You might remember Marg and Pat, the mobile-drape fitters from another time. Well, they’re back and this time they are on the sideline of your son’s Saturday cricket.
Yep, that’s right. You’ve had an incredibly rare week at work. If you’re not deleting reply-all emails about the mould in the staffroom fridge, you’re at client meetings, or listening to people complaining about Aucklanders and their loose Covid-19 ethics.
All you want to do is plant yourself in your foldout chair and switch off, stare at your phone and drift off into some kind of brain-dead state while watching your son singlehandedly tear St Albanside College a new one.
Boy, do Marg and Pat have a different morning lined up for you.
Of course they both have grandchildren playing on the opposition team! Of course they both have an intense grip on the rules of the game (Pat has umpired at international level, while Marg was a founding player/wicketkeeper for the Spotlight Panmure Drapery Division), and yes, of course, they have packed enough food and drinks for literally the whole team, the parents and actually, if Alert Level 4 was announced right then and everyone had to stay put for two weeks, Marg and Pat would be able to run a tent for 200 people and feed them from the chilly bins in the backs of their matching violet Getz hatchbacks.
You’ve now settled in. The air is crisp, your coffee is hot and you have peace at last…
Next door, Marg and Pat are unloading snacks for the game. They have their Bluetooth speaker on playing The Breeze. Pat is noisily swishing food in and out of an acre of Gladwrap and then swishing that itself into a tight ball, and in fact all you can hear is swishing sounds, as they unleash a grazing platter onto a picnic blanket, one that Marg sewed up in the back of the drape bus between curtain gigs yesterday.
Soon enough they settle, but obviously their version of settled is quite different than yours, and they proceed to talk the legs off a chair for the next hour solid. By the end of the first innings, you have very graphic mental images of the following:
– Marg’s husband’s torn scrotum. It’s better now but only just.
– Pat’s trifle recipe from Christmas
– Pat’s daughter’s new boyfriend’s line manager’s dog’s breeder’s new kitchen splashback
– Marg’s side-hustle order to make under-the-table kilts and sporrins for the Scottish Society’s annual mid-winter Christmas dinner
The list goes on, but it’s getting to the point where you cannot go on.
Between these ladies downloading detailed banter straight into your eardrums and the week you’ve had, you consider moving to another part of the pitch but all too late you realise that the ladies’ picnic blanket is partially draped over your son’s cricket bag. It’s just not worth trying to tug the bag away from the blanket as it’s bound to end up a Medusa situation, although being turned to stone right now is somewhat appealing, as at least you’ll have a valid excuse not to be your son’s Uber driver all night tonight.
To add insult to injury, both of their grandsons are fast bowlers, and have already wiped out half your son’s team; the team sit in a crumpled mass. Tarquin, the team captain, is crying into his muesli bar, while the captain of St Albanside is standing outfield, muscular and gleaming in the sunshine.
Your gaze is interrupted by a cricket ball to the head (yours) but it wildly richochets off your already throbbing temple straight into Marg’s hands and she hollers a huge
That’s it, you’ve had enough. This is absolutely not why you joined Saturday cricket at all. Your subs, so you thought, were paying for a square of grass on which to sit and be left in peace, and you decide to take up another Saturday sport like tennis, where they have a cafe on-site. In fact, genius idea: get an umpire gig where you can sit on that high chair thing and no one, not even your children can reach you.
Back on the pitch, St Albanside has won by 625 runs, and team captain Tarquin is now prostrate with grief, mainly because his girlfriend has just brutally broken up with him by PM.
You scrape what’s left of the team into your Odyssey and take them for a commiseration footlong, not before noticing that Marg and Pat have left you a Drape Services calling card under your windscreen wiper, which you rip into 1mm2 pieces.
“Life’s biggest battles are fought off-field” you say to Tarquin who has now torn his eyes out with loss and grief, but at least his foot-long is hot and tasty.