Beggars Banquet and Hurty Thumbs

This weeks illustration was mick Jagger and it is 50 years since the “Summer of Love” and everything associated with it – psychedelic music, mind-bending substances and free love. But what part, if any, did cricket, the English summer game, play in this social revolution, or was it impervious to the changes going on around it?

One example, from an obscure band called the Slender Plenty, comes from a song called the “The Silver Treetop School for Boys.” Written by David Bowie, before he’d found stardom, the lyrics include such lines as – “They made me roll the cricket pitch once a day, I’ve never been so happy than at silver treetop school for boys.” It then goes on, suggestive of some sort of utopia as envisaged by Timothy Leary, to gather schoolboys and masters together on the cricket field to turn on, tune in and drop out. Cricket as unifier of the generation gap.

While many of his contemporaries were still singing in mid-Atlantic accents, Bowie had been influenced by the way Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd’s front man at the time, had delivered the bands first two singles, both released in 1967, with a very English diction. The Floyd never overtly sang about cricket but they do lark about with bat and ball in one of their early videos while “You’ll lose your mind and play, free games for May,” one of the lines in “See Emily Play,” their second single, could just as easily be about cricket as opposed to the pagan rituals always supposed.

Taking that further still, there was nothing more distinctively English, at least back then, than cricket, and British pop stars latched on as a result. Mick Jagger, a cricket fan of longstanding, has never written a song about the game he loves, but his band the Rolling Stones almost used a photograph of them wearing cricket gear for the cover of their album “Beggars Banquet.”

Then we come to the whingy whiny All Blacks complaining about other teams targeting and injuring their players, REALLY! Yes really, selective memory loss when it comes to Brian O’Driscolls Spear tackle then.



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