myself, is a cracking bowler. Apparently he is a left hand spin bowler (for you cricket buffs out there) but to me he just chucks hard swervy balls at men (usually). So after a fair few years of his dad watching and encouraging him and trying to train him, (an impossible task as “Dad doesn’t know anything” but as soon as the coach says the same thing, it’s gospel!), dad decided to join him. Father and son combination – perfect I hear you say,…mmmm, that’s another story!

Anyhow my hubby, let’s call him Kevin cos that’s his name, used to play cricket in his younger years and was pretty good by all accounts. So he was dead chuffed to be back in the whites, which are now a bit grey as my washing machine says it has a whites cycle…it says so on the drawer thingy… but it doesn’t. It has a wool, silk, quick wash, tumble dry, colour, eat your sock and grey cycle but no white cycle that produces the results you see on tele where the presenter stands there holding up the whitest of t-shirts with a smug smile on her face. I have every conceivable whitening product in my cupboard too and they all lie to me. Or it could be that I am just s**t at laundry.

Sorry I’m wandering again. So he was like in a kid in a sweet shop now that he was playing again and soon got a bit too carried away. He wanted to aim for the heady heights of the cricketing world and decided he wanted to captain one of the teams at the cricket club they play at.

He put out some feelers, bribed those who could be bribed and blackmailed those who couldn’t! Hey presto, someone on the committee found it in their heart to nominate him and someone seconded the nomination so it was all above board, agreed, pucker and legal: he became the captain of the 4th’s team.

The 4th’s are a stalwart bunch of men/boys who love a social (and I use the word loosely) game of cricket on a Saturday afternoon. For anyone that thinks that cricket is a gentleman’s game, think on. I have been introduced to the world of sledging, which if happened outside your local nightclub at 3am would result in you having 7 kinds of s**t being kicked out of you but as it is during the game, it’s apparently all just banter!

Back to my story……Here began my new role. You see as captain, he is responsible for feeding the players in the middle of the game, in between the innings (that’s the break in the middle for those less-knowledgeable in the language of cricket). See I’m even learning the lingo!

Like I said, he is responsible for feeding the men: he is married to me: therefore any responsibility falls to me. Bit like his wages: he gets paid and he gives them to me …simples!

Anyway I’ve always wanted to do the teas and I finally get my chance to shine. It’s like as a child, I always wanted to work in a library as you get to stamp the books. Guess what, my dream came true. I work a few hours a week at a library where I not only stamp books, I get to scan them as well and wait for it, I get to use a till too. It’s like I work in a shop as well…bleep, bleep, stamp, kerching – could it get any better?

I thought this food-providing role would be a piece of cake (see what I did there?) but oh no, it is so stressful and my thoughts are with those tea ladies around Britain that have been doing this for years. As Spiderman’s uncle Ben once said “With great power comes great responsibility”… How true is this!

Even from day one, it’s caused derision in the ranks. I did a poll with the family – do I do the usual common or garden variety cricket tea of sandwiches and cake or do I take it up a notch and offer ploughmans? It may sound like a small decision to you but this could change the face of cricket fare as we know it!

The results were in – my daughter said traditional sandwiches, my hubby said “whatever” and my son said pizza and chicken nuggets! In the end I agreed with my daughter to try one of each, traditional and ploughman’s and check the feedback with the majority winning.

I lied… I went straight in with the ploughman’s because I pulled rank on my daughter! I have to be honest, it’s a pretty damn good spread, beautifully arranged and labelled. I must mention at this point that I do enlist the help of my pink one or a good friend (remember Heidi from a previous blog) to help where possible. Picture this….

Sliced and buttered Tiger bread, sliced cheese – 3 varieties of, sliced meats – 3 varieties of, crisps – 2 types of, mini hot savouries – 2 types of, pasta, salad – cucumber, celery, tomatoes and fruit – grapes, blueberries, strawberries, melons – 3 types, all beautifully displayed on a platter like a Monet vegetarian work of art, followed by a huge selection of cakes and biscuits.

I even provide a small gluten free option for those of a coeliac nature. Plus I also take requests. Just ask the guy who wanted olives. Guess what appeared in the antipasti section the following week?

Although the result is impressive by cold buffet standards, it all comes with a price. The players from both teams help themselves to the veritable feast, plate after plate and enjoy it (I’m basing this comment on feedback received. Ok I lie …. I loiter close by and listen out for the remarks which are normally about the fact that there is sliced roast beef!), but no one knows the misery and suffering that can go on behind the scenes.

They don’t see my living room from Tuesday onwards where I sit there watching my hubby trying to arrange a team by ringing and texting every bloke he can think of whilst not having time to communicate with me for 3 days!

They don’t see my face on a Friday night after a long day at work arriving at Tesco and struggling to find a ¬£1 coin for the trolley.

They don’t see me wandering around Tesco knowing exactly want I need to buy, as I have meticulously worked out how many packets of everything I need, swiftly moving from one chiller to another gathering my raw ingredients.

They don’t see me having to adopt plan B when Tesco have run out of mini beef pasties and I need to find an alternative meaty product with the same satisfaction value as the pasty… No mean feat I can tell you. A sausage roll won’t cut it, it’s got to be so much more.

They don’t see me praying that I don’t receive The Phone Call.

They don’t see my face with The Phone Call comes in: the phone call of doom I call it. This is the call where my hubby tells me, very very gently, that the game is cancelled because of lack of men or lack of forecast sun.

They don’t see me having to retrace my steps around the shop replacing all the items I had gathered trying my hardest to look like I can afford them really. Do you know how long it takes me to slot¬†12 long tiger baguettes back into their rack without bending them in the middle…..2 minutes and 23 seconds…..2 of the longest minutes known to man.

They don’t see me having to do the walk of shame out of the shop with an empty trolley, like I’ve just had my bank card declined and I’ve had to leave my wine behind.

On a more positive note, when the game goes ahead and it all goes to plan, I get to prepare the lunch and I love it. I’ll set it all out perfectly in the club house, swat away the certain players that like to loiter over the ready salted Pringles and when the first innings is coming to an end, or the rain arrives, whichever comes first, I whip off the clingfilm and allow food wars to commence!

I think the club are happy with the job I do as I stick within budget (always a good thing) and I think hubby is happy as “wifey done good” and I’m quietly pleased with my work, although I’m sure there are plenty of wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, mothers, aunties and nans who do it a whole lot better.

And finally the most important thing is I think the players go away satiated, still happy in the fact they got to build their own sandwich with 6 slices of roast beef, 2 types of salami, 3 pickle onions and a handful of those oh-so-beautiful Pringles between 2 fat wedges of Tiger bread, followed by 1 piece of cucumber (because after all they are on a diet), 3 chocolate mini rolls and a cherry bakewell.

I’ve only had 1 complaint though during the 2 years I’ve been doing this. I’m not going to let it get me down although it did annoy me for a while but after a glass of red and a good talking to from the hubby, I moved on.

The complaint was that there was no Halal meat available. The complainant was a vegetarian. I’ll just leave that there……!

Another shameless plug. My men play for Newport Cricket Club, a fab group of people. Clubhouse available for hire and new players of all ages always welcome. Feel free to look them up.

Join the 4ths and you can get to try my ploughmans….