Our first experience of the annual Cup Match holiday

Hello again my dear reader,

the weekend just gone was very relaxed. This is because it came directly after a 2-day national holiday. Yes, indeed, two days in a row. Every July, the last Thursday and Friday of the month are part of the annual Cup Match holiday. It’s hard to tell whether the holiday is because of the match or the match because of the holiday. But, the official names of the holidays are: Thursday is Emancipation Day and Friday is Somers Day. They also happen to be days 1 and 2 of the annual cricket match between the East and West sides of the island. The east is represented by the Somerset Cricket Club whereas the West is St George’s. Obviously, Emancipation Day is when we celebrate the day that slaves in Bermuda were given their freedom. Somers day is to commemorate the memory of Admiral Sir George Somers, the man who colonised Bermuda for the British in 1609.

We decided that it was too interesting to miss the Cup Match, even though neither myself, nor Jitka really care about the game of cricket. So, we joined up with some friends and went to watch the match on Friday. I have to say, it was quite fun. The ground was full (I hesitate to call it a Cricket Stadium because it looked temporary and the stands were covered by plastic sheets) and the people seemed to be having a good time. The beer and rum were flowing, people were cheering and generally having fun. One thing to note is that few people really seemed to care for the game. Most were chatting, all were dressed up, most were drinking and eating. Another thing to note is the awful cacophony of sound in the stands. Each part of the stands and each bar and gambling tent (more on this in a moment) had their own music blaring. So, at any one time you could hear 3-4 different tunes and it was near impossible to tell them apart. I found that to be the most tiring aspect of the day, even more tiring than the oppressive heat of the day.

There were a few tents set up outside the ground to feed the people and to provide alcohol, soft drinks and an opportunity to gamble. You may know that gambling is illegal in Bermuda, there are no casinos or other gambling establishments. But, during this holiday, gambling is allowed in the cricket ground. You’d think that people would wager on the outcome of the match but you’d be wrong. The only gambling that takes place seems to be the game of Hook and Anchor. I’m not 100% clear on the details of how it’s played but there is a dealer who deals from a set of suits (spades, anchors, hooks etc) and you join the table and place money on slots that bear the same emblem as the suit you’re betting on. It was interesting to watch it, people seemed to be having fun, money was definitely changing hands. There were a couple of tents and underneath each were maybe 5-6 tables where you could play. That tent looked decidedly busier than most stands…

Anyway, we didn’t stay too long, it was very hot and quite noisy. Since we didn’t feel like drinking in the heat (I was also driving), it wasn’t as much fun as it could have been. The match ended in a victory for St George’s. It started with St George’s up by quite a margin, Somerset clawed their way back into the match but then St George’s finally clinched it in the afternoon on Friday. You’d be pushed to call it a thriller but there was at least a swing in the result.

No more holidays for a while and no more 2-day ones until next year though, it was nice while it lasted…

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