Coffee and my Granny

I’m fed up drinking tea. I finally cracked yesterday morning, while I was in town getting my ski boots attended to. I needed some breakfast, and having still 40 minutes of Edinburgh George St rip-off parking still paid for, decided to go across the street to Cento Tre rather than my usual West End haunt. Regardless of where I ended up, the prospect of having a cup of tea with my breakfast was really too dismal to contemplate. I miss coffee so much, having given it up for the sake of my stomach over a year ago.

Tea is so… featureless. So insipid compared to coffee. At least at breakfast. Tea has its place, but it’s not beside a croissant on a breakfast table. And you can’t get a decent cup of tea in town anyway.

So I marched across the street, full of resolve and determination, with The Guardian clutched under my arm. My sister had texted me earlier this morning.

Get guardian today page 83 of magazine.x

Just like that. No capitalisation. No punctuation to speak of.

I’m not usually a Guardian reader, in fact I don’t normally read newspapers at all. When I do buy one, it’s the Telegraph, which is more an indication of my crossword preferences, rather than any political leanings. The Guardian crossword, on the odd occasion that I’ve attempted it, has remained defiantly inscrutable.

I looked up page 83 of the magazine to find the Food section. And did a sharp double-take. It’s not every day you open a national broadsheet’s magazine to find your granny featured in the text. The writer was a chef friend of my sister’s, who was promoting one of his recipes which combined potatoes and pasta. Our granny was name-checked as someone who, being Irish, was unable to eat a meal without potatoes. I’m not entirely sure that gran would have approved of Mr Ottolenghi’s potato lasagne. Might have been a bit new-fangled for her. And despite being born in Co Donegal, she might even have disputed the ‘Irish’ tag, as someone who deliberately chose British citizenship over Irish after the Partition in 1921…! But I daresay she would have held her hands up and acknowledged that no meal is complete without some potatoes.

I sat back with my black coffee and almond croissant and reflected on what our granny would think of my lifestyle today. I can still see her shaking her fist at me, usually when she was baby-sitting us and I wouldn’t shut up and go to sleep. When she wasn’t shaking her fist she was often waving her walking stick in a vaguely threatening manner. When I wasn’t playing golf with it, that is. It was a very nice blackthorn walking stick, and its shape bore a strong resemblance to a driver, at least to me. I have no idea what she would make of me driving into town yesterday when I could have walked, having my ski boots adjusted in preparation for a ski holiday in the French Alps next month, and settling down to a continental breakfast in an Italian eatery while reading the Guardian. And no porridge or potatoes to be seen anywhere.

How times have changed.

Oh, and the coffee? It was AMAZING.

Cricket, and in particular, how it is scored

For 12 squared, and anyone else who is confused. And cares.

There are currently two basic game formats in cricket, which are scored slightly differently. In any format of cricket, the team that scores the most runs wins.

However, in first-class and Test match cricket, in order to win the game, a team has to not only score more runs than the opposition, but also has to get all of the other team out. Twice, as each team bats for two innings each. If neither team bowls the other out twice within the allocated time for the game (usually 3 or 4 days for first-class, and 5 days for Tests), then the game is a draw, regardless of how far behind one of the teams may be in terms of number of runs scored.

Thus Test cricket (and 1st class) places a higher importance on bowling, and taking wickets (getting people out), than the shorter forms of the game.

Test matches are played between countries who have a cricket team of a high enough standard to compete. And Bangladesh. But hopefully they’ll get better as time goes on.

First-class matches are played in countries where the game is played professionally, like England, Australia, Pakistan, India, South Africa, West Indies etc. Usually between county or state sides.

Club cricket, relying as it does on keen amateur players, who commonly need to go to work during the week and would find it tricky to explain to their employer why they didn’t turn up for work 3 or 4 days out of every week in the summer, tends to use the shorter forms of the game – 50 over and Twenty20.

50 over cricket is played over the course of one day. (One over is six deliveries bowled by one bowler). One team bats until they are all out, or they have batted for 50 overs. Then the other team bats for 50 overs, or until they are all out, or until they have scored more runs than the team batting first, whichever is the sooner.

Twenty20 is the same, but played over 20 overs (each) instead of 50. Being shorter, it can be played in an evening as it only takes 2-3 hours.

Clubs all over the world have been playing 20 over cricket for decades, but a few years ago it was a launched officially in England and played by county sides with professional players. It was (and still is) a big hit with crowds, and its popularity has spread to other countries. Recently the first international Twenty20 tournament was played in South Africa. India won it. Cricket is virtually a religion in India, with 50 over cricket being most popular, but the expectation is that Twenty20 will now take over as the most popular format since India’s win.

Cricket fans in England, and possibly Australia, still prefer the Test match format. We’re purists, y’see.

Finally for now, an example of a cricket score is 112/6. The first number (112 in this case) denotes how many runs the team has scored, the second the number of wickets (the number of outs, in baseball parlance). Since in the longer forms of the game each team can bat twice, a score might read England 454 & 189/6, Sri Lanka 421. In this case England are 189/6 in their second innings, having scored 454 in their first innings. Sri Lanka scored 421 in their first innings and are still to bat their second innings.

There we are, a brief overview, leaving out some background detail for the sake of clarity, such as the pitch/weather factors. If anyone wishes to correct anything, or add to what is here, please be my guest…