CB Fry’s Christmas Letter
April 17, 2014 § Leave a comment
Christmas is almost upon us. Chill does the wind lie and slant falls the rain. It reminds me of the time of our tender conjugation, last winter. Do you remember it like I do?
I was playing for the Duke of Marlborough XI while you were a mere tea lady, a chit of a girl, in the employ of the Scullery Maids Dias CC XI.
Do you recall my heroics? A century before lunchtime and six wickets after tea? Like Titan I bestrode the game, trampling foe and enemy with the swish of my bat.
I approached you over the luncheon interval and asked if you would picnic with me. You said “Oh yes,” the diamond crush of your eyes squeezed tight into the porcine folds of your cheek.
Thus we sat, side by side, on the grass verge, my hamper spread out before us. You told me you had never seen a hamper like it as your eyes devoured the vast array of cucumber sandwiches, teacakes, cakes, scones and creamy tart.
Soon you could not resist and greedily you took a double cucumber from the hamper, relishless however. I asked whether you would like some sauce and you acquiesced. And so I took a big dollop of the Fry special and smeared that cucumber in gentlemen’s relish. Do you remember how you gorged yourself on it? Ere sipping from the nub, there nibbling on the crest. O and do you remember your laughter as you spilt the relish all adown your laced petticoat? Do you remember it? I recall like it was yesterday. How mightily annoyed I was that you had wasted my sauce in such a stupid, slipshod fashion.
And then the snow flakes fell over the pitch and play was abandoned.
I remember it so well. And how could I not? For it was indeed the fastest cricketing century off the season—scored off a mere 372 balls. How I was lauded. Man after man came to shake my rough hand. O but that was not all for I also took six wickets for a mere sixteen runs.
But the fairest thing was the maiden I bowled that day. My fourth over— six deliveries of such artistry, such control that the next day the Times wrote—“never has bowling of such controlled artistry been seen on the cricket field.” Yes the mighty WG Grace (less, if I may), reduced to the status of a bumbling fool. He couldn’t touch one of those balls. Not one! The fool; the bewhiskered, bumbling, arrogant fool. My mastery of him was complete, how I rejoice looking back. How he ever dared to denigrate the great name of Fry! I taught him, by God, I taught him!
Oh but I digress dear Poesy, my Poesy. Later that evening we went back to my quarters on the Albermarle where I performed the backwards jump onto the mantelpiece for you. I can still see the embers ignite in your eyes, caused by my displacement of the mantel coals, one of which landed on your petticoats and set it aflame. How you shrieked with fear as the burning took hold of your underskirts and crept inexorably up towards your hidden middle. How you burnt, Miss Haversham-like, reduced to a tinder cinder, my crispy kinder.
And then how you quivered as I rubbed liniment all over your seared left leg. A short silly leg it was dear Poesy. A short silly leg…..
And then the snowflakes fell over old Piccadilly passage….the sky sighed…..and all was white.