Well, I made it or rather I should say we made it from carers and the good Dr, overseen by a day ‘my lovely’ and then Ollie taking us to Lord’s meant and I had reached my 78th. birthday and achieved my ambition of being there for the third of the test matches between England and South Africa.
Ollie picked us up at 8.30 and got us to the ground just after 10 o’clock. I went to our usual spot and most of the gang were already there, James Barnett; Paul Newman; Jeremy Brinton; Roger Goodwin; MC Patel. the very friendly and kind Steve Crocker – who supervises all of the wheelchair positions – who had, very kindly, as usual, made sure there over half a dozen seats set aside for me and my party. My special guests for the day were Tom Grand, one of my nephews, for whom I have the greatest affection and his brother FH (Francis Hector Grand) who apart from being my nephew is also my grandson to whom I equally enjoy great affection. The presence of these lovely people – and a number of others I have not mentioned- also came up during the morning to pay their respects, to give me a kiss or a hug, made this into a very special day, particularly as I know in my heart, as indeed some of the other people there realised, this was almost certainly my final appearance at Lord’s where I had been a member of 39 years and made a great number of friends.
It was certainly a sad moment when I trundled out in my electric chair, with dear Tom and FH, Paul and Roger hugging me as best they could in the wheelchair and administering the odd kiss to my cheek or shiny pate, as if to say goodbye. They knew, as well as I did, that the possibility of me making it next year, was most unlikely.
I always said I would try to make this match provided it was not too cold or wet. What I had not envisaged was that it would be the hottest day of the year with our little corner of the Warner Stand in direct sunlight, around 30°C. I managed a couple of hours in sun and then retreated to the shelter of the tunnel between the Pavilion and the Warner Stand, from whence I was able to see both two wickets, and able to cool down.
At lunch I trundled out to The Lawn, behind the Warner Stand, and enjoyed some of the hospitality on offer from my dear friends
Bob and Geoff Lederman.
I realise that so far I have not mentioned the cricket. I decided quite deliberately not to make the cricket the key part of this entry as, although it was excuse for going to Lords on my birthday, the whole experience turned out to be far more emotive than I had originally envisaged. Thus although I will pick up the state of the match in tomorrow’s entry I will say no more now than it was a fine game of cricket, voted by one commentator as the best this season.
Resuming then, after seeing the Ledermans, Michael and I returned to the shady tunnel to watch the match and then, at the tea interval, departed for home. For the journey the good Dr put the respirator on me and I slept all the way home not waking until the ambulance pulled into our drive. I was clearly pretty exhausted.
Michael telephoned Alice as we approached home and asked her to ring Ross Nursing who produced Craig in record time, which was just as well as I was getting desperate for the commode!
So, having looked forward for months to this outing on my birthday I can truly say that it turned out to be everything I had hoped for. The one aspect I had not envisaged was the feeling of farewell and I know that a number of my good friends who came to see me off were silently feeling the same way.