Sunday, 29 June 2014

Writing - Passage of time!




Basil D'Olivera (1931 - 2011)

Basil D'Olivera (Dolly) was brought from S Africa, a Cape coloured cricketer, was brought from S Africa to play in England by commentator John Arlott (1914 - 1991).   He couldn't play for his home country because of his racial heritage but he did end up playing for England and very successfully too! 
I bring up Dolly partly because of the sad news that his son Damian D'Olivera who also played cricket died this weekend aged 53, but also because of John Arlott. It wasn't for the cricketing connection either but because of the commentator's other interests.
I remember John commentating on cricket on the car radio. My father was cricket mad and would have the radio on in the car whenever we were off holidaying or just on day trips. My first clear recollection of hearing Arlott commentating was while we were eating sandwiches in a car park in Stratford-on-Avon around 1960. He had a voice that was as deep and soothing as a bottomless chasm and drew word pictures so well that you could well be sitting at the side of the pitch.

However, John Arlott was a journalist, an author, a wine connoisseur and a poet. Once again evidence that once you take the first snort of writing you will write in as many forms as you can. I include one of his poems which is relevant to commemoration of WWI.

The Bomb Crater

The night struck lightning from the grass and split
The tufts of gentle lawns; it tore away
The fixed and certain oak, and carved a pit
Harsh as a dagger's knife in blood-red clay.
Nettles and nightshade dressed the wounded land
In wind-responsive folds, their roofs for balm;
And moveless water, with a cool green hand
Has soothed the rawness to reflect the calm.
Resentful of these false cloaks of disguise,
And scrabbling at the crater's edge to climb
Back to the day, the limbless oak trunk lies-
Its roots left deep beyond the count of time,
Its body knotted in the flailing rage
Of gods uprooted for this rootless age. 
John Arlott 
I think that the descriptions in the poem point towards the eloquence of the man as a commentator and, as time has passed, there have been few to replace him.
God Bless