Summer of 71 and Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep

On Saturday lunchtime the evergreen Tony Blackburn played the chart listing from this month in 1971 and included in that chart was a moment in time that is still crystal clear in my shaky mind, a freeze-frame moment of perpetual memory involving the whole of the Pakistan cricket team and a temporary job as gopher to the England cricket team.

Wikipedia informs me that it was the first week in July that England played Pakistan in a five day test at Headingley, Leeds and it was on the Saturday of that test that my Uncle Ralph (who was catering manager at Headingley) got me the job as errand boy to the England cricket team, my job consisting of sitting on a stool in the corner of their changing room for the whole day and running errands for them, I was paid a princely stipend of two pounds for doing so and earned the admiration of almost every boy in our school, I hadn’t the heart to tell anyone, especially the England cricket team, that I had not the slightest interest in the game nor could I name any of the heroic players who won the test series that year.

The stand-out memory though came at the end of the day, the players had left the field and had showered and were now leaving the changing room for the transport to take them to their hotel, I was still sitting on my stool Jack Horner-esque waiting for someone to tell me I could go home too, someone did tell me I could go and I left the dressing room to stand on the landing outside.

Both team changing rooms faced each other on a first floor landing, a flight of stairs led from each down to a shared half landing and then outside and so as I stood at the top of the stairs I faced across the landing to the Pakistan changing rooms and I paused for a few seconds to ponder on the problem of  how I was going to get home with no bus fare (I’d expected to be paid the same day, I wasn’t, I had to borrow my bus fare home from my uncle), the changing room door opened and out stepped the Pakistan team captain in full blazered attire followed in a long line by the whole of his team, down the steps they strode to their awaiting team bus and as a man they were all singing one song, it was this one, number one in the charts at the time and perhaps the most ridiculous song to sing with a heavy Pakistani accent…


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