Friday 10 April 2015

Richie Benaud and I - a modest memoir based on a true story

We, my spouse Karen Foley, our friend Carol Myer and myself, were in a very nice restaurant in Villefranche-sur-mer. We had gone to the village to see Jean Cocteau's painting of the interior of a fishing hut turned into a chapel and, in nearby Menton, Cocteau's painted wedding chapel (, you may need to cut and paste). The dinner was fine and only one other table was occupied. The occupant I recognised, among the table of four, was Richie Benaud. By the end of the evening, charged up with red wine and bonhomie, I decided to approach Richie for an autograph. Karen and Carol remained at the door. The only piece of paper I had was the restaurant's brochure. It would have to do. I stood behind Richie for a moment expecting him to respond to my presence. Nothing happened. I tapped him lightly on the shoulder. "Unhand me" he said and rose and threw me to the ground and punched me as well a couple of times. I blurted out "I first saw you on the second last day of the Melbourne Test when Ian Meckiff knocked over the Poms for less than a hundred in their second innings". He stopped hitting me and said "Actually it was Davo who took six that day." Oh dear my memory had played tricks I thought. But no in fact Davo took his six in the first innings and backed up with another three in the second.  But I had to check that later. Both took nine for the match. I forgave him and decided not to write him a letter telling him his memory was just a little shot.

After that somewhat tense start to our friendship things settled down. We discovered, via Daphne, that Richie and spouse lived in Coogee, when back home and for the rest of the time he lived in nearby Beaulieu and just flew over to London to call the cricket. Nice. The conversation went on and eventually Karen came over to say we had to go. Soon she was having a nice talk with Richie and Daphne as well. Sydney real estate was on their mind as we also had a place in Coogee at the time. Eventually we rejoined the hapless Carol, patiently standing by the doorway having a chat with one of the waiters. We learned that Richie was a regular and so was Mel Gibson. Memorable.

Parts of the above are derived from a friend's rendition of the incident which is far more amusing than mine.

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