On the air, reluctantly
Like most well-groomed women who take an interest in current affairs, my wife Jacqui was stationed outside St Mary's Hospital during the Lord's Test. I've always encouraged Jacqui in her career, and this was a chance to fill her boots by offering an on-the-spot nail file-and-polish service to the world's attractive media, while perched on stepladders, and also the option of "under-arm perfection" for some of the broadsheet columnists (pain level: moderate).
As a feminist, Dave Podmore has no objection whatsoever to microwaving his own ready meals while the cricket's on (I can't see what's not to like about having totty on the tenners either, though I'll be interested to see if it encourages them to buy a round). But with Jacqui away I was a bit bored and I watched more of the Test than usual. I also read quite a lot about the game online, which was a mistake as it opened the floodgates to about a million cricket bloggers who I'd never heard of. I hadn't realised there were so many blokes without girlfriends out there, attractive or otherwise. But the Ashes overkill didn't stop at that.
After England went past the 10,000 leg-bye milestone on day one, my Twitter timeline showed street parties were springing up all round North London. Having nothing better to do, I went to a couple. I even had an "LB 10K" tat done on my left buttock, although I thought the lass who did it was writing her number, so I felt a bit of a pillock when I got home and saw myself in the wet-room mirrors. Online the Huffington Post was going big on Leg-Bye Fever. It had a story that Myleene Klass had consulted the Association of Cricket Statisticians before having an upside-down triangle cut into her swimsuit. At which point I decided I needed a break from cricket, so I started answering my phones to pretty much anyone, even landlines.
One of the numbers Not Recognised turned out to be TMS, asking me if I'd like to be a guest on the programme. The lad on the phone was one of those awkward college types who I often have to tell to pipe down in curry houses. He sounded like Ed Miliband eating a toffee apple and he made about as much sense too (no wonder Boycs has got a lot of time for the guy). "Going on TMS," said uni-boy, "is a great accolade." Yeah, right. In Pod's experience, when someone uses that phrase it means the money's rubbish and the producer's got himself in the brown stuff over Mr Blobby's availability, or whoever else was on telly 20 years ago.
"I don't want to be unhelpful, son," I said, because I always try to be pleasant to people on the way up, something old Ted Crapp at Derbyshire used to say as he relieved me of another 20 Embassies. "So meet me in the business lounge at London Gateway services with a nice little envelope of readies as an earnest of good faith and we'll talk." He said he couldn't drive. I thought that'd be the last of it but he kept calling back and going on about what a laugh it would be and there'd be free beers all day and we could watch the Mature Babes Channel in 3D if the cricket got boring, and to be fair I started to warm to him. They told me to turn up at a flat in Peckham. I thought, blimey the BBC cutbacks must be worse than they're letting on.
It wasn't till I saw the boxed sets of Spaced and The IT Crowd and the bag of Kettle Chips opened sideways, students-in-pubs style, that I twigged that what I'd stumbled into wasn't Test Match Special but something calling itself Test Match Sofa. All my carefully prepared gags about Beefy backing Mustard and Onions for the England squad gone to waste! Instead I was expected to join in a discussion about whether Klingons or Ewoks would be better at facing Swanny. I was out of there faster than you can say cake. Of which there wasn't any.
But now the weather's broken, thank god, blokes are covering up their beer guts and Jacqui's back with a bum-bag full of cash. Best of all, Ashes fever has gone away, now we look like winning the next eight too. But here's a tip for the Aussies, just to keep some interest going. Jimmy Anderson just did a newspaper interview in return for a plug at the end about test-driving the new Jaguar XFR-S. I know they're a bit behind the curve car-wise Down Under, but there's always bargains to be found in Autotrader, so Pod's suggestion to the Aussie spinners is: get yourself a Morris Minor or Hillman Imp, and sort out who gets the nod by doing three laps of a disused aerodrome. You should have plenty of free time this weekend.
Dave Podmore, holder of more giant cheques than any other cricketer, is the creation of Christopher Douglas, Nick Newman and Andrew Nickolds