Mr Gray gets stumped at Canterbury Cricket Week

AH! The thwack of leather on willow, a ripple of applause near the silly mid-on and a roar of “Howzat!” as an innocent maiden is bowled over. Oh to be in England now the cricket season is here.

Canterbury Cricket Week 2012

That is why I ended up watching Kent v Essex at Canterbury’s St Lawrence Ground on Thursday. It was Ladies Day but I wouldn’t read too much into that.

This year the Times even had a box where we entertained the great and the good. Alas, I was double-booked and ended up in the municipal marquee of Canterbury City Council.

Now I know what you are thinking: freeloading journalists in the pocket of the council. Watergate obviously has nothing on Cricketgate.

But it’s not like that. For a start I missed the starters and then the main meal turned out to be cold ham. There is nothing wrong with that but the days of expensive blow-outs on the rates seem to be a thing of the past.

Besides, I had to work for my supper as I tried to glean tit-bits from the guests.

I learned that the bee-keeping funeral director Mark Woollard has now moved one of his award-winning hives onto the ramparts of Whitstable Castle to help pollinate the gardens.

Sonia Copeland Bloom, children’s author mum of Hollywood hunk Orlando, told me she is trying to turn her creepy-crawly stories about Eddie the Earthworm and Basil the Beetle into animated films.

And Judge Adele Williams told a hugely enjoyable joke about the city council’s attempts to sort out traffic around the Westgate Towers, matched only by the Dean’s poem about the same subject.

Meanwhile, earnest councillors were gently prising me from my plate suggesting I might like to write about this or that but certainly not the other.

That became quite difficult when I overheard bright-eyed councillor Jennie Edwards, a former Miss Herne Bay, deep in conversation about the literary merits of Fifty Shades of Gray.

For those not yet familiar with Mr Gray, it is a very popular book with certain women (OK, all women) and which has been described as “mummy pawn (cor).” I take that to mean an instruction manual in chess moves for ladies.

Blur fan Jennie, 26, married to Sebastien Byford,  leaned across the table and in hushed tones told me: “It is appallingly written.”

So she put it down? “Oh no, I finished it.”

Then she suggested it might be a hoot to write a civic version of the book. I perked up at this. The city council has 50 councillors. Fifty Shades of Votes could become a best-seller, especially as it goes from an embarrassed red to a deep blue, with a bit of coalition yellow to stir things up.

We just need to work out who would be Mr Gray and which female councillor would be the one desperately trying to free her inner goddess. It’s got me stumped…

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