It's not cricket!

If you are planning a long journey with Andy Burnham, take a supply of comics, colouring books and c

It’s stories like this that make it worth buying the Shropshire Star: A four-inch lizard found in some broccoli from a supermarket has now become a family pet.

Paula Walsh and her partner Jez Allen, of Meole Brace, near Shrewsbury, found Tenko the gecko inside the vegetables from Tesco.

The family said they had become very attached to him after getting over the initial shock.

This one got me thinking. A bag containing a lizard and broccoli would be a good one to take on Ready Steady Cook: “What are you like?” would not be the half of the reaction.

Rosemary Schrager would be a tougher proposition. “You didn’t season the lizard! I am most disappointed.”
It might even win you Masterchef – “Lovely crispy lizard going into fresh green broccoli” – but to demonstrate your passion for cooking you would have to serve them lizard and broccoli with a twist.


Defending the decision not to broadcast the Disaster Emergency Committee’s Gaza appeal, Mark Thompson told John Humphrys that the BBC had also declined to show Make Poverty History’s video in 2005.

Up to a point, director general.

Not only was that video broadcast, it was done as part of an episode of The Vicar of Dibley.

The BBC screened Richard Curtis’s film The Girl in the Cafe the same week. I have had my name on the NHS waiting list to have my toes uncurled ever since.


If you are planning a long journey with Andy Burnham, take a supply of comics, colouring books and cartons of juice to keep him occupied.

Because when Burnham says he favours cricket being included on the list of sporting events that have to be shown on terrestrial channels, he means the Twenty20 form of the game.

Test matches have been off those channels ever since England’s won back the Ashes in 2005. The game’s authorities, in that golden autumn when you saw children playing impromptu games of cricket in the park, celebrated victory by selling the rights to Sky.

The result is that no one without a satellite dish has seen a test since. (It is true you can rig up an arrangement with a wok and two wire coat-hangers, but the results are unreliable.)

Forget the fours and sixes and reverse hitting of Twenty20: real cricket means test cricket. Even more, it means the county championship.

Shropshire has never enjoyed first class status. So, though our clashes with Herefordshire stir local passions – one thinks in particular of the Sack of Leominster in 1979 – I was forced to travel in the days when I had the leisure to watch first class cricket.

The county championship can be exciting. When David Gower alighted like an exotic butterfly upon Ray Illingworth’s supremely professional Leicestershire side of the 1970s, his batting made you unwilling to miss a second. It was not just the scintillating strokes: there was a fragility about him that kept you on the edge of your seat, aware that the next ball could be his last.

Frequently, it was.

But when Graham Gooch or Mike Gatting reached double figures, you unpacked your cheese and chutney sandwiches and settled back to enjoy the inevitable century.

Later, I learned that the best thing about county cricket is this. You can enjoy the morning session, have a pint and a pub lunch, go into the town, do the secondhand bookshops and return to the ground in mid afternoon, and nothing has happened.

But you try explaining that to Andy Burnham.

Jonathan Calder has been a district councillor and contributed to speeches by Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy. These days he prefers to poke gentle fun from the sidelines. He blogs at Liberal England