It's not croquet
My Guardian Weekly arrived today so I've been able to read loads of last week's news I'd already read online and to catch up on stuff I couldn't be bothered to download at the time.
I'd missed the story about Stephen Hawking
doing a U-turn. In 1997 Hawking and fellow theoretical physicist Kip Thorne made a wager with John Preskill at the California Institute of Technology, who insisted that information carried by an object entering a black hole was not destroyed, and so could be recovered. "I'm now ready to concede the bet," Hawking said.
At stake was an encyclopaedia - "from which information can be recovered at ease" - of the winner's choice. "John is all American so naturally he wants an encyclopaedia of baseball. I had great difficulty finding one over here, so I offered him an encyclopaedia of cricket as an alternative," Hawking said.
Cricket? According to today's Guardian
, "last year, ... cricket was in danger of becoming a former sport of the summer ... like croquet.
Well, croquet is doing very nicely, thank you. In Egypt
Rules are now more competitive yet have become so by going back to their roots
. Golf and Croquet have a common ancestor in the Roman game of Paganica: A player in this game walked across fields and hit a small leather ball with a curved stick and aimed to strike certain trees. The winner was the person who hit all the trees in the fewest possible strokes. This sport developed in two ways. In country areas where there was adequate space, courses were laid out and the target became a hole. Thus the game of golf evolved. In towns where space was limited, the game of Pall Mall became popular. (Pall Mall was introduced into Great Britain from France in the 17th Century by a group of Irish travellers who had seen it played in Brittany. It gave its name to the thoroughfares of Pall Mall and The Mall.)
In this game, a box-wood ball, a foot in circumference, was played down an alley, passing through a number of arches or hoops on the way. The winner was the person achieving this in the fewest hits. This was the forerunner to croquet. It might be noted that the modern croquet ball is about a foot in circumference and is hit with a wooden mallet.
So, now you know. Eat your heart out Diamond Geezer
. Bet you didn't.
Finally, do congratulate me. I've completed the Guardian's Quick Crossword for the first time in yonks.