October 18, 2016 by Michael Madden
Death By Battenburg
The cricket season finally ended, accompanied by some dodgy decisions, some unseasonally warm weather, and a bit of a damp squib of an end of season do. Next up is the Players Meeting, called for by the league. Let’s hope there is an improved attendance. The junior season ended in defeat in the Compstall cup final. It was an achievement to get to the final, and a disappointing defeat, particularly after bowling out the mighty Hawk Green for a low score, but some dodgy decisions and irrational batting saw our boys collapse. On the morning of that game Sally said she would get a picnic for the afternoon. I gave her £20, and was somewhat underwhelmed when all that she could produce for the hard earned score was a packet of Sports Mix.
The league suggestions on how to improve matters are noble in their intent, but they really do not go far enough. In 2015 the forfeit of a game was a one off aberration, never to be repeated. In 2016 it was a regular event. Often with more than one team forfeiting on a given week. So what changed? I could guess but I really have no idea. What I do know is that if the trend continues next season we will not have a league. Drastic changes, even if those changes are experimental in nature, are urgently required.
Watch this space.
There comes an age in your child’s life when you realise that they are growing up. With Ole it was when he started nicking my razor arguing, that as he didn’t shave that often it was a waste of time having one of his own. With Zac it was a much more significant event. At 12 years old he announced that he had downloaded Tinder onto his mobile phone. At his advanced age he has started to notice what he wears, and in Malta we bought what quickly became his favourite jumper. He barely had it off, and then one day it was lost. We searched high and low, we asked friends, we contacted Whitehall, but to no avail. And then it showed up. It had been stuffed into his tracksuit bottoms’ drawer. The incident was quickly forgotten, after a stern reminder that he should look after things and put them away properly, and this time it was all of a week before it went missing again. Learning from our earlier mistake, this time we found it quite quickly, stuffed into his underwear drawer.
Of course, the end of the cricket season overlaps with the start of the football season, and Zac and his team mates looked splendid in their new kit.
And so to the NFL. It was Jacksonville, the home team, against Indianapolis, and as usual there were more shirts from just about every other NFL team than these two. The uniform remains the same; oversized trainers, jeans, a hoodie, and an NFL shirt worn proudly over the hoodie. After a train and a very slow taxi ride, I met some friends and we had a few beers before going into the stadium. The show was spectacular. Every player was introduced with a firework display, and the drama was laid on thick by an expert announcer. The Star Spangled Banner rang out, and then I realised that they had done something special and unique in actually creating a ‘home’ atmosphere for the Jacksonville Jaguars. There are rumours that they will eventually get their own franchise in London – which will be interesting. Will they live here? Or will they, like their opponents, just travel here for each game? Anyway, when you watch the game on tv it can seem like ten minutes of sport spread over three hours interspersed with adverts. Live, it is very different. Every break in play is an excuse to roll out the bizarre Jaguar drummers, or the scantily clad cheerleaders. There was always something happening, and although this was quite a dull game no one seemed to mind.
The folks are very friendly, everyone says hi, and everyone calls their mum momma. Which often sounds strange. I guess though that any time you see a sign for Texakarna you think of Them Ole Cotton Fields Back Home, and Little Rock and Texakarna are connected by a single road. They do serve very good steaks, as you would expect, with interesting sides. It being the south I had collard greens, which were very tasty braised in vinegar. I will be trying this one at home. I was a bit disappointed with the key lime pie – I reckon mine’s better.
And whilst we are in the kitchen Sally has been experimenting! She was cooking beef in red wine and had two bottles on the go. Of course, one was for drinking and one was for cooking. There didn’t seem to be much going into the cooking pot!
I made Ch Stew, which is chicken, chick pea and chorizo. It was very tasty and will definitely be repeated. I will let you guess where the name comes from. I also made Moroccan Lamb, and although there is not much that Ole doesn’t like when I cook it, the apricots were a bit overpowering. Next time I will include more lamb and less apricots.
And so to the star of the show. As it was my birthday Sally threatened, sorry, ‘offered‘ to bake a cake. What sort would I like? Well, as Morrison’s have evidently stopped making Festival Gateux I jokingly suggested Battenburg. Undaunted, and uninhibited by a perceived lack of capability, Battenburg is what she made. Well, thats what she said it was. What do you think?
I thought, how difficult can it be? Leaving aside the pink sponge colour failure, the rest wasn’t too impressive, so I had a go myself, and I was rather pleased with the result. In fact, a prominent member of the Oswestry WI said that it was better than anything produced by the WI! That might be taking it a bit far, but its an excuse to show you the result…
I showed Ole mum’s picture, and he grimaced. I showed him mine and he rather excitedly said ‘You made Battenburg?’ The interesting thing about that is that he quite simply did not recognise the earlier picture as being the distinctive Battenburg, and who could blame him?
Anyway, undeterred by her culinary crash landing, Sally tried her hand at cupcakes for Zac’s birthday. The result?
She tried again with similar results, and then said ‘I’ve finished with baking – what do you want for tea?’ I had to admit that I wasn’t hungry!
Finally, my sister has been having a whale of a time in South Africa. Unfortunately Jake managed to damage tendons in a fall on a slippery floor in their villa. Of course the floor was probably slippery with either gin, tonic, ice or lemon, but that’s by the by. In an apparently unrelated incident Fiona texted Sally to state ‘£1600 light ATM hopefully the insurance will pay out’. Sally was mortified and spread the word that Fiona had been mugged at the cash machine and £1600 had been stolen at gunpoint. Ok, she didn’t say gunpoint, but if she retold the story over and over it would have most certainly been embellished. Anyway, I immediately asked how she got £1600 out at the cashpoint. My limit is £300. Then I saw the text. I suggested that she was not actually at the cash machine, instead she was at the hospital. Jake’s operation, or possibly the insurance excess, was £1600. ATM? Well even I know that that is text speak for At The Moment! Still, never let the truth get in the way of a good story!