Shallilo and some older Almondbury Casuals watch uninspiring cricket - but enjoy the day

Almondbury Casuals is a social cricket club that is asleep. It may wake up one day, but the current membership was worried that it might not, leaving thousands of unused pounds in its bank account. At the mercy of the bank.
  So what was the money best used for? Enabling youth cricket in some way was probably the most thoughtful suggestion. Eating and drinking at a cricket match however was the most popular. So thanks to Marc Davies, we pitched up at Clifton in York to watch Yorkshire play Warwickshire. And coffee with biscuits, a four course lunch, afternoon tea alongside beer and wine or whatever.
  Lovely setting in unexpected bright sunshine. I didn't feel the need for cream so I got burnt.
  When I said 'we', I meant senior surviving and interested Casuals of which originally there were 21. Less on the day accompanied by a few friends to make up two tables. The Casuals started playing in the early 1950s, the brainchild of four Friday Almondbury Woolpack happy hour pals. In no time it became part of Huddersfield textile and supporting businesses at play, alongside rugby, hockey, golf and amateur soccer. So popular they needed a set of rules to allow everyone a chance of selection. Not too successful to start with. Following some judicious recruitment, by the 1960s, they won more than they lost.
  There is no one left from those early days, but we did have Robert Haigh with us, son of one of those happy pals. That early culture ensured a steady influx of players. Family, friends and fellow sports nuts turned out every Sunday well into the noughties. Three or four are still playing and Bill is mostly an umpire. Ken has shed a stone or two and walks a lot. Greg enjoys his garden. Burge kindly takes a drink with our Andrew from time to time. Rupert was concerned at the demise of the glottal stop. Rod was unimpressed by the cricket - none of us were. We wanted something spectacular but we got a damp squib.
  The York team on the Casuals' fixture list was the Retreat. We were about the same strength. There is one surviving match report.
  Michael Henderson of the Times (Sat 22nd June) wrote 'York put on a show after 129-year wait'. In 1890, Yorkshire beat Kent, thanks to a nine wicket haul from Bobby Peel, a left-arm spinner. Lord Hawke was skipper. 1n 1897, he dismissed Peel from the field for being drunk. 'And so began the celebrated cricket tradition of Yorkshire contrariness'. Mmm, really?
  Whilst we were eating, we were asked to be quiet because we were upsetting the cricketers. The previous day 'the man in charge of entertainment' had given a 'blast' of Walk on the Wild Side on the PA system. Whilst Michael appreciates his Lou Reed, the cricketers did not. Apparently Lord Hawke would not have done either. For me, the man on the mic in our marquee made the most noise.
  Warwickshire won despite the best efforts of 'James Logan, Peel's latest successor as a purveyor of slow left-arm spinners' who took four wickets. I must have missed that, or was it the following day?
  So the cricket wasn't uppermost in our minds. We were there to meet 'old' friends and celebrate the traditions of social cricket where the result doesn't matter - much. 1890-1914 is the period said to be The Golden Age of Cricket - the days of the dashing amateur. Maybe not as dashing, but social cricket preserves the non-professional spirit of the game, fostered in public schools and Oxbridge colleges. The apparent gap was bridged by Len Hutton, Yorkshireman and the first professional England captain (1937-55). In 1990, his memorial service was held in York Minster, 'a suitable place to honour the greatest servant to represent the White Rose'.
  Rupert, can I recommend Oliver Kamm's Accidence Will Happen: The Non-Pedantic Guide to English Usage?
  I suspect the Casuals are in for a long sleep. Sadly, since 2014/5 they have not played regularly. The decline began well before then when playing membership decreased precipitously. The various connections outlined above are now tenuous, apart from the rugby club. Today, youngsters have many other calls on their time. The Holme Valley league clubs may have an answer - why not cultivate a social third team to accommodate juniors who won't make first and second teams?

For those who enjoy a bit of history, there is an on-line Casuals presence, alongside several pieces of writing in journals, and a talk. Simply clic on the links in the left hand column..

website                                a casuals history

ageing cricketer                  The Examiner                                   (2010)

wandering cricket              In Gentlemen, Gypsies and Jesters.   (2013)

What's the point?               Journal of the cricket society             (2009)

Cricket in Perpective 2.     random notes about the casuals          (2005)

on publishing                     it can get very difficult                        (2011)

presentation.                      part of Peter Davies cricket society meet held at University of Huddersfield (2009)
                                           (needs audio)

Then there are

cricket in the Bahamas.       Louise, my daughter got married here (2006)
                                             We spent a lot of time at the Lara Oval in Nassau - in Journal of Yorkshire cricket society
all in a days cricket              Cricket on the beach and Upperthong   (2014)

and don't forget

It's Not Lords                      An anthology of W Yorkshire cricket (2011)

Malta - an inspired choice for a music tour and holiday

The question
It's actually a series of questions. Who emailed me and how did they get my address? Did they know I was interested in singing something different to mail voice repertoire? How would I actually get on with choral singing? Would Malta be okay? With a load of people I'd never met?
  It turned out well. Strangely enough I enjoyed the rehearsals in sunny Skelmanthorpe (clic on rehearsals) and the concerts - Sheffield was my pick (clic on Sheffield concert Wakefield Concert).
  Jane and Dan were excellent. Thanks to them for the music tuition and the organisation.
  Thanks also to the cello player. Despite endless queueing we were never lost - just follow the lady with the big box on her back.
  And so to Malta.

The chocolate factory
The chair of Honley Ladies is related to the chocolatier who runs sessions in chocolate appreciation. She was over on holiday. And the rest of Monday is a bit of a blur. Because we had to appreciate them alongside five cocktails - stiff ones. After all, we had been up all night, catching the plane and whatever.
  It never ends there. A beach bar, several red wines and San Miguels and of course you need to paddle in the sea. I think we then went for a meal.

Valletta and Mdina were tidy and clean with some stunning buildings and great places for lunch. We are not stately home, old building or museum visitors and, given our schedule, hats off to any of our choir who did. Many of us simply sat and enjoyed.
  In Valletta we needed the toilet and discovered we had no change. No worries, a local saw our panic and asked if she could help. Her daughter was unimpressed. It simply pays to look lost. Same in Dublin where traffic comes to a halt and escorts appear whether you want to cross the road or not.
  Contrast the city order with the tourist north west where countryside and walls looked neglected. There were big holes and building sites everywhere. Many buildings were unfinished - bare breeze walls, toothless and eyeless - sinister looking skulls. Hope they all come alive eventually. A bit like my fitness regime - work in progress.
  The gardens and the gun were highlights.

Three churches. Two where there were more singers than audience. They were however excellent dress rehearsals for the final Mosta triumph in front of a good crowd. Stunning sound effects. Standing ovations everywhere. Thanks to our soloists and the band.

Eating out
The karaoke - we joined in with the 'turn', al fresco dining next to the small harbour. A man, a microphone and a keyboard. I think he was actually next door and down a level. He sang stuff our Honley Ladies knew. In English, they added choreography, seated of course.
  One table upped and left within five minutes of our arrival - the diners that is. Another table was even rowdier than us. A Spanish birthday girl plus family and really fired up. They kept peering over at the 'turn', presumably making requests. We all sang Happy Birthday three times. Very loud during the cutting of the cake. As they were leaving I suggested we deserved a slice or two. To cheers, birthday girl gave me half a big chocolate cake in a white cardboard box. Our waitress kindly produced twelve portions on plates with forks. A rich nutty pudding.
  Then the 'incident' at the Plumtree. My so-called choir pals kept asking our hostess what vegetables they could have to accompany their meat or otherwise 'mains' choice. Came to me and I ordered goulash. She said "with rice" and I said "no thanks". She said "no choice". My bottom lip came out with silent outrage. The childbride suggested I ask for chips, but I remained speechless other than explaining that my mother's rice pudding was not a thing of beauty. Appetisers came and went and I guess chips were discussed at some stage in maybe something louder than a whisper. My goulash duly came with chips and the table went into uproar - the diners that is. Apart from me who had gone a deep shade of very quiet beetroot. I thanked our hostess profusely and gave her a kiss. She overcame her camera shyness. At the outset, I could have done the adult thing and apologised for not liking rice and "please may I have chips?" But that would not have been fun.


The Answer
I am still no better at Latin or reading music. The support from those around you jollies you along, especially when my musical director was shifted a row forward for the final concert.
  For a group of mixed ability singers with a handful of rehearsals, we were brilliant.
  I appreciated the opportunity to sing choral - I was good enough. Sadly, I didn't hear the total performance - I was a prisoner of the notes. 
  Cracking experience with lovely companions in an excellent location.

Malta is 50 miles from Italy, so an interesting place for the British to be in WW2.
Made its name as a Naval Base - Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Knights of St John, French, British.
Awarded collective George Cross for bravery in WW2.
Mosta has the third largest unsupported dome in the world.
I think the midday gun was originally an aid to navigation - knowing the time was key - now its ceremonial)