Bovingdon played local rivals Sarratt at cricket last Sunday.
Until 15 years ago the villages had not played each other since the 1940’s. Rationing was in place and a Sarratt player, a farmer, had been working all hours to bring in the harvest. With hay still in his hair he turned up at tea to be told by Bovingdon that he could not bat as he had not fielded.
Protestations that people would starve had he fielded were met with the response beloved of cricket teams and lawyers alike: Rules is Rules.
Sarratt walked off for 50 years. After being out for a duck on Sunday I nearly marched off; I had courgettes to pick and broad beans to freeze.
The Sarratt – Bovingdon cold war divided families. Between the wars the Bovingdon to Sarratt love-bus ran twice a year between the two villages to bring youngsters together and, apparently, to widen the gene pool. The jury is out on whether this was successful but most villagers over 70 have one of two birthdates.
Chipperfield play Bovingdon for the Chiltern Trophy, which Bovingdon always retains, not just because of our cricketing skills but because:
- I wrote the rules; and
- Chipperfield are unaware of the existence of the trophy.
Bovingdon has the loveliest of grounds so we rarely venture away on Sundays and we always get lost when we do, culminating in the Iver Heath incident when the four cars carrying the Bovingdon stars were each first in line at the four points of a country crossroads.
One time our convoy passed the other side’s convoy coming the other way. We turned up at their ground and they turned up at ours. As the team was Nazeing Common, 30 miles away, this was a problem. Mobile phones have prevented a recurrence.
Our Sunday team, like most others, is a mix of class, race, talent and age with representatives of every decade from our Justin Bieber lookalike teenager to our seventy-something Methuselah lookalike wicketkeeper.
25 miles from London and just outside Hemel Hempstead, the world’s best town, Bovingdon is a million miles from the chatterati of Hampstead.
Ours is a better England.