“Yes, these are bruises from fighting. Yes, I’m comfortable with that. I am … enlightened.” The nameless narrator from Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club lives a double life. One half is spent in a dingy basement pummelling other men to bits and letting them pummel him back; above ground he is a lonely, dead-eyed white collar worker with an apartment full of expensive furniture. After a particularly gruelling session of fisticuffs, he turns up at the office looking like he’s been in a war. “Is that your blood?” his boss asks. “Some of it, yeah”, he replies.
These words rang in my ears as I hobbled into work on Monday morning. Everything hurt, from the soles of my feet to the tips of my fingers. I felt like someone had taken a hammer to my calve muscles and driven nails through my shoulder blades. But I didn’t care, because I was basking in the glory of another victory. It might have been the gentlest of friendly matches on a drizzly Sunday afternoon, but a win is a win and they have been in short supply of late.
We batted first again, and for once us lazy tail-enders could sit back and relax as Ross and Phil, parachuted in from the first team, compiled an excellent century partnership for the second wicket. They took advantage of some dodgy fielding to keep the scoreboard rattling along, and we were well placed on 145-2 when the rain came. A torrential downpour reduced the game to 30 overs a side and we set an imposing target of 200. The visitors dropped six catches, the nadir coming just after the break when Leo clipped the ball straight to short midwicket, who missed it as he was busy rolling a cigarette.
Our opening bowlers tied the Newquay batsmen down, and they weren’t able to break free until it was too late. Leo and Lawrence delivered excellent opening spells, combining pace and accuracy. Their openers fell looking to slog their way out of trouble, before I managed to increase the pressure with a tight spell. I don’t like to blow my own proverbial, so I’ll leave that to our veteran wicketkeeper Paul. “You’re having a blinder today,” he said after I had picked up a wicket, snaffled a straightforward catch and assisted in a run out. “You can put this all in your blog.” He kept up the chat as I returned to my mark. “Come on Sammy, let’s have something else to write about!” What the bemused batsmen made of it all, I have no idea.
Realising the game was gone, the Newquay lower order freed their arms and indulged in a bit of happy hitting in the late afternoon sun. The field spread and much hilarity ensued as Matt found himself underneath two absolute skiers off the bowling of his dad, Tim. He dropped them both. A bit of family loyalty wouldn’t have gone amiss.
The main thing I took away from this game, aside from aching limbs and a rare peak in my see-sawing bowling form, was that I wanted the ball. I have previously been guilty of hiding in the field, shying away from the action, but this time I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. There’s nothing like contributing to the team cause to boost one’s confidence.
Back in the office, grass-stained whites stashed away and bruised arms throbbing under polyester sleeves, I say nothing. They wouldn’t understand, and I wouldn’t know where to start. As the Fight Club narrator goes about his business, he recognises fellow members living their normal lives. “Even if I could tell someone they had a good fight, I wouldn’t be talking to the same man,” he says, catching the eye of a waiter with a broken nose. “Who you were in fight club is not who you were in the rest of the world. You weren’t alive anywhere like you were there. But fight club only exists in the hours between when fight club starts and when fight club ends. After fight club, everything else in your life gets the volume turned down. You can deal with anything.”