January 2014

A New Age of Enlightenment

I hope you all survived the festive shenanigans and have firmly put away your tree, decorations and all other traces of the hostilities.  I console myself with the fact that it will be at least 8 months before some moron says “only 120 shopping days to go to Christmas”.  What is wrong with these people?  Do they really think such comments are going to make most normal folk stampede to the shops to panic-buy whatever rubbish is on sale at the time?  Please!  Can we introduce a new game this year, just between us, that the first person to say something like this to you is given a less than friendly punch around the chops. 

Something that caught my eye in the last weeks of 2013 was the court appearance in the UK of the self-confessed female serial killer who had dispatched at least 3 blokes and tried to do a few more (no doubt for talking-up Christmas too early).  Apparently she had a tattoo of a star on her cheek and was aided and abetted by her boyfriend who was 7 foot 3 inches tall.  Makes you wonder how they were ever captured?  Presumably there was some sort of reconstruction on “Crimewatch” which jogged some keen-eyed viewers’ memory or perhaps a bizarre identity parade for people looking like Terry Pratchett characters? 

Talking of ID parades, (see what I did there), I used to work in an office close to Cardiff Central Police Station in Cathays Park and quite frequently we would be asked to attend an ID parade at the Nick.  In those days there were no screens and the accuser had to walk down the line and announce who the accused was by the number-plate they were standing on.  This one particular day we were asked to line up since there had been an alleged sexual assault.  We were all dressed in suits, all about 6 foot tall and in our mid-twenties (ok, it was a long time ago).  An Inspector asked us to remove our ties and jackets to look more casual.  We soon found out why.  The accused then came in with his lawyer who picked a place for him to stand amongst us.  The alleged victim then came in accompanied by a large police officer and instantly picked out our new friend.  He was carted off as we all burst into hysterical laughter, including the police officers.  The accused was about 4 foot 3 inches tall and wearing a bright yellow tracksuit, a master of disguise!                

I went on a recent long-weekend to Devon with She which provided a myriad of opportunities to people-watch, particularly when staying in an old coaching inn.  We had Miss Marple who was at least 75 bashing away on her lap-top whilst swigging large glasses of both red and white wine and then consuming a three course dinner like it was fun-sized.  I thought afterwards that she might have been writing about me, writing about her, or is that paranoia?  The barman was a star and could talk a glass eye to sleep.  He kept telling the guests that the nearest hospital was Barnstaple which meant a 38 minute ambulance drive so if you were to have a serious problem, it would be too late by the time help arrived.  Now this was before we had our dinner forcing us to choose from the menu really carefully in case of food poisoning, a cut with steak knife or a scald from the soup of the day. 

This inn is famous for its real ale, something I have dedicated many years of tireless study to.  The guest beer was a local brew called Handsome Ale, very strong stuff.  It was a pleasant drink and as time wore on I began to realise that it was strong and that I should switch to something less challenging.  I was prevented from doing so however, because every time I went to the bar the young barmaid would say “Hello, Handsome?” in an attractive Devon accent and I was too flattered to ask for anything else.  Anyway, 8 pints, half a bottle of wine and a vodka and tonic later, I ended up singing with the local Folk Group who were performing that night……..not pretty.    

Venturing outside and down to Cornwall we took the ferry from Padstow to a little village called Rock with the happiest ferry operator I have ever seen.  He had suffered a major sense-of-humour bypass operation (but obviously not at Barnstaple Hospital which was now some 50 minutes distant).  You would have thought he was manning the boat on the River Styx to Hades.  Rock cheered us up because Rocks always do, particularly as it is located alongside its sister villages Pityme and Splatt (I kid you not).  Now as fellow Rocks we are not far from Splott (Same Viking origin for “patch of land”).  Not too sure about the Pityme bit but answers on a postcard please.

A little bit of rugby news.  We have just changed the status of our Club from a Private Members one to an Industrial and Provident Society making us all £1 shareholders, high finance!  Interestingly, this involved gaining permission from the English RFU to adopt their model rules and I believe we are the first Welsh Rugby Club to have used the RFU model.  Hurrah for us!

The Jokes – folks 

A friend of mine always wanted to be run over by a steam train.  When it happened, he was chuffed to bits!  So I went to the cemetery to lay some flowers on his grave. As I was standing there I noticed 4 pall-bearers walking about with a coffin… 3 hours later and they were still walking about with it.  I thought to myself, those blokes have lost the plot.

And late news just in, a new Middle East crisis erupted last night as Dubai Television was refused permission to broadcast “The Flintstones”.  A spokesman for the channel said, ‘A claim was made that people in Dubai would not understand the humour, but we know for a fact that people in Abu Dhabi Do.’

It only remains for me to wish you all a happy and prosperous 2014. 

If you have any ideas, opportunities, questions or issues please keep them to yourself.  Only kidding, please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  <admin@stpetersrfc.co.uk>

Best wishes

Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

February 2014

Ed, Dad’s Dead

My Dear Chums,

As titles go, I hope you will agree that this one is a little belter.  Let me explain.  My Dad was sent a letter the other day from Labour Party HQ which was signed by Ed Milliband no less.  The letter encouraged him to “help stop the energy bill rip-off” by voting for Labour at the next General Election.  Now without wishing to discuss politics because we could be here for many months, my Dad was always a staunch Labour supporter and Party Member, something you would like to think they might have made a note of.  I could perhaps have forgiven them for not knowing this but the fact that he died in August last year makes his ongoing support for the Party somewhat doubtful I would have thought.  Conversely, if Labours’ election campaign is based on garnering support from those who have gone to that great TUC Conference in the Sky, then a victory seems equally remote. 

 I am not a great fan of business speak or acronyms since both are often used at presentations by people who are incapable of communicating the simplest of messages in plain English.  However, an acronym I came across the other day was WOMBAT which stands for:  Waste of Money, Brains and Time.  Now that is one I will be using again.  

The current Mrs Nolan and I were in a pub recently (what a surprise) and ended up overhearing two blokes discussing their forthcoming Civil Partnership arrangements.  In summary, buses had been booked to go to Gloucester for a cast of thousands.  Each table would then take part in a quiz and would be asked 10 themed questions.  If they failed to answer less than 50% correctly they would be prevented for going up for the first course of the wedding breakfast.  This would be repeated for later courses.  Then each table would have to sing two songs before the disco opened up.  This had me in mind of the famous scene from The Producers where one of the camp guys say to his partner, “If it was your intention to fire an arrow straight thorough my heart……bulls-eye!”  I suspect this event will end in tears but should make the local press. 

Recently, a mate of mine mentioned that his little lad had played a shepherd in the school Christmas Pantomime.  I said “don’t you mean Nativity Play?” and he said “that’s the one”.  Nice to see the religious origins of Christmas had hit home to him….which got me thinking.  What if the Nativity Play was done as a Panto.  You know the kind of thing.  “This Child is the Son of God”, …”Oh no he isn’t”.  Herod plays himself as probably the worst baddy of all time since he would have killed-off half the kids in the audience.  Angel Gabriel plays The God Fairy and the Three Kings as the Ugly Sisters.  All finished off with Daisy the talking camel.  I think we might be on to something here for next year.        

I don’t know about you but I think that television has reached an all-time low with “reality” shows knocked out at no cost featuring a never ending stream of nobody’s who are all prepared to humiliate themselves and their friends on live TV in pursuit of so called fame.  If, like me, you have no appetite for such nonsense you are left with Whodunnits, antiques, cookery and moving house programmes.  But fear not Dear Reader, there is hope.  I have a few ideas.  For example, what about The Great Celebrity Antiques Thief?  Each celebrity has to steal 3 items from antique shops (guided of course by their expert who creates the relevant diversions) and takes them to auction.  They must not be caught and whoever makes the most money wins.  The other thing I have noticed about these antique shows is that the antique shops and car boot sales are groaning with rubbish that nobody wants.  A catalyst is then introduced.  Somebody comes along and buys the crap to take it to an auction that nobody wants to bid at.  It is then bought by some desperate punter who sells it back at a knock-down price to the same antique dealer who got shot of it in the first place.  They then put a big mark-up on the tat only to have it knocked-down by the first punter to make a derisory offer for it who then takes it to auction …….you know the rest.  It’s a version of money laundering but at a very low level.  On the plus side it keeps hundreds in employment. 

So what of rugby I hear you ask.  Well, we have been very fortunate and attracted generous sponsorship for our Youth Team from car valeting experts VPS Valeting which has been used to provide training tops, polo shirts and hoodies for the whole squad.  VPS is a very interesting “rags to riches” story.  Founder and MD, Steve Davis, started valeting cars in Splott at the tender age of 12 where the seeds of the business were first planted.  Fast-forward to 2013 and he has built a £2.5m company employing 130 and operating from 40 premier brand car dealerships across the Southern UK.  Typical of many entrepreneurs, Steve had worked for other companies and had learnt from their mistakes.  Again, typical of entrepreneurs, he knew that he could do much better and that confidence enabled him to borrow £17,000 from his mum and the rest is history.  Our grateful thanks go to Steve for his tremendous generosity. 

The Jokes – folks

 Talking of antiques, I was cleaning out the attic the other day with the current Mrs Nolan…..filthy, dirty and covered with cobwebs……but she’s good with the kids and I found an old violin and an old oil painting.  So I took them to an expert and he said to me “What you’ve got there is a Stradivarius and a Rembrandt.  Unfortunately, Stradivarius was a terrible painter and Rembrandt made rotten violins”. 

So I went to the Doctor and said “I’m walking funny”.  He said “If you don’t mind me saying so you have got one leg shorter than the other”.  I said “I do mind you saying so, I think you have got a downright cheek”.  He said “No, you’ve got a downright cheek, that’s why you’re walking funny”.  


If you have any ideas, opportunities, questions or issues please keep them to yourself.  Only kidding, please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  <admin@stpetersrfc.co.uk>

Best wishes

Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

March 2014

Davy Crockett, Rembrandt and Genghis Khan

Now it’s not often you see these three people bracketed together but they were all born in the Year of the Horse which is the current Chinese New Year.  Apparently, “Horse people” tend to have ingenious communicating techniques and always want to be in the limelight. They are clever, kind to others and like adventurous careers but can be stubborn.  I don’t recall history remembering Genghis Khan for his kindness to others whilst carrying out the wholesale massacre of the civilian populations he subjugated.  However, since we are talking about celebrities, I have something in common with Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell and Amy Winehouse?  Give up?  Yes, we were all born in the Year of the Pig.  Apparently we are honest and frank, chivalrous, gallant, tolerant and optimistic.  Again, tolerance, Henry VIII and Cromwell seem strange bedfellows.  Not sure I believe a word of this stuff.    

Talking of things Chinese, apparently, 1 in 5 people in the world are Chinese.  Now there are 5 people in my family, so it must be one of them. It’s either my mum or my dad, or my older brother Paul, or my younger brother Ho-Chan-Chu. But I think it’s Paul.      

I spent the last two weeks sitting on a large hard book.  It was my annual holiday.  I needed the break because all was not well in Nolan Towers.  Believe it or not, I’ve been having trouble with hate mail… it’s the price of the stamps.  But no Dear Reader, shock, horror, gasp, I was sent a complaint the other day about my last article.  This surprised me for two main reasons.  The first was that someone reads this rubbish and the second was that they felt sufficiently bothered to dash off an email about it.  They suggested that I had written nothing about rugby and had simply put together a series of retarded rants.  To be fair they had a point but had missed the fact that I have been writing junk in this style for years.  Nevertheless, not being one to back down, I of course responded by pointing out to the complainant that whilst they had written only 35 words they had managed to make 7 spelling or grammatical errors, a 20% failure rate.  I further pointed out that if I were to write on the same basis, it would equate to 200 errors in this article.  Anyway, it all ended happily with a “written handshake” and we have agreed to have a beer together at the Club next time they are in Cardiff. 

Talking of English language matters reminded me that I once went out on a date with a Simile.  I don’t know what I Metaphor. 

The current Mrs Nolan, the current and Sainted Mother-in-law and I decided to turn our backs on the wettest January for 100 years and went alcohol free for the month.  We managed to raise £750 for Cancer Research UK by mugging friends, neighbours, relatives and total strangers so many thanks for your financial and moral support.  Not to be outdone, our son and heir who lives and works in Qatar along with his rugby club managed to raise £10,000 for cancer charities by wearing pink rugby kit for a recent top of the league clash which was generously sponsored.  Whilst we do not claim any high moral ground here, the physical feeling of wellbeing from not having any booze for a month was quite amazing.  Of course this all ended in tears as the 1st February happened to coincide with the opening round of the 6 Nations Tournament… not very pretty but a slight lessening of alcohol content is now on the cards.  After the recent poor showing of the Welsh team in Ireland I was forced to go to the doctors.  I said, “I’ve got Irish voices coming out of my tummy.” He said, “Don’t worry, you’ve got a stomach Ulster.”

On the work front, She (who must be obeyed) recently had a problem with a fly infestation at her office so I rang up pest control on her behalf. I said, “Vermin?” The guy said “No, he just left.”

I quite often regale you with tales of what has been going on at my local pub.  My latest bout of eavesdropping has taught me a lesson… don’t do it.  We had the great misfortune to be sat by a group of Brummie telecom specialist contractors who were installing a new secure system at a local defence company.  There were four of them, all had a sense of humour by-pass operation and all had one and only one specialist subject, the mysteries of telecoms equipment.  The conversation went something like this:

“That A4237 switch is just not as good as the latest N134 and how they expect us to run the two systems in parallel is beyond me”.  There was much laughter at this point having no doubt made a technical thigh-slapper of a joke in the telecoms world.  But it didn’t end there.  “I was going to recommend the D952 but they seem to have adopted the American Ace 345 instead.”  They all agreed that this was a far better option if not a slightly more expensive one and so it went on and on and on.  Their wives (if indeed they ever managed to become married) must look forward to every Sunday afternoon as their menfolk leave Birmingham and go off to work in Wales with those three little words ringing in their ears, “Try the B8237/C”.   

As you will have guessed rugby has been pretty much non-existent for the last couple of months because the tide has been permanently in at Rocks HQ.  In fact our youth team last played on 23rd November which is crazy.  Once the water level subsides and we can see the grass again we might be able to finish off the season.  In a strange twist of fate, we are about to play Liceo Naval School from Argentina who should know something about handling wet conditions.             

If you have any ideas, opportunities, questions or issues please keep them to yourself.  Only kidding, please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  <admin@stpetersrfc.co.uk>

Best wishes

Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

April 2014

Mount Moron and the Fish Brothers

Dearly Beloved, I was going to leave the title to this months’ tirade without any explanation which I think would be a whole new departure and you could then make up your own stories.  Sounds a bit like the next Disney Film don’t you think?  Anyway, common sense has prevailed.  The Leader of the Opposition and I were recently completing a crossword and the clue was “Swiss mountain, 5 letters”.  Unfortunately this stumped us and prevented us from finishing it.  To my surprise it turned out to be Moron Mountain in the Swiss Alps.  Not sure if something has been lost in the translation but you heard it here first.  As for the “Fish Brothers”, they recently won a fishing competition in Newport.  Seems they may have had something of an advantage but there we are.       

 As you know I am a frequent eavesdropper at our local hostelry.  Indeed I was losing my powers recently and had my ears syringed out at the Doctors.  I don’t consider myself to be nosey, I think it is more down to my basic paranoia.  Anyway, I recently overheard a phone call between boyfriend and girlfriend.  Fortunately boyfriend was not present and it went something like this:  “I don’t want feed-back from you about our so-called relationship”.  Phone down and then to her friend “All men are “bar- stewards” or words to that effect.  Believe me the particular ladies concerned would have done a spirited job as exhibits at Madame Tussauds in the Chamber of Horrors.  I consoled myself with the fact that they must come into their own at Halloween.  Our caller finished off by saying to her friend “I love him but I am not in love with him”.  Too much Danielle Steel if you ask me. 

I don’t know if you have ever watched the continuous loop on TV that is Sky News.  As you might expect, it provides an excellent summary of the news, time and time again and all day long.  Let me share with an amusing little game you can play with the programme.  Turn off the sound and put the subtitles on.  You will quickly see that the subtitle-typist (computerised or otherwise) appears not to be based in Britain, has no knowledge of slang and place-name pronunciations and is often two stories behind what is being shown on the screen.  By way of example the other evening the typist had written “Britain’s Biggest Pet Retailer Plans Expansion” however the picture feed was of Rose and Fred West.  Have a look at the news in this way.  It is much more entertaining.  I will warn you though it is addictive waiting for the next inappropriate howler to emerge.   

I thought I had better throw in some rugby matters. Two of our youth players, Jordan Viggers and Rob Lewis have been picked in the Wales under 18 squad for forthcoming internationals against France and England.  This follows Jordan being capped against Australia just before Christmas.  Well done guys.  In other news our Under 14’s have won their way through to a place in the Blues Cup semi-final so well done lads.  The Club recently hosted sides from Selkirk, Exeter and Dorchester.  There must be something in the air.  Is it a bird, is it a plane (it could be a plane as there appears to be one missing) or is it Don’s cooking that’s attracting them?   Talking of cooking (did you see what I did there), I read in the local paper that Tim Warwick, a Chef, had just opened a new restaurant and has called it Breakfast@Timothy’s which I thought was rather neat.

On other rugby matters, two of our delightful and very helpful barmaids (I know I am a creep but I won’t be served again if I am not nice to them) were arguing the other day about who was the taller.  Given that they are both vertically challenged it was a close run thing and I promised them I would write about them. I advised them that this would make them instantly taller because they could stand on our copies of this magazine and grow up to four extra inches each.  I thought it would be cruel to share with you short-barmaid jokes (actually I couldn’t find any).  Apparently bar-maids are nothing new and historically the brewing trade used to be dominated by women, who not only brewed for their families but also ran large breweries.   They were called Ale-wives or Brewster-wives and kept inns with more home comforts and even had medical attention available on-site.  In the absence of short-barmaid jokes (or bar-staff before someone writes in to complain) I have stuck to the bar-staff theme:

A man walks into a bar with a roll of tarmac under his arm.  The bar-person says to him “and what can I get for you?”  The bloke says “a pint please, and one for the road.”

A ten-year-old boy walks into a tavern and says to the barmaid, “Give me a Scotch on the rocks.”  “You’re just a kid,” said the barmaid. “Do you want to get me into trouble?”

“Maybe in a couple of years,” replied the boy. “But in the meantime, I’d still like that Scotch.”

A giraffe walked into our Rugby Club bar and asked the barmaid for a pint of beer. The barmaid said: “That will be ten pounds.” The giraffe paid her and the barmaid said: “We don’t get many giraffes in here.” The giraffe nodded his head indignantly. “At your prices, I’m not surprised” he said.

And finally, a man walks into a bar and asks the barmaid for a double entendre – so she gave him one.  Quite clever that one!

If you have any ideas, opportunities, questions or issues please keep them to yourself.  Only kidding, please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  <admin@stpetersrfc.co.uk>

Best wishes
Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

May 2014

 Sherlock, Money Laundering and a Car Park  

 Another strange title.  Since I last spoke with you I had the delight of going to see Wicked at the Millennium Centre with She Who Must Be Obeyed.  If I were to be completely honest about it I would not have chosen to go to this show but it was brilliant so well done to our friends for booking it.  I soon warmed to the task however because most of the show takes place in an emerald and black world which coincidentally are our Club colours.  It felt very much like home apart from the flying monkeys, spells and dancing………..oh I don’t know though.

Like many others out there in TV land, I have a penchant for British detective programmes and there have been some Crackers of late (see what I did there).  What always amuses me is that a highly complex plot is rendered too obvious when it is instantly solved by the amateur sleuth down the pub.  Mind you, this is the same guy who can barely spell his name or tie his own shoelaces.  Just goes to show how some minds work.  These programmes can backfire of course.  A good friend of mine is to be married shortly and she was toying with trying to negotiate a pre-nuptial agreement.  She struggled to wake up for work the other day and she rang me to apologise as we were due at a meeting.  I reminded her tongue-in-cheek of the latest whodunit “The Widower“, which featured the true story of a bloke slowly tranquilising his wives prior to disposing of them to inherit all.  Some people have no sense of humour because I no longer seem to be on her wedding guest list!

I don’t know if you have noticed the recent trend of some bar-persons throwing your change into your hand from a bit of a height in order not to touch your skin and presumably avoid the risk of infection.  This is rude and frankly with the cost of living staggering towards £4 a pint, is far from courteous.  However, revenge is a dish best served cold and the love of money might not only be the root of all evil, it could also be responsible for diseases.  Did you know that a recent study found that 26% of bank notes and 47% of credit cards are covered in germs, whilst 80% of notes and 78% of credit cards have some traces of bacteria.
The study found E.coli and Staphlococcus Aureus – commonly known as MRSA – along with a host of other germs on the £5, £10 and £20 notes it examined, as well as on credit cards.  It also found that UK notes can host a similar number of germs per square centimetre as the average toilet seat. So next time some bar person slings your change at you, just ensure that you gave them a plague ridden note in the first place.  I fully expect a red cross to be painted on the door of my local in the near future to be accompanied by cries of “Unclean” and “Bring out your dead” or maybe I maybe I am overreacting. 

Talking of money, I have just finished working on a major project with the Royal Mint.  By the time you read this the project will have been announced.  My role was to help secure funding for them, no mean feat in itself you might think.  As part of the process an independent consultancy firm was asked to appraise the plan I wrote.  I will never forget the opening line in their report when describing the Mint…….”This seems to be a well-established business.”  In fact the Mint is the oldest established business in Britain with over 1,000 years of unbroken history.  With such a deeply knowledgeable and incisive approach I was pretty safe! 

Continuing the money theme, a top-tip:  Always remember that a fool and his money can throw one hell of a party.

I don’t know if you read recently that Marks & Spencer have just brought out a fish, chip and pea pie.  Apparently it is layered and has fewer calories than fish and chips or pie and chips….all very clever stuff.  It had me in mind of the latest Hollywood blockbuster Noah which is about to hit the UK because I always wondered whether he made provision for fish or were they left to their own devices when the Great Flood came.  Well Dear Reader, I can now share with you all a World exclusive.  Recently, archaeologists discovered timbers which they believe to be from an ark which apparently revealed that Noah had in fact built several arks for various parts of the animal kingdom.  This one had a split-level design for all the fish – or a multi-storey carp ark!  Sorry.

Turning to rugby matters, as we approach the end of a long season, many of our teams are still in contention for honours which the next couple of weeks will sort out.  Our 1st XV have finally begun to play to their potential thanks largely to the coaching skills of former Welsh Internationals Mark Ring and Charlie (Tony) Faulkner.  Many congratulations go to Harri Dobbs who recently played for Wales Under 16’s against England.  Our congratulations also go to Callum Sheedy one of our youth players who is Captain of Millfield School.  He has been signed by Bristol RFC on a professional contract for next season as an outside-half.  He has also been invited to join the Irish Sevens Squad, quite an achievement.  Remember the name,………………………..you will be hearing a lot more about him.

Best wishes
Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

June 2014

Luvvies, Awards and Accents

We Nolans’ recently undertook a spot of missionary work again in the West Country.  We visited a fabulous “Award Winning” village called Dunster – highly recommended.  We were minding our own business in one of its many pubs when a gang of middle-aged hoorays came in talking verbal diarrhoea at the tops of their voices.  You know the type, mangled vowels, tweeds, wellies, too many dogs and a vague whiff of manure.  Anyway, one of their merry band said that he hoped that nobody would recognise him in such a rural idyll as he was apparently a famous magician.  He of course proclaimed this at the top of his voice.  He was too young for Paul Daniels and unfortunately too alive to be Tommy Cooper so I have no idea who he was but I found myself wishing he would do his disappearing act.  Strangely our hotel also played host that weekend to BAFTA “Award Winning” actress Rebecca Front (Allan Partridge, Morse, Lewis etc) and her TV and Film Producer husband Phil Clymer (Poirot, Miss Marple etc).  They were nice, normal, unaffected people unlike the not so magic circle gang.

Meanwhile, back in Dunster, She wanted a new handbag.  I don’t know why because she is the Queen and never carries a handbag, doesn’t even take one on holiday.  The old one was hardly used but in the interests of peace and fashion we entered a fine emporium.  The shop was called Dyers Traits which I thought was quite neat, as was the new handbag.  Talking of handbags, a lady lost her handbag during a day out shopping. It was found by an honest little boy and returned to her. Looking in her purse, she said, “Hmmm… That’s funny. When I lost my bag there was a £20 note in it. Now there are twenty pound coins.” The boy quickly replied, “That’s right, lady. The last time I found a lady’s handbag she didn’t have change for a reward.”

Continuing the awards theme, have you ever had an ice cream that was not made by an “Award Winning” manufacturer?  They all seem to win awards.  Imagine if you hadn’t won one.  How bad must the non-winners be?  Of course ice cream is not necessarily good for you.  There has been a huge amount of publicity in Wales recently about the obesity problem.  But I was thinking, isn’t this an Irish problem – you know O’Besity?     

In these strange political times when the former Italian Premier is doing community service, when President Hollande of France has been “outed” for having a mistress and when a number of our politicians have been in trouble for fiddling their expenses it restored my faith in human nature to read that the current Nigerian President is called Goodluck Jonathan.  Now there’s somebody you could vote for.  Can you imagine the campaign posters?  No need for verbiage, just his name printed on them and as he goes to register his own vote, the crowd simply chants his name.

Meanwhile I recently visited in a very posh part of our great Metrolops to experience a pub that had been seriously revamped.  Minding my own business one evening after work, enter a frightfully well-spoken woman and her non-speaking and pecked-to-death husband.  She asked the waitress if she could sit at two different tables and was told that they were both reserved as per the large signs on them indicating that thy were indeed reserved (there were 18 other tables available).  She then asked what time they were reserved for as she wanted to sit at one of them there and then.  This was refused and she petulantly sat elsewhere.  At this stage there were only three of us in the room and I was the only one who was happy with the seating arrangements.   But the entertainment was not over yet.  In came another strident local female with her spouse a number of steps behind her.  Actually he was more accurately a step behind her as he only had one leg which she proceeded to tell everybody.  She refused a table involving having to go up one step as “he only had one leg” but instead made the poor man walk a further 20 yards to find a table on the flat.  She then complained at the top of her voice that her husband “only had one leg” and therefore could not read the “Specials Board” he had just limped past.  I mused for a moment about the little known medical linkages between lower limb-loss and poor eyesight. However, showing marvellous presence of mind the waitress took a picture of the “Specials Board” on her phone to share with the poor guy.  Mercifully, he wasn’t blind as well.  Funny old business though, only five people in the room and four of them were unhappy, or is it me?

No place for regional accents in the place I described above, they wouldn’t allow them.  I am not blessed with much of an accent despite growing up in Cardiff.  Strict parents and being taught by nuns may have had something to do with this but I got to thinking about famous song titles done with a Kaardiff accent.  For example:

  • I done it my way. 
  • I can’t get no satisfaction, innit.
  • Yo Jude.
  • I says a little prayer for yuu.
  • If I ad an ammer.
  • Don’t go breaking my aart.
  • When you wishes upon a staar.
  • The way we was
  • Smack my bitch up (real song title, honest).

Turning to rugby, it’s been a very successful season for the Club on and off the pitch with cups and trophies aplenty across all the sides and a smattering of Welsh Internationals in the 16 and 18 age groups.  Former senior Welsh Internationals Mark Ring and Charlie Faulkner coached the seniors to a very creditable finish in the league after a challenging start.  At the time of writing our glorious Youth Team have won the Taffs Well 7’s Tournament, The East District Cup and the Blues A League.  This is the highest league they can play in so to win it is an amazing achievement.  The coaching team was led by Paul Ring, Mark’s better known brother and it isn’t over yet.  They are about to play on the Arms Park in the Cardiff and Vale Youth Final and if luck goes their way the Youth Group will have achieved something truly remarkable. 

But Dear Reader, despite all these fine cups, caps and accolades, we put 16 different teams on the pitch each week across the Club involving over 300 players from The Pebbles to the Rocks Seniors so well done all of you, a staggering achievement and all carried out by an unpaid army of volunteers.  We salute you!     

If you have any ideas, opportunities, questions or issues please keep them to yourself.  Only kidding, please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  <admin@stpetersrfc.co.uk>

Best wishes

Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

July 2014

The World Cup, Cosmetology and Neighbours      

 By the time you read this (always assuming anybody is mad enough to do so) the current Mrs Nolan and I will be making our annual pilgrimage to yet another Greek island.  A couple of years ago I was showing off to a Greek waiter about how many of their islands we had visited (somewhere around 14 we think).  He was very polite and listened attentively before telling me in more than a stage-whisper that there were in fact 227 inhabited Greek islands so we had a bit to go.  I worked it out that by visiting one per year it would be 2227 before we did the lot…….not going to happen is it?  Turning to our latest adventure, I have more than a slight concern about the runway length on our chosen island.  Now don’t get me wrong, I won’t be flying the plane, but we land on the island with a full plane of eager travellers as you would expect.  However, our departure involves a short hop over to the mainland to refuel because our runway is too short to take off a fully laden plane with full tanks.  Something to look forward to! 

 Cosmetology, now there’s a word.  As you know, this covers the world of hairdressers, beauticians etc.  It certainly sounds something interplanetary don’t you think?  The reason I mention the tonsorial trade (there’s another name) is my recent trip to said emporium for my holiday haircut, or Summer Plumage, as I like to call it.  My hairdresser is lovely and chatty but it struck me that when she had finished and held up the mirror so I could view the back of my swede (New Zealand origin for head apparently), that everyone always says “great, thanks” which is what I found myself mouthing.  What if it wasn’t great, or a mess had been made, you could hardly have the fault rectified could you?  In my case I did point out to her that my neck was bleeding because she had cut me with the razor.  My how we laughed!  I was not best pleased but the look of sheer horror on the face of the next guy into the chair was pure Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and well worth the tip. 

As you will have guessed, jokes involving cosmetology are like jockey’s legs, few and far between.  Nonetheless, in an almost related matter, this reporter said to me, “how would you describe the absence of Haley’s flaming meteorite?” I said “no comet”.  What do you want for the money……..quality?

Talking of hair, why is it that blokes of a certain age lose the hairs on their legs and we end up with shiny naked legs?  Is it part of our hormonal shift into middle age or is it something more sinister? 

Now I could not allow myself with these scribbling’s to let the Football World Cup go by unmentioned. It may surprise you to know that I am one of the millions out there who couldn’t care less who is playing and when?  I have made it my avowed intent not to watch a single match or to discuss any outcomes.  And before you accuse me of some kind of closet racism for not supporting our neighbours over the bridge, please understand that by the time you read this they will be back home as our neighbours whilst four other teams contest the semi-finals.  It is however interesting to observe the marketing hype and how retailers have employed tenuous links to this sporting spectacle.  For example, a well-known fast food poultry purveyor is selling Rio Trio Dip Boxes and the Carnival Box Meal, please.  Other sponsors include brewers, sugary drinks manufacturers and fast food retailers.  Money might indeed talk but what is it saying?     

I don’t know about you but we know our neighbours well enough to say good morning to and that’s about it.  We don’t go round for cosy barbecues, in fact, we don’t even like barbecues but friends of ours were telling us a very different tale about their neighbours.  Apparently, they complain and object to everything our mates do, from planning permission to extend their house to the noise their kids make in the garden and to the snarling of their vicious dog who couldn’t snarl if his life depended on it.  Surprisingly perhaps all this is going on in one of the leafier parts of our great Metrolops.  Well, Dear Friends, the Scorpio in me has proposed many ideas as to how to wreak revenge on such people but in a perfectly legitimate and anonymous way of course.  However, I am a mere amateur compared to our mates.  Whilst I am unable and unwilling to reveal their tactics I am confident that their neighbours will shortly put a “For Sale” sign up on their house.  Then the fun will start with a parade of alleged buyers making derisory comments about the property accompanied by a stream of insulting and spurious offers.  You see once you open Pandora’s Box my friends you will always have difficulty putting the lid back on it. 

At present I am reading a very funny book by Denis Nordern who tells the story of a US radio station that put out an announcement inviting listeners to fax in requests for a forthcoming programme of 17th Century classical music.  The announcement concluded “Remember, if it ain’t Baroque, don’t fax it”.  

And don’t forget, the advantage of easy origami is twofold… 

Which reminds me, I used go out with an anaesthetist; she was a local girl.

I mentioned in my last article that our youth team had won the league and East District Cup.  Well, they went on to finish the season in style by winning the Cardiff and Vale Youth Cup at the Arms Park to complete a truly historic treble, well done to all involved.

Whisper it very quietly but pre-season training starts for the seniors and youth group on 28th June at the Club under the leadership of former Welsh International Mark Ring.  I will be on a beach in Greece thinking about you boys.  Don’t work too hard.

If you have any ideas, opportunities, questions or issues please keep them to yourself.  Only kidding, please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  <admin@stpetersrfc.co.uk>

Best wishes

Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

August 2014

Spelling, Soccer and Shopping 

How about that for an alliterative title?  I don’t know about you but I find bad spelling particuarly anoyying (I know) and with this in mind I was reading a true story the other day where a guy had a job in the late 1930’s putting up the letters on cinema hoardings which announced the forthcoming feature films.  His attention to spelling was clearly very important as any mistakes would be writ large some 20 feet above the ground.  He was due to advertise The Adventures of Robin Hood (the Errol Flynn Epic) but on stepping back to admire his handiwork in Leicester Square no less, found he had written The Avdentures of Robin Hood.  This caused a stir apparently but not as much of a stir as the man whose appalling omission advertised the premiere of The Count of Monte Cristo.       

In my last encounter of the written kind within this feast of journalism I predicted the inevitable failure of the England soccer team at the recent World Cup which turned out to be quite prophetic.  I take no pleasure from this but I got to thinking that this should not have raised an eyebrow as losing is part of the national psyche.  For example: 

  • 1066 is probably the only date most people remember from history when King Harold was killed by a mad Frenchman with a penchant (French influence already see) for archery.
  • Alfred the Great – no idea what he was about but he is only remembered for his less than sparkling performance whilst baking cakes.
  • Guy Fawkes – Spectacularly fails at blowing up Parliament but is the only Englishman to have a day named after him in celebration.
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade – (not an electricity bill) but penned by England’s favourite poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson to commemorate one of the most foolhardy military cock-ups in history (aided and abetted by one Captain Nolan incidentally).

Never going to win were they.

Talking of the world cup, I was true to my word (with the final still to be played as I write) as I have managed not to watch a single game.  We were on holiday for most of it but hit upon an interesting game whilst out in Greek Bars, all of whom had the matches on.  My wife would not be insulted if I said she knows nothing about football so on this basis, she would face the TV and I would face away.  She would then provide the commentary which would go something like this:

“The guys in the blue shirts have kicked the ball to the guys in the white shirts.  Some bloke has fallen over but nobody touched him.  It might be a penalty but the referee has given a player a card for acting.  Somebody just scored”.  You should try this at home and pick on any sport you know nothing about.  It is worthy of French and Saunders.     

The aforementioned commentator in our house is very much au fait (French again) with the supermarket trade as someone who sells land for them to build on.  However, it may not surprise you to know that my interests in these giant corporations are on a more basic level.  To illustrate the point, I took a sample the other day of moist toilet tissues from two premier supermarkets.  Both were similarly priced which is no surprise but both contained 42 tissues.  This got me wondering.  This is either a little-known cartel in operation or there is a researcher somewhere who concluded that whatever your bowel problems, 42 tissues gives you 6 goes a day for a week, or one every 4 hours? Interesting work. 

All of which leads me on very nicely to pointless research.  Of course real R&D is vital for our development and survival but I am concerned about faux (not French again) research.  By this I mean the type that is constantly commissioned to tell us that alcohol is bad for us, as is smoking, fried food, lack of exercise, too much sun, not enough sun, oh please!  We know all this so we don’t need another piece of research producing conclusions which the average 4 year old could reasonably arrive at.    

I know I may not have much of an imagination to the point where things like science fiction leave me out in the cold.  This is because I do not have the patience to suspend reality in such a concentrated way, but even I draw the line at some of the verbal diarrhoea spoken in connection with those describing the arts.  This is of course a huge generalisation, (what else would you expect from me), but I cannot be the only one.  I read this recently about “an installation” :  “It is almost as if the walls themselves are speaking, telling the stories of the women trapped within the wallpaper’s frenetic patterning…..through the compelling dialogue between paint and word, issues of domesticity, rootlessness etc etc etc”  Oh come on.  Wake up, this is the Emperor’s New Clothes in another guise and guess what?  He was naked.  Some standard lines I have learnt over the years which flatter those engaged in this rarified form of culture include:

  • “One can see what the artist was trying to say” – Yes, how many people can I fool with this one?
  • “What an interesting use of light” – 40 watt bulb.
  • “He has a great appreciation of the juxtaposition of form and colour” – What colour is the sky in his world?
  • “Very much his early blue period” – Shame it is not in his late suicidal period.

Try these out at your local museum or art gallery.  You will be surprised at the number of people who will engage with you in an agreeable fashion but I won’t be one of them.

Now I like crosswords.  I don’t pretend I am adept in the art but they nevertheless represent the closest thing I have to a regular intellectual challenge, particularly when awaiting the arrival of She down the local pub.  I was talking to a mate of mine one evening about this and he said: “Shall I tell you the best crossword clue I ever came across?  It was tired postman” he then paused.  “How many letters?” I asked.  He said “Thousands of ‘em!”          

You may have noticed I managed to write the whole article without a single reference to rugby, not an easy feat, but it is pre-season. 

If you have any ideas, opportunities, questions or issues rugby or otherwise please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  <admin@stpetersrfc.co.uk>

Best wishes
Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

September 2014

Clifford the Sideways Dog and Mamma Mia  

I thought I might share some other holiday moments with you ahead of the rugby season kicking off once again.  The Leader of the Opposition and I recently returned from two holidays.  Now I don’t say this to show off since the royalties have not yet started to roll in for writing this rubbish.  As is our wont, we found ourselves on another Greek Island, this time it was Skiathos.  Believe it or not we managed to go parasailing strapped into a parachute and towed behind a crazy Greek powerboat driver.  Laugh, I nearly started.  She then decided that this was not adventurous enough and decided to have a bash at water skiing.  After all, we were in Skiathos.  Thank God we weren’t in Lesbos I thought to myself.  Anyway, whisper it quietly but She was pretty good at it and is talking of taking it up.  It is of course a very expensive sport so I will start her off slowly and just buy her the rope for her birthday.

Our Greek waiter told us that when he did his National Service he “acquired” 2 strange pets, a baby echnida (spiny anteater to the uninitiated) and a dog whom he christened Clifford who did crab impressions as he could only walk sideways, how bizarre! Next up we went to the pictures (I did not sign up for an activity holiday but it sounds like I did).  Oh yes, 40 degrees and we are in the flicks.  However, the pictures were open-air and we watched Mamma Mia, (in part filmed locally) with audience participation encouraged by the locals who had starred in the original film.   Three things struck me as strange about this cinematic experience:

  • There were tables between the seats to rest your beers on.
  • At various stages a passing passenger plane interrupted the goings on.
  • The mosquitos should have been in the credits as they took a starring role.

This then set me thinking about open-air entertainments in Wales.  I am old enough to remember Splott, Llandaff and Cold Knapp Baths, all outdoors and with our weather, what were they thinking?  It couldn’t happen again or could it?  Well chums, Pontypridd Lido is about to reopen in a £6.2m investment supported by grant funding from the EU.  I know we are in the grip of global warming but really?  The phrase White Elephant springs to mind and I have recently read that the Friends of Cold Knapp Baths are lobbying for it to be reopened.  I can only conclude that hypothermia induces memory loss in later life.  Which reminds me:  Why can male elephants swim whenever they want?  Because they always have their trunks with them.  Sorry.

The son and heir came home on hols from his Gulf States abode and we embarked on a short holiday to celebrate his brief return.  In his formative years we had holidayed in Kinsale (twinned with Mumbles and Beirut) so he suggested we return.  As a UK tax exile he of course showed no signs of paying towards his return to the Emerald Isle.  So off we went, She, He, the Sainted Mother-in-law and me.  We arrived at Bristol Airport and the fun began.  Being an old hand I had booked the car parking online as I usually do.  The number plate recognition system let us through the security barriers and we pitched up to hand our keys in.  The computer said no.  It seems that I had somehow been automatically booked into the long-stay car park for a 4 day holiday.  When we went to Greece 4 weeks earlier we had booked automatically online into the short stay car park for 14 days away.  Confused, I sure was.  I argued the toss with the guy who had a face like the Entertainments Manager on the Titanic, but to no avail.  I concluded by asking him to confirm that short stay in fact meant long and long stay meant short.  As a follow-up I have just been sent a survey asking for my views on car parking at Bristol Airport.  I am looking forward to filling it in.

And so to the flight to Cork.  Our plane was badged up as Stobart Air who had bought out Aer Aerean but ran the routes on behalf of Aer Lingus.  Are you still with me?  We were shown to our parachutes and seats. We were all in row 6 and sat together in BD and EG.  There was no A,C or F.  We arrived on a Bank Holiday weekend which coincided with the annual Kinsale Regatta.  How we laughed trying to find accommodation.  It was so busy that at one stage we were offered a stable but I thought that was a bit too biblical.  As a practising catalyst I thought my religious background would help plus being of Irish descent.  In the end it came down to money.  We stayed at a splendid house overlooking the sea.  I was never entirely convinced that the guy we paid for the accommodation had any connection to the property at all.  To celebrate we went out to a traditional Irish Chinese restaurant.

I need to talk to you about Bandon.  This is a town which takes its name from the Bandon River which flows through it and into the sea at Kinsale.  The town is famous as the birthplace of Graham Norton who grew up as a Protestant amongst Catholics.  However back in 1588 it was made part of the Plantation of Munster which effectively made it an English Protestant walled town.  A welcoming sign on the gates read “Entrance to Jew, Turk or Atheist; but Death to Bloody Papists”.  Nice.  Bandon Summer Fest was on when we were there which was described locally as a family orientated festival.  We swerved it.

I have mentioned before that my cup is always half-full rather than half-empty and I read this the other day, written by JB Priestly, which I thought I would share with you:

“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning”

Bye for now.

If you have any ideas, opportunities, questions or issues rugby or otherwise please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  <admin@stpetersrfc.co.uk>

Best wishes

Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

October 2014

Quiz Bang Surveys

So let’s start with a question:  Who is actor Neil Burgess better known as? Give up?  Well it’s none other than “Cilit Bang Man”.  You know the one “Hi I’m Barry Scott and so is my wife…. Bang and the dirt is gone”.  This is an everyday story of a guy who drives a purple racing car and flies a purple fighter-jet in order to sell you bog-cleaner.  Please, and what is worse he has had this gig for 8 long years.  The Advertising Standards Authority banned these ads at one point because they exaggerated the effects of the product.  I thought that was all ads. 

Now here’s another subject that I am sure we are all pretty much agreed upon…….. unsolicited telesales calls.  I have changed from being very rude to the caller to interrogating them and believe me they don’t like it.  They have a script to follow so the trick is to throw them off it.  My top tips are:

  • Pretend to be someone else and not the person they think they phoned.
  • Answer every question they ask with an unrelated question of your own.
  • Ask them what phone/car/utility company they use and whether they would like to swop.
  • Ask them how much they earn.
  • Ask them if they are married.
  • Ask if they have a friend in Jesus (other religions/beliefs equally apply).
  • Ask for their personal number so you can bother them after hours.

They won’t come back.  However, my mate Gerald (from the rugby club) told me a story about how he dealt with such matters recently.  He is a regular purchaser of leisurewear from Cotton Traders, a very successful company started by former England prop forward Fran Cotton.  Gerald had a letter from them informing him that as a regular and loyal customer he had an 86% good customer score which entitled him to certain discounts.  They then followed this up with an unsolicited phone call, bless them.  First off my mate asked if Fran Cotton had personally signed the letter he had received.  They said “no”.  He said “so it is a forgery then since it purports to come from him”.  They said “it’s not a forgery it’s marketing”.  He said “it’s misleading and I bet Fran Cotton has never heard of me has he?”  They were forced to admit he hadn’t.  Moving swiftly on and sensing blood he then asked why he had only scored 86% and where he had managed to lose the other 14%.  The silence was deafening and they have left him alone ever since.  We need to fight back friends and just remember that the longer you can waste the callers’ time, the less they are selling and the deeper the pool of brown stuff they will be sinking into as another sales target is missed. 

I have mentioned on a number of occasions the goings on at our regular pub quiz.  Quite by chance I was out with friends recently and we found ourselves sat in the middle of somebody else’s pub quiz.  On the basis of it stopping any further conversation we decided to enter.  When the picture round was handed out a woman across the way from us immediately went to her phone and started checking on the images.  Let’s call it cheating, which I did call it at the top of my voice.  I reminded her of this throughout the evening.  As my alcohol intake increased so did my volume and my witty badinage.  She then admonished me for swearing and I admonished her again for cheating.  I told her that a quiz was designed to test her general knowledge and not her ability to download answers from the internet.  Of course we beat her team.  I may go back next week and annoy her again.   

In the news, an irate funeral director from Newport was jailed for two weeks for throwing flour over a neighbour’s car which had allegedly blocked him in whilst he was undertaking.  The paper reported that the funeral director had fallen into financial difficulty fighting the case and had now put his hearse up for sale.  I am not sure if that was a typo and should have been his house up for sale.  I would have thought a funeral director without a hearse was like a quiz cheat without a phone……..at a distinct disadvantage.    

I have been reading about the Dowlais Pony Improvement Society – I kid you not.  Presumably they give the ponies advice on dress, deportment, elocution matters and job opportunities. 

Meanwhile down at a pub near you, minding my own business and awaiting the arrival of She, I witnessed four late middle-aged ladies trying to choose where to sit, a subject I have visited before. This was led by a particularly strident member of their coven who said “I need to sit down on the soft seat as I have 15 grandchildren”.  I wondered whether the delicacy around her nether-regions was a result of her contribution to the proliferation of the species or perhaps whether she had given birth to all of them recently by proxy.  In the same pub a bloke asked the waitress whether the meal he wanted to order came with vegetables.  She said “It comes with a piquant tomato sauce”.  He said “I’ll probably need chips with that then”.  She said “It comes with chips”.  He said “Aren’t they vegetables?”  She said “Not as such”.  I was intrigued.  She knew what piquant was but not that chips were of vegetable origin.   You cannot make this stuff up. Later on I said to the waitress “Can I have a look at the wine list please?”  She duly obliged and I said “Have you got a white Maçon?”  She replied, “No, this is what I normally wear to work”.  I did make that bit up.

And finally, this is the end of an era or should that be the end of an error?  I will no longer be writing this drivel on behalf of St. Peter’s Rugby Club (boo).  I suspect that both you and they will be mightily relieved.  We still love each other but I wandered off the subject of rugby many months ago and don’t have the navigation equipment to find my way back.  My good friend Kevin O’Brien will now take over this column to keep you up-to-speed with all things St. Peter’s.  But fear not, just as you thought it was safe, I have been released into the wild as an independent observer of life and will have my own page in the next edition so look out for it (hooray).   

If you have any ideas, opportunities, questions or issues re rugby please do not hesitate to contact the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or email: admin@stpetersrfc.co.uk, ask for Kevin O’Brien and blame him.

Best wishes
Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

November 2014

The Summit, Bake-off and Windows 8  

Dear Reader, I told you I would be back.  There has been much to report since my last communication with you.  Where shall I start?  The NATO Summit in Newport and the latest EU madness would seem appropriate places.

I amused myself (they can’t touch you for it), by imagining the Leaders of the Free World looking at their Google Maps and saying to their staff “Where the …. is Newport?”  On a positive note, She Who Must Be Obeyed singlehandedly rounded up a gang of criminals as a result of the Summit.  I exaggerate slightly as is my wont but a vacant property she was marketing was close to the action in Newport and was searched by the police who subsequently found some uninvited guests living there who were forcibly removed.  The highpoint of the Summit for me was that the authorities finally filled in the potholes and tarmacked the road near Tredegar House, across from Chateau Nolan (otherwise known as Mission Control).  It took Barack Obama to make it happen because the Council had been incapable of doing so for the previous 5 years.  I think the history books will show that this was one of the highlights of his Presidency and nicely demonstrates his common touch and global reach.    

In their latest comical attempt to slow down global warming, our Brussels-based bureaucrats have now decided to limit the power of new vacuum cleaners, toasters and kettles.  Oh s’il vous plait.  In an effort to be fully compliant and in fear of the Global Warming Police, I drove to the local land-fill site, buried my old appliances, drove to the shops, purchased new appliances, drove home and installed them.  All very green I think you will agree.  The vacuum cleaning, which I admit needing to be introduced to, now takes twice as long to do a lesser job than its predecessor.  The only consolation is that the new kettle also takes twice as long to boil and so once cleaning has been completed the hot water is available which I think is rather neat. 

Turning to culinary issues, is it only me that does not give a damn about the Great British Bake Off?  Oh come on!  I fear for our sanity when the whole nation seems to be gripped by the outcome of some total strangers’ plum-duff not turning out as they had hoped.  I read that there were allegations of culinary sabotage on a previous programme.  I prefer the Scottish Gaelic version which has the racy title of Cocaire nan Cocairean but is equally pointless.  Now Pointless is a good programme…………………….

I don’t know about you but I have a real problem with people who buy inappropriate presents for their loved ones.   I bought my son an iPhone for his birthday.  My Mother-in-law received an iPod for hers and I was pleased to receive an iPad for mine.  Thinking along the same lines, I got the Leader of the Opposition an iRon and that’s when the trouble started.  To rescue the situation I was forced to think again.  What does one buy the lady who has everything?  After a short period of consultation we settled on Windows 8 and so you can imagine her surprise when she ended up with 8 new windows, a gift that keeps on giving and one competitively priced and supplied by my good mate Paul Ring.  I know she is plotting her revenge so if I am still able to use a lap-top I may write about what form it took.  It is the not knowing I find hardest to deal with.

I also need to discuss the silly drivers who flash us to warn us that we are approaching a speed camera as if it is some sort of revenge attack on the police.  In the first place I believe it is an offence to do this and secondly, as somebody who has done the bad-boys speeding course, you might think I would be all for it, but no Dear Motorist, I am not, since I find it very annoying.  I have adopted a different tactic.  I flash oncoming traffic when there are no speed cameras about thus slowing it down to a sensible speed.  I like to imagine the drivers’ faces when after many miles they realise they have been conned.  Now that appeals to me.  

I recently asked a potential new client to give me a short précis of the sort of services their company provided.  I quote:  “We have developed our own multichannel delivery optimisation engine”.  This was just noise and I was sorry I asked.  I wanted to say “you should have developed it a bit further then since your company appears to be technically insolvent” but I thought that might have been a bit too blunt for a first meeting.  In other business news I very recently had a disagreement with a potential client over fees culminating in my deciding not to work with them.  I was reminded of US Forest Fire Specialist, Red Adair, who said:  “If you believe that hiring a professional is expensive try hiring an amateur to do the same job”.  How apt.       

Whilst no longer a rugby article, clubs were recently sent this by the Welsh Rugby Union which I wanted to share with you:  “It was recommended that the Criteria Review Panel should continue to set the relevant criteria, but would report to the Regulatory Committee for ratification/approval.  The Compliance Department should continue to determine whether the relevant criteria had been complied with and make recommendations to the Regulatory Committee which would decide whether to uphold or reject any such recommendation and make any consequential decision”.  I am glad they cleared that up! 

And finally, I am a non-user of Twitter/Facebook as I doubt I could stand the abuse from random strangers but if they were to join together and rename it Twit-Face I might have a think about it.

Bye for now 

December 2014

Superstitious Flights of Fancy and the Germans     

No, not a Roald Dahl tale with a Teutonic twist but a summary of the latest stuff that has come across my radar since we last spoke.  There we were, the Leader of the Opposition and I in one of our favourite watering-holes after another hard day at the coal-face, when our attention was drawn to an agitated woman who was looking for a table to sit at.  I should explain at this point that we were the only other diners in a very large and well-tabled room.  The lady had picked a place to sit next to us (odd in itself but part of an in-built herding system some of us seem to have), but her table had the number 13 on it and she told us that she could not sit at a table when it had the number 13 on it.  Really?   Avoiding the obvious response to her predicament I told her to swop the table number with ours (for we were on 12, which she did, and all her problems were solved!  Now if it was table 666 she might have had a point but that would have been in a much larger pub.  Of course nothing is straightforward when you start to dig a little (sounds like the beginning of an archaeology joke).  There are so many theories why 13 is considered to be an unlucky number I have decided to ignore them all and instead give you said archaeology joke: 

Why did the archaeologist go bankrupt?  Because his career was in ruins.

Anyway, I digress.  Same evening and same pub, a strange man came in with his wife (I swear they wait outside for me) and wanted to know whether there were menus.  He was directed to a vacant table (not 12&13 as you will remember these were already taken) where a large menu with “Menu” written on the front of it, by way of a clue, was clearly in evidence.  He then wanted to know if there were any “Specials”.  Our jovial landlord referred him to both of the 10 foot x 4 foot “Specials Boards”.  He then proceeded to ask about the specific contents of each meal as his wife suffered from a number of food related allergies.  Despite this handicap, let’s just say she was no stranger to dining.  He eventually settled on a chicken dish for her with no sauce.  He then decided she could have a small amount of sauce.  We left at this point as the excitement was too great with our would-be diner trying to define “small” in sauce terms for the bar staff.      

Whilst not dwelling on the recent independence election result North of the Border, I was amused by the way that the 3 UK Party Leaders became so “brown-trousered” over the prospect of the erosion of their own power-bases that they signed an accord promising Scotland more devolution powers without mentioning anything specific.  Very much their own “Peace in our time” moment reminiscent of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who you will recall had obtained written assurances from an Austrian painter and decorator that he would not invade Poland.  History is repeating itself as I see there has been some recent sabre-rattling from the latest German Chancellor about our continuing membership of the EU.  Here’s the thing.  We have signed up to a deal that says when our economy grows, we pay more.  It couldn’t be clearer and so when the PM recently had a bill for £1.7bn he tried the classic defence of “I was not expecting this”.  One wonders if the Treasury was but had decided not to tell him in some Tesco-esque accounting policy.  I then read that our bill is based on the increased income from the £5.5bn sex-trade in Britain and the £4.4bn drug trade.  Now that’s what I call a mixed economy.  To be effectively taxed by Europe because of these two illegal forms of business, which are tax-free, is clearly Euro-ludicrous.  However, we shouldn’t be surprised.  I have been reading that when it was announced that English would be the official language of the EU, rather than German, our allies were once again somewhat miffed.  Her Majesty’s Government was forced to concede that English spelling had room for improvement and was made to accept a five-year phasing in of “Euro-English”.  The following borrowed EU report neatly summarises the arrangement.     

“In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c”.  Sertainly, this will make sivil servants jump for joy.  The hard “c” will be dropped in favour of the “k”, which should klear up some konfusion and allow one key less on keyboards.  There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with “f”, making words like “fotograf” 20% shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.  Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.  Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent “e” is disgrasful.  By the fourth yer, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing “th” with “z” and “w” with “v”.

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vords kontaining “ou” and similar changes vud of kurs be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.  After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl.  Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and everivun vil find it ezi to understand ech ozer.  Zed rem vil finali com tru!”  A decent rant, I think you will agree and I bet you read it out loud and in an appropriate accent.

Finally, the Season of Goodwill is once again upon us.  You aeronautical students will recall that the first manned flight was made by the Montgolfier Brothers in their balloon back in 1783.  This inspired me to give the sainted Mother-in-law a balloon flight as a Christmas present two years ago.  Not only did she enjoy it but she came back.  Undeterred, I followed the Wright Brothers example last Christmas and booked her a flight in a small aeroplane which she recently enjoyed (and landed safely again).  Next up will be the Breguet brothers’ invention and a helicopter flight.  Alternatively, space travel had a certain appeal but Mr Branson’s latest escapade has temporarily put the kybosh on that idea.   

Merry Christmas Chums and if you see some bloke in a pub taking notes go and buy him a pint, it might be me.

Bye for now