PAINSWICK has many reasons to be proud.

It was once home to Julian Slade the main creator of the splendid musical Salad Days.

There is a very catchy song concerning looking back and why one should never do it.

At this time of year I can never take that advice.

It is the start of the cricket season and I hark back to the years before I headed for Tameside academia.

For four years I opened the batting for Cirencester Grammar School, played village cricket for Rodmarton and of course watched Gloucestershire at the Cheltenham Festival.

At school we played at Chipping Sodbury, Dursley, Malmesbury, Burford and Northleach, usually beating them, but could never do well against Tetbury or Marling the best team we played.

Rodmarton had a fine fixture list, taking in from the Five Valleys as well as those round Cirencester.

There were many fine matches in the T.20 Oaksey Bowl. Playing in those was much better than revising for O or A-levels.

Now I realise that the results did not matter.

It was the friendships that developed and the chance it gave me to learn about the heart of the county I love so much.

My first tentative half pints were drunk after games.

The formidable Mrs Ivy Ruck at the Five Mile House knew I was under age, but being a cricketer that did not matter.

There was the honour of batting with the first sporting gentleman of Stroud J V Smith of Ruby fame.

That was on top of the hill at Sheepscombe.

We both scored a few and during our partnership I spied a pretty face on the pavilion balcony. “A cut above you Lighty” was the abrupt response when I asked her name.

Travelling to school matches, and singing on the coach our repertoire changed.

We moved from Pat Boone, through Fats Waller and Bill Haley to Elvis Presley.

In a lifetime of job applications I should have written under the question ‘education’ - the cricket fields of the Cotswolds, graduating at the Cheltenham Festival.

It was absolutely true.

There is one regret.

No-one told me how lucky I was.

I know now.

Julian Slade’s words sum up those years - Summer, and Sunshine and Falling in Love.