Short Stories


Published works

New works

Short Stories


Friends & Family


Buy Books



Site Map

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8
Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16
Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24
Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32
Page 33 Page 34


Meeting an old friend the other day, he reminded me about Fred's Peripatetic Cricket Team. This, I can assure you, sent my mind cart-wheeling back a few years to the heady days of free spirited encounters with the medical profession and the drunken sots who are now highly respected, leading consultants in their chosen profession.

Let me explain: When Christopher, our eldest son, became a medical student it was proposed that I form a cricket team to play the students. Foolishly I agreed and Fred's Peripatetics (casuals) were born, an odd assortment of plumbers, accountants, lawyers, sculptors, authors, carpenters, lorry drivers, reporters, farm workers, customs & excise investigators and a TV producer.

It was agreed that we would all meet at our home, enjoy a cold collation and a few drinks and then proceed to the village hall to play the game. That was the theory. On the basis of the idea that if we got them drunk before we started we would have a better chance of winning - oh folly - I imported a couple of barrels of beer and a couple of barrels of cider.

Maggie set out a superb collation of cold joints of meat, huge cheeses, her own home-baked bread, pate, pickles, etc., etc. A meal that has with the passing years attained the status of a legend.

The idea about getting the opposition drunk before the match worked superbly, unfortunately my team entered into the spirit of the thing a little too liberally, resulting in all twenty-two players and their camp followers slopping around to the village hall in a single fluid pile. Tossing up to see which team batted first took rather longer than normal as the first three coins were lost and the fourth mysteriously vanished in mid-toss, but was finally found under the umpire's foot, the lifting of which resulted in him falling over.

Whilst the batsmen and our wicket keeper padded up, the barrels of beer and cider were arranged beside the pitch for anyone to partake before, during and after the game. It has to be said that we had the only wicket keeper in the history of the game who played throughout with a pint behind each wicket and a runner to keep the glasses replenished.

With the first two batsmen positioned upright at the wickets the game commenced. As the bowlers were as drunk as the batsmen any ball that hit the wicket was a pure fluke. Unfortunately Dennis, the opening batsman, was so drunk that two minutes after the ball had gone past him he lifted his bat to play it and promptly fell over. It was going to be a long day.

All the players wore their whites except our youngest son, always a rebel, he turned out in black denim and a black Tee shirt with winkle-picker boots! He played as a fielder with a pint in one hand and a fag in the other and whenever a ball came his way he stopped it, most of the time, with his legs.

I very much doubt if anyone knew who actually won the game, even the scorers (one now a super-model in New York). In the end we all walked, staggered, were carried or - I hate to admit it - driven back to the house.

Back at the ranch things livened up (a euphemism for deteriorated) rapidly, with an Indian student called Dill offering to cook a curry for everyone. Dill, however, was so drunk we had to lash him with ropes to the bacon hooks in the ceiling in order to keep him upright. Swinging freely, but upright, Dill directed Maggie to dig out whatever ingredients he wanted or she could provide and despite the very serious handicaps of all concerned succeeded in producing a very creditable curry for about thirty people. This, of course, was washed down with more beer/cider and whatever anyone could find; wine, whisky etc.

Mostly, bodies lay where they fell until the morning, except for the medical students. They decided to go back to Birmingham, but, we heard later, on arriving safely in Birmingham, (God alone knows how), they decided to go down to Cornwall for a swim in the sea. Fortunately for Cornwall they ran into a brick wall, literally. Being law-abiding, upright citizens they abandoned the car and fled. Dennis, their opening batsman, now an eminent consultant anaesthetist, arrived home to find himself locked out. He flung himself at the door and awoke the next morning lying on the door in the hall.

Dill, the curry maker, awoke the next morning and went mountain climbing in Wales. Ironically he fell off the mountain and narrowly escaped breaking his back. He too is now an eminent consultant.

It's hard to believe after all that, we would want to do it again, but we did, many, many times and always just as memorably.

It's amazing, but just writing about those cricket matches left me with a hangover!

But thinking about those drunken students and the Peripatetics then led almost inevitably to thinking of them now. The Med students are of course all eminent in their own fields and mostly married with families of their own. But the Peripatetics were all entrepreneurs of one kind or another, individualistic then and individualistic now: running their own businesses, starting ever-newer ventures, answerable to no one except themselves and their families. Most are legitimately entitled to retire and just sit in the sun, but none of them could, would or are. I'm almost certain that if I said "How do you fancy a game…" they'd be on the doorstep, cricket boots in hand before I could add, "…of cricket." And, like their boots, ever so slightly worn and scuffed, but well kept, highly blancoed and ready for play. Even those who have passed on would be looking down, pint in hand of course, and offering ribald comments about their fellow players.

One of my greatest joys is in knowing all of these people.

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8
Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16
Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24
Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32
Page 33 Page 34

eXTReMe Tracker

All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium
is prohibited without the express written permission of Frederick Covins.
All photographs and illustrations on this page are believed to be
in the public domain, but if not please e-mail