Major's dreams will help children

11th October 1996 at 01:00
John Major has confided to schoolchildren that he would willingly have traded high office for just one appearance for England against Australia at the Oval.

And with the Conservative party conference drawing to a close today, he could be forgiven for contemplating how much easier life as a cricketer might have been.

As a boy, the Prime Minister said, he dreamed of a Test place. "Many was the hour I would spend in my youth defending wickets drawn on a garage door or, alone, bowling at chalked wickets on a wall."

For Kenneth Baker, the former education secretary, fun came in the more daring form of clambering over walls topped with broken glass to break into the school playground.

"We would edge our bottoms forward along the length of the wall, breaking the glass as we went. We never thought of ourselves as vandals," said the man who went on to become home secretary.

These glimpses of childhood games are provided in a book being launched on Monday to raise money for two Buckinghamshire schools.

Politicians have joined top sports personalities, well-known entertainers and best-selling authors to divulge their favourite pastimes.

Life for the young Gillian Shephard, the Education and Employment Secretary, and her junior minister Cheryl Gillan was sweet - all kingfishers, King Cups, birds' nests and countryside hideaways.

But for Michael Heseltine, deputy prime minister and king of the Conservative competiveness unit, the desire to win burned bright early on. It was 1941 and he had entered the junior angling competition at Brynmill Park. Half an hour into the contest, and he had caught nothing with his bread-paste bait.

"'Try them,' said a voice offering me a can of wriggling maggots. One and a half hours later, I had caught 39 fish. They weighed 11 34 ounces. I won 76d (37.5p), and I was the junior champion for a year."

The book, to be launched by children's author Allan Ahlberg, is set to raise around Pounds 25,000 for Elangeni Middle School and Chestnut Lane First School in Amersham. It is the brainchild of parent Nick Gammage.

Other contributors include Alan Shearer, top scorer in the 1996 European Championships, Ken Dodd, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse.

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