Til death us do part – the Malc version

By Keith Newbery

Friday, September 28, 2012

 

THIS ISLAND LIFE MANY years ago, Havenstreet played a cricket match at the Priory.

I’m not talking about the drink and drugs rehabilitation centre (we might actually have beaten them) but the small holiday centre next to Nodes Point at St Helens.

In those days, it was run by a gentleman whose name I’ve forgotten but who was a cricket fanatic.

But the only playing area available to him was a small putting green (complete with holes), which was surrounded by woodland.

Indeed, the substantial oak tree at square leg was so close that if you middled the ball you were in mortal danger of the rebound taking your head off.

It was, of course, the perfect playground for Malc Lawrence and, after the initial visit, he vowed to return the following summer with "some suitable props".

That day eventually arrived, we were fielding and the ball was soon dispatched into the surrounding copse.

Lawrence sped off in pursuit and disappeared from sight. Suddenly, there was a blood-curdling cry of 'Indians!’ and he emerged from behind a tree with one of those fake arrows through his head.

I had almost forgotten this incident until the old boy’s wedding a couple of weeks ago, when it was announced the service was to end with a traditional Native American blessing.

I’m convinced had he been sitting at the back of the room rather than standing proudly at the altar, the air would have been rent by the whoop of a Comanche war cry at that moment.

Can I just mention, in passing, the memorable farewell to Mr Lawrence’s bachelorhood?

They say if you remember the Sixties, you weren’t there. I can say with some confidence the same principle applies to his stag night.

I’m fairly certain we were both in attendance at Shanklin Conservative Club but I fear neither of us will ever be entirely sure.

Fortunately, it was held eight days before the nuptials, which was just as well because this wonderful day had been a long time in the planning.

Malc (never a man to make a hasty decision) had been with the lovely Yvonne for more than 20 years, but at the age of 69 he decided to totter up the aisle for the first time, to the immense delight of family and friends.

It was not, as you would expect, an entirely conventional occasion — but the New Holmwood Hotel at Cowes did them proud.

He had two best men for a start — I represented his cricketing years and Monsieur Emile Rouby was on hand to recall the groom’s incident-packed association with the Hurricanes Rugby Club since 1966.

Roub’s superb speech ended with an invitation to the bride and groom to turn and face each other, before clasping hands.

"Now look deeply into each other’s eyes," he instructed, as a gentle 'aaahhh’ filled the room.

The couple did as they were told and a respectful silence fell over the gathering.

"According to the latest statistics," said Mr Rouby, "each of you is now staring at the person you are most likely to murder in the years ahead."

I can’t be entirely sure but a knowing smile seemed to flit across the face of the new Mrs Lawrence.

Roly remembered as old boys step up to the crease

Roly Ringer memorial match cricket team

Back row, from left, Jimmy Winter, Chris Cheverton, Trevor Mew, Liam Ringer, Bunny Warrick, Mark Ringer, Pete Buckley, Graham Holder and Clive Knight. Front, Vaughan Urry, Trevor Jones, Willie Watson and David Lloyd.

NO, this is not a set of human sight-screens, despite appearances to the contrary.

It is a venerable collection of Island cricketers, most of whom are so long in the tooth they could bite their own toe-nails without having to bend forwards first.

They assembled at the Arreton ground recently for the annual Roly Ringer memorial match, which is the traditional end to the village cricket season on the Island.

All the team are family or friends of the former Arreton stalwart, who died five years ago, and there was a fine turn-out of familiar cricketing faces once again.

But spare a moment’s sympathy for the gentlemen pictured fourth from the left, in the back row.

That’s one of Roly’s nephews, Liam Ringer, and as the rest of the team were old enough to be his father (grandfather would not have been out of the question for a couple of them) he was the one who had to run around doing most of the batting and fielding.

Then he had to listen at lunch and tea while all the fogeys sat around reminiscing about the days when bats (and one or two players) used to be oiled, and the only people who wore poncey crash helmets were motorcyclists.

As the usual anecdotes flowed (fortunately, most of us had forgotten them from last year) it became clear distance continues to lend disillusionment whenever old cricketers foregather.

As one of our number observed: "The older I get, the better I used to be."

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