Bad Light / White Heat (Leicestershire v Essex)

Leicestershire v Essex, Grace Road, County Championship, Day 4, 19th May 2012

Well, you can’t say they didn’t try to make a game of it, but, as I was remarking just the other week, Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi Est (in this case, in the person of Peter Willey).

I have seen fears expressed that our old friend the contrived finish might be a victim of sensitivity to accusations of match fixing but that didn’t seem to be the case at Grace Rd. yesterday.  Certainly any shady Indian betting syndicates who’d thought to put a few million rupees on Wayne White scoring a 12 ball 50 would have been considerably better off by the afternoon. 

The start of play was delayed until 1.30 by persistent mizzle.  The personable Tymal Mills, fielding on the boundary, relayed the news to us that the arrangement was that Leicestershire were going to be setting Essex a target of 270 (I didn’t see anyone on their ‘phones to Ladbrokes at this point).

I think most of us secretly like a bit of declaration bowling (perhaps something to do with the carnivalesque reversal of the normal roles and rules) and Josh Cobb added to the humour of the situation by being caught behind off his second ball from Adam Wheater (his second ball in first class cricket).  As a freebie century would have done his average a power of good, Cobb may not have enjoyed the joke as much.  Ronnie Sarwan was two short of his century when he skied it straight to Tymal Mills, who must have been wondering what the etiquette was in these situations, before taking the catch.  In his current form, Sarwan might have done better to play his normal game.

Someone behind me pointed out – as slow half volleys were served up and the crowd cowered under a hail of sixes – it was just like watching the IPL (without the music, or the spectators).  Apart from White’s 12 ball 50, Ned Eckersley bagged 70 off 19 balls and they can both be expecting an approach from the Deccan Chargers any time soon. 

Mission accomplished, Essex began their reply and looked in all sorts of trouble against Leicester’s pace trio of Hoggard, Buck and Joseph.  So much so that, after about an hour, they all came off the field again, citing Bad Light.  Umpires Willey and Lloyds made a series of further inspections 

but after a brief resumption the match was called off shortly before four o’clock. 

Most counties would regard coming off for Bad Light as an anachronism, but Grace Road is one of the few grounds (I think) that does not have permanent floodlights yet.  One day I expect to see the last abandonment for Bad Light, which will be a bit like witnessing the last cavalry charge,or the last native speaker of Manx.

In case any readers new to cricket are confused about the difference between Good and Bad Light, this

is Good Light (the divine light that emanates from the throne of God and his Angels), and this

is Bad Light, the kind brought by Lucifer himself.

You can always tell that T20 is in the offing because strange objects begin to make their appearance around the ground a few weeks in advance.  Last year they were in connection with the Hawaian theme adopted for the T20 season, but this year’s theme is more of a mystery. 

These two objects

might be sentry boxes, or perhaps Edwardian bathing huts.  Their use can only be guessed at.  Perhaps the umpires will stand in them and emerge, dressed in Edwardian bathing costumes, to hold up signs indicating which kind of weather is causing the game to be abandoned.  Or perhaps they’re planning to replace the cricket with a swimming gala. 

Leicestershire are still second to bottom of Division 2, largely because of the points deducted for a slow over rate in their victory over Glamorgan.  Perhaps we should give up and try again in July, when the weather might have improved.  (Exactly what we will be doing, of course).

Arrangements In Black And Gold : Venetian Nights in Matlock Bath

(More from the Matlock Bath Tourist Board …) 

So, here we are again, in the middle of the annual rolling Fire Festival – Halloween, Diwali, Bonfire Night with which we try to ward off the arrival of Winter.

Like the Blackpool of my youth, Matlock Bath gets in early on this one with its Illuminations, which run from the beginning of September to the end of October.

The highest lights – which I was lucky enough to view – are the Venetian Nights.  These apparently originated to mark Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 (she had visited as a young girl and had written how much she had enjoyed seeing the twinkling lights of Matlock Bath) and consist of a procession of small boats decorated with electric lights (accompanied, when I saw them, by Land of Hope and Glory played over the Tannoy).

Entries this year included a Formula 1 Racing Car, the Space Shuttle, Super Mario, a Mississippi Riverboat and Bob the Builder.  My favourites, however, were Mr Toad –

and a horse-drawn Victorian hearse (rather alarmingly the entry by the St John’s Ambulance Brigade) –

I don’t think a fellow can really say that he’s lived until he’s seen a ghostly Mr. Toad being pursued up and down a river by a flaming hearse to the strains of Land of Hope and Glory.

Lightening Up with Arthur Hugh Clough


This may not look like very much, but – to me – records the first day this year that there has been a little light when I passed St Nicholas’s on my way to work. 

And here is a poem to go with it from Arthur Hugh Clough.  I’d guess that Clough is not much read these days, but is probably remembered for a couple of lines from “The Latest Decalogue” – “Thou shalt not kill; but needs not strive/Officiously to keep alive”.  This is usually now quoted in support of euthanasia, but was originally intended as a satirical comment on the indifference of respectable mid-Victorian opinion to the welfare of the poor.

He also used to be remembered for this – untypically uplifting – poem, which was alluded to by Winston Churchill in a 1941 speech, anticipating the entry into the war of the U.S.A.  I’d guess the first line is still rattling around in people’s heads somewhere, even if the author is sometimes  forgotten.


‘Say Not the Struggle Nought Availeth’*

Say not the struggle naught availeth,
         The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
         And as things have been, things remain.

If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
         It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,
         And, but for you, possess the field.

For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
         Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back through creeks and inlets making,
         Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

And not by eastern windows only,
         When daylight comes, comes in the light,
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
         But westward, look, the land is bright.



* Apologies for this mis-spelling, which I’ve only just noticed.  I must have been thinking of the cricket.

Evening Prayer : Darkness Visible

The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned” (Matthew 4.16)

I’m afraid words seem to be failing me slightly today, so here are a couple more images of Lights in the Darkness.  I have noticed, looking back through the photographs I’ve taken this year, that certain themes recur no matter what I’m intending to photograph – doorways, entrances and exits, signs of all sorts, gravestones and memorials.  But this seems to be the predominant one.  I’m sure my subconscious must be trying to tell me something. 

This is a statue of Mother and Child from Peterborough Cathedral (I’m afraid I failed to note the sculptor) –

and that was the River Jordan at about 6.30 one morning last week (the lights here are street lights rather than will o’ the wisps).

“Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night …”  

and – of your mercy -pray for the soul of the 15 year old friend of my daughter from her old primary school, who was murdered last week in North London.  Rest in Peace – though, of course, that is the last thing a 15 year old should be doing. 

A Full Moon in Little Bowden, and Elizabeth Bishop’s Insomnia

An alternative source of illumination to the last and – in some ways – a good match (gold and silver, male and female) is the moon, particularly a splendid full moon of the kind that we saw on (I think) Wednesday night.  Here we see her competing with some lesser lights –

and here in her full majesty


though, in the absence of heavy curtains in the bedroom, the full moon can lead to …




(Elizabeth Bishop)

The moon in the bureau mirror
looks out a million miles
(and perhaps with pride, at herself,
but she never, never smiles)
far and away beyond sleep, or
perhaps she’s a daytime sleeper.

By the Universe deserted,
she’d tell it to go to hell,
and she’d find a body of water,
or a mirror, on which to dwell.
So wrap up care in a cobweb
and drop it down the well

into that world inverted
where left is always right,
where the shadows are really the body,
where we stay awake all night,
where the heavens are shallow as the sea
is now deep, and you love me.

In the Gloom, the Gold Gathers the Light Against It

I’m either a little late for this, or a little early, but I understand that either the Monday just past, or next Monday, is meant to be the gloomiest day of the year.  This Monday certainly felt thoroughly gloomy to me, though I feel things have brightened up slightly since then and the (dread phrase!) “direction of travel” is in the right direction.  There are now, at least, birds audible as they go about their business at 5.30, after the truly dead time of the year in midwinter when “no birds do sing” and (O Joy!) there is a little light when I leave work.

But here is a photograph that I feel provides a little light to lighten our darkness.  During the Christmas break I was lucky enough to have visited the Anglican Cathedral in Peterborough and Pugin’s Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Barnabas in Nottingham.  I had some thoughts about these and will try to gather and present them to you in due course, but, to be going on with, this is the Rood in Peterborough Cathedral, sculpted in gilded aluminium by Frank Roper.  Roper’s obituary in The Guardian had this to say about him –

“Roper was a man of entrancing contradictions: a modernist whose work absorbed tradition, deeply conservative but a vivid individualist. His working days were hard and hazardous, but, like Magritte, he dressed at all times in collar and tie. He attracted and amused a wide circle of friends, and relished sharing sculptural toys with his daughters and grandchildren.

Given its ubiquity in churches, Roper’s work remained surprisingly little-known, a fact which perhaps reflects his humility in placing the function of devotion above expression of the artist’s personality. Writing of his work at Llandaff, he referred to Pace’s suggestion, “that I should seek inspiration by putting my head into a thorn bush, a painful operation intended to prevent my formalising, or inflicting my conventions on the subject”.”

An odd thing to take any kind of comfort from, of course, but millions do.

“In the gloom, the gold gathers the light against it” 

(Ezra Pound, Canto VII)

(The inscription underneath reads Stat Crux Dum Volvitur Orbis (The Cross is Still While the World is Turning) – the motto of the Carthusian Order).