Well, the book’s first draft is done and sent off – the initial editors’ comments are awaited with trepidation. But the good news (I hear you ALL cry) is that I can get back to some serious blogging. And what better way to mark this momentous event than by offering some Friday Fun.

One of my recent excitements is the quirky Cox’s Fragmenta. This is edited by Simon Murphy from a really bizarre tome in the British Library – essentially a scrap-book of news clippings kept by one Francis Cox (1752-1834) on every subject under the sun. In fact, it takes up 20 feet of shelving. So I thought it might be fun to pick out a few choice morsels.

Cox's FragmentaHere’s today’s first extract

Cricket Match

Yesterday, from the novelty of an advertisement announcing a Cricket Match to be played by eleven Greenwich pensioners with one leg against eleven with one arm, for one thousand guineas, at the new Cricket ground, Montpelier Gardens, Walworth, an immense concourse of people  assembled. About nine o’clock the men arrived in three Greenwich stages; about ten the wickets were pitched, and the match commenced. Those with but one leg had the first innings, and got 93 runs. At about three o’clock, while those with but one arm were having their innings, a scene of riot and confusion took place, owing to the pressure of the populace to gain admittance to the ground; the gates were forced open, and several parts of the fencing were broke down, and a great number of persons having got upon the roof of a stable, the roof broke in, and several of them falling among the horses, were taken out much bruised.

About six o’clock the game was renewed, and those with but one arm got but 42 runs during their innings. The one legs commenced their second innings, and six were bowled out after they got 60, so that left off 111 more than those with one arm.

The Sun, Wednesday 10 August 1796 (v.12,p.223)

[Note: Cricket matches pitting monopods against one-armed teams were more common than one might perhaps expect. As noted above, the events attracted huge crowds and were an ideal means of collecting money for the disabled players. Inthis case,t he benefactors were the Greenwich Pensioners – the naval equivalent of the Chelsea Pensioners. Apparently it was usual for the team with only one leg to emerge victorious, though in 1841, when the Greenwich Pensioners took on the Chelsea Pensioners, the former won by 176 runs to 189 – despite having more one-legged players.]

Then I couldn’t resist this excellent, practical advice. A forerunner of Viz’s Top-Tips methinks…

Recipe to keep a person warm the whole winter with a single Billet of Wood. – Take a billet of wood the ordinary size, run up into the garret with it as quick as you can, throw it out of the garret window; run down after it (not out of the garret window mind) as fast as possible; repeat this until you are warm, and as often as occasion may require. It will never fail to have the desired effect whilst you are able to use it. – Probatum est.

Oracle and Public Advertiser, Thursday 24 November 1796 (v.12, p.253)

A print of the Greenwich vs Chelsea Pensioners’ match from the Lord’s website

Chelsea & Greenwich Pensioners cricket match

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