Literature of the Gaieties
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Cover from a painting by David Inshaw "The Cricket Game" 1986
Harold Pinter's poem on the occasion of the departure of Justin Falkus, who was going to live in Japan and had just broken the club record by scoring 1174 runs in the 1993 season, and maintaining an average of 83.86
A legendary score from Justin Falkus and Ian Smith

Justin Falkus

The thing about Justin -
Catch as he can -
He'll be bound to catch something
In dear old Japan

Dear Old Japan
Dear old Japan
Catch what you can
In dear old Japan

The thing about Justin -
He keeps a straight bat.
In Japan he can use it
For this and for that.

Dear Old Japan
Dear old Japan
Catch what you can
In dear old Japan

But whatever his longing
For Japanese jam
Or voluptuous portions
Of Tokyo ham

One thing is certain
For J Falkus-san
He'll never make a thousand runs
In bloody Japan

Dear Old Japan
Dear old Japan
Catch what you can
In dear old Japan

  © Harold Pinter 1993
The Gaieties in action
Two O'clock, Putney Heath in August

Through the rhododendron weather
Ian drives, and Justin hooks.
Glad the willow, sad the leather;
Justin cuts and Ian looks.

Cover rubs his wounded hand;
The slips (of course) are fast asleep.
Mid-off wonders where to stand:
Saving one, or in the deep?

Not since Hutton, not since Gover -
Ian glances, Justin nicks
Have we seen such wit and power -
Justin sweeps and Ian flicks.

"Sod the loop, forget the flight,"
The skipper cries, "just bowl it flat!
For pity's sake, just keep it tight,
Avoid the middle of the bat."

Justin's fifty, Ian's hundred -
Poor Roehampton call for drinks,
Spirit sapped, morale all sundered.
Justin smiles, and Ian winks.

Putney Heath has never seen
Such dashing numbers one and two
But what on earth … what must have been
The tree-oh-four from Waterloo

Not even Euclid could devise
So many cunning ways to score
So many ways to hypnotise
So many ways to stroke a four.

The dark designs of kin and kith
Dismay Roehampton when they see -
Holy shit! Another Smith
Is padded up at number three!

Bowler sigh, and pray for stumps.
Fielders dart, and run, and fall,
And dive, and chase, and pick the lumps
Of Putney woodland from the ball.

One last glance and one list drive:
A final four, an ambled three.
Ah, what it is to be alive,
An opener, and a Gaiety.

The declaration's on the board:
No men out for two six four!
Swallows and squirrels all applaud
This quite unprecedented score.

Harold commandeers the bar
(Ian's lager, Justin's wine)
Recollects his finest hour:
Caught midwicket, thirty nine.

The summer evening gathers in
Pints of shandy, pints of bitter.
Ian laughs and buys a gin
For deep long off, who dropped a sitter.

Aircraft roar above Roehampton
Bound for Cyprus and Japan
Mundane destinations stamped on
Passports for the businessman.

Ian Smith and Justin Falkus!
Grab the jugs and start to pour …
Go on Justin, Ian, talk us
Through your partnership once more.

  © Robert Winder
Cricket at Night

They are still playing cricket at night
They are playing the game in the dark
They're on guard for a backlash of light

They are losing the ball at long leg
They are trying to learn how the dark
Helps the yorker knock back the off-peg

They are trying to find a new trick
Where the ball moves to darkness from light
They're determined to paint the scene black
But a blackness compounded by white
They are dying to pass a new law
Where blindness is deemed to be sight

They are still playing cricket at night

first published in the Guardian 3 June 1995 © Neabar Investments 1995, and reproduced in Various Voices

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