REVIEW: My Innings of a Lifetime with Test Match Special by Henry Blofeld
Such is the delicious, cut glass tone of Henry '˜Blowers' Blofeld's rich voice that thousands of cricket fans, grown used to his match commentary on Test Match Special (TMS), are likely to buy Over and Out and read it as though still listening to him on the radio.
Blowers’ mastery of scene description, particularly the small details that glue the spoken picture together (think red London buses, fussy grey pigeons etc), have not deserted him in his latest venture into print.
Having published two memoirs, the second as recently as 2014, prospective readers may wonder whether Over and Out is a regurgitated version of the two. Fortunately, it isn’t. Blowers wouldn’t short-change his public.
Henry Calthorpe Blofeld OBE, a product of Eton and Cambridge and originally nicknamed ‘Blowers’ by the late Brian Johnston, has entertained TMS listeners with his vivid descriptions for more than fifty years. However, instead of concentrating upon his own career, (he could have been a first class cricketer but for an altercation with a bus that left him in a coma) in Over and Out he turns his attention to his commentary box co-stars including Brian Johnson, John Arlott and Jonathan ‘Aggers’ Agnew, gleefully recounting anecdotes that have, no doubt, been aired over a glass or two and much laughter.
Yet such a formula can rapidly become tiresome and Blowers, an accomplished print journalist, is clearly mindful of this as he builds upon an often hilarious TMS foundation to introduce details of interviews with cricket-loving stars of stage and screen (there’s no point calling them celebrities because these people are talented) and tales of his experiences while travelling.
Blowers in no one-trick pony. Reading his travel-related passages, you imagine he would have been the perfect successor to Alan Whicker: an entertaining, globe-trotting bon viveur broadcasting his patrician tones into our living rooms. In many respects, you could argue that via TMS this is exactly what he’s done, which is why so many cricket fans mourn his departure and why all of them will enjoy this book.