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The Castle and Stumps


We got off our bicycle and started wheeling it across the field in front of the Castle and Stumps, we were almost half way across when a man came out of the front door to shake a yellow dust cloth, when he saw us he shouted.

" Don't go across there." We stopped.
" Across where." said Joe.
" Across the square in the middle." he pointed to the neatly mowed peace of grass in the middle of the field, we were almost at on it.

We skirted around the neat bit of grass and approached the man.
"What's so special about the square in the middle " ask Joe.

" Its the Cricket square." said the man, "That's why this place is called the Castle and Stumps, stumps as in cricket.

We looked up at the Castle and Stumps, it was not your giant ten thousand men type castle. This was more like the castle you get on a chess board, round, two stories high, small slit windows with a castle bit on top. If its shape was not enough to tell you what it was, it had a large sign painted on the stonework running all round the middle which said ' The Castle and Stumps '.

The man with the duster was the barman and second slip, his name was George Fogget. Inside the Castle and Stumps it was almost exactly as you would expect it to be, one round room, dark with beams and wooden panelling. There were bits of armour hanging about and pictures of old knights on the walls. There was also alot of cricketing items, cups team photographs and the such like. We ordered a pint of beer each and some sandwiches.

It seems the pub was used as a clubhouse by the local cricket team, a small village could not afford anything else and it was handy for the green.

Fogget gave us a big plate of ham sandwiches. As we looked round we noticed a glass case with a scruffy pair of greyish cricket pads carefully preserved in the glass. I ask the obvious question, it seemed the once belonged to W.G.Grace who once played for their team in his early days. Joes blank expression indicated that he did not know who W. G. Grace was, so I explained he was famous a cricketer, in fact the famous cricketer. Legendary added Fogget.

We all stood for a while looking in silent reverence stairing at the scruffy pair of cricket pads. A signed photograph and a letter from the great man himself confirmed the authenticity of the icon.

While we were maintaining our silent reverence to the great man I continued munching the ham sandwiches, they were probably the best ham sandwiches I have ever had. They were made with freshly baked home made bread and judging by the flavour, home cured ham.

As the silence continued Joes eye was caught by a small framed picture securely nailed to a beam near the end of the bar. The picture seemed to be of a fifty pound note, it was dusty and looked as if it had been there a long time.

" What." said Joe at length. " Is that? "

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Short Story Series - Abridged from the book - The Tatty Nickers Tony on the Moon