Ten10 Tales was a project that I worked on during 2014. My son and I had a fantasy cricket league that we played with Owzthat dice. We played four seasons of matches with each side batting for 10 overs. This kept the games within a boy’s concentration span and reasonably accurately simulated the ebb and flow of Twenty20 cricket.
The teams were all themed around real life characters who were connected. The mainstays of the league were the Kings and Queens Royals, the Archbishops of Canterbury Saints, the Great Composers, the Innisfree Bards and the New York Jazz Swingers. They were joined by the Children’s Television Allstars* and the Wild West Cowboys in the first two seasons, and by the Somerset Engineers, Prime Ministers XI and the Gentlemen and Players in the last two seasons.
As the game continued, its narrative evolved and deepened through our record keeping and statistics. We delighted in it together. These teams and their games came alive to us. We were marinating in our ordinariness, dice, paper, a phone app to keep score with, a kitchen table, but we stumbled into precious time.
At the same time, 2014 was an emotionally challenging year for me and I was unable to directly articulate how I was processing what was happening away from our game. When Tennyson couldn’t speak about how he felt, he retreated into Greek mythology. I retreated into imaginary cricket and this group of poems are the result.
Miles Davis on Cricket
Who Wants This More?
Mrs Line and Length
The Children’s Television Allstars’ Franchise is Revoked
When Ellington Swings
The Ringer’s Doppleganger
Churchill Keeping Wicket / Two Days Later
Queen Victoria scored 111 not out
The back of the Innisfree Pavillion
Cricket Teas with the Archbishops
Man of the Match
The Heckling of TS Eliot
The Game Carried On
* Not real life