“Bitte, hat Kent gewonnen?”

You no longer have to dust off a 100-year-old encyclopedia to find out anything: the answer will be on your phone.

As a bloke, sports results are key. These are readily available now, but, even before CEEFAX, how did we establish what was going on in the world of sport? Or, if you were intellectual, the world?

Even harder, what if you were abroad? Because Le Monde; Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Buenos Aires Herald were certainly not reporting on how Kent’s cricket team were getting on during the summer.

I remember, before wireless meant something other than the thing you listened to The Goons on, being abroad, listening to a short-wave radio and getting ever deeper into the Normandy countryside, I’d try desperately to listen to the Test Match before the reception went; the local radio station took over and you suddenly went from John Arlott to Edith Piaf before you could say baguette.

But it was the quest for a three-day old Daily Telegraph which was the high point of many holidays for me.  Apart from the dress code of Brits abroad – long shorts, socks, sandals, hat made out of a hankie – we’d spot one another, in quiet anticipation, milling about inside a French newsagent for the out-of-date papers to arrive.  And I’d pay a bloody fortune just to see how many runs Colin Cowdrey had made.

But these French newsagents could be devious, and I remember buying a paper which was so old it had turned yellow; the headline proclaimed: “Mafeking relieved”.  Never mind that, I thought, have Kent won and my secret hope – was it still raining in Balham?

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