Short-legged troops

Though this brief anecdote I heard this week from an eccentric History teacher doesn’t strictly cover any gender or sexuality questions, it does have rather a charm to it and is about cricket, so I’m going to share it with you.

Much of the weirdness and wonderfully rich language of cricket stems from its field placement names, as in the names for the locations on the pitch where you might place people to stop, catch and throw in the ball. Terms like Silly Mid On, Cow Corner and Fly Slip mystify the casual observer and produce complex discussion between experienced cricketers.

Much to my delight, then, my colleague told me that during World War Two British military Comms teams, trying to find alternative ways to communicate directional messaging to the standard clock face method (as in ‘plane at three o’clock’ meaning directly to the right) started to use fielding placements instead. I wish I could have seen the German code breakers struggling over phrases like ‘machine gun at silly point’ or ‘support coming, approaching third man’…

Next main post coming in two days (Saturday)!

(Image from


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