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[personal profile] miss_s_b arranged for us to bring both their pic-a-nic baskets to Lord's with us. Apparently (as well as not being allowed to wear anything that could be considered advertising and whatever other rules there were), we were allowed to bring in two pints of beer per person, or one bottle of wine per person.

So they were loaded up with five-sixths of a supermarket "six bottles for cheap" deal, and a box of wine for the train journey down.

I've never felt so well-prepared. And I can't remember the last time I was so excited. Cricket! At Lords! Women playing cricket at Lord's! The World Cup final! And it was sold out, but we'd bought our tickets way back in September or October this year, when July 2017 seemed unimaginably far away, but now here we were.

I tried to read my book but I could hardly concentrate, I was busy being excited (and having a headache that reminded me the one thing I'd forgotten to pack was ibuprofen!).

It was raining by the time we got to London, ensuring our hotel was slightly further away than we thought but we still were really lucky to get one so close to Kings Cross, especially considering it didn't cost much. We unpacked and James watched a bit of an episode of Pointless (well, he had to check if they have the same telly programmes Down South) before it was time to meet the rest of them (who had a different hotel) for food.

We went to the [personal profile] miss_s_b-approved Betjamen Arms (now that she's in London on a fairly regular basis for Lib Demmery, she's scoped out some good places, where we had really nice food and ridiculously friendly waitstaff -- when someone mentioned my name as wanting to know what was vegetarian, the server called me by name the whole rest of the time. I had an amazing salad: quinoa, borlotti beans, chopped nuts and rocket...with regular salad stuff thrown in so it wasn't all protein! Super tasty.

Went to sleep early, because headache, but luckily I felt better in the morning and was ready to go in time to get to Baker Street and find something to eat. Couldn't do better than a tasteless Pret sandwich, but my ridiculously high baseline anxiety meant I was only eating out of a vague sense that it would be worse if I didn't, so I didn't mind.

While we waited (at the wrong exit, as it turned out) for those who'd gone via Sainsburys for more picnic provisions, we were standing near the statue of Sherlock Holmes that was inevitably just outside the exit (though, the Marlyebone Road exit rather than the Baker Street exit...?) and it was cute to see everyone come up the stairs, spot the statue (it is about ten feet tall, even without the plinth it's on) and take photos. Sometimes with other members of their party standing in front of it. I'm no better; when James wanted a photo he asked if I wanted to be in it, so he has one of me standing in front of Mr. Holmes (who, as James says, has the wrong kind of hat, the wrong kind of pipe, and I think something else too but I forget what).


And so to Lord's! It was only about 9:30 but there was first a trickle and then a stream of people heading towards the various entrances. Touts shouted that they'd buy any spare tickets, but they didn't look hopeful and no one seemed interested in them. Women's cricket had sold out Lord's, must've been a record-breaking crowd for the game, and nobody with a ticket seemed to have stayed at home.

This is the view from our seats, which were pretty great. I could even almost see a couple of plays in the field, as long as they were in the nearest quarter of it! I couldn't see the ball, though, so to some extent had to rely on who was running for it or looking like they were fielding it.

Immediately after the anthems they start playing "Seven Nation Army," and there was a little discussion among our group about whether the words to this song are now "oh Jeremy Corbyn" as the twitters would have me believe, or "oh Ravi Bopara." Which I remember from one of the first cricket matches I followed, with James's company at a distance, four years ago now. Another England v India tournament final, Dreamwidth reminds me.

As I'm sure anyone who cares knows by now, England won the toss and batted first. We saw a lot of boundaries early on but also a lot of great spin bowling. I was especially sad to see Sarah Taylor get out when James told me her backstory: she was off for a year with depression and anxiety, wasn't sure if her career was over, and this World Cup is one of the first times she's been back with her team. Still, her team got all the way to the final and she got 45 runs there, which is not bad at all.

We started with the eating and drinking at some point around here, and I had orange juice, crisps, a cheese sandwich (with cherry tomatoes for garnish!), one of the two kinds of cake (a nice mocha swiss roll), some really tasty Mini Cheddars (Red Leicester flavor!), an apple pie, an actual apple, a cheesy-chile-bready thing given us by one of Jennie's Twitter friends who happened to be sitting nearby and had extra food...oh yeah, and lots of wine. It was amazing. And there was quiche, pork pies and scotch eggs for the meat-eaters, as well as Battenberg cake for people who like that.

England were down to a handful of overs when my little DAB radio died. It's not holding a charge very well any more, but it is ancient. I was sorely disappointed as there's sadly little point in me being at the cricket without it; it's just too hard to get more than the vaguest idea of what's going on (boundaries and wickets were easily discernable from the crowd's behavior, but other than that...).

So James said, "Do you require commentary?" and I laughed and said if he wanted to, but it was fine if he didn't or if he got bored or whatever, but he said no, that's okay, and proceeded to tell me practically every single ball until the end of the game, bless him. "I feel like I should be describing pigeons," he said at one point early on, and he made me laugh by saying a plane was flying over, but honestly he was way better than TMS. Not least because I could ask him my idiot questions like "What's a wide again?" when one happened (I knew what all the extras were for like an afternoon, that time they were the highest scoring batsman in something we watched in the pub, and then promptly forgot them all again).

I told him a few times how great I thought it was and he didn't seem to think it was a big deal or a chore, but I just felt all looked-after and it was so nice.

"There may be a break in commentary," he said, grinning, as he bit into his cake, and I laughed. He also appreciated the prejudices of his audience, telling me "That's your friend Harman[preet Kaur] who got that four," because I'd been singing her praises from the semi-final and cheered like crazy when it was announced she was coming in to bat.

Her getting out was the beginning of the end for India, I think. If one of those high-scorers had been able to hang on, even as the wickets fell, the run rate was good enough for India that I think they'd have done it. But from 190-3 when 229 looked very near, India started losing wickets.

And I learned something unfortunate: the crowd's reaction to the wickets had started at overwhelming and was only getting worse for me. As the tension built up and what looked like a likely India win got less and less likely, people got louder and jumped around more and I started to feel stuck. I worked hard on calming my breathing and seeming normal -- I absolutely did not want to ruin the last few overs for James or anybody else I was with, and bless him he kept telling me what was happening even though he sounded very far away as the crowd roared around me and the blood roared inside my ears.

My skin was hot and prickly, my stomach felt like a dying fish flopping around inside me, and worst of all traitorous tears had sprung to my eyes. I felt bad for hiding the anxiety attack but it was so important to me not to ruin such a great moment. I just prayed India would stop losing wickets so the noise would calm down but they never did, poor sods.

And things got worse and worse for me too, with a disputed wicket sent for review that looked very close but after seeing enough angles on the big screen James said was definitely out, and the rest of the crowd apparently thought so too because as the umpire was taking his time on the call they started chanting "Out! Out! Out!" then getting faster and faster, "Out out out out out! and then "outoutoutoutout!" until it just blurred into noise. And then when I was ready to cry or scream, dreading the call, the decision came: Not Out, and the boos were almost as bad but at least it was a break, a different kind of scary noise.

Then on what could've been the end of the game, Jenny Gunn dropped a catch that made James say "she's dropped the World Cup," and apparently this is also what her captain said in the interviews afterward (which, over breakfast today, James and I agreed was better than the usual clich├ęs you get in post-game interviews!), but it ended up okay because the last wicket came only a ball or two later.

And then I was sobbing and shuddering, and James, bless him, mistook it for sadness that India had lost, but I'm really glad of that because it meant I'd done a good enough job of not ruining the occasion for him. I managed to stutter something, between the sobs and the still-roaring crowd, sufficient for him to get the idea, and after a few minutes of hugs and reassurance and quick explanation to Jennie, James asked me "Do you want to leave?" and all I could do was nod, so we did.

We left just as Anya Shrubsole was getting her Player of the Match -- well bloody deserved it was, too! -- and I was sad to tear James away from England's celebration, but he was very sweet at making sure I was okay. I was angry at myself too, as I always am when an anxiety attack is inconvenient, but especially this time because I'm not normally one to be bothered by crowds or noise and I don't know what'd happened this time. I really hope that doesn't become A Thing, because a lot of stuff I like involves crowds and noise!

Leaving while the festivities were still going on gave me a bit of time out in the fresh air, and got us out of there relatively unscathed before the leaving crowds got really pressing, which I'd really wanted to avoid because I couldn't trust myself not to scream at some poor stranger, or throw up on someone, or just end up absolutely frozen and stuck somewhere inconvenient.

We talked about Doctor Who on the way back, and about the plastic bats and rubber balls we saw a lot of people carrying, as Lord's had given them to all the under-16s on their way out of the ground. A lovely touch, and James pointed out how great it'll be to have so many kids, a lot of them girls, in parks and playgrounds playing cricket with bats that say "Women's World Cup," and which they can know their England team won.
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