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Essex Shield

Tales from the Boundary

An Embarrassing Crisis of Identity

I hadn’t seen my cousin David for some years, not since early retirement had enabled him to exchange the dusty claustrophobia of North London for the open spaces of the Leicestershire countryside.  Like me he had always been a ‘cricketaholic’ but work had rarely allowed him more than the occasional opportunity to watch the first-class game.   Happily, times were now different and he had been able to enrol as a proud member of his adoptive county.  I had expressed an interest in obtaining a copy of a book he had written in which he chronicled the fortunes of his county’s season in 2000, so we arranged to spend a day together when Leicestershire visited Chelmsford in August of the following year.

Our unequal journeys to the County Ground – his from Loughborough, mine from nearby Springfield – were planned to merge in the Tom Pearce Stand shortly before the start of the first morning’s play.   For some long-forgotten reason I was delayed at home and didn’t arrive until the game was under way.  Walking along the pathway behind the stand I spotted my cousin engrossed in proceedings on the pitch but, feeling the need to obtain relief from one of those calls that nature makes with increasing frequency as the years pass, I diverted to the pavilion for a minute or two emerging refreshed and feeling quite ‘chipper’.

As I approached the area of the lower tier of the Tom Pearce Stand where I had seen my cousin I was seized by one of those strange adrenalin rushes that urges us to behave in a manner that we almost always have cause to regret.  I rolled my copy of the Daily Telegraph into a cosh and, in a most bizarre form of greeting, administered a sturdy blow to the back of the head of my unfortunate target who, when he had recovered sufficiently to turn in pained surprise towards his attacker, was a complete stranger to me.  The likeness that this gentlemen’s countenance bore to that of my cousin (who I subsequently located on the upper tier of the stand) was uncanny: nonetheless, nothing that I could offer by way of an apology could dull my feelings of utter mortification.

The following season I joined the ranks of the match day stewards at the club and soon came to realise that my victim was a regular supporter.   In the hope that I might defuse any lingering animosity he may have harboured towards me I gallantly identified myself to him as his foolish assailant.  Even though this helped to ease my conscience my stupidity haunts me still.   Each time he passes me at the gate we exchange knowing glances.  Mine tries to say “Sorry chum”, his always says “Bloody idiot”.

Chris Butler