It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, the rugby world cup, the football (soccer to our US friends) qualifications for the European Championships, music “happenings” and our lad having a go at getting up the grades in his hockey. We made some domestic decisions (mainly about the VW), and I bought a new lawnmower.
The lawnmower was a great deal from the Market Drayton mower centre. It was listed at £269, but had been damaged I transit to the shop – a small scratch on the blade cover. My card almost melted with the speed I passed it across the counter when the guy said £179! Honda engined Mountfield machine. Plenty of power, economical and does a wonderful job of our little patch of grass. Ah, almost retirement time – I’m waxing lyrical about garden equipment!
The rugby has been especially interesting for me, although work commitments have meant I have seen few of the games so far other than the important ones. I missed much of the Japanese beating the RSA, but enjoyed the stuff I saw. The huge commitment of all those guys was so inspiring. I played rugby for many years, and for five different clubs. I took the no-compromise style of the Cumbrian merit table with me throughout, and always tackled at full pace, but few of the players in those days were anywhere near the size of some of the RSA players!
It was sad to see England out so early. Let’s just hope the results of this sees some proper changes in the RFU and someone has the balls to change the base structure. We have more players in the game in England than virtually any other country in the world, so so why should we struggle for players (or managers for that matter)?! I think it will be difficult for a home nation to take the cup this time. If any of them will, then it must be Ireland I suppose, although Wales have a chance if they can get enough players to cover for the damaged ones who have gone down. Scotland have had one good game, and look too weak yet to take anything to the party from here. They deserve praise for getting further than England though.
I lay in the bath last week and listened to the Northern Ireland soccer team take Greece apart. What a wonderful story, almost a “Roy of the Rovers” style thing. Then Wales go and pull off the double, with Ireland beating the world champions to put the final nail into Scotland’s coffin.
Having just spent six weeks working in Belfast, I found huge pleasure in NI getting to France in such a style. I only wish I could have been there for the party!
Speaking of parties, it’s been an amazing week for music. The Hardy Boys rereleased their single “A Wonderful Lie” on vinyl. I’d ask them all to sign it, but it’d probably cost a fortune to send it round to them – now spread in Canada, England and Scotland!
White Baer released their new EP in Septemeber and were nominated for the “Best Newcomer” award at the Sc ottish Alternative Music Awards. Unfortunately, they were not successful in the award stakes, but the EP is excellent!
To cap it all off, Baba Jack released their new live album (it’s in the dukebox!) last weekend too. They did this with a wonderful bash at the Malvern Cube and were supported by The New Forbidden. For those who have not heard of this troupe of ‘TSH’ (twanging, singing and hitting), they are for me, a bit of an oddity. Too posh to be punk, to corny to be The Smiths, and not quite tight enough (yet?) to be amazing. Still, with Lloyd Grossman on lead guitar, I suppose they have some marketing angles that could be a ‘recepie’ for the future.
Baba Jack were just magnificent. Lesley travelled with me to the gig. All the wonderful sounds from all five of the extended lineup were on form. Julia gave it some big moves on the cello, Adam was (as ever) solid on bass, Tosh hits those skins so hard I swear they’re made of metal! Trevor was amazing – how anyone can play two instruments so well at the same time just amazes me, and Becky was truly magnificent! A small distraction for us was the (incredibly) drunk couple near the back who freely cussed and shouted during the gig, until at last they wandered away. How that guy managed to actually stay up on his feet was a mystery!
So, all that and junior telling us he’d had his first experience with ‘ore than one beer’ was tempered by the fact he was drinking Fosters lager, which doesn’t really count……..
On Halloween (31st October) we wil have ‘The Formula’ from Stone playing at Forton Cricket Club. Dave Williams, who plays lead guitar for them, is a good friend of my mate Ed Conway, and he plays a mean lead. The music is (in Dave’s words) “from Snow Patrol to Rock’n’roll via Huey Lewis, Duran Duran, The Beatles and The Stones plus the funkiest funk!” – could be a good night!
To round all this off, it has been a month of highs and lows with Junior. Adam started his A-level studies at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College after just missing his target grade on a couple of GCSE courses. That said – he’s miles ahead of my school qualifications already! Our rapidly growing bean-pole appears to be enjoying his start at SSFC, although he complains (as I did) that education is boring! He is incredibly fir, which fits well with his PE studies, and his hockey.
I am incredibly proud of both my children, although Adam has the edge on sport, Gina got lots of other qualities. Adam has a magnificent presence now on the hockey pitch. He has speed and skills, but needs a bit more time to get that polish to give him the full set. Currently he plays for Telford & Wrekin Men’s First X1, Shropshire U17 and Birmingham Region U17 teams. Watching him play the first league match in Coventry last week made me feel he’s almost there. Unfortunately, after the recent JRPC finals, Adam found he had not progressed to HiPac. His disappointment was very understandable. He has worked all year to fulfil one ambition – to push for a place in the England squad. Sometimes we can’t have what we want, sometimes we can. IT could be that he makes the grade he so strives for, but it’s going to take a wee while, and some more effort.
Anyway, that’s enough for now. I’ll find some more inspiration next weekend when I go ‘home’ to the farm. I promised a friend I would show them where I come from. So we’re going for a walk – I hope the weather holds…..