Wednesday, 3 October 2012

451: Gay Cricket 2 - Peter Tinniswood and Willie Rushton

And what comic mileage is to be traversed at the prompting of the thought of gay cricket matches? Well, mostly it’s an opportunity to alternate between depictions of sissiness and sexual forwardness, written up in the tones of mock-suburban outrage and mild surreal inventiveness which is a tradition in British humorous columnists dating back to Beachcomber. Pansy hysterics, activities in North African climes, sailors, Greek origins, something a bit more advanced the idea of just slapping at each other with handbags, and naming of various famous homosexuals (all of the artistic persuasion). Names like Tufnell and Illingworth are thrown in as they are real cricketeers, and further jokes can be knocked out by association and contrast. All in all, a rather innocuous but silly piece, rather than denigratory.


From “Whitney Scrotum”, by Peter Tinniswood, 1995

Illustration by Willie Rushton

Alternative Cricket

My emotions are mixed, dear readers.

They rage. They fume.

They soar to the delights of rapture experienced by Mr Philip Tufnell when at long last on a Saturday afternoon he finally finishes reading the front page of Monday's “Sun” newspaper.

And why?

Well, I am thrilled and delighted to record in readable print the outstanding success of the first world tournament for ‘Alternative Cricketers'.

Yes, the Air Wick Cup lived up to all our expectations, despite constant mild outbreaks of swooning and shrill giggling in the nefarious regions of long leg and a most unsavoury incident when the Onanists' Select XI from the United Arab Emirates were eliminated in their match against Eleven 'So-Called' Gentlemen of Marrakesh for defacing a David Hockney self-portrait of our much-lamented and revered Cec Pepper, erstwhile patron saint of crooked little fingers.

Barely have I seen waterproof lipstick and Boy Scouts' woggles used to such devastating effect.

Aggers, who for some obscure reason was known to one and all at the tournament as 'Elsie', was absolutely livid.

He got his grandmother's luminous spats into the most fearful twist and vowed 'in no uncertain terms' that never again would he pick his nose with Mr Bill Frindall's indelible pencil.

All that could I endure.

I could have tolerated and even at times condoned Mr Norman Gifford's nude sunbathing on his personal, portable slip cradle.

I was even prepared to 'turn a blind eye' to the grumpy behaviour of Mr E.W. 'Gloria' Swanton, who had been inveigled into giving his patronage to the tournament under the impression that it was the annual general meeting of the West Sussex Hamster and Edible Dormouse Fancy.

But what stuck in my gullet and gave me such yearning pain was the fact that the trophy was not won by 'our boys'.

The Gropers, a team of out-of-work dressers from the National Theatre and freelance stumpers from Northamptonshire, was soundly thrashed and deeply humiliated in the final by the Shirt Lifters, a collection of American vilenesses with false sun tans, painted toenails and only a minimal knowledge of the LBW laws relating to leg spinners bowling 'round the wicket'.

The Gropers seemed positively to revel in their debasement.

Never shall I forget their whoops of delight after the match when they plunged headfirst with their erstwhile opponents into a vat of strawberry milk shake and made the most vulgar of gestures towards the saintly Mr Raymond Illingworth, who was present in his capacity as deputy physio to the Testicle and County Cricket Board.

Whilst I have no intrinsic objection to his being constantly boarded by crew members of Royal Navy Fishery protection vessels for selecting 'off limits' I do take exception to his being constantly bombarded by quarter-scale effigies of Mr Donald Trelford.

Of the subsequent competition I have little memory.

I remember Oscar Wilde scoring a ton before lunch and Jean Cocteau bowling a devilish eight-over spell of googlies, flippers and Chinamen dressed in nothing but ankle-length Glamorgan sweaters and Wilf Wooller. autograph sweat bands.

And of the final - nothing.

As the lugubrious Innersole said to me as we trudged away from the ground after the defeat of The Gropers: 'It's all Greek, mate, ain't it?'

'You play football for Walthamstow Avenue once and there ain't no human perversion can ever turn your head again.'

I am not inclined to agree - remember, dear readers, I once went on a bicycling holiday in the Yorkshire Dales in the company of Mr Noel Coward and Mr Bill Alley.

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