I imagine every English cricketer must look forward to touring the West Indies with the English cricket team, even if they do know that they’re probably going to get thrashed. What an opportunity. They get to visit and play in islands like Barbados, Trinidad, Antigua, Guyana, and Jamaica. Although I guess Jamaica is one place that no-one wants to be at the moment, with Hurricane Dean venting its fury as I write.
Here in Larnaca, there’s a group of Asian guys who play cricket every evening on the field where I exercise my fierce dog, Cleopatra. She’s very good at chasing after and retrieving the ball, but not quite so enthusiastic about giving it back!
But there’s no finer accompaniment to a warm summer’s evening than the quintessentially English sound of leather on willow, and the smell of freshly-mown grass, waiting for the match to finish so you can all retire to the clubhouse for a few pints of thirst-quenching local brew, and an evening of social merriment.
None of which, unfortunately, accompany this particular ad hoc game here in Larnaca – they don’t use a leather cricket ball, there’s no grass, no clubhouse, and no beer.
The only sounds to be heard are a lone bugler somewhere in the vicinity who always seems to blow his heart out at that time of evening, and the ecstatic applause of a plethora of crickets, ironically, who watch the game from the trees which surround the field, and make a hell of a racket.
Crickets make their unique sound by rubbing the tips of their front wings together. One has teeth on it and the other is a scraper. Same principle as the latin percussion instrument, the güiro.
Crickets are very loud too. About 100 decibels (dB). And they have a unique hearing system which enables them to shut out their own noise but still hear other crickets. A very clever piece of engineering.
0 dB Threshold of hearing
10 dB Rustling of leaves
20 dB Whisper
30 dB Quiet conversation
40 dB Average home
50 dB Normal conversation
60 dB Busy shop
70 dB City street
80 dB Busy workplace
90 dB Underground railway
100 dB Pneumatic drill 10ft away
110 dB Propeller aircraft taking off
120 dB Jet aircraft taking off
And it’s a geometric progression. Each 10dB added makes the sound TEN TIMES as loud. So, 90dB is quite loud, but 100dB is ten times louder, and 110dB is 100 times louder, etc.
So if you can imagine a few dozen of these chirpy little fellows all rubbing their legs together gleefully at the same time, it’s quite a din.
There are lots of them around where I live too. It’s quite a cacophony of noise at times. The silence when they all stop for a cup of tea and a slice of grasshopper pie is deafening.
All of which brings me to the point that there’s been a cricket lodging in my apartment for the last three days. Impossible to catch. Every time I get near him he jumps away. Well, he half jumps, half flies. Presumably that’s how they get up into trees and onto balconies.
So far he’s remained silent. But I’m dreading the moment when he creeps up behind me and goes off. 100dB of cricket catching me unawares is likely to make me jump out of my skin!
He did actually leave of his own volition at one point. I saw him sunbathing on the balcony, and quickly closed the doors. But he must have sneaked back in at some point to freshen up, because when I woke up this morning, there he was, sitting on top of the computer. He’s still there right now, as I write, two feet away from me, tauntng me, daring me to make a move so he can make a fool of me again.
But I’m not a threat to him. I just to want to help him get back and join the rest of the team. I wish him no harm. But he’s probably afraid that my favourite dish might be roasted crickets.
This is a story which has no ending at the moment. I probably should have waited for the outcome before writing about it.
But there are only two possible endings. Either he’ll get fed up and fly away to balconies new, in which case the whole thing won’t have been worth mentioning in the first place. Or else he’ll decide to do his impression of a pneumatic drill right in my ear, in which case I shall probably have a heart attack and be unable to write about it anyway.
So I thought I’d better fill you in on the story so far, just to be on the safe side.
If you never hear from me again, you’ll know what happened…
“Here lies Priapus – it just wasn’t cricket”
Decibel information from http://www.zyra.org.uk/db.htm