In the Hot Seat…

Monday night, it’s autumn so it must mean it’s the annual umpires training courses. Tonight was the AGM, and I’m the chairman of my local umpires association, a role that I’m very proud of fulfilling this season and for the previous four. 

The AGM doesn’t take very long, it’s mainly for formality reasons, and it’s good to see some old and new faces ready for a winter’s training on cricket umpiring. 

How did I feel? A little anxious before the start, but once I settled in, I was ok. Normally I need some prompting on what to do from my two wingmen, but there was little of that tonight. Why? Because this morning I did a little preparation and what I had to say and the announcing of such phrases of “All those in favour?” were slotted in to the script to help me remember. I’m getting old you see! 

I felt calm and in control. It’s not often that I can say that. Everybody has a chance to have their say, it is their association after all, and it’s good to be back in the hot seat for another winter.

Allen Brooks xx


Sunday Best…

Hello. On what was a glorious day for mid October, me and one of my umpiring colleagues made the long journey to Cambridge for some information and guidance on how to run some new cricket umpiring courses, starting in the New Year.

It’s a time for great change within the tutoring and learning methodology in cricket umpiring. There’s to be less emphasis on examinations, and more on the practical side of things, such as dealing with players, making mistakes and preparation before an umpire does a game, for example.

Also, there’s some new law changes as well, especially related to player behaviour, which comes as a necessary evil into what used to be euphemistically termed “a gentleman’s game” many years ago. We live in a society now that is more aggressive and querulous, and it is up to the umpires to uphold the traditions of the game, I hope.

It was a long drive there and back, and the four early morning starts in a row sees me in bed by 10.30 in the evening, and also guaranteeing me some good quality sleep, something which hasn’t always been the case of late. Still, it’s better than sleeping in till nearly lunchtime, and sometimes gone lunchtime! But when the medication was such, heavy and poor quality sleep was the result.

I feel ok, not bad, could be better, could be worse. I’ll settle for that.

Allen Brooks xx

Umpiring Plans?

I haven’t umpired any cricket since June of this year. So I’m very out of practice. The winter indoor cricket season has started and there may be an opportunity to get back on the horse again, so to speak, next weekend.

To be honest, I’m not sure at the moment and I need to be 100% right before I attempt to start making reasoned decisions under pressure. Not quite there yet, but that day is getting closer. Watch this space.

Allen Brooks xx

Lots going on…but a mixed picture

Things are settling down for me personally after a very turbulent spell. The 30mg medication is working fine, I have no side effects from the step down. 

The world is a very uncertain one. The leaders that pretend to represent the people are acting in a very childlike manner. There are several goings on in the world that are worrisome and very concerning. Though I’m far away from the action, the level of uncertainty and hostility isn’t good. For that read North Korea, Myanmar and Parsons Green Underground station in London. And to think that I have problems….

Onto last Thursday now. I had an inkling that my luck was due a change after this bad spell. So it was off to Music Bingo at the local pub.

What was I saying about uncertainty and hostility? The evening was threatened to be spoiled by an undesirable (and that’s being kind) individual who was trying to act all tough in front of a pub full of people who were potential witnesses to any act he was thinking of perpetrating. How much of an idiot this guy made himself look cannot be quantified.

But the evening was rescued by the good people. People who went along for a good time, a laugh and a chance to win some money. Segueing into my next point seamlessly there. I hadn’t won any money at this event for a fair while. And I managed to win, not once but TWICE! Go me! 

I won’t disclose how much it was, but it was a tidy sum. I felt good and my luck has turned around again. 

Last night, it was time to think about the winter cricket umpires courses that I help to run. Along with one of my esteemed colleagues, we devised a plan of action that seemed agreeable to both of us. It was a nice evening, watching some sport on TV and eating a nice takeaway meal. Life is starting to feel ok again, despite the hostility and uncertainty outside of that. 

I’m sleeping a lot better, and I feel generally better. Not 100% I must add, but compared to the horrors of recently, not too bad. I’ll settle for that. 

But one final point. Why are people so aggressive and want to do harm to others? It’s the influence of our everyday news intake and we watch the leaders and those of responsibility acting irrationally and aggressively that shape our world. I do worry and hate all types of confrontation. I wouldn’t be much good in the front line of a battle. But I have my own front line, my own battle. It’s called autism, it’s called mental illness. Life is one long battle. But I haven’t won the war yet…

Allen Brooks xx

Another season ebbs away….like the tide

Hello. It was the last weekend of competitive cricket action in my local area yesterday, and for the seventh season out of eight, I’ve missed a fair majority of umpiring.

Why? Well, in 2010, my world was turned upside down and I’ve been unable, by and large, to process that and to carry on with other activities. I start the cricket season off in April with a fair degree of enthusiasm. Come the latter stages of May and early June, the enthusiasm has dissipated and my mood begins to deteriorate.

There’s been little I’ve been able to do, up to now, to arrest this decline. I’ve been involved in cricket since 1980, and umpiring since 1987. That’s a fair old while. Before 2010, I was able to concentrate my mind on the whole season, and it became almost an obsession, with little else being allowed to get in the way.

So I’m looking forward to processing the events of 2010, so I hope that in future years, I can concentrate on a full season of umpiring. The only exception to the downturn was the year 2014, where I was in a relationship and able to put my efforts into making that work. Sadly, like so many other attempts, it didn’t work out. 

So the summer of 2017 has passed me by. I hope this is the last one where my brain switches into reverse mode. It isn’t pleasant and I’m quite heartily fed up with it all.

Allen Brooks xx

On the big stage….

Very interesting dream last night. I dreamt that I was umpiring a game of county cricket at Lord’s, the world renowned cricket ground in the centre of London.

The dream consisted of me being very nervous before I went out to umpire (no change there), as I was taking charge of professional players for the first time. I had a former county player turned umpire at the other end to help me through, and I in fact helped him in making a decision. 

The attitude of the players was different, the game seemed a whole new step up. But once I was out there for a while, I was ok. It was a really surreal dream.

And back to reality. There was a remote possibility that I could have progressed a long way in cricket umpiring years ago. The dream probably serves as a reminder that I do still have the ability, but not the confidence, as anxiety plays a major part. Perhaps the dream is telling me that there is nothing to worry about, though consciously, there’s always plenty to worry about. That’s why I do a few games per season, and then stop. The anxiety and low self esteem returns. 

So I was on the big stage for a brief while, but only in my subconscious. My anxiety would have told me to get off the stage, because of the possibility of being judged. That’s the reality. 

Allen Brooks xx

There is something going on….

Hello. A good indicator if I’m feeling ok is the fact that I go out and enjoy some activities, like cricket umpiring, or enjoying this very fine and hot weather that is here.

Well, my enthusiasm for cricket umpiring, or just cricket in general, has ebbed away for the time being. This has been the case for the last few years, and I’m unable to think of a good reason why. For the first two months of the season, April and May, I was throwing myself into the cricket and largely enjoying it. Now that has ended abruptly. Last week saw myself pull out of scoring duties within an hour of the scheduled start. Anxiety was the main cause. This weekend, numbness and shock seem to be the overriding emotions. Again, at a loss to explain why. 

Why aren’t I going out and enjoying the hot weather? Why aren’t I indeed? I don’t want to. Whereas I usually leap at the chance to go to the beach and relax, I’m sitting in the flat, unmotivated, unenthusiastic, uninterested. My brain is operating on a reduced level. I’ve gone backwards, again. 

I don’t know how I managed to go out to do volunteering or the peer support group the other day. Maybe there was a glimmer of light, a glimmer of hopefulness that this may be a blip, and I will return to normal soon. In fact, it’s a pattern that reflects the last few years. Enthusiasm and enjoyment to start, overtaken by loss and bewilderment. Perhaps my counsellor will shed some light on Monday afternoon. Perhaps.

Sorry that I can’t be more optimistic or positive. That’s how I feel today.

Allen Brooks xx