Saturday, May 01, 2004

As I write, it is Saturday morning, just before ten. Normally weekends are busy, but this one has few fixed plans. A whole day ahead of me without plans or errands to run would be welcome in England, but all the things that make such a day welcome are missing here, and subsequently, for the first time in some months, I miss a few things from home.

What I really want to do is put Radio 2 on and read the Saturday papers. A happy morning would whizz by, and suddenly it would be time to cook an elaborate and fun lunch. Even if my Italian were better than it is – and I can struggle through the papers now – their Saturday papers are only the same as their daily ones, and without the in-depth features that make the things weigh several pounds back home. And the only radio stations I can find here play the standard pop music fare.

But the thing that would really top off an empty Saturday – and something that Italy certainly doesn’t have – is a Test match to listen to on the radio. It’s tragic that the appeal of cricket isn’t just lost on the rest of the world, but also on many English people. Cricket isn’t about drama and instant gratification in the way football (and many other sports) is; it’s about narrative. As the five days progress the story unfolds, twisting one way and then the other, with time to build characters, heros and villians. Although the game can change quickly it normally doesn’t, preferring instead to ebb and flow. A battle may be lost, but a team can regroup and eventually win the war. There are roles for fast-bowling powerhouses and swashbuckling batsmen; and for the guile of wily spin bowlers to be pitted against the stubborn will of experience. And, of course, it also means that it’s summer in Britain, and that there’s no rain. What more could you want from a Saturday?

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