October 14, 2020
Writer’s book about love, pain and watching sport offers ‘peace, space and time’ for those seeking solace in a crowd
Ian Ridley’s memoir of coping with grief is a reminder of crickets soothing qualities | Andy Bull
Like you, I have a pile of books on my bedside table, a tottering stack of novels I didn’t get on with and non-fiction I couldn’t get into, some I hardly started, others I never finished. I tell myself I will get back to them one day, when the time’s right. This year, the one on top was Ian Ridley’s The Breath of Sadness. It’s a book about love, and grief, and Cricket. Which is why a friend recommended it .“It’s very moving and poignant and beautifully done.” I started, made it through 20 pages or so, and put it down again. I found it too painful to continue with. So it sat there all summer, unapproached.
Ridley wrote about sport for The Guardian and The Observer for years, although I didn’t know him then. His wife, Vikki Orvice, worked for The Sun, and I did know her. We were Friends on the athletics beat together in the run-up to London 2012. She was bright and brilliant and in February 2019 she died of breast cancer. She was 56. The way Ridley describes the last few weeks of her life made me think of the last few weeks of my mother’s life. She died of breast cancer in her fifties, too. It was Ridley’s passage about getting up early to find a free parking space outside the Royal Marsden that finished me.
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