A little bit of drama

Here are two samples of my dramatic work, Bowling at the Death and Shakespeare Must Die!, written for the radio and stage respectively. You never know, you might find them amusing.

Bowling at the Death is a play for the radio rather than the stage, and it based around the great game of cricket. The protagonist is a batsman denied his first century by what he considered a wild miscarriage of justice at the hands of the umpire. The ‘outrageous’ LBW decision to which he he falls victim unleashes years of pent-up jealousy and fury, with murderous results.

Shakespeare Must Die! is a response to the slew of conspiracy theories surrounding the authorship of William Shakespeare’s plays. The most common idea is that the plays were truly written by Christopher Marlowe, who subsequently faked his own death in order to escape censure at the hands of the authorities for his many and various sins, and that Shakespeare was a cloak. The play takes as its premise that Shakespeare is in fact being employed by a shady cabal to write political works under the name Christopher Marlowe. An altercation in a public house leads to a fundamental shift in the playwright’s firmament.

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One for sorrow

There are occasions that bring the keenness of the razor’s edge of luck we all ride into sharp relief, never more so than when an untimely death is sprayed across a beautiful day in spring, that season which stands for everything antithetical to a sudden, brutal end. As I drove to my first game of the season, top down, sun shining, nothing but good things to look forward to, my day took on a manichaean hue. Continue reading

Small beer

As Oscar Wilde never said, if there’s one thing that is almost as good as playing cricket, it’s talking about playing cricket. Indeed, it could be argued that we play better in our narratives than in the game itself. This, of course, would be a wild and unjustified accusation. It is true, however, that one of the great joys of cricket is the post-mortem, carried out, according to tradition, in a nearby hostelry or at the clubhouse. Continue reading

Serendipity – and full circle

Picture the scene, if you will. A trio of long-haired muso types are crouched in a cellar, soldering irons in hand, as they make lead after lead after lead, threading together the great looms of cable which will form the nervous system of the studio into which this cellar is slowly metamorphosing. Every lead has to be numbered at each end, and tested thoroughly before being encased in the various tubes designed to ferry them from control room to vocal booth and isolation booth. They’re a real pain to take out and fix once in place, so you tend to install a few more than needed, just in case. Continue reading


Parkinson’s is a strange condition, in some ways it’s best described as a ‘but more so’ disease. It’s like getting older, earlier, but more so. It’s like being stiff after vigorous exercise, but more so. It’s like being drunk, but more so … it’s like being alive, but more so. Don’t worry, I’m not about to take the path of ‘it’s the best thing that ever happened to me’ least resistance, as if praising it could make it better. It’s shit. Utter shit. But I can, and will, suggest that it amplifies life in certain strange ways, and the way in which it goes about its business can be instructive. It does micro/macro exceptionally well, because with Parkinson’s, little things can have wide-ranging consequences. Continue reading

Cricket, charity, and stepping up to the plate

I’m not particularly comfortable with, or good at, asking people for money. Last year, when I switched to batting left-handed and asked for sponsorship, the smart money was on a very small runs tally. The smart money doesn’t always win. It began unravelling for my various sponsors during my first innings, in which I scored 40 not out. Though the next few languished in single figures, the die was cast, and this, coupled with an insane quantity of games played, meant that the amount pledged racked up. Naturally, an amount failed to be given in, but this was due to my refusing to accept money until the season’s runs were scored. Continue reading

On Talent

Andrew Bloxham wrote an interesting piece in the huffington post.

I refuse to post a comment because I won’t allow HuffPost to update my tweets. Plus I bet Andrew posted for free (for this issue see Press Gazette on interns).

I would have posted this:

There is a point here with regards what leads to success in the game itself. Whether a natural ability to work hard and eliminate the shots which lead to one’s downfall can be considered talent is difficult to judge.
I think that in this area talent is, and should remain, true to the dictionary definition, namely ‘natural aptitude or skill’, with emphasis on the natural. It’s same in music, where some sublimely gifted players never make it because the game of the music business starts with talent … but ends with hard work, grit, application and so forth.
In the examples you pick here, notably the current test captain, you are talking about Test cricket as  specific game for which he seems preternaturally gifted … but that’s a different argument altogether (though you’re patently correct).

Dexter to sinister part 4

Well, now that I’m utterly bandaged up I can merely analyse video footage and cringe. These are highly selective bits of my second and third nets as a left-handed batsman. Second and third nets, I kid you not. Yes, the shots are clunky and there’s no fluidity, but my left shoulder is at this point knackered … now mending gently.

Dexter to sinister, part 3

So. The countdown begins. I’d be lying if I were to suggest that I am not filled with trepidation at the prospect of holes being drilled into my flesh and long alien-type tubes within tubes inserted, inquisition style. The various ripped and tortured bits of ragged tissue that comprise my left shoulder joint will be cajoled, weedled and simply forced to knit with one another. I’ll be beslung for quite some time … my arm released into the wild sometime in the middle of January, to be gently nursed back to full operational fitness. Finally I will be able to reach to my left to pick up a cup of tea without wincing. To lift my arm above my head … it will be splendid. Eventually.

I write this in the newly cleaned and organised dining room, currently serving me well as an office. The house in which I will be stuck for the next week at least is slowly becoming a home. Even Ginger, the recalcitrant mog himself, is starting to treat it like one. It’s starting to make sense. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to prepare it for a less-than-sinister future, though with regards the tools of my trade, letters stuck on pieces of plastic tip-tapped by my little fingers, well … I mostly type one-handed anyway, my left hand merely providing the odd index finger to the equation.

This morning I woke secure in the knowledge that, sometime on thursday, I would walk groggily into a car, be driven bumpily and painfully down the A23, and I’ll be strapped into my bed … hang on, that’s wrong … I’ll be gently wedged in so that I don’t lie down on my newly chopped rotator, the ginge will be locked out of my room, and I shall sleep the sleep of a man expecting trouble. Naturally, the best laid plans of the marvellous mechanical mouse party rarely run smooth. They moved it to Sunday.

It will be for the best.

In the meantime, several quests remain to be fulfilled; several dragons slain. Left-handed. If you recall, I’d had a couple of nets, completed a couple of supported practice sessions, and generally not got on too badly. I was feeling increasingly comfortable with my new style, though most everyone was amazed I could do it, and confident that I’d pull it off next season. Then reality bit. Perhaps because I was’t concentrating, or I wasn’t with it, or perhaps I was having a bad PD day. Whatever it was, I sucked. I felt awful, had no poise or balance, no foot movement, bat wafting airily (thou sadly not Goweresquely) and flinging across the line, a gate the size of the gates of Hercules between bat and pad …

Reader, I videoed it. At least I can watch it over and over again. Relive every painful, flat-footed swipe, every stiff swivel pull, every ‘defensive’ prod … ah, what days I shall have. Seriously, however, it says an awful lot to me. Apart from ‘you have no natural gift for this game’, it reminds me how important it is to concentrated on every aspect of your game. When I was a guitar player, I used to spend hours fine-tuning my picking technique, getting it ‘just so’. I was one of the fastest, cleanest players you could have found back in 90s England. And it was hard, hard work. Hours of graft. This is what I now need to do … while I’m slung. Get my technique absolutely perfect. The stance, the step and swing, the shot, the follow-through … each is currently flawed.

My stance is ok, but my eyes are not level enough, my bat is away from my body, and my legs aren’t flexed enough.

I barely have a step most of the time, and when I do, there’s no backswing. Which means I jab at the ball rather than swing through it … and I have no follow-through.

Apart from all these wee issues, I’m perfect! The fact that, in nets at least, I’m middling most balls and putting away a fair few makes me wonder what might happen if I practiced really hard, and intelligently … I think I might score a few runs. My plan, therefore, is to work on my top hand for the next six weeks. Then the sling’ll come off, and I can introduce the left hand to the party. The first net will be very tellling.

Already, my head’s in next year’s play.