Rocking to the roquet

An improvised desk-top game of croquet, using hoops made from paperclips and balls made from the wax skin of Babybel cheeses, has ended in an acrimonious dispute over the rules.

In order to clarify the situation I’ve just consulted ‘The Simplified Laws of Association Croquet’ at Oxford Croquet.

The dispute predictably revolved around the roquet – the cruelest, yet most entertaining, of croquet’s rules.

Here is what the simplified laws say on the matter (section 3, part d):

The Roquet
If the striker’s ball hits another ball the striker gets two extra strokes. The first extra stroke is the croquet stroke and is played by picking up the striker’s ball and placing it in contact with the ball it has struck, the roqueted ball. The striker takes croquet (see below) from the roqueted ball which then becomes known as the croqueted ball. Following the croquet stroke the striker has a continuation stroke on their own ball.

Summary: Roquet => Croquet => Continuation.

(It should of course be remembered that these simplified rules are intended to go part-way in filling the gap between the simple synopsis and the Full Laws. Anyone actually involved in a game of croquet at this moment should be aware that in a case of dispute the Full Laws always apply.)

What a sport! There has to be a song in this. There’s plenty of material to work with, starting with the croquet/roquet rhyme and the croquet/stroke consonance.

Every good song needs a story, so drawing inspiration from recent events in the world of tennis, how about the longest croquet game in history ending in a controversial roquet, perhaps resulting in the referee being blugeoned to death with a croquet mallet.

In my imagination it would take place in the sleepy environs of an obscure Oxford college, with the participants being entirely unaware of various important world-changing events that have taken place during the course of the match.

Doing a little background research, however, it seems that the world record for the longest croquet game actually took place in Adams, Massachussets in the USA.

The match lasted 32 hours and 33 minutes. According to one of the players, Mark Horvath:

… the hardest part wasn’t playing. It was just handling the monotony of playing croquet hour after hour after hour … the elements, in the middle of the night, with 95 degree weather.

It’s tempting to think, why not just stop? But anyone who has played the game will surely recall the fierce committment it tends to inspire. Once you’ve executed your first roquet, you just want to keep going …

Nonetheless, 33 hours isn’t anywhere near long enough for our purposes. So let’s try scaling this up:

In the thirty-second year, fifty-ninth day, six-hundred and twenty-third minute of our game,
We forgot about the adulation, the money and the fame.
We forgot about winning, we even forgot our own names.
And we hoped and we prayed and we pleaded, that it would rain.

Why, oh why did we choose to act out this drama
In the driest part of the Atacama
Where the hoops stretched across this alien panorama
Would never see precipitation throughout the late capitalist era.

Time to work out some music to go with this … right after I’ve concluded the argument over the roquet and finished this game …

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