One of the things that is slowly dawning upon me is that I might be going about this writing thing the wrong way. I’ve always billed this site as being the autobiography of someone who will never be asked to write one. At the same time, though, it is also the biography of someone I know well. I have a degree in history, sociology and social anthropology. I also have a small ability to write in a way that people like to read. Which means that I should, perhaps, consider writing biographies.
In which case there are a number of people I would love to have the chance to speak to again. My grandparents. An Australian cricketer named Gary Bracey. And the Rev Bob Burd. And they are all gone.
It is, however, fitting that on this day – the day on which one of my cricket seasons begins – I should mention Bob.
Bob was the club umpire for the Law Society Cricket Club. He was almost eighty when I first met him, wore a hearing aid and walked with a stick. Despite that, he could still see and edge at 22 yards and his soft voice could become loud and firm if he felt that he needed to take control of a game.
Bob and I didn’t always see eye to eye. I felt that, at times, he applied the laws of the game without having regard to the situation of the match. And I quickly came to realise that his fast fund of stories were largely geared to showing how clever he had been at any given time.
That didn’t mean that I didn’t have enormous respect for him. He was a man who had umpired at the almost the highest level of the game, who had thrown in his lot with a small club made up of a rotating cast of professionals. Every club event, he turned out for. And, for a minister in the Moravian church, he had a vicious line in jokes.
I had known Bob for about eight years when he finally had to retire from umpiring due to failing eyesight. We threw a retirement dinner for him, at which he managed to combine being horribly embarrassed by the attention with loving every moment of it. But we all knew that giving up umpiring was likely to be the end of him, and so it proved as he died barely eighteen months later.
We gave Bob a DAB digital radio as a retirement present. My suggestion had been a digital recording device, so that he could record all of the stories of his life. I wish we had taken him up on that. I wish that I had talked to him more. His was a life worth remembering.