Auntie Janet Middlesex Till She Died
By Ged Ladd
January 20 2019
Our ex moderator Ged pays tribute to the life , eccentricities and passion for Middlesex CCC of ( Auntie) Janet Davis.
I first came across Janet Davis on the Middlesex Till We Die (MTWD) website around 2004, when I started reading and then contributing to the site.
In those days I would sometimes comment on a group of people I would describe as "The Allen Stand Gossips" - a devoted collection of Middlesex CCC fans who mostly sat in that stand and nearly always had some gossip to impart about the players and/or the club. I soon learnt who Janet Davis was amongst that loosely-associated group.
As I became more heavily involved in the MTWD site, I ascertained that Janet was one of the first Middlesex fans to use MTWD regularly. I also learnt that Janet's relationship with the site administrators - back then David Slater, Jez Horne and Barmy Kev - was less than harmonious at times. I soon came to understand why.
Janet's devotion to the club could sometimes bubble over into seemingly one-sided comments. For example, Middlesex would "recruit" players from other counties, while other counties would "poach" our players. Janet was keen to find out the gossip and would quiz players and their loved ones quite relentlessly. Then sometimes she would state on the MTWD board that she knew something about a player but "couldn't say" what it was. Sometimes she would report a false rumour - no doubt in good faith - but the result might be problematic for the site administrators and the site.
When I became an MTWD administrator and took on most of the editorial side, at the start of the 2006 season, I suggested that we widen the base of people to provide editorial material. I suggested Janet as one of the people who could and should contribute that way. Thus Janet became a major contributor of match reports for a few years.
In fact, my research has uncovered that Janet had previously contributed a piece of winter editorial - in the winter of 2002/2003 - very early in the days of the MTWD site. Before my time. Here is a link to that piece. http://www.cricketnetwork.co.uk/main/s66/st22623.htm. It is very insightful for this tribute article, as it has Janet saying, in her own words, how her lifetime of Middlesex fandom started and progressed. Here is the intro to that piece, which was published in early April 2003:
I have been a cricket fan since my school days (I will not tell you when as that will give my age away). In 1975 whilst watching cricket on tv, Middlesex got to two one day finals and lost. One of the commentators said what a good side they were and that they would challenge for a trophy in 1976. 1976 turned out to be the year of the drought, with no rain during the major part of the cricket season. I work as a Pharmacist, so I worked as a locum, taking time off every so often to go to various matches.
That was the year that I kept a scrap book, which has been given to Vinny [Codrington - former Chief Executive] for Middlesex archives.
I remember hot sunny days at Lords and making a new set of friends. I went to many of the away matches, some by train, some by car and some by coach. I will try and say a bit on the matches that I remember... Here is a link to that piece again - this time a scrape to my own site in case anything ever happens to Sportnetwork
In the period that Janet regularly reported matches for MTWD, between 2006 and 2009, she provided a great many match reports and photographs. As the MTWD team had advised me, Janet wasn't the easiest contributor on our books.
During the season, Janet would write to me and send me stuff most days - sometimes several times a day. Janet had latched on to me for this element of her life, although she didn't know my true identity until 2008. My e-mail trawl for this tribute piece needed to be seen to be believed - I had forgotten how frequent the correspondence had been. Janet took lots of photos, but always landscape, even if taking a portrait.
Here is an example Janet sent me in July 2006, together with the full text of the accompanying e-mail, all of which might make Middlesex's current captain (Dawid Malan, for 'tis he), blush:
" This is our new signing if anyone is interested. He'd compete with Nick Compton in the 'pretty boy' stakes "
Yes, Janet certainly had her favourites. Chad Keegan, I recall in particular. She also had a soft spot for Chris Wright - I remember Janet was devastated when Chris left Middlesex (or should I say, in Janet style, "was poached by Essex"?).
Janet's match reports were often brimming with details about her life...details of her journey, her lousy neighbours, every aspect of the lunch she had brought with her, the posse of Allen Stand gossips who attended that day. Astonishingly, MTWD match report readers learnt more about Janet's pussy (indeed several cats over the years) than the UK public ever learnt about Mrs Slocombe's pussy, Tiddles, in Are You being Served.
Soon after Janet started reporting matches, I coined the byline "Auntie Janet" for her, rather than Janet Davis, although some pieces continued to go up under the more conventional byline. I thought "Auntie Janet" was appropriate for her and it seemed to stick.
One particular report of Auntie Janet's from 2009, made me feel especially sad when skimming for this tribute piece. It is quintessentially Auntie Janet, with much talk about her knitting circle. In cricketing terms, it is primarily about a Phil Hughes performance for Middlesex in early 2009. The thought that both of those protagonists, Janet and Phil, are sadly/tragically no longer with us, brought quite a lump to my throat.
Sadly, Janet became beset with health problems from 2010 onwards, so her visits to Lord's became a rarity and her reporting ceased. I had in any case retired from all formats of MTWD by that time.
I am told that Janet continued to follow Middlesex avidly despite her ill health, so she must have been thrilled when we won the County Championship in such exciting circumstances in 2016. Goodness knows what Janet's medical team must have needed to do at the climax of that epic season!
I have no photographs of Janet as an adult; she photographed players but didn't send in pictures with her own image. Except for one winter, when we ran a baby photo competition. For some reason, Janet sent me two pictures; one of her as a baby (as requested) and the other from 1953 when she was nine years old. I have used the latter as the main photo for this feature. It's all I have but also I think it is appropriate. Janet retained her childlike qualities throughout her life. Her manner could be frustrating for others at times, but Janet's simple, unworldly demeanour was genuine and her devotion to Middlesex County Cricket Club unconditional.
Janet was one of the most dedicated fans of Middlesex County Cricket Club for many decades. She was, in every way, Middlesex Till She Died. Janet Davis 1944 to 2019; rest in peace
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Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2019:02:03:16:18:52 by BarmierKev.
Here's link to that report by Janet. Quite moving in many respects and covered Janet's eccentric style.
My favoutire Janet story. To her credit she was actively involved in helping with Paul Weekes benefit. She of course was vocal letting everyone know about this. She boasted she became friends of family and Mr Weekes senior once proposed to her after much liquid refreshment. An intersting combination that never took off. At a post forum drinks, Janet stated in her style that Paul Weekes birthday was coming up and wanted to buy him a present. She tried to arrange a collection which was not successful. She then came back looking rather upset saying she phoned Mrs Weekes up asking her what aftershave Paul used and couldn't understand why she hung up.
I believe this story sums Janet up well. Having good intentions thatw ere often misunderstood. I put this and some of Ged's accounts down to her naivety rather than anything malicious.
We have had many high profiles arguments that got out of hand. However, I was pleased we reconciled the last time we met. In fact we had a laugh about such incidents described.
Life's too short to hold grudges.
RIP Janet truely Middlesex till she died.
One of the many great members of the club and MTWD we have lost sadly.
It's a small account of Janets Middlesex life and her enjoyments whilst watching.
Join the Middlesex Room in the sky Janet and RIP.
Sad news and a lovely effort to memorialise. We all move on but leave a little of ourselves behind on here. I'll pass this on to Grocklees.
Ged, that was a lovely and very moving tribute.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2019:04:22:01:02:29 by lower pavilion.