Saturday, 26 March 2016

Bloomsbury

Fantasy Bob was on assignment to London this week.  Bloomsbury to be exact.  As he walked between office and hotel he passed numerous blue plaques marking the former residences of the famous and infamous.  And Bloomsbury has more than its fair share of these plaques, for in the first half of the 20th Century it was home to the Bloomsbury Group, long revered as an influential group of like-minded writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists noted for many great achievements including a spectacular propensity for bed-hopping with each other.

Among the more eminent were E M Forster, John Maynard Keynes and Virginia Woolf.  FB's long suffering readers will be thinking to themselves - this is just the point when FB points out that this Group is overrated because there is no cricketer among them.  He will say that he has scrutinised at length the works of JM Keynes and while he may well have been right about the consequences of the Treaty of Versailles, he presents nothing to guide the faltering batter's attempts to deal with leg-spin bowling.

FB is disappointed that his handful of followers think he is so predictable, for the Bloomsbury set did contain a cricketer of real potential as these charming photographs confirm..

Virginia Woolf standing up to her brother


Virginia Woolf's forward defensive
These photographs confirm to FB his longstanding belief that the problem for Virginia Woolf was that she did not know whether she was a batter or a wicket keeper.  'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the old cliche runs, which suggests that she might have been a leg spinner too.  No wonder she was a tortured soul.

Even worse was that at that time there was no structure of women's cricket for her to develop in - and she had to give herself to lesser pursuits such as novel writing.  Men could play cricket all day everyday, but not men.  Her feminism was confirmed and she was associated with the Suffragettist 'Nets for Women' campaign.

This identity crisis tortured her everyday life and found rich expression in her literary work - her novel Mrs Dalloway in particular contains many references to cricket, its place in English society and how its enduring values survived the trauma of the First World War.

'Cricket is no mere game,' she writes in Mrs Dalloway.  'Cricket is important.'

VW is clearly a man after FB's heart.

And so it seems appropriate that Wisden is now published by the Bloomsbury Publishing Group, even if it has yet properly to honour Virginia Woolf between its yellow covers.

Virginia Woolf - a man after FB's own heart



2 comments:

  1. Virginia Woolf was, it seems, a lady ahead of her time but it was regettable that none her fellow Bloomsbury Groupies took an interest in the game. Keynes famously wrote "In the long run we are all dead". Had he been a cricketing man, he might have added "on the short run, we are often Out"

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