A quick update about my situation vis a vis coronavirus.
In view of the the coronavirus situation I thought I would let all of you know about what is happening with me.
WHERE I AM AT
With my lungs probably still damaged from the cancer that nearly killed me less than a year an a half ago and my immune system almost certainly still compromised from the chemo used to treat that cancer I am in an at risk group. Therefore my external activities for the foreseeable future will be kept to a minimum – I hope to still visit the two libraries that are within walking distance of me, and for the moment I intend to keep on doing my own food shopping, although I have a backup plan in place should even these excursions have to stop. I have already put my plans to return to work on hold, and my employer has indicated that he will try to arrange for me to do some imaging from home while I cannot risk travel by public transport. I am at the moment quite well, and definitely do not have a fever – I have been taking my temperature daily for several weeks now and it it is consistently reading in the 36 degrees range. My life is never exactly a dizzy whirl of social activities in any case, so such a minimalist approach as I am having to take is probably less of a hardship to me than it would be to many. Good luck to all of you finding ways to cope in these difficult times, and I will try to find more things to blog about in the coming period. Here are a few recent pictures to finish:
My review of Not Weird, Just Limited Edition: Inside the Autistic Mind. I urge you to all to buy copies of this fabulous little book.
You may remember that a couple of posts ago on here I mentioned a new book about Autism titled “Not Weird, Just Limited Edition: Inside the Autistic Mind”. Well the copy of that book that I ordered arrived yesterday, and now it is time for a quick review.
A LITTLE GEM OF A BOOK
The book, written by Faye Flint, who was diagnosed as autistic only at the age of 27 (regular readers of this blog will recall that I was 31 when I got my own diagnosis, so this is a situation that is more than a little familiar to me). It is 108 pages long, with the text very generously spaced. Each page is a separate event, recording a particular thought or train of thought, and each is beautifully clear, and for obvious reasons many are instantly recognizable to me. If you are autistic yourself, or know/ are related to someone autistic, or even just have an interest in autism this book, written as it is by someone who is actually autistic is an absolute must read. I am going to share some of my personal favourites (I have selected six out of 108 pages to quote – and the quotes will be indented and italicised to set them apart from my own writing:
First, page 31:
I was a child with Asperger’s.
I will remain an adult with Asperger’s.
No, I won’t ‘grow out’ of my Asperger’s.
Asperger’s is who I am.
But I have lived with myself for 30 years.
I have learned how to manage myself.
To be able to fit into society more appropriately.
Page 49 (I am bolding as well as italicising this one for reasons that should become obvious):
“But you don;t seem like my friend’s son who is autistic?”
Ahh, well maybe that’s because…
I am a grown autistic woman,
Not a 7 year old autistic child.
Yes, there really is a difference.
No, my Asperger’s cannot be cured.
Nor would I want it to be.
This took me a long time after such a late diagnosis.
It has made me, me.
And I kind of like me.
Many people say my ‘differences’ are what they love most!
Page 69 (another one that I chosen to bold as well as italicise)
If you want to know about the spectrum,
Ask someone who is on it!
We aren’t offended.
It makes us happy that you care enough to want to learn.
There is nobody better to ask,
Than someone who goes through it,
Finally, page 81:
I promise I am listening to you.
But my brain has 2,644 other tabs open right now.
It is very distracting.
A cricket hat trick at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, the origin of the phrase hat trick and some photographs,
This post looks at a great night for cricket, and also at the origins of the term hat trick and some of the more notable examples. There are also of course some of my photographs at the end.
SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
First the ‘team of the year’ award went to England’s world-cup winning cricket team (only if the rugby team had beaten South Africa in the final of their tournament would this even have been a contest), then the ‘moment of the year’ went toJos Buttler’srun out of Martin Guptill that sealed that victory, again not really a contest. Finally the Sports Personality of the Year went to Ben Stokes (with great respect to Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thomson who had strong cases – sorry Lewis Hamilton, being at the wheel of the best car out there does not give you a case). Ben Stokes is the fifth cricketer to be thus honoured after off-spinner Jim Laker (1956, 46 wickets at less than 10 a piece in an Ashes winning series, plus an all-ten – 10-88 from 46 overs in the first innings for Surrey against Australia), white-haired grafter David Steele (1975, brought in at the behest of new captain Tony Greigto stiffen the top order and responded with 365 runs in three test matches), Ian Botham (1981 – Botham’s Ashes) and Andrew Flintoff (2005, Ashes superhero).
So that is the story of cricket’s hat trick at SPOTY 2019, which leads on to….
THE ORIGIN OF THE PHRASE HAT TRICK
In the early 1850s Heathfield Harman Stephenson (Surrey) travelled north with the All England XI (one of a number of travelling elevens that existed at that time and for some years after, a development that could have radically altered the way in which cricket was organized had the MCC not taken urgent action to get the biggest draw in the game, W G Grace, on side – his membership was proposed the Treasurer of the club and seconded by the Secretary, so desperate were they) to play a match at the Hyde Park ground in Sheffield. During that match he dismissed three of the opposition with successive deliveries (not the first to do so in a big match – Nottingham tearaway Sam Redgate had accounted for Fuller Pilch, Alfred Mynn and James Stearman in successive balls in 1840) and this feat so impressed the locals that someone passed a hat round to collect money to present to Stephenson, and hat and contents were both given to the player, and the phrase hat trick was born. It has subsequently come to be used in other sports for notable achievements involving the number three, but it is in origin a pure cricket phrase.
VIDEO AND PHOTOGRAPHS
Before the photographs, here is the moment that secured cricket’s hat trick of awards at SPOTY:
Just before my usual sign off, a shout out to Sarah Glenn, who after taking 2-38 on debut and 2-37 in her second match for England then starred in the weather ruined final gamed of that series by collecting 4-18, which means that three matches into her ODI career she has total figures of 8-93, for an average of 11.625 per wicket.
Looking at the state of play in the final Ashes test match and in the closing stages of the County Championships, a couple of dates for the diary and some photographs.
The final test of this year’s Ashes series has no bearing on the destination of the urn – Australia have already ensured possession of that with their victory at Manchester. However, an England win would tie the series (previous examples of such include 1962-3, 1965-6 and 1972). This post looks at that, and at the closing stages of the County Championship.
THE TEST MATCH
Australia won the toss and put England in to bat. England were somewhat fortunate to reach a semi-respectable 294, Rootbeing dropped three times en route to 54, while Buttler with 70 produced his only major score of the series, and Leach again showed his ability to hang around, lasting 80 minutes (43 balls) for 21. However, in addition to Root’s good fortune Denly, Stokes, Bairstow, and all-rounder Sam Curran, in for Jason Roy, all scored between 14 and 22, and in all cases were culpable in their own downfall. Denly and Burns put on 27 together for the first wicket, the biggest opening stand by either side in the series to date. Archer dealt swiftly with both Australian openers, Labuschagne and Smith have had a good partnership, but Labuschagne has just gone for 48, LBW to that man Archer, adding to this match’s substantial tally of ‘nearly but not quite’ innings and the even more substantial match tally of innings ended by batter error.
I have to say that I am a bit worried about how this match is going, because a 2-2 series draw would give the England selectors something to hide behind and excuse inaction, whereas a 3-1 beating would surely compel action. For similar reasons I take scant comfort in Buttler’s 70, which may simply have bought him an extension to a test career that has yielded inadequate returns for a specialist batter. I hope Anderson can regain fitness because the young speedster Archer and the wily veteran swing merchant Anderson in partnership is an enticing prospect.
SOMERSET SOON TO CELEBRATE
Somerset are poised to win their first County Championship, having ruthlessly disposed of Yorkshire, while the best their only rivals, Essex, can hope for in this round is to avoid defeat at the hands of Warwickshire. Tom Abell produced a gritty performance in the Somerset second innings, when Yorkshire might have stayed in contention had they taken quick wickets, and with more aggressive efforts by Tom Banton, George Bartlettand Lewis Gregory to back him up Somerset ended up with a huge lead, and a dispirited Yorkshire collapsed for the second time in the match. Warwickshire put up 517 (23 year old Matthew Lamb 173) against Essex, who could only respond with 324, and made to follow on, 101-1 so far at the second attempt. Somerset have 205 points with two games to go, and Essex, playing their penultimate game, and with no chance of the 16 for a win are currently on 192 points, which if they avoid defeat will become 197. Thus at worst Somerset will be in a position from which one more win in their last two games will guarantee them the title, as would two draws, while even a draw and a defeat would leave them heavy favourites. Other than Somerset the only teams not to have won a county championship are Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire (who were twice named Champion County in the 1870s, before the competition was out on an official footing in 1890). In the second division Lancashire disposed of Derbyshire in a match made notable by Josh Bohannon, whose previous highest score in a fledgling career was 98 not out, but who this time round scored 174, batting at no 3 and coming in after the fall of an early wicket. One big hundred does not make an England test player, but if he continues to score heavily from near the top of the order the selectors would have to take note (this innings gives him a record of 660 first class runs at 47.14).
Matthew Wade has just fallen to Sam Curran to make it 118-4 in the test match. Mitchell Marsh, whose medium pace somehow accounted for five England wickets, is now at the crease.
I have two major events coming up – Sunday is Heritage Open Day, and I will be stewarding at Lath Mansion, Nelson Street from 2PM to 4PM. A week on Tuesday is the second “Yes We Can” day at the Corn Exchange, and I will be helping to run the NAS West Norfolk stall.
Some thoughts about the early stages of the 2nd Ashes test at Lord’s, two petitions and some photographs.
This is mainly a sharing approach, but I have some comments about the test match that has finally gotten underway a day late as well.
BURNS CONTINUES TO ANSWER CRITICS
What should have been day 1 of the second Ashes test at Lord’s was yesterday washed away without the toss even taking place (such are the vagaries of English late summer weather!) but today we have action. Australia won the toss and decided to field (a decision on the borderline between confident and arrogant, based on attempting to bat only once in between two England innings). England a currently 112-3, Jason Royhaving fallen to the third ball of the match, Joe Root having also fallen cheaply and Denlyhaving done a “Vince” with a nicely made 30. Rory Burns is still there, currently 53 not out, with Buttler at the other end. This is an impressive follow-up to his first innings ton at Edgbaston after commentators had been unanimous in not thinking him worth persevering with. Having supported him all the way through since I first mentioned him when the Cook/ Jennings pairing was due to split due to continuous failings by the latter and impending (now confirmed) retirement by the former, I am especially pleased that he has picked an Ashes series to announced his arrival at this level (not quite on a par with the great opener who shares my surname, whose first four Ashes knocks were 59, 115, 176 and 127 – in two matches that England lost). Burns has just gone as I write this, but it is still a fine effort by him. England are now 116-4, and need a big partnership. Stokes has joined Buttler, with Bairstow, Woakes, Archer, Broad and Leachto come (I suspect that Leach, given his recent batting at Lord’s may get a promotion from his official no 11 slot, but we shall see). Only one team has ever come back from losing the first two matches to win a five match series, Don Bradman‘s1936-7 Aussies, when the captain himself scored 270, 212 and 169 in those last three matches, so a collapse now would be doubly bad news (the 1894-5 Aussies levelled at 2-2 after losing the first two, but then Andrew Stoddart’s England rallied to win the decider and take the series).
I have two petitions to share here:
1. A company called Adani are seeking to build a huge and very dirty coalmine near the Great Barrier Reef. Sum Of Us have a petition up and running about this atrocity and I urge you to sign and share it by clicking the screenshot below.
2. My second petition is open only to UK based signatories. The grouse shooting season, a source of shame to most of us Brits who do not participate in it, is underway, and a petition is running (and has already attracted over 40,000 signatures) to ban the practice. Please sign and share, clicking the screenshot below:
An autistic cancer survivor’s eye (and ear) view of yesterday’s World Cup Final at Lord’s.
First a little bit of background about the occasion from my point of view. On Friday I went in to hospital for a procedure known as a “Radical Inguinal Orchidectomy” as the latest stage in the treatment of the cancer that less than a year ago threatened to kill me. The operation was performed under general anaesthetic, and I was kept in hospital overnight, and only discharged on the Saturday once I had demonstrated my capacity to walk unaided. Thus yesterday, the day of the Mens Cricket Cup World Final, was my first full day out of hospital after the operation.
THE MATCH ITSELF
New Zealand had beaten India through a splendid display of controlled seam and swing bowling to qualify for the final while England had disposed of arch-rivals Australia with satisfying ease to book their place in the final. Everything seemed to point to an England win, but New Zealand had dealt very well with theoretically far superior opposition in the semi-final. As it was on free-to-air TV (the first time any cricket match in England has been thus broadcast since 2005) I was initially picked up by my father and taken over to my aunt’s house to watch the match. England bowled well to restrict New Zealand to 241. New Zealand however learned well from the England bowlers and England were soon behind the required rate. I missed a tiny bit of the England innings when I was taken home, being by then thoroughly exhausted. Back in my own home I listened to the astonishing climax and followed the ball-by-ball updates on cricinfo. The possessor of the coolest name in international cricket, Colin de Grandhomme, bowled the most economical allocation of 10 overs by anyone in the entire tournament (1-25), but Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes kept cool heads and kept England just about in contention deep into the final overs. When the final over began England needed 16 to win, and they got 15 of them to tie (aided by a very fortunate four overthrows which gave them six instead of two on one of the deliveries), which meant a “super over’. Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler took centre stage once more, while after a long delay Trent Boult accepted responsibility for bowling the over for New Zealand. England made 15 runs of the over. 24-year old Jofra Archer accepted responsibility for bowling the final over, while New Zealand sent out Jimmy Neesham and Martin Guptill. Archer’s first delivery was somewhat harshly called a wide, and then Neesham blasted a six, at which point it looked all over for England, but Archer responded and eventually it came to two needed of one ball, with Guptill on strike for the first time. Guptill hit it out into the deep, where Jason Roy fielded, and arrowed in a superb throw to Jos Buttler who whipped the bails off to run out Guptill, who was obliged by circumstances to go all out for the second. Thus the super-over contest had also ended in a tie. The next method of dividing the two teams if the super over did not work was on boundaries hit, and on that criterion England were ahead and so finally, after three previous losing finals (1979, 1987-8 and 1991-2) England’s men had won a cricket world cup. The Women’s cricket world cup is also held by England courtesy of a wonderful piece of bowling by Anya Shrubsole at Lord’s two years ago. This is the first time any country other than Australia have held both men’s and women’s world cups simultaneously. A low scoring day provided just about the most thrilling contest ever seen in any sport, with England taking the spoils by the narrowest possible margin – the cricket equivalent of winning by a Planck Length!
This match is ‘Exhibit A’ in the argument against anyone who dares claim that cricket is boring. Cricket has produced plenty of extraordinary games before in its long history – Warwickshire v Hampshire in 1922, when Hampshire recovered from bowled out for 15 in their first dig to win by 155 runs, Headingley 1981, when Ian Botham, with assistance from Graham Dilley, Chris Old and Bob Willis gave England something to defend when they seemed down and out, and Willis than saved his international career by taking 8-43 to win it for England being just two that spring to mind. Also, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th test matches of the 2005 Ashes series were all classics in their different ways.
This match on its own would probably be sufficient to call this the greatest world cup ever, but there were plenty of other good matches along the way.
Ben Stokes with his Herculean efforts in this match redeemed himself completely for a somewhat chequered past. Also, he has shown a consistency here that has previously eluded him – his 84 was his fourth 80-plus of the tournament and he also scored a 79. One way of accommodating him in the test side, which needs to be thought about would to gamble a little by having Ben Foakes at five, followed by Stokes, Gregory, Bess, Archer, Leach and Anderson, meaning that Stokes would be fourth seamer, backing up the main attack of Archer, Anderson, Gregory and the spinners.