Henry Blofeld delights Sidmouth audience
Evening with Blowers at Sidmouth was evening well spent
ONE of the voices of cricket for more than 35 years, it was no surprise that when Henry Blofeld appeared on stage at the Manor Pavilion on Saturday, there was no shortage of Sidmothians willing to listen.
The Test Match Special commentator had promised a show featuring more than just cricket, and this proved to be the case, writes Sean Keywood, as stories about Blofeld’s once promising playing career, and his long one in broadcasting, were by far outnumbered by stories of his life away from the wicket and commentary box at Shaken not Stirred: An Evening with Blowers.
In many ways, his story is less that of a cricket commentator, and more that of a character from an unwritten PD Wodehouse story whose life is framed by those met at public schools and London clubs.
And, as the Sidmouth audience heard, these encounters led him to meet some of the biggest stars of the 50s and 60s, including Lawrence Olivier, Noel Coward – who Blofeld was invited to dine with on his honeymoon in Jamaica – and of course Ian Fleming.
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Blofeld even recalls how James Bond author Fleming – a friend of his father – named his villainous Ernst Stavro Blofeld after finding the names of Blofeld and his relatives on the membership list of their club.
Of course, cricket and Blowers’ long spell on Test Match Special did make an appearance, but this was mostly framed through those he has shared a commentary box with, such as Brian Johnston, and discussion of the programmes’ infamous cake deliveries.
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It was only at the end of the evening, when Blowers took questions submitted by audience members, that cricket became the central topic, and he offered outspoken views on many topics of the game, not least England’s mercurial star Kevin Pietersen, who he claimed should be dropped, to the bemusement of this reviewer, but to the obvious delight of other audience members.
By the end of the show however, there was little doubt that the Pavilion audience had found an evening with Blowers an evening well spent.