NEILSON’S COLUMN (March 19, 2015): Middle-aged cricket exploits followed by Aemon Targaryen

Well, my body aches all over this morning. Is it flu, man flu or just a bad cold? Actually, it’s the after effects of the first cricket nets of the season.

Along with the rest of Nuthurst village cricket team ‘The Nutters’, I turned up at Christ’s Hospital to practice bowling and batting at their indoor cricket facilities.

It truly is a wonderful thing to see a group of young, fit, healthy sportsmen at the top of their game hurling balls at something like ninety miles an hour at batsmen with lightening quick reflexes.

Unfortunately, that is the group of players who are in the nets before us. Our group, is predominantly middle aged, unfit, overweight blokes who still think they’re twenty one, but so what? We love every moment. Our team is growing in numbers and the support we get from the local community is amazing.

One local resident who follows our exploits is the actor Peter Vaughan. Peter was a keen cricketer but most of you will know Peter for playing the sinister Grouty in Porridge or Robert Lindsay’s father in Citizen Smith. He also appeared alongside Frank Sinatra in the 1967 espionage thriller Naked Runner, directed by Sidney Furie and filmed mainly in England.

Having appeared myself in The Rat Pack – Live from Las Vegas as Dean Martin, the fact that Peter knew and worked with Sinatra fascinates me. Frank could apparently be a little demanding at times when he was working, but there again, if you have invested time and effort into a project and appointed the director yourself, maybe you’re entitled to be.

At one point during filming Frank decided to shut down production and fly to Las Vegas to marry Mia Farrow. On another occasion his helicopter got lost in the London fog on the way to filming and he wanted production shut down and relocated to Palm Springs. However, the director said no, so the rest of the picture was shot using a stand-in for Frank and mixing close ups of Frank previously shot.

Whenever I bump into Peter it’s always a pleasure to stop and have a chat with him, either about cricket or acting. His wit is razor sharp and he’s still working, having recently filmed Game of Thrones in which he plays Maester Aemon Targaryen.

Like our cricket team, he shows no sign of stopping. 91 not out!