Posted by: jkirkby8712 | December 27, 2010

Sunday, December 26th 2010 – Boxing Day cricket, sales and recovery

In many respects, those three words adequately describe Boxing Day [the day after Christmas] for many people in Melbourne.  The sales part I seldom have any interest or concern for, but for thousands, the Boxing Day sales at major retail stores, etc, are the highlight of the spending year!!  As for recovery, well again, my activities on a Christmas Day [apart from a potential excess of eating] seldom require any major need for a recovery stage.  The cricket is a different mater, and for many years, either alone or with friends and/or family, I would be found at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for Day 1 of the annual Boxing Day Cricket Test against whichever cricketing nation happened to be touring Australia that particular Summer. Over recent years, I’ve not bothered to go to the cricket on that particular day, preferring instead to go on one of the later days of the match, when crowd numbers are not so large, and there is generally a more peaceful environment.  Age and comfort coming into the picture again!!  This year of course, the English cricketers are out here in Australia, so the Boxing Day test is part of the traditional Ashes Series. More on that later.

This year, Boxing Day is also a Sunday – strangely, it doesn’t feel like a Sunday, as in fact yesterday didn’t really feel like a Saturday. Still not feeling as well as I would have liked, it was an extra early arising this morning, as I’d planned to begin my Sunday morning program of classical music an hour earlier than usual. Totally my choice of course, though at the time, in trying to get on the way, one sometimes initially regrets making such a decision.  However, what was to follow was another 3 hours of delightful music, and music of the kind, that despite the time of day, those who were interested in listening, would do so. For this morning’s program, I managed to fit in two major pieces of work, beginning with Benjamin Britten’s 1948 opera of St Nicholas, my last ‘contribution’ you might say to Christmas 2010. Prior to purchasing this particular recording recently, I’d never knowingly heard this opera, or cantata really rather than an opera, and I found some of the musical parts to be quite exhilarating in their powerful emotional affects [certainly the music, more so than the singing parts, which as in many such cases, were not always that easy to understand].  It’s always useful with these things to have some understanding of the story behind the music – ABC Classic FM radio here in Australia provides through it’s monthly magazine ‘Limelight’ for example, a useful précis and storyline of the many operas that it programs from time to time [although my preference for operas is to actually see them live, rather than listen to the performance]. Anyway, from Wikipedia, comes this initial description of  who St Nicholas was:-

“Saint Nicholas (Greek]: (270–6 December 343), also called Nikolaos of Myra inspired the popular folk-legend of Santa Claus, but was himself a historic 4th-century saint and Greek Bishop of Myra (Demre, in Lycia, part of modern-day Turkey). Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker.  He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as is common for early Christian saints”.

Later in the program this morning, getting completely away from the Christmas theme, we played Beethoven’s 4th Symphony, probably not his best known or most popular symphony, but one of the nine for which he is famous.  This one was written in 1806, and first performed over a year later. In my Sunday program, I’m gradually over a period of months, working through those nine symphonies [as I did a few years ago], usually playing one every six weeks or so.

I left the radio station soon after 9am, but was back there even hours later for another program, this time just the two hours – another of my ‘promotion’ of Australian artists and their recent releases in a range of musical genres, including folk, blues, jazz pop, and some country tracks.  Despite my fears of Christmas Eve,  the voice managed to survive my 8 hours plus on air, although when I finished this evening, I was feeling rather glad I did not have to go back for a couple of days!

As for the Test cricket, the coverage of which began at 10.30 am, I had made sure that all required tasks were completed by then, so that I could relax in front of the TV for a few hours, before returning to the radio late in the afternoon.  They were expecting a record crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground [MCG] today for Day 1, but, partially I think because of the threat of rain delays during the day [ the forecast was for rain late morning and possible storms], the crowd numbers didn’t quite reach the anticipated level, although for a test cricket match, an attendance of 84,345 on Day 1 wasn’t a bad outcome!

In fact the ‘records’ came in other directions, and it was not good news for the Australian team. Sent in to bat, by the English captain, the Australians produced their lowest score at the MCG  in 133 years  – all bowled out for just 98 runs. A perfect outcome for England, especially when by Stumps at the end of the first day’s play, England had responded to be 0 wicket for 157 runs!!! It has to be said, a disgraceful effort of batting by the Australians, and the biggest cricket day of the year turned out to be a bit of a flop for the home team.  It was no wonder I wasn’t too unhappy about leaving the TV coverage and returning to the radio station at 4pm! The following was one report of the day’s events:-

‘Fans packed the MCG yesterday for one of the most anticipated days of Test cricket in years and were then forced to endure one of Australia’s most embarrassing performances. The crowd fell short of the record, but Melbourne still turned out a bumper welcome despite dismal weather and a cricket team to match. The less-than-expected crowd of 84,345 – 6500 short of the attendance record – was blamed on members who failed to show, prompting fresh calls for an overhaul of ticketing procedures. Australia lost four wickets in the first session before rain forced an early lunch. After that it got worse – all out for 98 and a deficit at the close of play of 59. The score was the lowest ever against England in 54 Tests at the MCG, and one of the worst Aussie Ashes innings in memory. England’s openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook then continued the theme, gliding past Australia’s total without loss, finishing the day at 0-157. But, despite Australia’s poor showing, the crowd number thrilled purists who’ve watched on in recent years as the game’s long form took a back seat to one-day games and the cheap thrills of Twenty20. Crowds began milling around the MCG as early as 7am, many draped in flags or with their faces painted in national colours’. At stumps, on Day 1:  Australia: 98 England 0 for 157.

As an amateur genealogist, I usually enjoy watching a TV program called ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’. A few days ago, I made reference to the death of TV and boxing personality, Gus Mercurio, and by coincidence, tonight’s program featured his son, former dancer and Dancing With The Stars judge, turned TV cook, Paul Mercurio. Actually, I think this episode was particularly screened tonight as a tribute to Gus Mercurio because it was actually filmed some time ago, sending Paul  on a search for his family roots. His father, Gus, had little contact with his own American family, and Paul, prior to the program, knew nothing about them.  While the episode doesn’t really produce any earth shattering revelations, there are some very moving scenes, as Mercurio peels back the layers of his family history [something I’ve been doing in recent weeks] – particularly poignant are the scenes of interview with his father, and the new relationship and understanding that appears to develop between the two of them as the story unfolds – made even more poignant, by Gus Mercurio death last week. I enjoyed this program, the only thing I’d watch on the TV tonight, and had almost forgotten about!

Bill was left alone tonight.  My daughter is ‘babysitting’ a girlfriend’s home, well, her cats and birds actually, while the friend is away. The house is within walking distance of here, but apparently, the animals need to be fed early in the morning – Susan is not generally a morning person, and so decided that at the moment while she is working some extra days due to the holiday period, that it is easier for her to be on site. I was actually a bit uncomfortable about going and staying there alone, probably would have preferred her boyfriend to have been with her – but as usual, it was only ‘Dad’ worrying about things of that nature, it was of no concern to Susan!  I guess if we living in one of the inner suburbs of Melbourne, I might have more cause for apprehension!

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