Sunday, 17 August 2014

Broken Bat Mountain

Readers can be assured at this point that this is not a tedious post about  cricketing puns in film titles - like Star Waughs, or Vaughan Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.............with this assurance Fantasy Bob is confident that his faithful handful of worldwide readers who have got thus far will read on for some far more tedious.

FB supposes it must happen often.  But this was the first time he had witnessed it in his long concert going career.

The Artemis Quartet and strings
The Artemis Quartet might have recognised that they were dicing with danger playing Schubert's Death and the Maiden Quartet in FB's presence. For they should have known that this masterpiece had a track record of disaster - it had been the previous subject of FB's Witterings.

So about 5 minutes into the first movement the resonating harmony of the principal theme was complemented by a loud and unmistakable PING.

The first violinist's top string snapped.  A sigh went round the packed hall.  With no more ado, the quartet stopped, left the platform and presumably threw themselves on the masseurs' table.  Five minutes later they re-emerged with a full complement of strings and started again.............

FB has long thought that concerts are fraught with accidents waiting to happen - will the percussionist drop the cymbals as he returns them to their precarious stand, will the double bassist topple over as she leans forward to turn the page, will the clarinetist drop her mouthpiece and see it rolling across the platform and into the audience? Will the pianist's page turner turn the wrong page at the wrong time?

FB sits through the music on tenterhooks.  His applause at the end of the piece reflecting his relief that none of these disasters has happened.

Cricket is also stuffed with possibilities of technical failure.  The most recent and spectacular of such events occurred on 5 January this year - the third and, as it happened, final day of the final Ashes Test in Sydney.

Ryan Harris bowled round the wicket to Michael Carberry. Carberry may also have been a disaster waiting to happen in that he too had been the subject of FB's Witterings.  Putting that horror to the back of his mind for the moment however Carberry pushed gently at Harris' delivery only to find himself left with less than half a bat as it split completely.

Carberry - suffering from FB's post
Professor Rod Cross from University of Sydney’s Physics Department, who has nothing better to do with his time and excessively large brain, calculates that the ball, weighing around 160g, hits the bat at around 100kmh, generating 10,000 Newtons of maximum force for a millisecond.  In terms that FB understands this is roughly equal to 12.5 cricketers standing on the bat together.

FB has no estimate for the number of cricketers who must have stood on the snapped violin string.  Or violinists.

Without a bat Carberry was no use to England and he has never played another Test.

FB himself has been subject to the Carberry experience, when his beloved GN Scoop broke leaving the bottom half hanging by the protective skin.  It had seen many years of faithful service but was not up to 12.5 cricketers standing on it (that may be a slight exaggeration as the ball that did for it was a slow half volley.....perhaps equivalent 1.5 cricketers........).  The broken bat was duly buried with full military honours.  Like Carberry FB has never played another Test.

Howe and skipper
It was Sir Geoffrey Howe who having resigned as Foreign Secretary anticipated FB's and Carberry's trauma by remarking in his resignation speech in November 1990 that working under then PM Mrs Thatcher's leadership was

.... rather like sending your opening batsmen to the crease only for them to find, the moment the first balls are bowled, that their bats have been broken before the game by the team captain.

There is no estimate of the number of Prime Ministers who have to stand on a Foreign Secretary to break him.  


  1. Without wishing to add to FB's concert performance anxiety, Anonymous can report that he once witnessed at an afternoon concert at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon, a cellist who was doggedly sawing away in the rhythm section pinging his bow into the front row of the stalls.

    1. Many thanks - this confirms FB's longstanding view that the front stalls is too dangerous for him.