Pub talk at the Eagle: summer shorts and really Eel-y, dangerously hip Ely.
Me: “I liked your e-mail recruiting for the cricket team. It almost made me wish I could throw a ball. The wind is beginning to lose its sting, and the gaps between rainstorms are getting gradually longer - yes, the English summer is on its way. Along with imported strawberries and inappropriate shorts, cricket is one of those things without which summer would not be complete.
While some may chose to spend that season lazing beside rivers and quaffing champagne, the more discerning amongst us elect for the greensward and the thrill of clattering wickets. To feed this passion there exists the Trinity Hall MCR cricket team. This august collective has a long and proud history of sending players boldly into competition, to be thrashed soundly by the other team.
“You too could be part of that tradition.”
Him: “There are always some pretty dire and wrong shorts come the summer.”
Her: “My father doesn’t own any shorts. He doesn’t even own any casual clothing. Everything he owns is a suit.”
Me: “Well, it’s the one thing almost all men look good in I suppose. And it saves a lot of thinking. Not much good in an Australian summer, though. ‘Just popping down to the beach in my casual suit’.”
Him: “Yes, it’s a plan that works well until you get a few days of really hot weather. Or get on the London tube in Summer.
“Then it can only go horribly wrong.”
Me: “Well in an act of gross optimism I bought two pairs of shorts with me …”
Noise of Britons snickering into their beer.
“ … which of course I haven’t worn at all. But rather stupidly, I managed to have them sent after me – so I arrived in Italy in September at the end of Europe’s worst heat wave for a hundred years.”
Her: “In that situation I think I’d just rip the legs off my jeans, you know, into those fashionable little shorts?”
Him: “Are those fashionable?”
Her: “In that, ‘the 80s are back way’. Y’know, retro.”
Him: “Yes, 80s retro, 90s retro, 15 minutes ago retro. It’s hard to keep up.”
Me (looking at a magazine): “Hello, we’re living in the wrong town. Apparently Ely is growing in population and sophistication and is in serious danger of becoming hip.”
Him: “What’s Ely got Cambridge hasn’t? A Cathedral?”
Me: “That is the first thing they mention, yes.”
Him: “What’s the second?”
Me (reading from said Magazine): “A Woolworths on the High Street. As everyone knows Cambridge know longer has a Woolworths on the High Street, or anywhere else.”
Me: “Ely. Is it pronounced E-lie, or Eel-ee?”
Him: “Eel-ee. From their historical origins.”
Her: “What origins? Undrained swamp?”
Me (still looking at magazine): “Third thing they have we don’t - hills.”
Him: “They have a hill, yes. With the town on it. Before the fens were drained you had to row out to it.”
Her: “So that’s the reason for their name? Isle-ee, because they used to be an island?”
Him: “No. It’s Eel-ee, because they used to have a lot of eels.”
Me: “You can’t be serious.”