I’ve just finished my favourite Christmas present: Fire in Babylon: How the West Indies Cricket Team Brought a People to its Feet. It’s a book about the rise and triumph of Clive Lloyd’s astonishing team, and I can’t recommend it enough (especially if you like cricket, or social history, or both).

I received a copy complete with a signed dedication, as it transpires that my mother-in-law once used to work at the council with author Simon Lister’s aunt. That’s the sort of exclusive secret-handshake closed little world that we top writers live in. The nice thing is that my mother-in-law had no idea that it was a notable work, shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year, brilliant reviews everywhere etc. etc.; she’d just heard in passing that this young man had written a book about cricket and gave it to me rather anxiously in an oh-dear-I-hope-it’s-all-right type fashion.

I retired from organising the bowls a couple of years back, but was subsequently installed as manager of the village snooker team, objectively measured as the worst snooker team in Great Britain. I’m not sure that I can draw a great many parallels with the challenges that Clive Lloyd faced down, although I’m sure he struggled also to get a volunteer driver for key away fixtures. (Personally, I’d have asked Andy Roberts, as it transpires that he didn’t drink alcohol). Anyway, I’ve been writing stupid little one-line match/league updates on the Sex and Bowls and Rock & Roll Facebook page, although I am starting to run out of ways to describe ‘a loss.’

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