You either TMS or you don't. For those of you who don't, TMS stands for Test Match Special. Still in the dark? Then lucky you!
When we came to France about twenty years ago, I very quickly became a fan of BBC Radio 4. For a start it was in English which meant that I could understand what was being said. As years went by the language became less of an issue but I was hooked and stuck with what I knew. In this house you are never more than 10 metres from a Radio 4 outlet.
However, in rural France Radio 4 is a luxury. It exists only on long wave and we are constantly under threat of the last couple of transmitters going out of service. We nearly lost R4 LW in the 90's but public outrage erupted and Auntie backed down, thank heavens.
And so we pay for our privileges. We pay an extremely high price. All those years ago I would occasionally turn on the radio only to hear men talking about silly legs and Jack Russells on the field. It was all gibberish. Listen a bit more and these male voices all had odd names: Johnners, Blowers, Agers, CMJ. And they would talk for hours and for up to five days at a time.
Sometimes it would be raining and I thought we would go back to something familiar. But no, Blowers has a penchant for bird watching and would tell us about the pigeons flying in front of the commentary box, of the red buses going down the road.
In those days, England never seemed to win any matches. If at any point we were heading for a win the rain would arrive and (eventually) stop play. It wasn't until we won the Ashes in 2005 that I began to see the point of cricket. It was a very exciting series. Unfortunately, Radio 4 LW plays TMS live so you get the very boring series well. Ball by ball. Only ever to be interrupted by the shipping forecast and even that can be delayed if something might happen.
Things improved with the Internet. If I missed The Archers I could read a résumé on line. If I missed a play, well, too bad. If something dramatic happened in the world we usually found out about it through discussion between Aggers and. Blowers and then would wait fretfully until a news bulletin eventually told us what was going on in the world.
But now I have an iPad. I bought this with advice from my son Guy expressly so that I could have a form of Internet radio in the workroom when the wretched cricket blotted out everything else. I've had the iPad for two months in eager anticipation if sticking two fingers up to TMS. Nothing. I was beginning to think Aunty had realized that five days of cricket was just too much.
Sure enough, miracles are not that easy and this morning it started again. YES! My moment had come and I was able to listen to Radio 4 all day without hearing Geoff Boycott droning on and Aggers trying to keep the peace. I was able to enjoy Woman's Hour, listen to the news and then just have it on as background.
I'll miss Aggers and Blowers (but not the droning Boycott) and might even occasionally check in for an update on the pigeon population or the state of the Barmy Army. Or even the score. But not that often!