It is now over three months since my last blog, and the world is a rather different place to what it was then. When we then wished people a happy New Year, I think we had something rather different in mind to what has transpired. 
 
For me, the last three months have been blighted by a number of relatively minor bugs and suchlike that I have been unable to completely shake off. It is quite embarrassing now – I’ve had a residual cough for several weeks, and when it happened whilst I was in the butchers a couple of weeks ago I was immediately told, “fourteen days’ self-isolation!!” I felt as if I had been shamed for being out of the house. 
 
The first couple of weeks of January was taken up by invigilation at the university. The Uni is now closed, and May exams are cancelled, so I won’t be seeing most of my colleagues there for some time. As has become customary, the January session was followed up on the following Monday by a trip to the Goodmanham Arms. It was another great day, and the memories will have to satisfy us for now. The March trip is cancelled, and May looks very doubtful. One of our group, Richard, who is ten years older than me, has COPD and is therefore very much at risk at the moment. 
 
At the end of that week, Steve and I met up in Goole to discuss arrangements for the coming season. One of the subjects we discussed was sponsorship. Our deal with 4 Probate & Wills was for one season only, and we are looking for a replacement. Steve has a couple of ‘irons in the fire’ but if the climate for finding sponsors was not great in January, it is even worse now. If nothing comes of our discussions, we will get by ok for one season – or for as much as we can play. 
 
Also in January and February, we had some home improvements done. You hear many stories about dodgy workmen, but we employed a joiner, bathroom-fitter, carpet man and decorator that we had never used before – and all did a great job for us. I converted the downstairs toilet to a little bus museum (it can still be used for its intended purpose) and the inside of the house is now finished. We are now just waiting for a new door and cladding to be fitted at the front – but the suppliers are all closed down at the moment. 
 
Rovers’ season started on the last day of January with a good win over Wakefield – six defeats and even more injuries later, that seems a long time ago. I firmly believe that you have to look for silver linings, and the enforced break may have come at a good time for Rovers. When we eventually get going it will hopefully be with a clean bill of health and will be a fresh start. 
 
In the first week in February, I spent a couple of days in Birmingham with my London-based pal, Malc, and a few of his friends. We had a long afternoon at the Great British Winter Beer Festival and the following day had a good walk round the canals and visited various real ale establishments in the city. I had visited Birmingham with work years ago, but as usual it had been a case of hotel-meeting-back home again, and I had no real chance to see anything. I am sure Birmingham is, like all cities, a mixture of good and bad – but I liked the city centre, particularly the canal basement area. 
 
I had a trip with Gavin down to see Tottenham’s new White Hart Lane stadium for the first time in mid-February. The stadium, it has to be said, was far more impressive than the team’s performance that night, but we had a couple of pints with Malc first, then an excellent burger at Honest Burgers in Spittalfields, and a comfortable night in a well refurbished hotel in the Kings Cross area. The next morning we had a lovely full English breakfast at Half Cup in Judd Street before making our way home. Football is only incidental really …. 
 
I met up with Simon Widdup at Forest Pines last that week to discuss the rules for our revamped t20 competition. Simon has a lot of experience and is a real thinker about the game. He sent me some draft rules that, with minor changes, we will use. We also discussed general umpiring issues, and I reflect again how much the job has changed since I started umpiring in league cricket in 1975. I have to say that it was all a lot simpler then! 
 
After that I was pretty well laid up for a week. I thought I was ok for my visit to Cleethorpes to see Mark Ramprakash at the beginning of March – and a very good evening too it was. I did not know what to expect, but I was very impressed. Mark is a very interesting, genuine and down-to-earth bloke. The following day, Duncan Jones came over to Hull and we met up with Mike Linwood and Rich Perry to spend a very pleasant afternoon going round the pubs in Hull’s Old Town. As I say, I had thought I was ok, but going out twice in 24 hours was too much and I really paid for it later. 
 
After that, there were a couple of additional university sessions, a night with Gavin in Tribal watching Spurs, and an evening with Richard at the East Riding Cricket Society, where the speaker was our old friend John Barclay. Amongst his usual unique stories, John spoke quite briefly and simply about his mental health issues, and it was good to see him looking well and in good form. He fondly remembers his visit to Barnsley in 2017! 
 
Since then, of course, all sport and social activities are on hold. It will be a difficult time for many, so I decided to restart my blog at least on a fortnightly basis from now on. I have opened the comments section below, so that you can comment on anything I have said, or ask any questions. Maybe we can get a bit of discussion going! Here is a personal thought that might stimulate comment. However difficult it is, there are usually positives in any situation. Yesterday I drove a twenty-mile plus round trip to deliver food to Richard and Gavin, and as I was driving along, I thought, 'How brilliant is this? I wish the roads were like this all the time!' It brought the pleasure back to driving! Kirsty told me of a couple of things that she had found very pleasing too. Do you have any positives about the current situation to share? 
 
In my next blog I will talk about the impact of Covid-19 on our league, how we have responded, and what we plan to do from now on. But in the meantime, please respect the restrictions placed upon us, take care of yourselves, and, in particular, look out for those who are more at risk. 
 
Till next time, 
 
Roger 
 
Photo: sunset over Hull Marina 30 December 2019  
 
 
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On 27th March 2020 at 09:00, Richard Marsden wrote:
I would like to echo Roger’s comments about Mark Ramprakash. What a great ambassador Mark is for the game of cricket (and for Strictly Come Dancing, too!). It was good to hear that he is still very much involved in grass roots cricket and in coaching youngsters in the game. Full marks to Cleethorpes CC for yet another excellent evening’s entertainment.
Oh yes, and by the way Roger does superb chillis and shepherd’s pies. Hairy Bikers eat your hearts out!
Keep safe
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