A great photo of a great cricketer (and one of mine of the same cricketer (photoed on the same day))

One of my favourite Twitters feeds is the one featuring historic cricket pictures, at which I recently discovered this photo:

The reason I was so glad to see this photo was: I was there! I would have seen this! And I am delighted to see my high opinion of this innings of Sanga’s agreed with by other Surrey fans.

I didn’t photo that particular incident, and if I had it wouldn’t have come out nearly as well as the photo above, but I did photo lots of other photos that day, of which one of my favourites was this, also of Kumar Sangakkara:

A photoer like me cannot compete with the Real Photographers when it comes to on-field action, several dozen yards away. So I made a point of photoing Sanga from close up, after the game was done and won.

As did others.

Here‘s the Cricinfo report of that day.

A new Fulham stand (and a very good Spurs win)

Even as I write, they are showing a Premier League soccer game on the telly, and more to the point, at the BBC Website. Which means I can go back and watch goals without all the tedium in between, and also pause things, when instead of blokes just kicking a ball, they show something more interesting, like this:

Fulham are at home to Everton, and I can’t help suspecting that they are 1-3 down at half time because the people running the club have more pressing matters on their minds than how well their team is doing. They are building a big new stand. You can tell how seriously they are taking the job by the fact that they are prepared to have two platforms sticking out over the River, just to hold all the associated building stuff, presumably because there is nowhere else nearby to put it.

We are way out west, with Central London off to the left as we look.

With cricket and rugby, I find the routine stuff that happens during games interesting, probably because I actually spent longish periods of time when I was a kid trying to do these things myself and realising how hard they are to do right, especially passing in rugby, which the pros now expect to get right every time. But the regular moves of soccer, the kicking, the passing, the tackling, I find boring. I never bothered with this, because I was a goalie, so this never really came alive for me. The goals I like, or when the goalie stops a goal. And the more distant views as above I also like, for totally different reasons. So I really like being able to keep the visuals of a soccer game going in the background, and then when something of interest happens, to pick those moments out for myself, which you can do on the internet, but not when it’s on old school TV.

Yesterday, my team, Spurs had the sort of game they have in recent years tended to lose, or to draw disappointingly, namely a home game against a genuinely top club. For all their bizarre heroics in a recent European Cup (getting to the final), Spurs have never in recent years been any better than a best-of-the-rest team rather than a truly top team. But yesterday’s game, if they could only win it, would suggest true topness. So, yesterday, I had three very nice surprises. The first was when I learned that Spurs had gone one up, against Manchester City, no less. Second, even better, was when I later learned that they had gone two up. Then, best of all, they conceded no goals themselves towards the end when Man City were pressing to get back into it, and closed out the game. This is top team stuff. If Spurs can beat Chelsea at Chelsea next Sunday, then they really will start looking like a top team, and I might start paying them some serious attention.

Fulham 2 Everton 3, with a quarter of an hour to go. Go London Fulham, given that you are not playing against London Spurs.

I support all the London teams, unless they’re playing London Spurs. That’s right, I support Arsenal against all other comers. This enrages Real Football Fans, which is all part of why I do it. As does calling “Football” soccer, the sneer quotes because what of Rugby Football, American Football, table football, Australian Football, etc.? I’m a Londonist, see above, way before I’m a soccerist.

LATER: Here’s how they reckoned, in 2018, that this new stand would look:

From the report below that picture:

Fulham FC will redevelop its Riverside Stand to increase the capacity at its Craven Cottage stadium to 29,600. The work will also see the Thames Path opened for the first time, for pedestrians to walk from Hammersmith to Putney Bridge.

Memo to self: When they finish this, check it out.

Oval memories

My life and the world are both a bit of a mess at the moment. I’ll spare you the details of the former, by just saying that these details are indeed messy without in any way being life-threatening. The mess the world is in you know all about, even as you and I may well quarrel about who’s fault it is and what needs doing about it. Just so you know, I’m right about that and if you disagree you’re wrong, but I see no need and now feel no desire to elaborate on that basic truth.

So, escape, in the form of yet more happy memories from The Time Before All This:

This was a game of cricket at the Oval, a walk across the River from me, in July 2016. I was originally only going to post the one with the silly hat and the artistic one, with the shadows, photos 8 and 7. But then I thought, have a good old wallow. Thank you again Darren. Darren being my friend Darren, the Surrey Member, who gets me in with him as a guest.

Photo 1 is the first ball of the match, between Surrey and Gloucester, hit by Jason Roy, pictured there, to the boundary. Photo 9 is the end of the match, with Surrey having won at a canter. All the others are the sort of photos of sporting events that Real Sporting Photographers ignore, but which I really enjoy. All the incidental stuff. The signs and commemorations. The groundstaff and their equipment. The crowd and their various habits and antics, fuelled by drink.

I can wait to go to the Oval again, to see another game. But only because I will have to. Can’t come too soon.

How to work with Indians

Michael Jennings:

The ability to talk endlessly about cricket is a tremendously useful skill when the prospect of working with Indians comes up.

There are more Indian cricket fans in India than there are people in Europe.

Carrie-Anne Brownian: Having to pretend to be a man is not the same as actually being a man

Carrie-Anne Brownian:

For much of recorded human history, even into the twentieth century, women who wanted to serve in combat, travel or live alone, work in most professions, get published, compete in sports, or conduct research felt compelled to disguise themselves as men. That didn’t make them transmen; it made them girls and women with no other options in a patriarchal, androcentric world. No one would have, for example, published George Eliot, or taken her seriously as a writer, had she used her birth name of Mary Ann Evans, just as Kathrine Switzer had to sign up for the Boston Marathon as K.V. Switzer as recently as 1967 because women weren’t allowed to compete.

This may be hard for liberal Westerners under the age of twenty-five to comprehend, but women have historically been denied access to positions of power, most careers, education, legal protections, politics, combat roles, club memberships, athletic competitions, and so forth, solely on the basis of being female. Women even had to fight for the right to use their own names on legal documents, instead of being forced to sign as Mrs. Husband’s Full Name, or to do anything of importance without a husband or father’s co-signature or permission. By anachronistically pretending all these brave, trailblazing women were truly men, the historical realities of institutionalized sexism and male privilege are written out of existence, and impressionable young people will be led to believe women haven’t played any kind of important role in history.

Quoted by and linked to by favourite-blogger-of-mine Mick Hartley.

Big sport day

Two IPL games have been happening, both disappointing. That being twenty-overs-plays-twenty-overs cricket, in India. Both games started out with low scores by the teams batting first, followed by relaxed and successful chases by the opposition, and neither contained any English players for me to support. I don’t care which IPL teams do well. I just want the England guys to do well. Some are doing okay, like Stokes, Buttler and Archer, who are all, if I remember it right, playing for the same team. Many are not doing so well. Roy got dropped early. Bairstow seemed to be doing okay, but also got dropped. Blah blah. If you care about the IPL, you’ll know how to follow it. If you don’t care, you don’t need any links from me. (This applies to everything in this posting. So, no links. If you care, you know. If you don’t care, you probably aren’t even reading this.)

So, the Rugby. My over-riding feeling going into today’s games, the last of the 2020 6 Nations, was that the English commentators were being insufferably smug about how well England would do against Italy and how badly Italy would do against England. Well, it’s now half time in that game, and England are up by a mere ten points to five, with each side having scored one try. England have to score four tries to probably win the title, but have kicked away all their possession, as I just saw Clive Woodward complaining about also. When will these people ever learn? This is the Six Nations. Anything can happen.

One thing in particular made me suspect that Italy might do well, which is that they have finally got shot of that guy whose name now escapes me who has been their best player for the last two decades. Sergio Parisse, is it? When a bad team has a “great player” playing for them, there is a temptation for the other guys to ease off and let him do it for them. But once he goes, all the other guys look at the team sheet and say: My God, we’re going to have to do this ourselves. And they can end up playing better. In particular, Italy have what looks to be a great fly half, who pulled off a wonderful dummy pass to score against Ireland last week. He looks really good. To say it again: It’s the 6 Nations. You, famous ex-England player, you don’t know what’ll happen. I don’t know. Nobody knows.

Oh, I just tuned back into this England game, and it would seem that England have scored another try, and need just two more to serve their purposes. Which is quite probable. Presumably they got a bollocking at half time. And yes, that’s exactly what the commentators are now saying. Italy 5 England 17, with somewhat over half and hour to go.

The France Ireland game that happens later is predicted to be a high scoring high risk affair, with both teams seeking to get four tries and a chance to win this thing themselves. So, I now predict a low-scoring stalemate, in which they cancel each other out, and win the tournament for England despite England’s worst efforts.

Why am I in such a bad mood about these games, because I definitely am? It’s partly Lockdown, and partly the fake crowd noises that happened during the earlier Wales Scotland game. Who do they think they are fooling with such nonsense? (Wales lost, by the way, not because Scotland were that good, but because they were not very good.) At least this Italy England game is being accurately reported by the television, without any added-on “atmosphere”. But, that makes it hard to take very seriously, because that means there’s no atmosphere. You need to be able to suspend your disbelief about these contests really really mattering. The seats in the stadium are all empty, and the only people you can hear shouting are the players. It looks and sounds like a training game. It needs to feel and sound like an actual life-and-death battle, but does not, at all.

It doesn’t help any that I have been suffering from persistent “lower back” problems, caused partly by having been sitting for far too long on the wrong sort of chair. I am now trying a different chair, but it’s too soon to say if this will work. This, for me, could be it from now on. If I could trade England winning the 6 Nations for getting rid of this pain in the arse, I’d do that deal in a blink.

England have try number three. They need just one more, with half an hour left. Expert prediction: Doddle. Me: Let’s just see about that, shall we? Meanwhile, England, after a very poor first half, are nevertheless 5-24 up.

In soccer news. West Ham are now leading Liverpool by a goal to nil. Will they do to Liverpool what Aston Villa did to Liverpool, and beat them 7-2? Well, probably not. Liverpool have already equalised. There’s been much discussion about why so many goals are being scored in the Premier League all of a sudden. It has been suggested that, in the absence of spectators, defenders aren’t taking their duties as seriously as they would if there were spectators present to jeer at them when they cock it up. But I would like to suggest another explanation which is that attackers are, for this same reason, a bit more relaxed, and hence better able to score goals, instead of turning into terrified blocks of wood or bodies of jelly just when they need to be at their sharpest. With no spectators to put them off, they can score goals just like they do in training.

England have just scored try number four. So, all those damn experts were right, despite everything. Boring.

Final score: Italy 5 England 34. My understanding is that if Ireland win by more than seven, or if France win by a lot, either of them could win it. But honestly, I find that I don’t care enough to check if that’s right. I’ll just wait to be told.

Result: Liverpool 2 West Ham 1. Boring boring.

Maybe I built all this up too much beforehand, only to discover on the day that I had become an adult. Maybe that’s my problem. It seems unlikely, but I suppose it could be that.

Apparently Ireland have to win by seven or more, and score at least four tries. So England are now hot favourites for the Six Nations 2020. Hoo ray.

LATER: Biggest laugh of the day. They got it wrong, and I got it right the first time! Ireland just have to win by seven or more. No four tries. Just win by a bit. France have to win by a mile, so, go France. But don’t go too well.

EVEN LATER: Well France obliged, by winning, but not by enough. England are champions. It didn’t feel like anyone was, really. The way France took their tries against Ireland was what I’ll remember from today.

The greatest show on earth (but not always nice)

So, what creatures does SteveStuWill have for us today?

Mother bird refuses to abandon her eggs. || The amazing diversity of caterpillars. || Sarcasm alert: Nature is so delightful. || Some baby owls sleep face down. || Like humans, wild chimpanzees focus on fewer yet more meaningful friendships as they grow older – that’s me. || Things aren’t always what they seem – butterfly faking it. || This bizarre-looking creature is a long-wattled umbrellabird. || A hognose snake faking its own death. || Who hurt the little sea toad? || A great-backed gull swallowing a rabbit whole. || Cat’s tongue under a microscope. || Scary octopus. || Baby gorilla. || Feline civil disobedience.

Or, to sum it up, Evolution Is the Greatest Show on Earth.

LATER: This. Eat your heart out Peter Bonetti. Not one of SS-W’s, but worthy of being added to them.

LATER STILL: Albino squirrel, demonstrating white supremacy by the looks of it.

How old age and wisdom are connected

And I don’t necessarily mean that the former inevitably causes the latter.

A big connection is that for young people to be wiser, often all they need to do is slow down a bit. Look before they leap. Old people just slow down. We can’t help it. For us, instant leaping is less of an option.

Trouble is, for both young and old, slowing down can just mean being stupid more slowly.

If you want to appear wise, saying nothing for longish time periods can be very effective, even if you are merely musing on sports results or playing a favourite tune in your head. Or, you just can’t be bothered to say anything.

I think I may just have imparted some wisdom.

How politics and sport are spreading the truth about Covid

I still think that this earlier posting here was right about the direction that British public opinion is moving on the subject of lockdown, but I was clearly wrong about how far it had already changed and how much further it has to change before lockdown is done away with. Mea culpa. Bubble thinking.

The problem is that a majority has been scared into thinking that Covid, which is a bit harmful and sometimes very harmful to those whom it harms, and deadly to those whom it kills, is much more harmful and deadly than it really is, statistically speaking. Almost everyone who “gets” Covid – almost every Covid “case” – is going to recover.

One of the means by which public opinion will come to its senses is when it notices that many people are testing positive for Covid, but that not many of these are dying. This is why celebrity Covid cases are so important.

Trump “got” Covid, yet is now, apparently, thriving. A piece of anecdotal evidence goes … tick. Then a bunch of other people close to the White House “got” Covid. The Democrat media rejoiced, but failed to think ahead. None of these apparently stricken Republicans has died, which I know because if any of them had died, the Democrat Media and their offshoots in Britain would have yelled it from the rooftops. Tick tick. Next, we learned, some prominent Democrats “got” Covid. Excellent. The more the merrier. I hope and expect that none of them will die either. The immense sway that American politics has in Britain ensures that many here Britain will notice these anecdotes and learn the lesson of them. Tick tick tick. Covid is much more widespread than the lockdown fanatics have been saying, and much less deadly. Lockdown has done nothing to stop the spread. But humans have proved much more resistant to the Covid virus than had at first been assumed.

Particularly important is the number of well-known sportsmen who have tested positive for Covid. I follow rugby union. An important Premier League play-off game was won by one side, simply because members of the other team tested positive for Covid. Now, it is being reported that if a winning semi-finalist team contains some players who test positive again, the team they defeated in that semi-final may now, despite having lost, may now play in the final. So, if Covid was as deadly or harmful as had been feared, there should be deaths and retirements in some numbers happening quite soon. There will not be. Tick tick tick tick.

The importance of politics and sport is that politicians and sportsmen don’t seem to have the option of being tested positive, but then keeping quiet about it. This is because, in their world, they have to keep going, unless there’s a public reason not to. Other celebrities, notably actors, can conceal having tested positive. They can just be “resting”, and keep it to themselves. Thus, when they don’t die either, it will not be very noticeable, so actors are contributing less to public enlightenment than you might suppose, given how celebrated the most celebrated of them are. Tom Hanks, also not now dead, chose to reveal that he had tested positive, but did he have to? Surely not. But politicians and sports celebs, the sports people especially, are, with their very public medical histories, telling the Covid story like it is. There’s a lot of it about. But, we should all just take our chances and be allowed get on with our lives. A few old and frail ones will lose this anti-lottery. Most will not.

All this is bound to have consequences for public opinion, given how seriously lots of people follow sport, sport especially.

Has anyone said that they opposed Lockdown at first, but now favour it? If they have, I missed it. The movement in public opinion is all one way. Politicians who fail to get out in front of how things are moving will suffer electorally.

Some recent animal tweets from SS-W

Whenever Friday comes around, I like to do postings that involve the other animals with whom we share our planet. I mean, this is the internet. And currently my favourite source of animal stuff is the Twitter page of Steve Stewart-Williams. He wrote a book about one of the apes, The Ape That Understood The Universe, in other words: us. And his animal tweets often illustrate stuff he has already said in that.

But then again, sometimes he is just saying, along with the rest of the internet: Wow. take a look at this. There follow links to just a few of the many creaturely tweets SS-W has done lately, ones that particularly caught my attention.

Take a look, for instance, at this hammerhead shark skeleton. Wow. Or the amazing camouflage of the great grey owl. Wow again.

All the cute animal stuff on the internet is so cute because it shows animals plucking on our heart strings by behaving the way human children behave, often because they’ve evolved to do exactly that. Our animal pals can be unselfconsciously enthusiastic, eager to please, eager to try things. And as often as not they do all this with big round eyes.

Like this dog that plays volleyball with humans, or this baby rhino learning new dance moves. From a goat.

But don’t get too carried away with the cute. Take a look at how this stork throws one of its babies out of the nest. Take that, internet. And, don’t get all superior to Mummy Stork there. Humans are only as nice as they can be, and are regularly as nasty as they feel they have to be. For many centuries, resource-stretched human parents would give up on their less promising young ones, and I bet there are out-of-the-way spots on our planet now where they still do this kind of thing. Plus, you know, wars and massacres and whatnot. So yes, Mother Nature can be a bitch.

But then again, sometimes she’s a generous bitch. Venom from honeybees has been found to rapidly kill aggressive and hard-to-treat breast cancer cells. I wonder how they found out to investigate that. Guess I’d better now read the article.