Midsummer, Cricket and Ceaușescu

Midsummer or Midsommar parties as they like to call them in Sweden, have been done to death by me over there. So this year I thought that I’d try something different: driving from Sweden to Romania with a bunch of Swedes to celebrate Midsummer. Well 37 degrees Celsius is something that you don’t normally get in Sweden and neither is homemade tuica served from an old vinegar bottle 52%abv. Another thing that you won’t often see is cricket! You hear them, by the thousand, and it is not too much of a linguistic leap to find yourself one minute discussing insects and the next the nuances of the noble game.

The cricket, like the drinking was to be an all-male affair, so no chance to bowl a maiden over here. Tending to our every need they were. Rather than whites it was skins versus the Romanian football strip. Every chance to bat on a sticky wicket, considering the weather but the grass was absent (more on that another time). But first it fell to yours truly to describe the rules of the game. Hidden somewhere in the depths of my unconscious lay the capacity to recall words greater than mine:

Rules of Cricket
You have two sides, one out in the field and one in.

Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out.

When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side thats been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out.

Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in.

There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.

When both sides have been in and all the men have out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!

Confused? Well I was and they certainly were. We managed four overs, though my feeble effort which ended up being delivered underarm after five consecutive wides surely doesn’t qualify to be called an over. The mother of thunderstorms interrupted play and hearing the tales of our host who as a military conscript at the age twenty found himself part of Ceaușescu’s guard facing a baying mob with his rifle in hand was a far more interesting snare. He made the brave decision to lay down his weapon. Armchair anarchists such as I can sing the merits of that brave choice and say that it was an obvious choice but God willing will never have the right call to make.

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