Meeting ‘Jackers’ at the Main Gate of the Hurlingham Club has become a very pleasant habit this Summer – and so it was at the end of July that a select band of Sirmoorees gathered again at the High Altar of croquet to grace the hallowed lawns. Bruce made the trek from Bristol, Peter and Annie Duffell journeyed from Britford, Christopher and Griselda Lavender from Old Woking, and Mark Pettigrew from south of the River.
We were blessed with good weather for the only day that week and as we consumed our lunch on the Terrace, Peter happily recalled the time he had attended a Ball at Hurlingham as a rather younger man. Sadly, the tale was unaccompanied by any racy anecdotes – perhaps by intent given Annie’s presence! Mark joined us from the tennis courts and in the eye of this observer he must be in line for the Victor Ludorum, as only the week before we had met on the Sirmoor Golf circuit, on his challenging course at Royal Wimbledon.
Having selected our mallets in the croquet store we set up camp adjacent to Lawn 1, suitably decked out with a Sirmoor flag and umbrellas. Play commenced with a game of Golf Croquet, with Mark as the Directing Staff. Mark and Bruce played each other in a private tourney, while Griselda teamed up with Peter, and Annie with Christopher for major event . With each player playing just one ball, and no complicated roquets or croquets, this is a fast moving, fun way to get the measure of the lawn. While Mark triumphed narrowly over Bruce in the Elite Division, there was a dramatic finale in the Premiership – with Griselda and Peter 3-1 to the better as we approached the penultimate hoop. There was even some defeatist talk from Christopher about conceding! But after he had negotiated the fifth hoop, Annie took the game by the scruff of the neck and calmy ran the final Hoop. So it was now 3-3 and the winner would be the first to hit the post. Griselda, Peter and Christopher all failed the test – and it was left to Annie to rather elegantly run her ball through the others to take the match!
With trepidation on the part of some we then decide to try the rather more complicated and Machiavellian code of Association Croquet. The pairings remained the same and after some adroit play around the first hoop Bruce and Mark (who had teamed up together) took a one hoop lead. With Annie and Christopher ‘marauding’ the front pair on the third hoop (Annie’s first ‘maraud’was particularly effective), it seemed that Peter and Griselda were being left behind – but they were merely biding their time! With a late surge (a Duffell speciality it seems) Peter and Griselda swept through the second and third hoops and were threatening to take control of the game. Happily for Mark and Bruce the game was concluded at this point as the attraction of clotted cream and jam scones prevailed. And so Mark and Bruce were crowned the victors and we repaired to the Terrace.
Thus, a most enjoyable day was capped with an indulgent English Tea – before most of us wrestled with the evening traffic heading west out of London; apart from Griselda and Mark – with Griselda following Mark to Wandsworth Bridge and through the back streets to Trinity Road. Mark drove like a ‘bat out of hell, she later recounted!! Jai Sirmoor!
Discussions and deliberations!
The memsahebs line up their shots
Sirmooris – with ‘Brollies Rampant’!