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RAIN STOPPED PLAY - aspects from the life of Anthony Robinson.

Anthony’s cheerful life is an entertaining read, moving effortlessly between many involving interests whilst visiting and meeting many different places and people along the way. 

Aspects cover his happy family background and childhood in wartime South Wales. School days were full of incidents. National Service in the Royal Air Force prepared him for his life ahead with Orient Line and P&O. During those thirty years he was fortified by his admiration of great actors on the professional stage, a huge range of music, mostly choral, emanating from the Royal Albert Hall. It gave him great joy to meet and hear many Australians and to eventually visit their country. 

But prominent most of all, the whole world of cricket has always been dominant. 

His pride and love of two beautiful daughters transcends all else - the sunshine restored to his life.
What was the revelation he learned as late as age 21?
 Aged 10, what most influenced his life?
What strange event led him to act on stage?
  
Was he mad or impetuous to take up cricket administration?Whose international attraction led him to her Savoy Hotel bedroom? Did he think before he leaped off a Turkish mountain? Who told him ‘What beautiful eyes you have?’ How did he gain access to Buckingham Palace?     Somehow so much was packed into such an interesting life. 

                                                             READ ALL ABOUT IT! 

In Store Price: $AU28.95 
Online Price:   $AU27.95


 

ISBN: 978-1-921574-37-5
Format: Paperback
Number of pages:297
Genre: Non Fiction

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Author: Anthony Robinson
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2009
Language: English

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Foreword by Christopher Martin-Jenkins MA MBE

Marlborough College and Cambridge University. Former Cricket Correspondent The Daily Telegraph and the B.B.C. Now with the Radio 4 team Test Match Special. Editor, The Cricketer, former Chief Cricket Correspondent The Times. President, The Cricket Society. An ‘After Dinner Speaker of the Year’. Played for Surrey 2nd XI. Captained Marlborough v Rugby at Lord's when he was out for 99.

***

“The words of the hymn seem apt as a summary of Anthony Robinson’s approach to life: Solid joys and lasting pleasure, none but Sion’s children know. “I can for the most part, take great joy and happiness from my past life and do so,” he concludes. He can say that because he has based his life on solid principles of integrity, loyalty, decency and an understated Christian faith.

“His has not been a consistently happy existence, as one or two of the experiences from his childhood, education, career and family life will illustrate. P&O, originally the Orient Steam Navigation Company, the shipping firm for whom he worked for all his working life after national service in the RAF, made him redundant in 1987 at the age of 52. It was a traumatic blow for a man who loved his work. Worse, he was obviously deeply hurt by the breakdown of his marriage and his wife’s unfaithfulness. But Anthony is one of those precious people who gives more than he takes and who will always prefer the glass half full to the one half empty.

“His nature and upbringing have made him dutiful to a fault. Not surprisingly, he has made good friends and kept them. I do not claim to be more than an acquaintance, knowing him better as the writer of occasional generous letters over the years than I do in person, but I have enjoyed reading his unpretentious life story, told by a well-read writer with plenty of colourful anecdotes.

“We met first in his capacity as Passenger Relations Officer for P&O Cruise ships when my wife and I made the first of three much appreciated voyages round the Mediterranean on the fondly remembered SS Canberra. It was the pleasantest of surprises to find flowers and a bottle of champagne on ice in our cabin along with a welcoming message from Anthony, especially as I was getting a free trip as leader of a cruise designed partly to attract cricket lovers.

“I discovered that we shared many interests. Both of us were educated at Marlborough, and both of us also were well aware of the good fortune that that entailed. Both of us have also had a lifelong love for cricket and an acquired enjoyment in music and the theatre. Marlborough may in one respect have failed us both – or perhaps we failed ourselves by not insisting that we should learn how to play a musical instrument (I think that everyone at the school these days gets that chance), but as the author relates, it succeeded in proving the worth of G.B. Shaw’s sagacious observation that ‘education is what is left behind when you have forgotten everything you once learnt’.

“This is the testimony of an educated man and a well rounded one too.” 

Christopher Martin-Jenkins
March 2009

Introduction

There is a school of thought that it is vain to write an autobiography. I did not go to that school and in any case I do not consider this an autobiography. For a start, various quotes put me off:

Quentin Crisp wrote: “An autobiography is an obituary in serial form with the last instalment missing.”

H. P. Petain said, “To write one’s memoirs is to speak ill of everybody except oneself.”

John Grigg declared, “Autobiography is now as common as adultery and hardly less reprehensible.”

The metaphorical cricket title Rain Stopped Play refers to my happy cheerful life up until my retirement at 65 when my wife pronounced I was “Past my sell by date”. Her immediate demand for divorce, that disallowed me the truth, was the rain that stopped my play. Until then I was, and hope still am, a bright and optimistic sort of guy. Life is too short other than to have a smile on a face, a spring in a step, to look on the bright side of life. That is why these ramblings are but selected aspects.

That is what prompted me to put pen to paper, so to speak. Life has been good to me, I have enjoyed the friendship of wonderful people, I have been fortunate to live through some well timed decades, I have attempted to do much, have visited wonderful places where I have enjoyed so many visual and aural pleasures.

It seemed only right and proper to try and describe some of this good fortune. It is, if you like, my way of saying “thank you” to so many kind people along the way.

Anthony Robinson
Bosvigo
222 Withycombe Village Road
Exmouth EX8 3BD
 

Chapter 1 – To begin not at the beginning

There was no reason for me to assume that Christmas 1956 would be different from any other. I had completed a year with Orient Line in Cockspur Street, just off Trafalgar Square in London. On Christmas Eve any work to be done was completed within the first two hours. Then the fun really began in our branch office, the Two Chairmen, the inviting inn that formed the entrance to the oldest mews in London just behind us in Cockspur Street.

From about four o’clock we were allowed to drift off home, each of us bearing a heavy carton containing a frozen turkey that was a gift from management. Laden with a suitcase as well, it was a bit of a struggle on the Tube through the crowds to Paddington Station. As a result of the Christmas exodus, the compartment of my train to Exeter was completely full. My suitcase was on the rack above me and my turkey carton opposite above a man who soon began to snore with the benefit of an overdose of alcohol. The heating was on full, making the compartment very hot. I must have dozed off but awoke with a blast of icy air from the platform when we stopped at Taunton. Not so opposite, but then I noticed to my alarm that defrosting blood from my turkey was slowly and methodically dripping onto his shoulder. Should I wake him? And if so, how to apologise? Seemingly, nobody else had noticed. I kept quiet and soon enough reached Exeter where I safely escaped with my belongings and a degree of relief.

Our family home, named Little Orchard, was a white, average sized three bedroom detached house on a corner of a lane in Woodbury. When we were all together the family consisted of my father, mother, sister and myself. On Christmas day, back from matins in our parish church and after we had exchanged and opened our presents, we prepared for what always seemed the best home meal of any year. It was nothing if not traditional, just as it should be; roast turkey followed by Christmas pudding. My father sat opposite me, and my sister to my left. Whilst we were finishing off the turkey, my mother was preparing the pudding within earshot in the nearby kitchen. It was then that I began to learn the most extraordinary revelation.

“Now that you have been in London for some time and have settled down,” said my father, “it would be rather nice if you could pay a visit one day to the parish church in Beaconsfield where you were born as you know.”

“Well, yes, certainly if you like, but why?” I asked.

“To see if you can find little James’ grave.”

“Who is little James?” I asked in bewilderment.

There was what I think is called a pregnant pause. Then I heard my mother call.

“Surely you told him, dear?”

For only the second time ever, my father seemed to blush… certainly he was both confused and embarrassed. That was the moment when it was explained to me at the age of twenty-one that on the 30th April 1935, very briefly, I had a twin brother. Tragically he only lived for 48 hours, but my parents had time to christen him James. The news came as quite a shock and I didn’t really know what to say. I think I mumbled something about, “Heaven forbid there should be two people like me.” Then, thinking of the cricketing Bedser twins, it occurred to me what a lot of fun we might have had if identical and dressed alike. That would only appeal to a boy really.

It must have been the following year that I visited Beaconsfield with a very great friend of mine, Robert Lloyd. I could only remember two things about Beaconsfield between 1935 and 1939 when my family moved to South Wales. One was a lovely and intriguing model village called Bekonscot, and the other was our house called Bosvigo in Stratton Road. I even remembered that the road was unmade. But, much more importantly, I knew who bought our house. Nowadays the house is called Spindles. Robert waited in his car whilst I, not without some trepidation because my visit was totally unannounced, made my way to the front door. I rang the bell and just hoped that the right person would answer. She did!

“Hallo, Miss Hiller,” I said. “You won’t remember when we last met over twenty years ago when I was four. My name is Anthony Robinson and you bought this house from my parents.”

Slowly puzzlement gave way to a most welcoming smile as the recollection beatified the face of the famous actress.

“Of course, I remember your mother,” Wendy Hiller replied. “She made me so welcome and gave me a cup of tea as I was pregnant at the time. How lovely to meet you. Do come in.”

Thus Robert Lloyd and I were shown around my old house. Not much was recognisable from that age but the large garden had a huge flowerbed full of lupins. I often reflect how strange it is that I could remember that. It should at this point be explained that the three greatest loves in my young adult life were, and still are: music, cricket, and the theatre. I was too shy to mention the latter, but not so Robert, whereupon Dame Wendy – as she later became and justifiably so – brought out many scrapbooks containing details of her West End successes, and I remember in particular, sketches and designs of her costumes that made her name as the original Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion… I was in seventh heaven. A connection was made that day and we became firm friends. I was lucky enough to meet up with her on several occasions in the number one dressing room whenever she lit up the stage in London’s West End.

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