The meal interval was called at 26 overs, whereupon folding tables and chairs pilfered from the Officers’ Club were carried onto the clearing along with two large wicker trunks. Whipping out pristine tablecloths, the six RAF wives converted the rickety assemblies into a single long banquette, upon which they set china, crystal, and cutlery from the trunks. Meanwhile, the players washed their hands in water poured from canteens then changed into jumpers, and several put on ascots to fend off the alpine chill. By the time the platters of meat and bread, decanters of sherry, and pitchers of ale were being passed around, the villagers had advanced past the tree line and onto the grass, better to observe the curious ritual.


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