Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sporting Fruit

Sporting pursuits have been a strong feature of the last week and will dominate the next few days as the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials take place under blue skies and glorious weather - a marked contrast to the mud and gloom 12 months ago. The site looks amazing and we should have a fantastic event weekend.

The week has seen mixed sporting fortunes at home and abroad - Andy Murray crashed out of the US Open to a Croatian; England stormed into next years World Cup Finals with a thumping victory over Croatia at Wembley; England's ladies failed at the final hurdle against the old enemy, and England's cricketers (without a Croatian in site) lost again to Australia in the One Day series.

I was invited down to the Rose Bowl in Southampton to watch the ODI on Wednesday and it was fun to watch my first day/night match. Still not quite sure I approve of players in pyjamas with a white ball and a black sightscreen but it was an entertaining and jolly day despite the result. We had the mandatory streaker (not one of our party!) who was spectacularly tackled - despite his fairly unmemorable tackle! - by a security guard before being led away to raucous jeers by the police; we had numerous "super heroes" entertaining the crowds by running like banshees through the grandstands - Batman was rather portly and slow; Buzz Lightyear rather shy and reserved; and Superwoman far too hairy for anyones liking (both chest and chin!)

The atmosphere was great throughout - despite a rather dull and one-sided match - but it does stagger me at the quantities of alcohol consumed - and the money spent - at such occasions. In just the area around us, people must have consumed upwards of 15 pints through the day (at times we felt like we were on a rollercoaster as we continually had to let them out to release the previous intake and purchase the next batch!) but what does distress me is the language and general tone with some people as the alcohol fuels their spirits - with young children nearby, the language drifts into the gutter. Quite how such standards can be addressed I don't know but such people are hardened drinkers and gamblers - how do they fund such pursuits as they must be spending vast sums each week - following England or their team - whether football or cricket. I know this all sounds very prudish but I have never condoned such language or such loutish behaviour - it spoils the occasion for so many others, it influences the young in earshot, and we seem powerless to influence change going forward. The English abroad - and indeed the English at home - have a reputation that needs polishing and improving - lets keep the good spirits and the healthy banter - but lets drop the alcohol fueled bad language, anger and abusive behaviour. End of speech!

So England's cricketers go on to Lords 3-o down in the 7 match series - of course mathematically they can take the series 4-3 but they were outclassed by the Aussies on Wednesday in every department of the game - most sadly, the Aussies "wanted" it more than England - they fielded with passion and energy throughout whereas England looked slow and listless - why is that given the money they get paid and the expectations of the watching public? I think we deserve better - watch out for the fightback!

Away from sport our attention today turns to fruit! The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers - whose motto is "God gives the increase" - are here at Blenheim Palace today presenting an Apricot Tree (the Duke's choice) to the Duke of Marlborough. Annually, the Company recognises the winning HHA/Christies Garden of the Year with the gift of a fruit tree and today around 100 members will attend a lunch in the Orangery as the tree is both presented and planted. The Livery Company was founded back in 1463 and it does a vast amount of good work within the fruit trade - it is also a very active charity carrying out much good work in and around the City of London.

Good luck to all on every front - whether sporting or non-sporting - the weather forecast is great for the weekend and it should be a good one!

Who knows - Spurs may even beat Man United for once!

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