Back with what I believe is Part 3 of the Ashes Specials (or is
that 4 ? :-) ) . This is Chaucer with "Prologue to the Test Match Tales"
(or should that be Teste Matche tales :-) ) - I thought it would be
particularly appropriate at this time :-) Since Chaucer is not always the
easiest to understand, a rudimentary translation has also been provided,
for those who might be studying it for their "A" levels (so I suppose it
would be of particular use to Britroh :-) :-) )
As before, this has been taken from "A la recherche du cricket
perdu" by Simon Barnes. All scanning errors are, of course, my fault
Sadiq [ the scanner ] Yusuf
P.S. I suppose the team referred to in this extract would bring back
fonder momories for the English than the Aussies :-)
Prologue to the
Teste Matche Tales
Whan that Aprille with his sonne brighte
The chille of March hath halfway put to flighte,
And folken in their gardens start to swinke
And poshen folken Pimmies start to drink,
The dayseyes in the outfield gan to flowre
And groundsmen lepe astride the rattlinge mowre,
So grass is short and daies growe evre longe
And tea-ladyes all bursten into songe,
Thanne longen folke to go and watch crickette
And see the batter cope with greene wickette.
Bifel thatte in this seson on a day
In London at the Tavern as I lay
Redy to wenden to a cricket match
The second Teste I was all set to watch.
But natheless whil I have time and space
Er firther in my match report I pace
And er I tell yow of the three one-dayeres
I first shal something tell of all our playeres.
The captaine first, and he a worthye man,
That fro the time that he first bigan
To play the game, he lovede tactics,
Leadership, psychologie, and tricks.
A docotore of philosophie, this fellowe,
And when at batte he hummede of the cello.
His haire beneathe his helmette al was greye
But he could lede the yonge folke al day.
He had taken many a soverein pris
And thoghe thatte he was worthy, he was wis.
He was not talle, like a church's steeple,
But this man had a degree in peple.
A battere ther was, a wontoun and a jollye,
But sometimes given o'er to fits of follye.
He mighte scor an hundred runnes full quicke
Or get out flashing by the offe-sticke.
To play defensively he had no luste,
Alway with him twas shitte or buste.
He had a hede right full of golden curles
And knewe the way to talke to pretty girles.
Scoring runs he found a thing quite fine
Yet seemede to preferre drinkinge win.
Of gritte and effort he did seem to lacke
And of his nature he was ful laid-backe.
We had with us was an al-roundere,
A mightye manne, a bit of a boundere,
He scorede much wherever cricket playede,
Not only ronnes, or so the paperes sayde.
He coulde muchel of wanderinge by the weye
Long-haired he was and playede at cardes al day.
Long yeres ago, his mighty deeds wer done,
And always playede the game as if for fun.
His crickette left he pretty much to chaunce,
He could of love the old daunce.
We had with us a fast bowllere,
Whose port was alway ful of sad doloure,
His deeds had made the crickette world amazede
With whirling arms and with his eyes all glazede,
His run-up was a windmil prance
He semeth like a man caughte in a trance.
A spinnere too we had, a sorry knave
Who knew not how our cricketteres behave,
A left-handere few batsmen knew to matche
And for a sponsor he would weare a Swatche.
He loved rancour, enmity and feud,
And alway to his captaine he was rude.
He had a tricky ***e for a wife*
And chose a mightye man to write his life.
And thus we gan to riden on our weye
To see the cricket for the next five day.
* This line contributed by my old friend Frances Edmonds. S. B.
PROLOGUE TO THE TESTE MATCHE TALES
This will be of particular use for those who are studying the above text
for A level. Editorial comments appear in italics.
When the clement weather of April has more or less disposed of the
unpleasantness of March, and people start to work in their gardens while
the upper classes knock back glasses of Pimms, and daisies start to appear
in the outfield and groundsmen spend a lot of time with the mower, when
the grass is short and the days get longer, and tea-ladies start singing,
then people have a great desire to go and watch cricket, and watch batsmen
struggling on a bright green snakepit.
It was at this time of year, as it happens, that I happened to be
lying [perhaps on the floor, but this is not certain] at the Tavern,
getting ready to go to a cricket match, the second Test, if you want the
details. But never mind all that; while I have a moment before I start my
match-report and the recap about the Texaco Trophy, I had better tell you
something about the players.
I shall start with the captain, a very worthy man. From the time
that he first started to play the game, he loved tactics, leadership,
applied psychology, and ingenious ploys. He was a Doctor of Philosophy,
this person, and liked to hum a certain 'cello solo [one of the Razamovsky
quartets, as a matter offact] while he was batting. His hair underneath
his helmet was completely grey, but he was perfectly capable of leading
the young players. He had won all kinds of things, and he was not only
frightfully nice, he was frightfully clever as well. He was not enormous,
but he had a degree in people.
There was a batsman, a pleasant if somewhat careless chap, whose
brain would sometimes fly out of the window. He could score a ton in about
ten minutes, but had a fatal tendency to spar outside the off-stump. He
was not a great defensive player, and an innings of his was likely only to
have two outcomes. He had a spectacular head of hair [natural,
incidentally, unlike some players of that period] and was a whiz at
chatting up the ***s. He enjoyed scoring heavily, but gave the
impression that he preferred knocking back the wine [but only the best].
He did not seem to make much effort, but that was because of his
We also had an all-rounder, who was a bit over the top. He scored
wherever cricket was played, nudge-nudge, wink-wink. He knew all about
travel, know-what-I-mean? He had an unfortunate haircut and wasted his
time playing moronic games. He played his best stuff years ago, but still
seemed to enjoy himself. He left his cricket in the lap of the gods, and
knew a thing or two about dancing,
We had a fast bowler who was a bit of a gloomy old person. He was
capable of doing remarkable things, but always looked as if he was stoned
out of his mind when he was doing them. His run-up was distinctly odd, and
he always looked as if he had no idea whether it was arseholes or Tuesday.
We also had a spinner, who was a bit of an oddball. He was good at
bowling, and some twit paid him quite a lot of money to wear a plastic
watch when he was playing. He loved trouble, and picked fights with his
captains. He had a brilliant and talented wife, and as further evidence
of good sense, he chose a mighty man to write his biography. [This is an
And so we all set off to watch cricket for the next five days.
P.S. Scanners note :-) : I saw a book last summer, the biography of Phil
Edmonds it was, written by a certain Simon Barnes. Inside joke ?? * hint,