One of my mother’s proudest moments, she won’t admit, is visiting Lords and standing inches away from a crumbling clay urn, paper label curled with age, handwriting spidery and faded. The Ashes, secreted in this diminutive and unexclamatory mini vessel, mean a lot to her. The glass that protected and separated the icon steamed with our breaths as we admired the odd little signifier of so much of her identity.
She’s not what you’d describe as sporty and doesn’t own a black labrador, a barbour or a cricket bat. She doesn’t even have a son and as I far as I know has never played cricket as an adult. She has introduced a hundred friends to avocados and is never knowingly beaten in the kitchen. She’s Australian. A closet hooligan and creative soul, she’s banished to the guffawing countryside, wellies-and-pearls brigades of the home counties, and is a unique and rudderless woman.
Test cricket is the only time when much ironing seems to unfold (or fold?) at her helm. Having ironed all of Thursday, Friday presented obstacles of the aeroplane variety that meant distance between my mother and a telly. This is how our texts went:
11:22 Cricket results please x
me: 4-1 aus, england 425, hope that makes sense x
11:34 Help does that mean an aussie is out already? X
me: Yep… The office went wild. Sorry mumma x
11:37 Who, katich?
me: Oh no you’re not going to like this. Ponting has just been knocked out. Hughes was before. 10-2. X x
11: 41 ohmigod
me: You have to start a blog on this. It’d be a classic. x
11:45 I might have left the country
Phone call – mother checks that I am not laughing or going wild with rest of office. Shocked at the possibility. Sounds despondent, saddened and even desperate.
14:15 Dare i ask the score? X x
me: 63 for 2. getting better! X x
17:29 Do you know the score now? X
me: Ok cricket 156 for 8 bad light stopped play xx
I haven’t heard since…She is, of all places, in Turnberry this weekend. Not watching golf.