Liverpool farewells + a day's cricket with an old friend
Well, I've now moved house, as it were, from our community in Liverpool to our one in Southampton. During the last few weeks I tried to get round as many of my Liverpool/North-West friends as possible. One thing that comes from being a bit of a jack-of-all-trades is that you end up getting to know lots of different groups of people, with the opportunity to make many good friends along the way. I have been blessed with many such friends over the years through through cycling, my different music-making activities, prayer groups, etc...
But one particular friend, Stan Carter, with whom I spent time in my last week in Liverpool (for now) goes back to my school days in Southampton. He was a teacher in our Southampton school (my old school) who arrived there in his early/mid-fifties when I was I think starting 6th form (1985). He was a linguist, specialising in French and also Russian, having been a surveillance Officer some years earlier in during his extended National Service in the Navy. He was also a keen sportsman having played both football and cricket for the 1st XI of Keble College, Oxford. He did not actually teach me, but when I was in the 6th Form I was appointed as form Prefect to his form class (morning and afternoon registration). I got to know him through this contact and the fact that we both cycled to and from school. His house was on my route home so I would sometimes wait after school and cycle with him. Stan's a great character, a wonderful raconteur with a playful sense of humour. Very much "old school" and a bit of a maverick. All in all very good company.
Stan (in great form) last week in Scarborough (see below for details).
Whilst still in the 6th form he invited me to go to watch Hampshire (cricket) play at the County Ground in Southampton. He was a member and his house actually backed onto the training area. You could go through the back gate at the end of his garden and sneak into the ground for free, which he invited me and some staff colleagues to do. My first taste of live cricket was quite a treat: Hampshire vs. Pakistan (a warm up match for the Test Series vs. England). This was the Pakistan of Imran Khan up against a Hampshire side containing the West Indies greats Malcolm Marshall and Gordon Greenidge, as well as England international brothers Robin + Chris Smith.
We've stayed friends and kept in contact over the years, meeting up for a drink and maybe even a session or 2 watching cricket whenever I was back down in Southampton. About 10 or 12 years ago he and his wife Joyce retired up to Malton in N. Yorkshire. I've managed to get there to visit him a few times or meet him for a day in York.
Last week, a few days before leaving Liverpool, I drove 2 hours to Malton in the early morning, picked up Stan and took him to Scarborough to watch the final day of a County match between Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. Yorkshire hadn't been doing well, so the crowd was thin on the ground, but we enjoyed the day and it was great as always spending time with Stan. Then it was back to his house for a meal with Joyce.
I realised that in fact the only cricket matches I'd ever been to had been with Stan. This may now change in Southampton, as Bro. Francis is also a big fan and former club player. But Stan hopes to come down to Southampton and go with me to a match before the end of the season.
I thank God for such friends.
Yorks vs. Notts @ Scarborough