The Writings of Ingrid Pitt

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Lunch is postponed

What has always bugged me is - would I have got the film without Botham's input?
Ian Botham

Ian Botham watches another ball heading for the stands.

The sun was shining brightly, the charcoal had a satisfying blanket of light grey ash, the Rioja was exactly the right temperature and my husband, Tonio, was locked away in the sitting room watching television. All that was needed was my guest to arrive on time, some high level schmalz and it would be, to use President Bush’s ill-fated words, Mission Accomplished.

The door bell rang. I counted to three. No point in looking too eager. Standing on the door mat looking anxious was my guest. I stoked up an especially warm welcoming smile but before I could say anything he asked if the television was on. I nodded and the smile froze a little.

“Thanks” he said so fervently that I assumed there had been an assassination or London had been demolished by a rogue student with a home made nuclear bomb. I ushered him into the room. Tonio hardly took his eyes off the screen. My guest slid onto the sofa beside him and leaned forward eagerly watching what was happening on the TV.

Ian Botham Hooks and Aussie Bowler

More punishment for the Aussies.

My guest was Euan Lloyd, a film producer of action movies who was setting up a film based on the SAS just half a mile up the road at Twickenham Studios. My mission, and I chose to accept it, was to sweet talk him into giving me a part.

But things were going badly wrong. I was a little annoyed to see that I was taking a distant second place to a game of cricket. I tried a couple of innocent remarks just to let the two lads know that I was still there but was ignored. I tried to understand what was riveting their attention on the screen but what was going on was beyond my understanding. But there did seem to be a glimmer of hope. Apparently all ‘we’ needed was another 20 runs.

“l’ll get lunch then?” I suggested.

I got a non-directional grunt. My mood had definitely darkened as I threw the T-bone steaks on the griddle, and gave the salad a vicious stir. The food was just about ready when another burst of applause and much whooping came from behind the closed door. I lightened up a bit. Obviously the game was over and I would get a chance to put my game plan into operation.

Not exactly Headingley but fans Ingrid and daughter Steffi make-believe by cosying up to Tonio after he was out for a duck - with style.

I opened the door.

“Lunch is ready,” I said brightly.

Two faces swivelled towards me uncomprehendingly.

“Lunch”. I repeated.

“We’ll have it in here”. Tonio said.

I wanted to argue but I know my limits. We sat with our meal on our laps and I tried to work out why I was being ignored. I had to admit that the energetic figures running around in an uncoordinated melee looked quite sexy in their sweat and virginal white but not enough to get two grown men acting like adolescent boys at a risqué peepshow.

Instead of the match being over, the runs garnered had been to stop the team from having to ‘follow on’. I didn’t ask.

Botham Mobbed at Headingly

Everyone wanted a piece of Botham as a souvenir of one of the greatest days in Test Cricket

Suddenly it was tea time and everyone wandered off the field. Euan jumped to his feet, shook bosom-buddy Tonio’s hand and made for the door. I couldn’t believe it. All my planning had come to nought. At the door Euan gave me a fleeting kiss on the cheek.

“Thanks for everything. I’ll send the Who Dares Wins script around in the morning.”

As he scuttled down the garden path he called back over his shoulder, “Helga”.

I couldn’t believe it. The second female lead without breaking into a sweat.

But this was 20th July 1981. A day of magic.

The day Ian Botham had editors reaching for their lexicons of superlatives and finding them inadequate.

And the day I had my Damascus Road moment and became hooked on cricket. I’m still struggling to understand it.

Motoring & Leisure June 2007

The Writings of Ingrid Pitt