Waugh at the Ashes

Waugh gets quoted in the Guardian’s report of the opening ceremony of the Ashes Test Cricket Match in Cardiff. The reporter (Barney Ronay) is complaining about the lengthy opening ceremony which

kicked off with a rain-sodden male-voice choir singing not one, not two but three national anthems… “Never get mixed up in a Welsh wrangle,” Evelyn Waugh wrote in Decline and Fall. “It doesn’t end in blows like an Irish one, but goes on forever.” At times before the start of play in a series that, frankly, needs no introduction it was tempting to apply the same principle to Welsh cricket grounds and interminably woolly opening ceremonies.

The quote is Captain Grimes advising Paul Pennyfeather in the Llanaba pub where the local band is in a wrangle about sharing out the proceeds they have just received for their performance at the school’s sports day. Grimes concludes his remarks with the comment: “They’ll still be discussing that three pounds at the end of term: just you see.” (Decline and Fall, London, 1928, p. 112.) And no doubt the tedious opening ceremony in Cardiff will still be discussed after the Test Match ends, if, indeed, any one notices when that happens. In case any one is interested, the match is between England and Australia.

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