There's someone in a Barbados rum shack happy to hear about Gloucesteshire's mystery spinner, says John Light

WE are still in Barbados and still talking, but now we have extended our range and have found rich resources to explore.

It is possible to stride (Mrs Light suggests lurch would be a more accurate word) from rum shack to rum shack finding gentlemen of a certain age anxious to talk about cricket. Being in Barbados they are not short of home-grown heroes.

One gentleman spotted my Gloucestershire cap and exclaimed “you sent us the mystery spinner!”

Indeed we did. England’s tour of the West Indies (1959-60) was the first for off spinner David Allen, who died in 2014.

Many readers will know David in later years because after his career was over he did so much for Thornbury Cricket Club and, partnered by wife Joyce, was such a splendid president of our county club.

In 1959 David was totally unknown on the world stage; Laker and Lock were our established spin bowlers. They, however, were dropped and it was David who sailed with the team to the Caribbean.

No luxury in those days. No cruise liner, just a banana boat from Avonmouth.

The manager was RWV Robbins, every inch and old Etonian.

A son of Stonehouse, Frank Keating, who started a marvellous journalistic career on the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard, described him as 'Snobby Robby'.

Robins approached David on the boat.

“Ah, so you are Allen,” was his opening remark.

He followed it up by saying that as David would not be playing much cricket on tour he would be needed to carry Robbins's briefcase to all receptions and functions.

He, Robbins as manager, would be busy meeting local dignitaries and making speeches, he would need a bagman.

David, however, was to play in all five tests. Robbins had to carry his own bag.

There was one more conversation David remembered. It was with Fred Trueman, who had an avuncular manner, even in his late twenties.

“Now, young David,” said Fred. “I know what you and Cookie (Sam from Tetbury) get up and down at Bristol”.

Fred went on to say that although the two Gloucestershire spinners bowled at 24 overs an hour that was not for him.

If he was bowling in tandem with David he needed a rest between overs. David had to slow things down!

It must have worked. Trueman FS and Allen DA were the highest wicket takers on tour.

The next round was happily mine.

BIRMINGHAM, Plymouth and London were where I spent most of my working life.

These are areas of limited cuisine. You had to search for single Gloucester Cheese, and Stinky Bishop was unheard of. Worse still, Lardy Cake was totally unheard of.

Retirement would change all this. I looked forward to many years of fine Cotswold cuisine, and, indeed, this initially happened.

Lardy cake was consumed hot or cold, our marvellous farmers markets yielded up riches indeed, then disaster.

Two serious operations needed changes in lifestyle.

A charming man in Cheltenham broke the news gently, telling me that if it tasted nice I could not eat it.

“Cheese?” I questioned.

One matchbox size portion was the answer.

“Lardy cake?” I ventured.

Guffaws of laughter were the response.

Mrs Light heard every word. Now I was hustled past Huffins, hurried past Hobbs House and Halls.

The final indignity is the Farmers Market in Stroud. I am placed in the olive stall queue while Mrs Light heads off to Walkers for some personal face feeding later on.

What a delight it is to be in the Caribbean. Lardy cake is, of course, not available, but there are so many other delights. I am eating and shopping in total freedom.

The plane back is tomorrow so no more fish cutters or pancakes with maple syrup. Can I wait until next year?