nineveh_uk: Screenshot of Wimsey and Bunter from the 1987 television production. (wimsey and bunter)
Today I am supposed to be tidying my office and listening to the cricket. I am not listening to the cricket. Not because it is raining, but because the Test match is next weekend…

Tomorrow I have the joy of a 200 mile drive to north Wales for an extended family celebration on Sunday. It really ought not to be 200 miles, which involves going almost as far north as Warrington*, but there is no decent alternative. I have been warned off considering a short cut via Wrexham by several people. As my only memory of Wrexham is of sitting in the back of the car while my parents got lost in it, I shall heed this advice. But it will be fun when I get there. I was also planning to listen to the cricket in the car, so I will need to dig out some CDs.

On the subject of motoring, finally I am approaching the end of the Wimsey bodyswap fic (it is not that long, it has just taken forever). In tribute to this, I present Lord Peter Wimsey’s gearbox, the Wilson pre-selector (as used on all Daimlers in the 1930s). And because the internet is full of enthusiasts, I present the man to tell you what it is like to drive it. To which the answer turns out to be “surprisingly easy”.

I had always assumed that an enormous car like a racing-style Daimler would be a nightmare of double-clutching to drive, and that Peter’s taste for fast driving went with someone who was a genuinely good driver. But not so! It’s the 1930s equivalent of a semi-automatic that cannot stall, involves little finesse with the clutch pedal, and sounds like it is actually easier to drive than my Ford Fiesta** - and also enormous fun. Exhibit 427 in “the rich are better at things because they have better tools to do them with.” I do recommend the article - it makes a subject I would not normally find interesting rather fascinating, and presents a potential method for murder that I like to think Harriet later used in a short story.

*But sadly not close enough to want to swing by Ikea.

**Except for the lack of power steering, because it must weigh an awful lot.
nineveh_uk: photograph of cricket ball lying on the grass (cricket)
I had a most enjoyable afternoon yesterday at the Wellcome Collection’s Forensics exhibition* (followed by afternoon tea). Much mention of famous early C20 cases, including hilariously naff broadside ballads to accompany the execution of Dr Crippen. There was a good deal of poison involved, which lead us to note how much it appears to have dropped off as the subtle murder weapon of choice these days. It’s not that my house doesn’t contain things that I could kill someone with by pouring them down a person's throat, but it wouldn’t exactly be subtle, or in the least bit mistakeable for natural causes.

There is nothing I can say about the abject performance of the England cricket team. In a way, I’m glad. It is shameful. It is pitiful, or would be if I could still feel pity. The problems cannot be ignored, and that's good, because they shouldn't be ignored. But the ECB will no doubt continue to ignore them nonetheless.

*Before arriving I was feeling slightly disappointed that I hadn’t realised that this was the last-weekend-but-one of the V&A’s Wedding Dresses exhibition – until I realised that friend in the midst of divorce would probably not have fancied that. Fortunately the thing itself dispelled such concerns.
nineveh_uk: photograph of cricket ball lying on the grass (cricket)
One of the things that I do in my job that often provokes me to eye-rolling is try to get people to understand that if they shirk [unpleasant task] the problem will not go away, but that it may potentially get worse. There are things that go away if you ignore them: bruises, sulking 5 year olds, cats. The “will it go away if I stick it in a drawer for a month” school of time management also often has its merits, so long as you get the thing out of the drawer next month and take action if required. But there are also the things that don’t go away, that fester and get worse and worse and worse, and the things that you hoped you could ignore and the worst wouldn’t come, and then in fact the worst does come, and the things that just stay annoying forever.

One of my more entertaining duties at work involves handling things to do with named chairs/statutory professorships/whatever you want to call them*. These can have files that go back 150 years, in which I occasionally have to look stuff up, and when I do I cannot deny that having looked up [the religious approaches of previous professors – I particularly enjoyed that one, which revealed one joining the Ba’hai in 1912] I spend an extra bit of time reading the random letters from Tolkien/committee papers written on the back of during the war paper shortage/sets of horrifically embarrassing press cuttings about a scandal/humorous notes full of ‘my dear Carruthers’ and ‘good chap’ and ‘a damned close-run thing’ etc.

But I digress. The thing I am currently looking up is not a tangent, but a query around a thing that the faculty would like to change when making its next appointment. I am checking whether anyone has ever tried or desired to do this before. To which the answer is yes, they have been wanting to do this for nearly 45 years, but every time the issue arises it is too much bother and they say that they’ll do it just as soon as they’ve avoided it one more time**. Not this time they bloody well won’t.

All of which is going the long way round to say that the ECB needs to sack Alastair Cook as captain now because they ought to have sacked him sooner, and if they don’t sack him and let him go away and bat a bit, then they will inevitably end by having to sack him and he won’t be able to come back and bat at all. Which will hardly be great for him or the England team. And for goodness sake, stop this quasi Gentlemen and Players business and consider giving the captaincy to a bowler.

It won’t happen; the selectors are serial offenders, the failure of management and leadership goes far beyond the captaincy, the rank favouritism is obvious and increasingly heading for disaster, and

*Like the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon held by J.R.R. Tolkien.

**They nearly managed it in 1975, but there were objections and rather than have the argument, they caved.
nineveh_uk: photograph of cricket ball lying on the grass (cricket)
I am waiting for the Ashes. I am shattered. I went to bed in good time last night, so I wouldn't be tired today - and then I couldn't sleep for ages. My eyes are too tired to read, and I don't want to put glasses on. I did some writing earlier, but my brain has died. My diary is up to date. I have done the washing up. So now I am ironing.

That first ball had better be good.
nineveh_uk: photograph of cricket ball lying on the grass (cricket)
(1) Well, that's the ICC reviewing the current rules on light. I can't really blame Michael Clarke, given that he did what England wouldn't on Friday and made a game of it, but it appeared to me that the umpires were carefully not opening the issue until they had to because he pointed it out to them.

(2) It certainly enlivened yesterday's drive down the M1.

(3) If England don't play more positively, they won't win in Australia. They didn't play badly, and overall during the series they played better than the Australians. But we've repeatedly seen them be defensive when they needed to attack (as the best form of defence), and I really can't see this working in a concrete bowl on Boxing Day. The non-performance by top order batsmen is also getting tedious, and I don't feel that Cook is an imaginative captain.

(4) I am in the same school year (just) as Chris Rogers, elderly debutant* opener. Yes! I am not yet totally past my physical prime!

*All but.
nineveh_uk: photograph of cricket ball lying on the grass (cricket)
But fortunately, they are on the radio. I can only refer Shane Watson to Murder Must Advertise:

“It certainly had a break on it,” admitted Mr. Hankin, “but it would have gone wide nevertheless. I don't think anybody can accuse me of being unsporting, and if I had been leg before, I should be the first to admit it. Did you see it, Mr. Brotherhood?”

“Oh, I saw it all right,” said the old gentleman, with a chuckle.

“I put it to you,” said Mr. Hankin, “whether I was l.b.w. or not.”

“Of course not,” said Mr. Brotherhood. “Nobody ever is. I have attended cricket matches now for sixty years, for sixty years, my dear sir, and that goes back to a time before you were born or thought of, and I've never yet known anybody to be really out l.b.w. – according to himself, that is.” He chuckled again. “I remember in 1892....”

*

I see that Stuart Broad is attempting a beard/stubble, presumably in an attempt to hand over the "cricketer who looks most like a fictional schoolboy" award to Joe Root.
nineveh_uk: photograph of cricket ball lying on the grass (cricket)
It is very strange, nay, even suspicious, that after an absolutely rotten winter and spring, both May bank holidays (and their weekends) should have sunny weather for large parts of the country. Is something sinister afoot? An attempt by the weather gods to trick us into thinking that the year has been perfectly nice? Clearly sinister powers are at work.

Back today from a bank holiday in the north, starring the following:

- inordinate amounts of sun (and a small amount of sunburn). Naturally I hadn't packed sunglasses, a sunhat, or shorts.

- the Test Match on Sunday, which involved lots of wickets falling. I have to admit that Joe Root really does look like the first nine-year-old to score a Test century (C. Pietersen). I kept mistaking him for the 'Yorkshire youngsters' sharing being twelfth man. I am predicting nothing about the Ashes...

- other people cooking dinner (although I did some washing up).

- not a single lie-in. I booked a hair appointment for 9 o'clock on Saturday: there's just no helping some people.

- rather blustery Dales walk on Monday with excellent views and a path that, contrary to the usually reliable little book of walks, was neither level nor easy (the bit on the crag was of course neither, but we'd expected that). Lambs were many and varied, and of an age to score high on the cuteness scale.

- trains that actually ran on time!
nineveh_uk: Picture of a wild rabbit with text "I hope your rabbit dies" (Default)
The precipitation forecast for tomorrow evening, which has been up and down like the proverbial, is now showing snow. May it remain so! It is also showing sleet at the end in typical English battle-of-the-fronts style, so if it snows early enough I may go out skiing before Borgen just in case, though this means pavements. I am enjoying Borgen very much, despite the subtitler’s apparent desire to get through the whole series translating all swearing as “For God’s sake”. When this is Scandinavian religious swearing, which is (a) stronger, and (b) doesn’t involve God, this is quite entertaining, but it does lack subtlety.

I see that Chris Huhne has been charged. Oh dearie me.

And much more than oh dearie me, I see that Pakistan’s first innings total of 99 was a cunning foreign plot to undermine the confidence of the English batsmen...

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