The ‘Big Bird’ and the tea lady

Part of our ‘Short Stuff’ series with short stories and facts about the cider county! 

Joel Garner was a giant of a man in stature but gentle and humble in personality. Off the pitch he was friendly and immensely polite and a very approachable man. On the pitch he could be a less popular site if you were a batsman taking guard on a bouncing wicket and he was preparing to take his run up. One to avoid, definitely.

Joel 3One summer while he was at the height of his success and fame with Somerset and the West Indies, Joel – known affectionately as the Big Bird by Somerset supporters – was approached by a club side in Surrey asking if he would be their guest of honour at a game they were hosting to celebrate their centenary. Joel accepted of course as it coincided with a rare day off from his playing commitments. Joel travelled to Surrey at his own expense.

During the tea interval Joel politely took his place in the queue for teas. He was being encouraged by the club members to move to the front of the queue as he was the guest but he resisted, preferring to wait his turn like the other club members. Eventually he managed to make the front of the queue and the tea lady was slightly taken aback by Joel’s large frame.

“My oh my! You’re a big chap!” she exclaimed.

“Yes ma’am” came the West Indians reply.

“Exactly how tall are you?” the tea lady enquired.

“I’m six foot eight inches ma’am!”

After a few moments the lady thought she would chance her arm with a more personal question.

“Six foot eight inches, eh? And is everything in proportion? You know, everything?” and nodded at Joel’s midriff. His answer was emphatic.

“No ma’am it’s not. If it were I would be eleven foot eight!”

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