Plum Punch, The Game's the Thing
by P. G.
AFTER THE OTTER
AFTER THE OTTER
(By our Confirmed Grumbler)
The visitor gives his cap a hitch to one side to indicate the
sportsman, grasps his hazel walking-stick (white crooked handle and
spike complete for eighteen-pence), and prepares to dash off in any
direction in which the otter may show himself. There is a pause. He
waits. He continues to wait.
"No," says a grizzled follower of the chase, in answer to a
question. "Hardly think we shall be starting just yet. You see, the
chief point about an otter hunt is the lunch. Your true sportsman has
discarded the otter's pad as a club badge. He now wears the legend
'Never lose sight of the lunch,' conspicuously embroidered on his cap.
Before the hunt can be begun, elaborate instructions must be given to
the driver of the provision-van. He must be told exactly where luncheon
is to be taken, and that sort of thing, don't you know. What?"
"Ah," says the visitor, "I suppose so."
Time speeds on, and at last the menial with the van has a vague
idea of what is expected of him, and drives off. The noble Master and
all the Members of the Hunt, in picturesque, if slightly sudden, suits
of blue and red flannel, adjourn to the Inn for a modest quencher.
Otter-hunters may be said to be inverted semi-teetotalers. No meet
without drink is their motto. At last, the M.O.H., a man of energy,
suddenly remembers that his hounds are waiting in the road outside,
and, over the remains of a fifth whiskey-and-soda, suggests a start.
The hunt, pure and simple, has begun.
Ladies, wearing short skirts bound round the edge with leather, and
carrying bamboo poles, now leave their carriages and push their way
through the crowd. Children, sternly resolved to get wet, find the
deepest puddle and stand in it. Young men with ash-poles, upon which
long rows of notches gleam, having manifestly been cut only that
morning, rub a little damp earth into them and blush to find it fame.
Old men buttonhole acquaintances, and tell them anecdotes of the sport
they used to have fifty years ago, at five in the morning, m'boy, five
sharp, and sometimes even earlier.
In short, things begin to move.
At last the river! Obviously as stiff with otters as the Irishman's
swamp was with snipe. The cavalcade moves silently along the bank. A
wild cry of "Yoicks!" from a weedy youth in a stentorian Norfolk jacket
and check cap. The M.O.H. stops the hounds, and turns back to see what
has happened. Youth points with enthusiasm to a terrier's track which
he has discovered under a culvert. Enters into a lengthy argument on
the subject, but fails to convince the noble Master that there is not a
substantial difference between a four-toed and a five- toed track. The
sight of lunch is as oil on troubled waters, and for an hour the hunt
may be described as a thorough success.
The last bottle of champagne has exuded its fascinating contents.
The last cold chicken has been dismembered. The hunt is up again.
A sudden and very inconvenient increase of pace on the part of the
hounds indicates that they have got on the drag of an otter. The pace
is kept up for two miles, and many stragglers are left behind. Then a
halt is recommended, and an anonymous individual in the crowd is
surreptitiously cheering hounds on to a stray moor-hen, when somebody
stumbles upon a wasps' nest, and matters for the first time become
really exciting. The hunters become the hunted, and fly across country
in a record-breaking manner, behaving like semaphores. The dogs snap
and dive. Finally, the survivors foregather again half a mile down
stream. "I rather think," says the M.O.H., making his only really
popular observation of the afternoon, "that we'll be goin' home now."
The hunt is at an end.
"Well," said the visitor to the grizzled sportsman as they walked
back, "we have had a very pleasant stroll, but—tell me, is this the
sort of thing that always happens?"
"Well, no," replied the grey-beard; "not invariably. But it is a
curious pastime, and the only person who has nothing to find fault with
in it seems to me to be the otter. Perhaps the hounds are kept for his
benefit. Hullo, here's the old chap who asked the hounds to come.
Perhaps we shall have some sport after all. He seems excited."
After which the "old chap" explains in a breathless manner that
it's all right now, your lordship, and he had meant to tell him afore.
As he was coming back from mowing that morning, out jumped the otter
from a ditch right at his feet, and he cut him in half with a scythe.
"Well," said the visitor, thoughtfully, feeling his swollen
features, "I have no doubt that otter hunting is a noble sport, but
what I say is—give me rats."
CURIOSITIES OF CRICKET
[From the report of the Yorkshire v. Sussex match:—"DENTON was out
in a curious manner, hitting the top of the middle stump and bringing
it forward to a sharp angle without disturbing the other two, in so
strange a manner that FRY had the wicket photographed—doubtless for a
forthcoming number of his magazine."]
From The Sporting Man of the day after to-morrow:—While
stealing a short run in the Middlesex v. Surrey match last week, Mr. P.
F. WARNER was so unfortunate as to lose his balance, and fall. Before
the game was restarted, Mr. WARNER dictated an article for The
Westminster Gazette on "Hard v. Soft Wickets: why I prefer the
latter." The time thus occupied undoubtedly went far towards enabling
Middlesex to draw the game.
An interesting ceremony delayed the progress of the second day's
cricket between Leicester and Warwick. Coming in ninth wicket Sir A.
HAZELRIGG, playing a fine, forcing game, speedily hit up three before
falling a victim to an insidious long-hop from HARGREAVE. A magnificent
display of fireworks and an impromptu country dance were given to
celebrate the popular skipper's triumph. This is one of the Leicester
Captain's highest scores in first-class cricket. Possibly the faster
ground suits him. Yet even on a slow pitch, versus Lancashire, he made
two in excellent style before he was run out.
Old-fashioned sportsmen are complaining that it was unnecessary for
the match between Northants and Notts to be interrupted for a
protracted period while the Northants team were photographed singly and
collectively in characteristic attitudes. For ourselves we yield to
none in our respect for the rigour of the game; but it must be
remembered that this was the second time in one month that Northants
had reached double figures in a single innings, and we think that
latitude may be allowed to the natural excitement consequent on the
success of the plucky little county.
Playing for Bampstead Wanderers v. Army and Navy Stores "A" at
Acton last Saturday, B. W. BULGER, who heads the Wanderers' averages
this year with 8.03, remarked to the umpire who gave him out l.b.w., "I
think your decision quite just. The ball pitched on the off-stump, and
would have taken the middle but for my leg being in the way. If all
umpires had your honesty and judgment, cricket would be a different
game." At the umpire's request the match was stopped while Mr. BULGER
repeated his remark into a gramophone. Batsman and official then shook
hands, and after three ringing cheers had been given by the fieldsmen
Mr. BULGER retired to the scoring-bench.
In the Chickenham v. Pigbury annual match on the latter's ground,
Farmer JENKINS, umpiring for the former team, twice gave SAM GILES, the
Pigbury crack, not out, on appeals for "caught at the wicket" and "run
out." It was only after the hat had been sent round and its contents
and an illuminated address presented to Mr. JENKINS by the spectators
and the rest of the home team that the match could be resumed.
MR. PUNCH'S FOOTBALL EXPERTS
Although Mr. Punch has watched with sympathy the spirited
policy of one of his contemporaries in employing such authorities on
the winter game as Lady HELEN FORBES and Mr. PETT RIDGE to report
football matches, he feels that the scheme is capable of development.
There are others able and willing to let the public have pen-pictures
of the game they love so well. Graphic accounts of last Saturday's
matches by some of his own corps of special reporters are appended:—
D-V-D LL-OYD G—RGE
Hornets 2. Wolves 0.
I am a comparatively poor man, but, if I were half as poor as the
work in front of goal of the Hanley Wolves, I should be tempted to give
up the Stock Exchange altogether as too risky. It was this, combined
with the spectacle of that great track of uncultivated land (land which
might have been congested with happy and prosperous agriculturists),
that spoiled my Saturday afternoon. And this is going on all over the
country, while British labourers emigrate to America. I spoke to a
Bermondsey farmer after the match and he gave me some figures which
appalled me. Every footballer destroys twenty turnips a day. You cannot
have half-backs and agricultural prosperity. You must choose between
outside rights and inside wrongs. I looked into the housing of the
spectators. In many cases whole families were packed into a space which
a sardine would have considered inadequate. I saw ten reporters huddled
together in a single room. I have no remedy to suggest. I merely
mention the facts.
Tigers 2. Newcastle 2.
The pointless struggle between these two great teams, the third in
three successive matches, encourages me to think that the time is now
ripe for some arrangement for the reduction of excessive armaments. For
years team-building has gone on between these two football-centres with
ever-increasing activity. In 1909, the Tigers spent L3,501 19s. 3d. on
their front line. Newcastle replied by purchasing Scotsmen to the value
of L4,002 18s. 5d. In 1910, Newcastle paid over six thousand pounds for
backs of the Dreadnought class. The Tigers responded by laying down a
new goal-keeper at a cost of well into the seventh thousand. And so it
has gone on ever since. Now, the proposal which I put forward in the
name of His Majesty's Government is simply this. Let Plymouth say to
Newcastle: "If you will put off buying centre- forwards for twelve
months from the ordinary date when you would have opened negotiations
with the slave-dealers, we will put off buying half-backs in absolutely
good faith for exactly the same period." That would mean that there
would be a complete holiday for one year between Plymouth and
Newcastle. The relative strength of the two teams would be absolutely
SHEFFIELD TUESDAY AFTERNOON
Tuesday Afternoons 0. Hotstuffs 0.
The crude exhibition of masculine fatuity which attracted 30,000
prejudiced males to Leytonstone on Saturday ended, as one might have
foreseen, in a result—a result as negative and fruitless as the
Government's opposition to the Cause. A pointless draw, I heard it
called by one man. Another, a moment later, stated that each side had
secured a point. Can anything better illustrate the futilities and
contradictions of this man-made sport? As long as football is confined
to one sex, as long as Man guards it jealously as his special preserve,
so long will this inane state of things continue. Women are not
permitted to become members of First League teams. What is the result?
Idiotic and ineffectual struggles like Saturday's at Leytonstone. These
footballers do not know the rudiments of warfare. Not a single member
of either eleven carried with him on to the field a bomb, a horse-whip
or even a hat-pin. There was an autocratic official who, I believe, is
known as the referee. I saw this man blow his whistle and refuse to
allow one burly player a goal which he had scored. What did the player,
the craven, do? Did he hunger-strike, like a man of spirit? No, he took
it lying down. For the rest, the Hotstuffs wear rather sweet shirts,
pink relieved with a green insertion; and the Tuesday Afternoons'
goal-keeper has a nice face.