Chat show

I was nervous holding Hayley’s hand as we waited in the wings at the side of the stage. I’m not sure why I was nervous, the media was more my area of familiarity than hers, but she didn’t seem fazed as she leaned in and whispered, “Why do they call it the ‘Green Room’ nothing in there was green?”

I didn’t get the chance to reply. The audience was going loopy as the Host, Gary Morton, was introduced and it took a while before the applause slowed. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, nice to be here once again. I’ve got a great show for you this evening.” He went on to talk about his guests; Holly Angelo, who’d just won an Oscar for her latest blockbuster and there would be music from Faith Shadow who was going to perform her latest release near the end of the show.

“But first, I have two guests. Both of them are legends of English women’s cricket and one whose new wildlife show will reach its final episode this weekend. Firstly, the world number one ranked female bowler for ten years, the former Captain of the England Women’s Cricket team and recently appointed as their new coach, Hayley Sharp.” Hayley squeezed my hand before she walked out onto the stage to be greeted with air kisses from Gary. I watched her backside as she walked away from me. Even after all these years it still excited me, as did her legs, toned and long.

“And now, Hayley’s partner, also an England all-rounder for fourteen years until her career was cut short by injury, but who has found fame doing voiceovers. She was runner up in ‘Stuck on the island’ and has recently presented a nature programme. I’m looking forward to the fourth and final episode this weekend. Ladies and gentlemen, Sarah Hardy.”

I walked forward, skirt swinging, longer than Hayley’s, but then I knew that I was going to be sitting facing an audience and didn’t want the world seeing up my skirt. She wouldn’t be told and picked a short dress, so, hell mend her. Air kisses from Gary before I sat, as elegantly as possible, next to my darling wife who touched my arm.

“You two have been married for twenty-three years and have a daughter?”

“That’s right, Gary. Sarah took a year out for us to have Chloe, who’s almost sixteen now.” Hayley sounded confident.

“She’s become an unintended star in her own right, but we’ll get back to her later. First I want to ask how you feel about being appointed England Coach.”

“I’ve been coaching since I retired from playing and a part of the England set-up for a few years, so it’s not completely new, but it’s a great responsibility and a great honour to be appointed to the top job.”

“You coached the men’s team as well, didn’t you?”

Hayley had a little laugh, “I helped the spin bowling coach from time to time, but I wouldn’t claim that I did any more than that.”

The next five minutes were taken up with a discussion about Hayley’s cricket career. I zoned out watching her. She’d matured into an elegant woman with a long neck and a lovely smile. I suspect that I’d been in love with my cricket hero for a couple of years after meeting her, but had never admitted that to myself. It wasn’t something realistic until the kiss whilst we were on tour in Barbados and sharing a room. Things changed that night and over the next four weeks. We knew that it was the real thing and that we’d be together for a long time. Despite our parents worrying that it had all happened too fast, Karen and Olivia, my friends since high school, grilling me relentlessly about it, we got married nine months later and my passion for her has never dimmed.

Gary’s question to me caught me by surprise. “It always seemed that you were in Hayley’s shadow as a cricketer. Did it feel like that to you?”

“I loved playing cricket and was lucky to be able to do it for a long time. I got to play with some of the best players in the world, including her. She was better than me …” I let my answer trail away.

“I read an article, written about you, when you retired, which suggested that in another era you might have been the great star, you were just unlucky that she was around.”

That annoyed me. “No,” I said emphatically, “I was lucky to play with her, I was better for it and I was lucky that we fell in love. I wouldn’t change one thing.”

“Your career was cut short by injury at thirty-four. What happened?”

“The team were practising fielding, doing catching drills and one of the balls went astray. I was facing the wrong way and didn’t see it coming, it struck me on the right elbow. It didn’t hurt that much, but it trapped a nerve and I couldn’t grip a ball, anything actually.”

“Did you get treatment?”

“I got first-class care and treatment. The ability to grip came back after about a week and I had no problems with it except for the one thing I needed. I couldn’t hold a cricket ball properly, so I couldn’t bowl. We tried lots of things, but none of them worked. I knew that I wasn’t a strong enough player to stay in the team for just my batting and fielding, so I decided to quit.”

“Is it still an issue?”

“No,” I had a little laugh, “About ten months later it all came back, for no apparent reason, but by then it was too late. I’d had a good run and I was content with my decision; I’d become a full-time mum and that made me really happy.”

“Who looked after Chloe when you were playing?”

“It was a combination; our parents were great. I think they secretly wanted us to go away so they could indulge her. My friends from school have two girls the same age as Chloe and she lived with them for a lot of the time. The three girls are like sisters, just as we’d been.”

“You went on a few quiz shows?”

“Lord knows why anyone thought it would be a good idea. The first one was a sports panel and I expected to make a fool of myself, but I did well and turned out to be quite funny. That got me onto other shows and I went along for the ride, expecting it all to end rather suddenly.”

“You did some radio and TV commentary work as well?”

“Yes, what an honour that was, to work with some cricket legends whilst being paid to watch a game that I love.”

“And then you were invited to go on ‘Stuck on the island’?”

“I thought that was a crazy idea, but Hayley pushed me to do it,” I replied.

“You seemed to be really up for all the challenges and proved quite competent.”

“I knew the format of the show and thought I could have a go, although I expected to get booted off pretty quickly.”

Hayley jumped in, “Gary, she’s not telling the whole story. She spent weeks reading about survival techniques before they started shooting. She always practised hard for her cricket and put the same effort into this.”

Gary went on, “The public loved the fact that one day when you had no food you said ‘no problem’ made a spear and spent two hours fishing.”

“Yes, I was proud of that. I caught enough fish for a real feast that evening.”

“So, tell us about butchering the hog.”

“A couple of the others had built a trap and caught this wild hog. Actually, it wasn’t that wild, the crew had released it earlier. It was all fine until it was dead and then no one was prepared to cut it up. Lots of people were squeamish about all the blood.”

“But you, did it?” Gary asked, but it was more of a statement.

“Butchers prepare meat every day and in some parts of the world, it’s normal for people to prepare their own food straight from an animal. So, I thought I’d give it a go.”

“You actually said ‘give me the bloody knife,’ it so happened that it was dripping with blood and everyone burst out laughing.”

“Except me, I didn’t see the humour in that at the time. I got the thing up on a flat stone and went to work. I suspect that no butcher would ever give me a job, but we ate well for a couple of days.”

“That won you a lot of respect from the public, who kept voting to keep you.”

“I was surprised every day. I was proud, but I wouldn’t have been too sad, I could have got home to Hayley and Chloe, who I missed a lot.”

Hayley laughed, “Gary, I had a campaign going and recruited all our friends, family and ex-cricketers to vote.”

“Obviously Hayley wasn’t as keen for you to come home, Sarah. But Hayley you managed to get in touch with lots of cricketers from other countries.”

“I reached out to everyone that I knew and it took off. I think we had players from all of the test playing countries, men and women, voting.”

“Graham Dowling, the legend of England cricket, was on the main news channels talking about you.”

“I bowled to Graham in the nets at Lords when I was only sixteen, it was the proudest day of my life at that point. For some reason he remembered me, later he advised me a couple of times and has remained a friend. Actually, at our wedding, my grandfather was going to give me away, but he was struggling to walk to the end of the aisle. From nowhere Graham stepped forward to help, Grandad told him to walk me down the aisle, but he refused and insisted on helping Grandad so that he could give me away. Graham’s a lovely man, lots of people think he’s a bit gruff, but he’s sweet, he sends Chloe a card every birthday.”

“Back to ‘Stuck on the island’ — you were playing a game one evening and challenged to read a sentence like a donkey would.”

“Yes, a stupid game and a stupid thing to ask. I had no idea how a donkey would speak, but I went for it and made everyone laugh.”

“So much that the public sent in questions, wanting to know where you’d learned ‘donkey.”

“I was asked that on the show the next day and replied that I’d picked up a few words when learning to speak Unicorn. I didn’t foresee what would happen next.”

“Tell us about that?”

“I’m going to let you in on a secret. Most of these challenges come as a surprise, but the producers warned me about that one, so, I had time to think about it and came up with a couple of sentences.”

“And the viewers went crazy?”

“They seemed to like it.”

“But you didn’t win?”

Hayley had had enough of this, “No she didn’t win, she was beaten by a man who hardly completed any of the tasks and whose only contribution was to make fun of people and tell silly jokes. Still irritates me.”

I stepped in, “I was pleased to be runner-up and it’s opened doors for me. It’s bothered Hayley and Chloe far more than it bothered me.”

“One of the doors it opened was a voice-over?”

“Yes, Mixmax studios were producing an animated movie about unicorns, they asked me to voice over the lead role.”

“Did you enjoy it?”

“I presumed that it would simply involve some recordings and couldn’t understand why they were paying me so much money. Then I found out that it took months and I had to say the same thing over and over and over again with different inflexions, changed pacing. It was interesting, but I was glad when it was over. The final film was wonderful.”

“It’s a great movie; my daughter and her friends have seen it dozens of times. Your latest venture is called, ‘Searching for a Unicorn’. I’m sure many of the audience will have seen some of that series, but it’s not linked to the film, is it?”

“No link at all, except that I’m a part of it. Green Nature Films produce lots of environmental programmes and the idea for this was to introduce younger viewers to African wildlife and show how all parts of nature are interlinked. When I agreed to do it, they came up with the name, but I insisted that we explain that unicorns aren’t real right at the start.”

“And it was during the filming that Chloe became an unintended star.”

“Yes. Hayley was in Australia coaching one of the teams there and the filming was taking place over Christmas. I didn’t want to leave her at home and the producers agreed to Chloe coming with me. She had a camera with a long lens, binoculars, books and looked like a big game hunter, without the gun. Every day the crew and I would go out on a safari vehicle with a guide and tracker to film. Chloe sat watching and taking pictures. It turns out that she has quite an ability to spot things in the bush, birds, mammals all sorts.”

“How did she end up in front of the camera?”

“Our guide had spotted a dung beetle in the middle of the road. It was clear that there was nothing dangerous around and so we got down from the vehicle to film some close-ups. The crew were doing something, Chloe was beside me and I started explaining what the dung beetles did and how the males rolled the ball of dung and the females hitched a ride on the ball. Chloe asked a couple of smart questions. Neither of us realised that the crew had started filming us. That evening the Producer showed us the footage and it was obvious that it was engaging. Chloe came across really well and they asked if we could try filming some other clips the same way.”

Gary smiled and introduced a thirty-second clip of the dung beetle and the two of us talking. “My daughter loves that because it was someone like her. You had encounters with some other beasties.”

“Most of the time it was too risky to do anything, but stay in the vehicle. We got out and close to some Golden Orb spiders and a black mamba that had caught a small mouse.”

“That didn’t scare you?”

“The snake had its mouth full and we stayed well away, those spiders aren’t dangerous, well, not to people.”

“What about the elephant?”

“There was a big herd of them crossing the road in front of us and we stopped to let them go. But they changed course and headed towards us at the last minute, walking right by our vehicle.”

“Not all of them walked right past though?” Gary queried.

“No, one of the big females stopped right next to the vehicle and raised her trunk to inspect us. She was there for about five minutes, watching us and sniffing. Chloe and I talked about the trunk, how it’s used, the muscles in it and then the elephant reached out and gently touched Chloe’s shoulder with her trunk as if to say that they were friends. It was a magical moment.”

Hayley was laughing, “She admitted later that she’d been terrified when the elephant first stopped, but she knew that the guides thought it was okay. Her friends call her ‘Elephant girl’ now. She’s very proud of that title.”

“Do you think Chloe will play cricket?”

I answered, “We’ll support her whatever she chooses to do, but can you imagine trying to follow in our footsteps? I doubt if she will.”

“One final question, how did you know so much about wildlife?”

“I didn’t until I agreed to do it. Then I studied and read everything that I could. We also had great guides as well.”

“Sarah did what she always did when she was playing, practise for hours, this time she read for hours.” Hayley squeezed my hand and I saw the pride she had in me.

“Hayley, Sarah it’s been a pleasure talking to you and good luck with the cricket. We’ll take a quick break and be back with Holly Angelo in a moment.”


Hayley and I got back to the green room and had a glass of wine to watch the Oscar winner. I hadn’t seen any of her films so knew nothing about her, but it didn’t take long before I realised that she was just a self-important woman, full of herself. I turned to Hayley, “She’s about as real as her chest, both are over-inflated.”

Hayley snorted, “You don’t think they’re real then?”

“Oh, they’re real, but not natural. Neither are her lips and her forehead doesn’t move.”

“You don’t fancy her then?”

“Dear Lord, no.”

We kept up the bitchy comments until the next break when we went back on the set to watch Faith Shadow. As she started to sing, I realised it was from the album the girls had been singing a few days ago. She was good and naturally attractive, much more so than Holly. After singing she came to sit for a brief chat.

Gary eventually asked her if she was sporty. “Oh no. I love what I do and my dad is proud of me, but I think he’d rather I’d played cricket as those two did.”

Hayley responded, “But then I’d like to have musical talent. My daughter and her friends were playing your album last week. I suspect they’re more impressed by you than they are by us.”

Holly decided that she was being ignored, “Cricket is that slow boring game that lasts for days, isn’t it?”

I wanted to slap her but resisted, “Some forms of it can last for a few days, but it’s a contest of skill and tactics, you need to concentrate and aficionados love it. There are shorter versions which can be more exciting, but different skills are required.”

She’d pissed Faith off as well, “I don’t think you should criticise something that’s been around for over three hundred years and is the second most-watched sport in the world. I doubt if many people are brave enough to face someone throwing a very hard ball at you, at over a hundred miles an hour.”

I felt the need to correct her slightly, “I think it’s fair to say that there are very few men or women who can bowl at that speed and the fastest I ever managed was about fifty-five, but then Hayley and I were spinners.”

Gary realised that it was time to draw this to a close and he thanked us before saying goodnight. Holly disappeared fairly quickly without a word. I heard Faith muttering, “What a bitch?”

She realised that I’d heard her, “Not you, miss overinflated boobs and ego.” She laughed before going on. “Can I get your autographs for my dad? He’ll be green with envy that I’ve met you.”

There was a cricket ball on the table that Hayley had used earlier to show how we held the ball to make it spin. I picked it up and signed it, “Let’s steal this and you can give it to your dad. But I need a trade, can I get your autograph for my daughter and her pals?”

She smiled, “I can do better than that,” and she produced some CDs and T-shirts.

“That’s very kind, they’ll be chuffed.”


Hayley and I were staying in a hotel near the studio, but by the time we reached our room the three glasses of wine were taking their effect on me. “I assume that’s enough alcohol for you, Miss Lightweight?” She asked. I’d always been affected by a small amount of alcohol; I didn’t get stroppy but tended to be funny and say stupid things, often embarrassing things.

“More than enough. Another glass and I’ll be asleep in a few seconds and I want a good long kiss before that happens.”

“Is that all you want?”

“No, never. After twenty-three years I still want you just as much as I always have done. You have another quality I forgot to mention to Gary.”

“What’s that?” She looked puzzled.

“Great in bed!”

Since we’d become lovers, we’d shared a passion and sexual appetite that hadn’t dimmed very much over the years. We knew what each other liked, we were generous and considerate. We’d experimented with all sorts of things over the years, but preferred to keep things simple, maybe even vanilla, some might say boring, but being close and intimate made me a very happy girl.

We loved kissing and spent quite some time doing it before Hayley moved south and spent time kissing and sucking on my nipples. They were a weak spot for me and she was a master at tormenting them. It didn’t take long before I was desperate for something more and she knew exactly what to do. A couple of fingers inside me and her thumb on my clit had me at her mercy and coming very quickly. I yelled at her, pleading for more until I was completely satisfied. I threw myself back onto the bed and stretched out. She had a huge grin on her face as she sat astride me and asked, “Want me to abuse you?”