When Jimmy visited Stanway to play cricket, he was the guest of Herbert and Cynthia Asquith (Herbert was the son of the British Prime Minister and Cynthia would later become a famous author of ghost stories). In return for their kindness to him and his cricketing buddies over the years, Jimmy built a pavilion on the cricket grounds of Stanway, where it has been in use for nearly 100 years. Who, exactly, were these cricketing buddies of Jimmy?
They called themselves the Allah Akbarries under the mistaken belief that “Allah akbar” meant “Heaven help us” in Arabic. This was an odd mistake to make, considering that these men were known for their words. The Allah Akbarries included:
Rudyard Kipling – The Jungle Book
Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes
P.G. Wodehouse – Jeeves and Wooster
Jerome K. Jerome – Three Men in a Boat
A. A. Milne – Winnie the Pooh
G.K. Chesterton – Father Brown
And then of course, there was E.V. (Ed) Lucas, the author of more than 150 books – If Dogs Could Write: A Second Canine Miscellany (1929)
The group also included 10 more writers of slightly lesser acclaim. Spectators at the cricket matches included Jimmy’s neighbour and lifelong friend, George Bernard Shaw, along with the ancient Thomas Hardy. And five-foot Jimmy? He was of course J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan.” The “exploits” of this team are recorded in the 40-page book Jimmy wrote, which was published privately in 1890 and in a revised version in 1899. If you ever find yourself in possession of a copy of this book, know that these books are now highly-priced by collectors.
The point that I’d like to make from the excerpt above concerns the power of the friendships that we build. Perhaps there’s in this a key for those of us who desire to push through beyond the mundane to accomplish something significant for the Lord. Here’s another example for you.
The Holy Club was formed in 1729 by brothers John and Charles Wesley. They are of course the founders of the Methodist Church. But they were not the only ones from the club that distinguished themselves. Amongst those who were part of the club who later become notable figures in the Church of their times were:
John Gambold, Bishop of the Moravian Church;
John Clayton, distinguished Anglican churchman;
James Hervey, noted religious writer;
Benjamin Ingram, famous evangelist in Yorkshire;
Thomas Brougham, secretary of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge;
George Whitfield, who needs no introduction.
It’s time to note what friends you’re keeping that are helping you towards where you’re heading.