Two events this week would have thrilled and fascinated Mum. As I watched England’s improbable Cricket World Cup Final victory at Lords on Sunday – super over and all – my mind went back to the first final in 1975 at the same ground. It was on my 11th birthday and I watched the game all day long, not missing a ball…until the last ten overs. Mum had invited the family for a celebratory tea and that meant we had to sit at the table in the dining room. No radio was allowed so I was forced to miss the closing overs of the West Indies’ win. I’m just about over it now. It was my day, after all!
20 years ago, the World Cup took place in England for the fourth and final time until this year’s competition. I bought tickets for Mum and I to a group game between South Africa and Pakistan at Trent Bridge. This was ten years before Mum’s diagnosis and some time before any signs of what was happening to her began to show. We set off early for the game to make sure we didn’t miss a ball, armed with copious supplies of food. Mum seemed to think she had to cater for both teams as well as the two of us. For Mum, the lunch and tea we took with us seemed every bit as important as the game itself. As is my way, I had eaten most of my share before the shine had worn off the new ball.
South Africa won a close, pulsating game thanks, in no small part, to some ferocious late order hitting from Lance Klusener.
I owe my love of cricket to Mum – she would stop off at Edgbaston on her way back from school in the early 1950s and spoke fondly of watching some of Warwickshire’s greats like Tom Dollery and Eric Hollies. I remember her pointing out the two – by then long-retired but still regular spectators at Warwickshire games. Eric Hollies – the man who bowled Don Bradman in his final test innings – remains one of my most-treasured cricketing autographs.
But I digress. Mum and I would spend more days at the cricket after that game at Trent Bridge but I think that day is one of my favourites. It came to mind as I watched Sunday’s final unfold.
Thirty years before South Africa and Pakistan competed for World Cup supremacy, man landed on the moon for the first time and the 50th anniversary this week would have captured Mum’s imagination. On that July morning in 1969, Mum, my sister and I were staying with my grandparents. I think we were having central heating installed at home and had temporarily moved out. Sometime around 5am, Mum woke me up. I remember it very clearly which will amuse my wife considering, these days, I can rarely remember what happened a few hours ago. I can still see her gently rousing me and leading me downstairs to watch the moon landing. It’s fair to say I was less than enthused at being awoken at such an hour but Mum told me it was something that I could say I had watched in years to come. She was right. I can picture us peering at the small black and white screen as Mum explained quite how big a deal this was.
If circumstances were different, we would reminisce about that July morning today. We can’t but the sights and sounds remains vivid. Dementia can take away the person but, for now at least, it can’t take away the warmest of memories.