There is nothing which lies more within the province of a Spectator than Publick Shows; and as among these there are none which can pretend to vie with those Entertainments that are exhibited on our county cricket pitches, I think it particularly incumbent on me to take Notice of the recent Sporting Assembly that has been presented at the Oval.
My accident-prone assistant Peregrine called on me at the Club the other day and begged me to go with him to the Gardens at Vauxhall where, he promised, there might be some excellent sport (whatever that might mean). Weary as I was, I. thought it best to decline, explaining that I could watch the show from the top of the Victoria Tower with the aid of a wondrous tool called an eye-glass which had been lent to me by one Mr Edward Heath, a star-gazer and mariner.
Peeping through this implement, to my utter amazement, the proceedings on the pitch at the Oval were brought before toy very eyes as though they were just some yards away, rather than beyond the other side of the River, I was able to watch someone called Ian Chappell (the Australian Captain) leave the field without so much as acknowledging the cheers of a very fair and bipartisan crowd.
Another Australian, Dennis Orchid (or it may have been LiIlee) stamped his foot when he was told by the umpire not to bully the English batsmen. He threw the ball on the ground (which must have been painful) and made a gesture with two of his fingers at the crowd. It must also be remembered that Gary Gilmour, on being introduced to the Queen, called her "a limey monarch" (or words, of four letters, to that effect).
In truth, this Australian side is the worst mannered and most badly behaved (with the 'possible exception of the current Australian Rugby Football team) that 1 have ever been obliged to watch. These cricketers have had the best of the weather in the series against England as well as all the luck with blind umpires and LBW decisions, and yet they pout and flounce like a load of Pommy soccer players (oops, did 1 say that). No wonder there is so much hooliganism in sport.
If you are wondering what this has to do with the Corridors of the Club, 1 can tell you that it has everything to do with them. I remember the days when Members of the Club were the arbiters of taste, behaviour and tnorals. It is true that the present batch of Members is trying to return to the old standards, which may be why some are spending so much time with other Member's wives comparing notes.
That eccentic Harrovian, Mr John Farr, the Tory from Harborough, who fancies himself (you see, no taste or morals) as a cricketer and in fact captains the Houses of Parliament Cricket Club by opening the batting and the bowling and keeping wicket all at the same time, gave a farewell dinner at the Club for the Australians. They refused to drink anything except "tubes" (sic) of lager or to eat off "Kraut" (sic) crockery.
This fuss about utensils imported from Germany really bewilders me. Leaving aside the question that we are all in the Common Market now, I should have thought that Mr James Dunn, the Ruffian from Kirkdale, could be trusted in his capacity as chairman of the catering committee to safeguard the interests of Members.
As a leading member of the Roman Catholic Mafia in the Club (I have mentioned Mr Bob "Godfather" Mellish) Mr Dunn not only believes in buying European but also in buying Catholic. He is notorious, in fact, for his very catholic tastes (and I do not mean just crockery).
The sudden arrival of Germans in the Club has apparently upset our beloved Prime Minister who has told the Duchess of Falkender that he "will not work with Jew-haters". He pointed out to her that, long before she was born, he had fought against Hitler to preserve all that was good and free in the Western World.
This, of course, is a slight exaggeration; for Mr Wilson did not actually fight in the War. He had something known as a "desk job". On the other hand, Mr Heath (who welcomes this latest German invasion) did fight in the War and rose to be a Colonel. Or was it a Commodore of the Ramsgate Yacht Club?