Poignant? I'll give you poignant. I'll give you the story of Fred Grace. It's a story of siblings, cricket, irony, the arbitrary nature of fate and Victorian antibioticlessness. Prepare to be poigned.
Fred's story comes to mind because England are playing Australia for The Ashes again. They've been at it on and off for 150 years now, and I've been taking an interest for more than a third of that time. The interest I take stems from a wish to see the Australians defeated because their cricketers are abrasive and unpleasant, but that is merely racial prejudice and quite by the by.
The first game played in England between these two nations took place at The Oval in 1880. Fred Grace played in it. So, and this is very much to the point, did his more famous brothers, EM Grace and the redoubtable WG. It is the only time three brothers have played in the same Ashes test.
Their father was a general practitioner, and EM and WG had already followed him into the medical profession, while Fred, the youngest, was on the point of qualifying as a doctor at the time of that first test match. He was also betrothed - the Victorian term seems appropriate - to a young lady by the name of Annie Robinson. Fred was 29 years old and to all appearances a most fortunate young man.
It cannot, however, have been easy having two older and more famous brothers. WG in particular was the bearded paterfamilias of English cricket, a symbol of the nation, as well known as Queen Victoria herself and of a similar build.
England won the toss and EM and WG went out to open the batting for their country. They put on 91 runs together. And though EM was out for 32, WG carried on to score the first test century on English soil. What could young Fred do to top that? Nothing. He was out second ball for a duck.
England then bowled Australia out twice, with WG inevitably taking a few wickets. What could young Fred do to top that? Nothing. He didn't bowl in the first innings, and he didn't bowl in the second. England required just 57 runs to win the match, a paltry target. Perhaps because of his first-innings duck, young Fred was given the chance to open the batting. He was out second ball for a duck, again.
Panic set in after his dismissal and five wickets fell, before, inevitably, big brother WG came to the crease to calm things down and win the game for England.
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To top it all, Fred had caught a cold during the match. He went back to Gloucestershire the next day to play in another game, during which he was twice caught in rain showers and his cold got worse. And on the way to yet another cricket match he became so ill he was forced to take a room in the Red Lion Hotel in Basingstoke.
It was rumoured at the time that his hotel bed was damp but the evidence is inconclusive. What is for sure is that a doctor attended to him and declared an infection of the lung. Fred seemed nevertheless to be recovering but then all of a sudden deteriorated and died. The cause of death was pneumonia. It was just two weeks after his one and only test match in which he scored no runs and took no wickets. But in a twist of fate, that is frankly atypical, he still had cause to look back on that match with affection.
In the Australian second innings, George Bonner, six foot six inches tall and a famous hitter, sent a ball so high in the air that he and his partner were able to complete two runs and be halfway through the third before it came down. And where it came down was in the hands of young Fred Grace. The crowd erupted. Even to this day it is remembered as being among the greatest outfield catches of all time.
And with the sort of sentimentality that the Victorians loved, I like to think that as Fred Grace's eyes closed for the last time in that Basingstoke hotel the fingers of memory were closing once again around that famous catch.
By the way, can you guess what happened to his fiancée, Annie Robinson? Dead right. She married EM. Poignantly.