REVIEW: It’s a long way round the one-way system...

COMEDIAN Mark Steel packed Spalding’s South Holland Centre on Thursday night with his celebration of Britain’s small towns.

A visit to Tulip Tandoori was a must before going on stage – because he liked the idea of an Indian restaurant linking itself to the tulip – but that journey made Spalding seem quite a bit bigger than it really is.

He confessed to getting lost on Spalding’s “one way system” and taking 50 minutes to drive back from the restaurant to the theatre.

There were musings on Spalding’s water taxi, Cowbit – pronounced as it looks – and tornado aircraft disturbing the peace and quiet of the countryside.

The relentless flatness of our landscape had Mark suggesting we might all travel to Lincoln at weekends just to look at a hill.

The former Socialist Worker Party member praised Sir Isaac Newton’s massive contribution to science but quickly observed that Sir Isaac’s work only went three per cent of the way to making up for another Lincolnshire born figure, Margaret Thatcher.

Homegenised high streets, website postings – where successive ‘postees’ slag off the previous ones with increasing venom and torrents of four letter words – and the relentless march of Tesco all came under fire.

There were also whimsical and naughty gems from John Arlott and a vision of life as seen through the eyes of former England and Yorkshire batsman Geoffrey Boycott.

Mark was in the commentary box for Radio 4 while his son sat outside and Boycott greeted the boy with the words: “Do you bat or do you bowl?” On stage Mark Steel bats, bowls and fields with ease. He deservedly played to a full house.