Monday, April 25, 2011

Alan Gibson: Of Didcot and the Demon

I bought this book after being told of its existence by Backwatersman, who writes Go Litel Blog, Go....

Alan Gibson was one of my early journalistic heroes. His reports of county cricket for the times were wonderfully quirky, being as likely to deal with his difficulties in getting to the game or the charms of the barmaid across the road from the county ground as with the game itself.

Later on I was to discover that he had fought Falmouth and Camborne for the Liberal Party at the 1959 general election and come second.

Anthony Gibson, who compiled this anthology of his father's work, is honest about his shortcomings as a man and a journalist. But this book is a joy for me because it recreates the era when I could have named you every county's first XI - and most of their second XI too.

But it is amazing what you do and don't remember.

Alan Gibson was a regular on Test Match Special until his problem with drink became too obvious - his last test was the Headingley test of 1975 when the George Davis is Innocent protesters dug up the pitch and forced the abandonment of the last day's play. Yet I have no memory of his voice, even though I can recall Fred Trueman chuckling in the same test as Phil Edmonds came almost skipping up to short leg as he had taken five Australian wickets in his first test innings.

Yet I remember a piece of Gibson's about his cat having kittens that turns out to have been published in 1976 while I was taking my O levels:
Well, at last Crumbs produced her kittens. They had taken so long to get out that we had already decided to call the first one Trevor and the second one Bailey. I invite suggestions for them name of the third, and any further kittens that may have arrived during my absence ...

Slocombe, less on his play than merely as a pun, has been nominated as the candidate for my nameless kitten.


Frank Little said...

Did Alan Gibson not share the microphone in a BBC Home Service opt-out from the south-west on a Saturday morning? I seem to recall that Blandford Forum featured regularly. I also remember the comment on one sporting headline: "Valiant Virgin saves Somerset" - "unlikely to be the other way round".

Jonathan Calder said...

Yes, that was the same Alan Gibson.

Backwatersman said...

I have no memory of his voice either, though I do remember my father pointing out (in the Headingley match) that he appeared to be drunk. I get the impression he was fairly pointed and terse on air, or more so than you might expect from his writing.