Following a period of almost four years writing on behalf of the committee for St. Peter’s RFC for the Cardiff East magazine, Vince was asked, by the editors, to write a general monthly column which did not always focus on the daily activities of the club. The following articles are written by Vince Nolan and as such are not the thoughts, opinions or reflections of the Committee or Members of St. Peter’s RFC, but they are an enjoyable read and often reflected upon by the Committee and Members of St. Peter’s RFC.

“And another thing…….” by Vince Nolan

December 2015

Undercover English, Stobe Lighting and The Vet

I had the great good fortune to attend the recent Wales v Fiji Rugby World Cup match in Cardiff as a guest of Son and Heir and two of his mates.  Sat next to us and draped in Fijian flags were 4 alleged Fijians.  We asked them for the name of their capital city, no answer.  The name of their Captain, no answer.  How they had travelled over to Cardiff, no answer.  The clincher was the fact that they had all written Fiji on the back of their white shirts.  Unfortunately, they had written Fidji, a perfume by Guy Laroche rather than Fiji, a stunning archipelago in the South Pacific.  Chatting to our new English chums after the match (and they were good lads) they confessed that they had booked the tickets weeks in advance because they had figured that England would have beaten us by then and Fiji would too which meant that England would have qualified that evening for the latter stages of the Tournament.  Many a slip twixt Cup and lip, as they say in Fiji. 


Since we are on a rugby theme, we have a French Player who is currently representing St. Peter’s, named Romain.  I had a text from him the other evening which said:  “Training tonight?”  My response was: ”Oui mon ami a 6.30”  His response:  ”Tidy like”.  I think he has managed to grasp the fundamentals of the Cardiff patois. 

Once again the recent atrocities in Paris brought terrorism to the forefront of everybody’s minds, none more so than me and my chums who visit Paris for the rugby and stay in the area where all this happened, again!  Enough has been said about it but I was drawn to the words of Saleem Kidwai who is Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales, a bloke I have never met but one whom I greatly admire.  He of course condemned terrorism generally but said: “Your acts define your faith not your words”.  No further comment needed from me. 

If you are somewhat tired of politics, fear not, there is a glimmer of hope.  I read with great interest a recent article about the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group which was set up to encourage MP’s to visit breweries in their constituencies.  Now that is worth voting for.  Staying with Government matters, I note that a process has begun to close a Monmouthshire school which has been graded “Red” by Welsh Government requiring it to “receive intensive support to improve and demonstrate an end to decline in key aspects”.  All very laudable you might conclude.  However, there is also the small matter of there being no head teacher and no pupils.  Still open apparently and still looking to improve.    

Talking of schools, I bumped into an old friend recently and said to him, “I hear you lost your job as a Geography teacher?”
“Yeah”, he said “I’ve no idea why but it doesn’t matter now as I’m moving to Australia to teach.”
“Why go all that way for a job?” I asked. 
“Because apparently Toronto has some of the best schools in the world,” he said. 

A man takes his hound to the vet and says:  “My dog’s cross-eyed, is there anything you can do for him?”  “Well,” says the vet, “let’s have a look at him.” 

So he picks the dog up and examines his eyes, then checks his teeth.  Finally, he says “I’m going to have to put him down.” “What, because he’s cross-eyed?” said the man.  “No, because he’s really heavy” said the vet.

The current Mrs Nolan and friends recently embarked on an “80’s Night” and got all dressed up in period costume to attend a musical extravaganza in Porthcawl.  They all looked simply marvellous but it was suggested to me that if the pictures I took as they were meeting up ever found their way into this publication I would be very dead, very quickly.  So imagine my surprise when they all appeared on TV in S4C’s “Heno” programme posing for the cameras – typical!  Anyway, they reported afterwards that there were very few others in the audience who had made any effort to look authentic apart from a Boy George lookalike who had travelled from the North of England, on his own, for the concert.  Hmmm.  However, unlike the 80’s, Health and Safety were to the fore with Security, St. Johns and Stobe Lighting.  Apart from the genius alliteration there, the organisers had managed to mispel (ha ha, I know), Strobe on all the signage about the place.  They clearly had a problem with their R’s.  At the time this much amused our “Swing Out Sisters” but I have since learnt  that “Stobe” is a word which can be used as a compliment or an insult. It can mean nothing, something, and everything too.  The word originated in the year 2010 on the street allegedly and by way of example: 

Girl 1: “Your jacket is so stobe!”
Girl 2: “Thanks! It’s new!”
Boy 1:  “I hate you!  Your style is so bad!  Your shoes are so stobe!”
Boy 2:  “How could you say that about my shoes?”

Stephen John Harrington aka Steve Strange, whom the above event was in praise of.

Believe it or not, I make a living out of writing business plans to enable companies to raise finance to come to Wales or to expand once they are here.   This is much more interesting than it may seem since it covers all sorts of businesses from all sorts of exotic locations.  I am currently dealing with a Far East based bio-chemistry company specialising in medicaments for the older population.  I asked them for some background on their activities and they provided the following paragraph.      

“Continuous supply of DHA into the aged brain and the unique metabolism of DHA in relation to its incorporation into neural membrane aminophospholipids (phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) plays an important role in promoting both membrane fluidity and gap junction coupling capacity because study strongly suggests that age-dependent cholinergic neurodegeneration may be a treatable disorder of failed retrograde nerve growth factor (NGF) signalling”.  I think you will agree that this is pretty obvious when you think about it!     

And finally, continuing the medical theme, whilst in the queue to withdraw cash from a ‘Hole in the Wall’ I was asked by an old lady if I would check her balance.  So I pushed her over!

Merry Christmas to you all, stay safe and I’ll speak to you in 2016.  Something’s bound to happen over the Festive Period, I can just feel it in my bones.

November 2015

Secret Squirrel, Strange Losers and the Moldovan Incident

Whilst this is not a confession, I feel I have to share with you a recent true event which was strange even by my standards.  By way of preamble, the current Mrs Nolan works in the City Centre and the upstairs of her office is leased out to some “Secret Squirrel” organisation involved in hush-hush software development (but don’t tell anyone because it’s a secret).

My mate “Steve” had been asked to decorate the office of the software guys which he had done after no doubt having been positively vetted (quite painless I can assure you).  He had completed his mission, sorry the job, but had not been paid.  Moneypenny (The Wife) met with the spies, sorry software engineers, and they gave her a plain brown sealed envelope containing cash for Steve.  He does not live far from us, down a country lane next door to the sainted Mother-in-Law.  So before work one morning I decided to drop his envelope off at the Mother-in-Laws’ for her to pass across to him when she saw him (you following this)?  As luck would have it, I was halfway down the said lane when Steve drove towards me in his van.  No doubt he was off on another top-secret decorating mission.  We both stopped in the lane, our windows whizzed down and I passed him the plain brown envelope.  No words were exchanged save for a cursory nod and we went our separate ways.

Later that day, I thought to myself that I did not know the company whom I was acting as a courier for.  I did not know what was in the envelope or the name of the guy who had given it to us.  It was very odd to meet the recipient by coincidence in a deserted country lane and then to pass across a package without discussion.  Had this been witnessed by the forces of Law and Order I could have ended up in the stickiest situation since Sticky the stick insect got stuck on a sticky bun (Blackadder quote).  So if you ever want a package delivered, no questions asked, don’t come to me.  Equally, if you ever want something secretly decorated, I know somebody who may be able to help.

Spookily (ha ha), there are not many spying jokes on the internet.  Have a look…… odd?  So a decorating one instead: 

An alcoholic walks into a hardware shop and asks to buy a bottle of Meths. The shopkeeper says “I’m not selling you that, I’ve seen you sitting in the park and I know you’re a boozer and you’ll just drink it.”

The bloke says “Look, I’ve just started my own decorating business and I need it for my work.  People won’t let me forget I used to be a drunk.  I’ve turned my life around, but I’ll always be seen as that drunk, no matter how hard I work”

The shopkeeper says “I’m sorry mate, I misjudged you.   Here’s your bottle of Meths.”

The bloke says “You haven’t got a cold one, have you?”

The recent Rugby World Cup has thrown up some strange events off the pitch as well as on it.  In an article which went viral after the fabulous Welsh win against England, an England fan, posted this message: “Why should we continue to pay for and support a tournament that we’re no longer in?  We should shut the whole thing down immediately and if these nations want their so-called World Cup let them have it elsewhere.  This is no different from the anti-English bias at the Eurovision Song Contest”.

Oh how to respond?  Bad English apart, at that point England were not out of the tournament, they were not funding it, it was not in their power to shut it down and England does not enter the Eurovision Song Contest.  I thought a picture of a Welsh Chariot may confuse this former fan even further. 

I am about to relate an all too familiar story about a recent encounter with the NHS.  For clarity, my Mother was a nurse, as was my Brother until the Ombudsman’s Office beckoned him onwards and upwards.  I am a fan of this august organisation but I can confirm that being ill is certainly bad for you.  Our local surgery has a “system” whereby one needs to ring up on the day one is planning to be ill, after 8am, and book oneself an appointment with a GP.  Following these rules is mandatory as phones do not ring before 8am and do not have any electronic answer facility.  I was in severe pain in the chest (honest) and phoned up.  I phoned 48 times and the Current Mrs Nolan some 15 times.  A little tardy on her part you might conclude.

I finally got through to the disembodied voice of a receptionist who informed me that no appointments were possible as I had phoned too late.  It was now 8.20 am!  My severe chest pain now had high blood-pressure as a close friend.  The receptionist then asked me what was wrong with me.  I questioned my ability to self-diagnose and hers to give me a second opinion but all to no avail.  Not happy, I was offered the services of a Nurse Practitioner which I accepted willingly on the basis that I hoped to still be alive 6 hours later to keep my appointment with her.  I arrived early only to be confronted with a 30 stone fellow patient who was clearly costing the NHS a lot more than I was.  She was about to be hospitalised which she seemed rather pleased about and told everyone.  Next up, God Bless him, was a very nice bloke who was trying to register with the practice.  He explained that his English was not good as he was from Moldova.  The receptionist appeared to have less of a grasp of English than he, even though she was from Newport.  She said, loudly and slowly: “I need the address of your previous Doctor in Manchester”.  He said, equally loudly and slowly: “I am from Moldova, not Manchester”.  Unfazed she said:  “What country is that in then?  I will just check”.  He said:  “No need to check, it is in Moldova”.  She disappeared to discuss this piece of news with her colleagues.  Clearly she was not a devotee of the Eurovision Song Contest (see above).  Having satisfied herself that he was geographically correct she told him to come back in two weeks to see the Doctor for a full health check.  The poor man shrugged, turned on his heel and left muttering to himself “…………it vos better under the Communists”.

My appointment with the Nurse went ahead and we proceeded to play Diagnostic Darts.  At the time of writing we think I have some kind of lung infection having ruled out pretty much everything else from Lassa Water Fever to Pregnancy but if I am not better in the next two days from taking my antibiotics I have been told to go back quickly on my one lung and see the Doctor.  You may be familiar with the film Groundhog Day, well I think I am about to commence my own version of it.  Now where is that phone?

Bye for now

October 2015

SAS Sausages, A Peloton and “Barnum Walsh”    

Another weird title but it always comes first and then the words make a desperate attempt to catch up at some point.  If truth be told we are not big fans of sausages in Nolan Towers but occasionally can be tempted with a Chorizo and Chihuahua or something equally exotic.  Anyway, shopping the other day I noticed a well-known brand which claimed that the sausages were ready cooked and just needed a short defibrillate in the microwave.  In all honesty, they were ok but bland.  It then struck me what was missing. 

It was the smell and anticipation of sausages frying that add to the whole experience.  In this case there was none and they were so anonymous that they blended into the background just like your average SAS Trooper. 

Talking of the SAS, I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn’t find any.

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I recently attended the Millennium Centre to see Barnum starring Brian Conley which was brilliant.  His opening ad-libs were pretty good.  He said to a woman in the front row in his faux American accent “I know it ain’t polite to ask a lady her age, so how much do you weigh honey?”  This brought the house down.  Whilst awaiting “curtain-up” during half-time a lady seated behind us said to her friend:  “That Bradley Walsh from the TV show Law and Order is awfully talented isn’t he?  You wouldn’t think he would be able to play Barnum”.  Her friend said: “I’ve never seen Law and Order, was he good?”  I was tempted to turn round and say “He may well be able to play Barnum but you have been watching Brian Conley for the last hour, duh!” 

A joke from another Walsh (Darren, this time) told at the recent Edinburgh Fringe:  “I have just deleted all the German names from my phone.  Now it is Hans free”.   

I always like to buy Fairtrade Bananas and other Fairtrade foods where possible to support the plight of overseas farmers although we should perhaps be looking closer to home at the moment with the prices paid to our dairy farmers.  Nevertheless, you may have noticed that the supermarkets make a great virtue of advertising “Fairtrade Foods” in the smallest display you have ever seen, which is usually dwarfed by alternative adjacent options.  In the absence of signage to the contrary, I can only assume that these alternatives must be the result of good old-fashioned unfair trade?

Talking of supermarkets, I have told you before that I do the shopping (and not much else) in our house.  Here is where the problem starts.  I have noticed of late that sell-by dates are now so short- lived that nothing is likely to make it back to the house before the date expires and we are poisoned.  For example, I bought two sirloin steaks the other day which had been “matured” for 30 days but then had only 4 days sell-by left.  The world is going crazy. 

I had a meeting in Swansea recently, exotic stuff I know and decided to have a coffee and sandwich in the Marina.  The relative silence was broken by female dulcet tones shouting “Diesel, get yer”.  I looked in vain for some badly behaved puppy but alas, it was the voices’ three year old son who was being beckoned.  Presumably he was named as a result of some ill-conceived homage to Vin Diesel.  Now if she had called him Vin he would have been in with a chance in life.  Imagine his class register:

Chardonnay Jenkins
Diesel Jones
Geordie Shore
Nokia Norman
Rylie Mylie
Are you all yer or wat?

Now I am a big fan of our Police who do an amazing job with great patience and resilience and who are professional to the last.  However, this article caught my eye in a newspaper the other day:   “After Palmer’s body was found in Sandpit Lane, South Weald, Police did not initially treat the death as suspicious, blaming complications from a recent operation.   But a post-mortem examination later found he had died of gunshot wounds to the chest”.  You don’t say Inspector.     

In last months’ meanderings I shared with you the details of our latest burst of DIY and how that encouraged our neighbours to try to out-decorate each other.  So why is it we now all have to contend with junk mail advertising painting and decorating, new windows and gardening?  If they only looked up when they were posting their rubbish through our doors they might realise they were wasting their time.  Continuing the theme, every Friday, if home, I take the Chinese, Indian and Turkish restaurant leaflets out of the letterbox and put them in the bin in front of the Chinese, Indian and Turkish leafleteers.  They don’t even blink and I think we may have reached a Mexican-standoff which will probably be the country of origin of the next leaflet.

Of late the Leader of the Opposition and I have taken to extending our weekend walks to something approaching 10 miles every time we leave the house.  We decided that we could walk further if the terrain was flat so where better than along a canal?  If you recall, canals have footpaths or toe-paths and not bike-paths.  I think it is great to see families out cycling together rather than communicating electronically behind closed doors but we were virtually mown down every five minutes like Wil E Coyote as each family Peloton went flashing by in an effort to claim the leaders’ Yellow Jersey.  Most did not even announce their presence so I took to shouting at their backs as they went hurtling past “Thank you” in my best sarcastic tone as we dived out of the way.  We then changed tactics and allowed them to pass only on the side nearest the water which slowed them down.  A small moral victory but I will think of something better for next time. 

 So anyway, a tandem rider is stopped by a police car.
“What’ve I done, officer?” asked the rider.
“Perhaps you didn’t notice sir, but your wife fell off your bike half a mile back . . .”
“Oh, thank God for that,” said the rider – “I thought I’d gone deaf!”

I was intrigued to hear recently that the Swiss are looking for a new National anthem and cannot decide which of their three native languages it should be sung in which had me in mind of this story: 

A Swiss guy, looking for directions, pulls up at a bus stop where two Englishmen are waiting.
“Entschuldigung, koennen Sie Deutsch sprechen?” he says.
The two Englishmen just stare at him.
“Excusez-moi, parlez vous Francais?”
The two continue to stare.
“Parlare Italiano?”
No response,
The Swiss guy drives off, in disgust.
The first Englishman turns to the second and says, “Y’know, maybe we should learn a foreign language….”
“Why?” said the second, “That bloke knew three languages, and it didn’t do him any good.”

Bye for now

September 2015

Flat Holm, Steep Holm and Stockholm  

Be fair, as titles go, it’s a belter.  Believe it or not, this was overheard by the current Mrs Nolan on a recent visit we made to Penarth Pier.  I know what you’re thinking, this jet-set lifestyle we follow will all end in tears one day!  Anyway, three visitors from over the Bridge were looking out to sea and daughter pointed to the two Bristol Channel islands and correctly named them, Flat Holm and Steep Holm.  Since she was on a roll, she then pointed at Birnbeck Island and with great confidence proclaimed it to be Stockholm to the admiring oohs and ahhs of her family.  Now I have long been an admirer of our Swedish cousins but to suggest that their Capital City was now bobbing about just-off Weston-Super-Mare was a bit too much to ask.  I suspect she had the Pembrokeshire island of Skokholm in mind but alas we will never know since we were too busy crying with laughter.  It is to be hoped that the said young lady had not just graduated from Cardiff University in matters geographic.   

Talking of islands, there we were a few short weeks ago in Greek-land before they signed up to austerity (a Greek word funnily enough from “Austeros” meaning bitter or harsh), when we decided to go on a boat trip.  She Who Must Be Obeyed packed her knuckle-dusters, Tazar and grenades whilst I brought the food and drink.  We were to be transported to an idyllic and uninhabited desert island called Tsougrias which we could see from where we were staying.  Picture the scene if you will, deserted white beach, blue Aegean and pine forests, perfect.  The trip cost €50 and we were looking forward to it. 

As we approached the beach I had in mind Robinson Crusoe and all that until our man swung around the headland and onto a beach not previously visible to us which had a beach-bar, two hundred sun-loungers, all occupied and an assortment of yachts.  My, how we smiled.  On the plus side there was a bar but it was not quite what we had in mind and the frequent arrival of the round-the- island tour boats did little to lift the mood.  So much for solitude. 

In related matters and a top tip:  If your boss ever approaches you and says “I need someone to finish this report by Friday”.  A witty riposte would be “Have you tried Robinson Crusoe?”  You never know it might brighten things up a bit and gain you promotion.  It might not.    

There we were in our local hostelry, The Tattooist and Taxidermist and as luck would have it, we were treated to a lady (for whom I have little time) showing off at the top of her not inconsiderable voice about the holiday she had just booked to see “New York in The Fall”.  If she mentioned it once she must have mentioned it five times.  She went on to say that she really loved the sound of their police sirens.  Her husband, a long suffering and stoic man of few words quietly said “If that’s the only reason you want to go we could have saved a lot of money and gone to Merthyr Tydfil instead”.  More her style I thought to myself.  And as if to prove the point:

Q: Where do cows go on vacation?
A: Moo York.

Meanwhile, back in the local, this time awaiting She to pick me up and again, much to report.  A pet gripe of mine is the modern nuclear family.  By which I mean two standard parents and two kids and all on their mobile phones at the same time, all the time, with no communication between the family members.   I observed such a family.  The kids were probably 7&9.  They were all so engrossed in battling aliens or hijacking cars that they failed to notice grandad’s arrival and he went to the bar as a downcast and lonely figure to buy himself a drink whilst waiting to be noticed.  The lack of communication genuinely worries me because the world of work requires developed conversational skills unless of course you are a computer geek or a Trappist monk.  It struck me that the average whoop of Gorillas at any zoo will now be studying us, intrigued by our lack of family interaction.    

Staying with mobile phones, what is it with ringtones?  There is some kind of inverse law which states that often, the more trashy the owner the classier the ringtone and vice versa.  There was a little bloke sat by me the other day (same day as above paragraph actually) and he was 65 ish, and had clearly been an accountant in a former life.  (Nothing wrong with that before you write in, as I have many accountancy friends).  However, his phone rang to the theme tune of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (you know the one by Ennio Morricone).  You could tell it was the most exciting and out there thing this guy had ever done and he let it ring for a while to improve his street cred.  By way of contrast, my ringtone has a short-sharp repetitive beep.   It causes chaos at Pelican Crossings.  You should try it.    

Here’s a thought.  In the early days when Tchaikovsky was writing Swan Lake I wonder if he ever considered calling it Duck Pond.  Just an idea, could have been a more comedic ballet.

I have mentioned before the stuff dogs deposit on our streets and our public areas which I find unacceptable.  Well, sad to tell, there is a German Shepherd who relieves himself on our front lawn every morning.  Very annoying, particularly as he doesn’t have a dog!

And finally, I need to tell you about “Door Wars” which we have inadvertently started around Nolan Towers.  I have mentioned before our new windows and doors which then resulted in us deciding to paint the exterior of our house a nice shade of light green.  Every other house for miles around is a sort of sandy yellow.  Our immediate neighbours then painted their front door bright red in some kind of rouge protest.  Next, our neighbour on the other side painted her porch and garage door a rather lovely shade of Greek blue, only to enrage a further neighbour who copied her blue and raised her a yellow garage door.  I have no idea what we have started but it has certainly cheered up our little cul-de-sac.  I even had a guy knock our door and asked what the colour on our wall was called.  Weird!

Bye for now

August 2015

It’s all Greek to me

We have just returned from our annual excursion to Greece, a brave move many of you may think.  However, by the time you read this (assuming any of you do of course), the Greek goose will be well and truly cooked one way or another.  We found it utterly charming as usual with a kind and generous populace.  The locals were pretty philosophical (Greek word) about matters and I was reminded of the story that a few years ago, a small rural town in Spain was twinned with a similar town in Greece.  The mayor of the Greek town visited the Spanish town. When he saw the palatial mansion belonging to the Spanish mayor, he wondered aloud how on earth he could afford such a house.

The Spaniard replied: “You see that bridge over there? The EU gave us a grant to construct a two-lane bridge, but by building a single lane bridge with traffic lights at either end, I could build this place.”

The following year the Spaniard visited the Greek town.  He was simply amazed at the Greek mayor’s house: gold taps, marble floors, diamond doorknobs, it was marvellous.  When he asked how he’d raised the money to build this incredible house, the Greek mayor said: “You see that bridge over there?”

The Spaniard replied: “No.”

Talking of holidays, not to be outdone, our son and heir decided that rather than visit the UK this Summer  (he lives in Qatar) he would go to see his mate in Australia stopping off in Bali en route (as one does).  This on the back of having just returned to the desert from a stag weekend in Warsaw and a number of days at the Amsterdam Rugby 7’s Tournament.  Our lives are spookily parallel and if reincarnated I will be coming back as Tom. 

Anyway, now is the season of weddings and I had the great good fortune to recently be ensconced in my local pub, The Feta and Financier, when two women whom I vaguely knew, plonked themselves within my earshot after the usual disagreement about where to sit.  Given I was the only customer in the pub at this time I took this as something of a complement.  Wrong!  It occurred to me that they may have arranged their dialogue entirely for my benefit so that it would appear in this magazine.  As if I were that gullible!  I of course made the usual copious notes under the smokescreen of doing my crossword.  The subject was the forthcoming nuptials of their many friends.  I am not one to blush at intemperate language but even I heard a few new words during the rant about Hen nights, dress code, etc” we had both been invited on 4 do’s and had a fight at all of them”.  I raised my eyebrows and newspaper simultaneously at this point.  It went on, “You know the one, tiny girl, very pretty, nice figure…………looks like a chipmunk!  Well I told her boyfriend straight, don’t have a go at me mate, when you’re the one suffering from stupidness”…………… At this point I felt the need to move but only because most of the dialogue had rapidly become unprintable.  It then occurred to me that it would be funny if what we said was verbally spell-checked after we said it so every time we came out with a howler an alarm went off and a disembodied “satnav” voice said loudly….. “The word you require is stupidity”.  I am closely monitoring the local press for a “Carnage at Wedding” headline.

Talking of weddings, the great Irish author and poet W.B. Yeats wrote a best man’s speech (in pre-political correctness times) which included the following passage:  “I have known more men destroyed by the desire to have a wife and child and to keep them in comfort than I have seen destroyed by drink and harlots”.  Not my own views of course ladies but WB may well have had a point at the time.  I could find no record of how well-received his offering was at the wedding.  One assumes there was utter silence apart from the odd behind the hand snigger.    

So chums as we approach the excitements of a new rugby season and another Rugby World Cup, I find myself for the first time in 40 years not being directly involved in rugby club matters.  I shall remain a member of course and as a new sponsor will be looking for full value for money for my £50 plus VAT.  I have decided to become a fully-fledged spectator at St. Peter’s RFC.  My resignation was accepted far too quickly and with too much cheering for my liking but there we go.  There have been many rumours and counter-rumours circulating as to why I have arrived at this momentous decision.  These have included:

  • Refused planning permission from the Leader of the Opposition.
  • Fallen out with management/coaching team.
  • Fallen out with members/steward/players/the guy who walks his dog every Saturday at 2.30pm etc.

None of the above is true.  The fact is that I have discovered that there is a little known right-of-passage at the Club which states that after 40 years one is entitled to join the sainted throng on the popular “Bob-Bank” during matches.  This will be a whole new thing for me.  Having led a blameless life with players, supporters, opposition and referees thus far, (because I was an officer of the Club), I will now be free to join in the spontaneous choral abuse that characterises the Bob Bank.  I do not condone this sort of behaviour of course and am concerned that not being used to shouting insults I may either go too far or worse still, not far enough.  You know the kind of thing.  This could range from:  “You’re not very good are you referee?” to perhaps something a bit stronger like “You’ll never be the man your mother is”.  Always hard to achieve the right balance I think and no real training for this sort of stuff.  Filled with the optimism of finding a solution to this spectating conundrum I went to evening classes but I only learnt about the evening.   How very disappointing. 

Bye for now

July 2015

Ahoy There Shipmates

She Who Must be Obeyed, being of a generous disposition, bought me (us) a splendid long weekend on a canal barge as a Christmas present which we recently took advantage of.  This was one of life’s new experiences for both of us.  We were getting on so well that we decided to risk it all and occupy a space one tenth the size of our downstairs for a number of days complete with chemical toilet, no brakes and the shortest driving lesson in maritime history.  What could possibly go wrong? 

To begin at the beginning:  The boat handling and navigation lesson lasted all of 2 minutes and for once I am not exaggerating.  It was given by a Mr Drinkwater (a bad habit in itself).  His political views were slightly more right-wing than Attila the Hun and he would have been very useful in the recent election to doorstep undecided and wavering voters.  His cheerful banter went something like this.  “Have you been on the canals before?  No, then what I am about to say will be important.  Have you watched the DVD we sent you?  Oh good, that will help.  Right, first things first, that’s the pointy end and that’s the other end.  That’s forward and that’s reverse.  You push the steering stick right to go left and vice versa”.  For his finale he showed us laminated pictures of one of his hires that previously didn’t make it back and had sunk in a lock.  This gave us confidence.  “See you in 4 days’ time” he said as he hopped off the boat which was by now chugging off down the canal under its’ own steam.      

Our boat must have weighed 5 tons, was 48 feet long, 6’10” beam (ha ha) and loaded to the gunwhales (see what I did there) with diesel and propane gas.  In a scene reminiscent of the film, The Cruel Sea, we set off into the unknown at 4mph (however many knots that is).  The first thing we learnt was that we had a narrow-boat and not a barge (anorak advisers).  The second thing we learnt was that “Ahoy” was the first in a series of four letter words commonly exchanged by skippers as their boats approach one another.  Now I used to sail many years ago and have retained some knowledge of matters and phrases nautical. I thought this would be useful.  At this point I was thinking bow, stern, tiller, port, starboard, ahead and astern.  It all seemed wasted on the canal system but my knowledge of tying knots came in handy quite often as the only way to stop is to leap off, hammer a spike in the ground before it drags you along the bank.     

All sorts of wildlife surrounded us and we soon encountered a band of Viking adventurers.  I kid you not.  They were from Norway, about 8 of them, all older than me and totally smashed out of their skulls.  One ended up in the water at the first lock we encountered.  Old habits die hard I thought to myself as he attempted to board us.  Which reminds me: A famous Viking explorer returned home from a voyage and found his name missing from the town register.  His wife insisted on complaining to the local civic official who apologised profusely saying, “I must have taken Leif off my census.”

We managed to navigate across two aqueducts and through two swing-bridges plus a lock in our quest to reach Bath.  Locks are interesting.  Not from an engineering perspective but more from a social behavior point-of-view.  Hundreds of spectators gather (much like in medieval times for a public execution) to see the new guys crash or sink.  There was a barely audible boo as we cruised through unscathed.  First stop, Bradford-on-Avon.  Beautiful, picturesque and closed.  We had envisaged dining out royally since working in the galley on board had too many slavery connotations for my liking.  A fish and chip restaurant or Thai was the choice.  How very traditionally West Country we thought.

Whilst I remember:

  1. What do you call a spooky waterway?
  2. The Erie Canal.

After overnighting next to a pub (not all bad you see), we headed for Bath which was about as far as we could reasonably go in two days. Unbeknownst to She, Bath Rugby Club were playing at home and the canal fed into the River Avon, across the road from the ground and it was a Saturday afternoon.  Well, as luck would have it, Bath involved a series of locks and I did not want to push said luck and so we pitched up before Bath at a place called Bathampton, mooring within 50 metres of the George Inn, a former monastery, until Henry VIII decided he wanted to become a Protestant.  We decided to dine at the Inn and both ordered Duck as we had been surrounded by them for days and had been feeding them.  We felt it only fair that they return the complement.   

On Sunday we decided to head for the safety of a mooring close to the marina since the boat was due back early on the Monday morning.  I turned it around in very shallow water (went about) and lost all forward power.  This was now Sunday evening and all the marina staff had gone home.  Remembering the safety training Mr Drinkwater had provided (remember him), we panicked, put on life jackets and abandoned ship.  We then repaired to the local pub which was condemned and whose clientele delighted in putting Eminem on the juke box at full volume for some loud community-swearing rap.  I thought about asking for a menu but decided against it.  A two mile uphill walk later and we found a splendid pub which had just stopped serving food.  The pub quiz then started so we bailed out.  In a scene straight out of an episode of Alan Partridge we then repaired to the local petrol station and availed ourselves of Cornish Pasties and wine.  Pretty high-living I think you will agree.  Anyway, the boat seemed to fix itself overnight which was clever and we handed it back with scarcely a dent in it and with Mr Drinkwater nowhere to be seen.  A good trip all round.

And finally, I am not sure what happened to our Prime Minister whilst we were navigating England’s waterways but I read with great interest in one of the tabloids that “The German Chancellor, Angele Merkel laid on a red carpet for Mr Cameron in Berlin as part of his two-day Europe tour to sell his plans for the reform of Europe”. That must have been a bit disconcerting for him to see her lying down like that.  The article went on to say “He was greeted by a marching band, which played the British and German national anthems and a large detachment of sailors”.  You can’t get away from things nautical can you?     

Bon Voyage.    

June 2015

Manure and Armadillos………literally                   

Possibly one of my more unusual titles don’t you think?  There I was sitting in my local hostelry, the Harpsichord and Hernia, when two ladies decided to sit within my vicinity, (you can hardly blame them).  They were deeply engaged in the all too common mantra of “all men are illegitimate.”  The uglier of the two, (and believe me, there wasn’t much in it), said:   “Literally, I am still very much alive but spiritually, I am dead.  There is no balance in my world anymore and I don’t feel good enough”.  Well plenty to go on there I thought, literally.  Spiritually, take your pick.  Not sure about her balance issue either but in a related matter, I wanted to remind her that the wasp was the natural enemy of the tightrope walker.  It might have helped.

Not going to do the Election as it has been done to death but here’s the thing.  Not a single candidate could be bothered to knock on the door of Nolan Towers throughout the campaign.  Their junk-mail went the way of all junk-mail but surely, if you really want to engage people, you need to try talking to them in their own environment.  It seems to me that politicians and babies’ nappies have something in common…….they should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason.    

Continuing the theme.  I am sure you will agree that dog mess on the streets and on our playing fields is a disgrace and if caught the full majesty of the law should be brought to bear on the irresponsible owners.  However, horse stuff is fine apparently.  What’s that about?  I was driving very slowly behind two police horses the other day and let’s just say that Mr Brown had just left the departure lounge in both their cases and there was fertilizer everywhere.  Apparently, under the law there is no compulsion for an owner/rider to pick up droppings from their horse because they are effectively made up of digested grass and present no threat to human health.  Really?  ‘Twas not always so.  Back in 1894 there was the ‘Great Horse Manure Crisis’ in London when much stink and illness was caused by the daily volumes of manure deposited on the very streets that were supposed to be paved with gold.  Personally, I think it would be very funny to see riders dismount, put on rubber gloves and produce an enormous bin-bag and large shovel only to witness their steeds bolting off into the wide-brown yonder.    

Now I pride myself on having a bit of an imagination but I read this the other day in a respectable newspaper and thought of you: 

“Police said that 54 year old Larry McElroy fired his 9mm pistol at an armadillo in the Southern US State of Georgia.  Deputies said the bullet killed the armadillo but bounced off the animal, hit a fence, travelled through the back door of his mother-in-laws’ mobile home and the chair in which she was sitting, hitting her in the back.  Officers said Mr McElroy was about 100 yards away from her when he fired.” What are the chances of that happening to your Mother-in-Law?  Trouble is, I handed in my Mother-in-Laws’ guns to the police a few months ago which I covered in a previous article.  Going to have to think of something else.

I always look forward to this time of year when the rain becomes warmer and less horizontal which heralds the arrival of Summer.  Of course this is also accompanied by the emergence of numerous species of flying beasties who all seem to have an in-built genetic desire to bite me.  How I have not caught malaria I will never know (and I have spent some time in malarial areas, like Roath).  This is also accompanied of course by the release of millions of pollen spores which I have always believed must have done a deal with the insects and been given my address, probably via a nature based chat-room type-thing.  I am of course a martyr to these things but I scarcely complain about them as the current Mrs Nolan will testify.  I have always thought that the bloke who does the pollen count has a tough job.  Or what about the folk song Blowin’ In The Wind by Peter Pollen Mary (one for the older Reader there).

Talking of flying beasties, a man in a cinema notices what looks like a mosquito sitting next to him.
“Are you a mosquito?” asked the man, surprised.
“What are you doing at the cinema?”
The mosquito replied, “Well, I liked the book.”

And now my chums, a shock news item.  They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but can you imagine my surprise when the “Marshfield Mail” hit my doormat and I read an article by Tom Hughes (a North of England Blogger) whatever that is, which was entitled “…….And Another Thing.”  I read all about air travel, a holiday in Corfu and other familiar topics.  I like a bit of competition and will look out for any further striking similarities.  A parallel universe is developing.  You never know it may prove a rich vein of material for me………….not.   

I recently received the following email inviting me to an online sales seminar:

“Did you know that eighty percent of salespeople believe their sales force would be more productive with a greater social media presence, whilst two-thirds of firms say they do not have a social media strategy for their sales organisation.”  So presumably, these anonymous people have no trouble in mixing percentages and fractions in the same sentence.  I have a strict house-rule to never meet anyone or join anything if they are unable to converse in error-free and non-jargon English.    

And finally, a joke which was leftover from the Paris trip which I couldn’t fit in at the time.

  1. Q) Did you hear about the Frenchman who could only count to seven?
    A) He had a huit allergy.

Au revoir

May 2015

The Carpark King and “Strange Folk”                 

Last month I briefly mentioned the finding and reburial of King Richard III.  It’s the kind of bloke I am, forever topical.  I then heard on the radio that the lady who found him in the car park in Leicester knew he was there all along, as she “was drawn to the letter K in Parking” which is how she determined where he was located.  Presumably the word King in Parking wasn’t enough of a clue in itself?

Before we start, I quite like folk music and do not wish to alienate any readers of this feeble attempt at literature who may conclude that I do not.  Let me tell you a story.  A good friend of ours is a very accomplished folk singer and she has appeared all over the country, largely on wanted posters.  She had a big birthday recently and our local hostelry, The Xylophone and Zimmer Frame, staged a surprise party.  All her folk singing friends were invited and an al fresco evening of unrehearsed musical merriment beckoned.  The current Mrs Nolan and I arrived early in order to claim ring-side seats and so the evening commenced.  Well, we were then subjected to some of the saddest and repetitive song themes ever heard at a birthday party.  How many shipwrecks, mining disasters, deportations to Australia and potato famine victims can be crammed into one evening and one small pub?  I was so down I toyed with phoning a Helpline at one point.  It made the old Country and Western favourite: “You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille with four hungry children and a crop in the fields” seem like a lighthearted ditty.  Laugh, we didn’t even nearly start.  Accomplished musicians all, but the material was dire.  Now I can neither read nor play a note but it is very easy to write this stuff.  For example:

“We were never the same after Ma had died
And Da was sent to Australia.
With twelve brothers and sisters, I tried and I tried
But I was always going to grow up a failure.
It wasn’t the hunger of being so poor.
It wasn’t the looks of the toffs.
It was the endless bloody folk songs that made me so sore
I wish they’d all go and ……………..scoot off” (Down a mine possibly).

There you have it.  Another classic, which took all of 30 seconds to write.  Just need some music now to go with it.  Any ideas?  Oh, and don’t even start me on the individual lidded drinking tankards that all the musicians had and too many lapel badges and…………

On a lighter note, The Leader of the Opposition and I were invited to a corporate hostility event at Chepstow Racecourse recently.  Since we do not normally bet, we devised our own system.  Doomed!  Some of our horses are still running.  I say running, walking or limping would be more accurate.  There is nothing worse when you are losing and somebody alongside you is winning and they let you know about it, regularly.  The patronising tones they adopted were stomach turning.  “You weren’t on that one were you?” “Oh bad luck”.  “You’re bound to pick a winner sooner or later”.  I felt like shouting out “I am an eccentric millionaire bookmaker and I don’t give a stuff”.  However, our luck changed and our nag romped home in the last race at 6-1 with £10 on the nose.  I let it be known that we had won and swaggered downstairs to the bookies to claim our winnings.  Alas, they had closed for the day.  No doubt they had gone on an expensive and unexpected holiday with our money.  The moral of this story is do not gamble my friends unless you know the outcome beforehand. 

Talking of horses, I now have an ambition now to buy three race horses and call them “First” “Second” and “Third” and then enter them all in the same race.  They might not win but the commentary would be brilliant.

I don’t know about you but I have been following the twists and turns of recent events at the BBC and Top Gear.  Now I have long since stopped watching the programme to learn anything about the latest luxury cars that I can’t afford.  However, I have been rather fascinated with the schoolboy antics of three middle-aged hippies who are being paid for having a good time in various exotic hotspots around the World.  Jealous is the word I am struggling for.  Ignoring the facts surrounding the latest off-screen shenanigans, I have been much more focused on the political fall-out that has gone with it.  Again, as we approach the Election we see Prime Minister “Two-Terms” saying to the BBC:  “I don’t know exactly what happened. He’s a constituent of mine, a friend of mine. He’s a huge talent.”  Two weeks later he said (via a spokesperson this time): “Jeremy Clarkson should face the consequences”.  Two days after that and without a spokesperson he said that the BBC’s decision to fire the Top Gear star was “Right for them”.  Confused? That’s the idea my friends so don’t ask any difficult questions about the economy or anything like that because it depends what answer is available at the time, who is available to give it and which way the wind is blowing.  Oh, and this is not a party-political rant by the way.  I support the “All As Bad As Each Other Party”.  As far as I am concerned they are all a bit calendar-like……….their days are numbered.

Foreign news just in:  The French Government announced yesterday that it had raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Surrender” and “Collaborate.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France’s white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country’s military capability.

So a man says to his Coach at the gym: “I want to impress that beautiful girl over there.  Which machine should I use?”  The Coach says: “An ATM usually works mate”.

I read this the other day which I thought was very clever and quite poignant particularly as son and heir lives overseas:  “You’ll never discover new islands unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”. 

Bye for now.

April 2015

The Thoroughbred Dog and Pass the Parcel   

Dear Electorate, it may have escaped your notice but the General Election is upon us in a matter of weeks.  Now politics is a thorny area and most of us have differing views but be that as it may, I have been amused at the hollow promises politicians dust off and run-up-the-flagpole at this special time.  In the good old days politicians had careers away from politics, (or was it carers) and did not depend upon being re-elected to make a living. Now we have politicians who know little else other than politics which hardly makes for a fully-rounded individual, although coincidentally, many of them are rotund.  My point is this:  The word democracy is taken from the Greek meaning “Let the People Rule”, oh please.  How many of you think you are ruling?  Strangely the Greeks are certainly not.  The American poet Richard Armour put it beautifully when he wrote:

“Politics, it seems to me, for years or all too long
Has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong”.

Brilliant stuff I think you will agree.  He then followed it up with this little nugget:

“Shake and shake the ketchup bottle.
None’ll come and then a lot’ll”.  

I don’t know about you but what is going on with parcel deliveries in our lives?  I think the current practice of paying for something in advance, without seeing it and then being told, not asked, told when it will delivered, seems to have crept into our world by some kind of osmosis.  Here’s what happens online:  “You can track your parcel and your driver will be called Eric.  He will be with you next Wednesday from 12-3 so please make sure you are in”.  Where do I start?

  • If I pay for something I want it delivered now or soon, not next week.
  • I don’t give a toss what the drivers’ name is.
  • Why should I stay in when I should be out at work like Eric?
  • Who makes an appointment between 12 and 3? Imagine going to the airport and being told your flight was due to depart “Between 12 and 3”. 
  • And if you have the temerity to be out when Eric arrives, he posts a barely legible card through your door which says that he either left your parcel with your lunatic and serial thief of a neighbour who you never talk to, or alternatively, has returned it to the depot, which guess what, is open between 12 and 3!

We’re all being conned my friends and it’s time we fought back so here are a few tips:

  • Order stuff you don’t want so that you have to return it, be reimbursed and arrange for Eric to pick it up between 12 and 3, preferably on a Sunday or at any other time which is inconvenient for the carrier.
  • Make sure you’re out when they call.
  • When they call back again leave them a note telling them that the package is with your next door neighbour, but don’t say which neighbour.
  • If they are not on schedule as per their electronic tracking device don’t open the door.
  • If you are in, demand to see their ID as they could be anybody. Plenty of Eric impersonators out there. 
  • Return their package to the depot and leave a note for them to that effect.
  • Go down the pub and calm down.

That should slow down the system a bit and start to put the customer higher up the food chain. 

We are witnessing a great moment in history as the remains of HRH Richard III are about to be replanted from his car park grave in Leicester City Centre where he has rested for more than 500 years to a spot in Leicester Cathedral.  I too have been waiting many years to share this joke with you and it was only the recent discovery of his bones which enabled me to bring it to you today:   

Knock, Knock.
Who’s there?
Noah who?
Noah’s the winter of our discontent.

Anyway, in other news I read with great interest in a local newspaper that some lady in Bristol had set up her own “Stinger Spikes” which deflated a number of police-car tyres.  Bad enough in itself you might think.  However, when questioned about her motives she said that she was protesting at the death of a black teenager in the US and at police brutality in Greece.  Maybe it’s me but I am struggling to see any connection between these two events and Avon and Somerset Police?     

I just bought the Leader of the Opposition some daffodils from Tesco.  My generosity is of course legendary but my eye was drawn to the warning label.  First of all, why would you need a warning label on a bunch of flowers and secondly why did it say ”Do not eat” on it?  Presumably there must be a caseload of incidents involving accidental daffodil poisoning.   

Finally, She and I were away at our favourite country hotel just outside Bideford last weekend and encountered numerous hounds since it was a dog-friendly hotel.  A delightful young and lively gun dog was leaping about the bar when another couple and their four-legged fiend (not a typo) graced us with their presence.  Nice lady with the young dog said to the other couple.  “Nice dog, there’s a bit of a Border Collie in him isn’t there?”  Well, if she did, she was told in no uncertain terms that the dog in question was a “pure thoroughbred of some 8 years standing”, or by the look of him, 8 years lying down. I know nothing about dogs and indeed am allergic to them but I thought that horses were thoroughbreds and dogs were pedigree or mongrel.  The proud owners of the snob dog went on to say that “there was no point in the other dog trying to play with theirs as theirs did not have that kind of personality and was never excitable”.  You know what they say about dogs and their owners or vice versa.  A nicer pair of “thoroughbreds” you couldn’t wish to meet!    

See you next time.  

March 2015

Stop Press – The Magnificent Seven to Reunite for Paris Job        

Fellow searchers of truth, this month I want to talk to you about our trip to Paris for the Wales v France rugby match (our 11th time).  By the time you read this (always assuming you are mad enough to, that is), the game will have happened and you therefore have me at a distinct disadvantage since I need to predict the outcome and other highlights of our journey.  Of course Wales won with a wonderful Celtic flourish or alternatively, the Dampened Dragon Left Devoid of Fire (delete as appropriate). 

The start of our trip is a bit like the War Veterans reunions because in truth, there are few of the original cast members left since most have suffered such an acute bout of renal failure from past trips that they are no longer allowed out without paramedic support and have thus rendered themselves uninsurable.  After all, a Four Day Test of drinking can take it out of you.  This time around it will be a bit more sombre to start with because of the events in previous weeks in Paris.  However, I have to tell you that my luck in not being in the right place at the wrong time is a little scary.  There is no denying that there is a theme emerging here which would be a major concern if I ever had the time to dwell on it.  

  • In a previous job I was due to travel to New York to pitch for the renewal of an international sales contract which we held. The meeting was cancelled at the last minute.  Our offices were next to the Twin Towers in New York and the date of the meeting was due to be 9/11/2001. 
  • Next up I went on a two week trade Mission to India and stayed at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai which was attacked by terrorists soon after.
  • We have not stayed in the hotel we have booked into this time and the booking was made some weeks before the recent atrocities.  We will be staying some 150 metres away from the Charlie Hebdo offices.   

Je suis very lucky and if you ever find yourself booking into the same hotel as me, my advice is find alternative accommodation sharpish.    

The meeting of our Tour Party in London to board the Eurostar is like the opening scenes of

The Magnificent Seven as they assemble their team (alright, perhaps not so magnificent and there are 24 of us).  Here’s some of the line-up:  We have guy known as Assassin (former GCHQ), two joining us from the Gulf State of Qatar including my son and heir, Archie the Latvian and his unknown and so far unnamed mate, also from Latvia.  Our great mate Mike Holloway aka Spam.  Nobody can remember why he is called Spam but he does not like it.  Still, it must be better than being named after a ladies prison one assumes.  Talking of ladies, we will be taking our home-grown Mata Hari, Rose Cooper, the only woman on the trip (yet again).  Rose is a regular tour member accompanied by her husband, chaperone and personal sommelier, “Johnny 2 Pints”.   No ordinary lady this.  She is a Professor of Microbiology at Cardiff Met and is a world authority on the use of Manuka Honey as an antibiotic.  This will once again no doubt prove to be very handy in Paris!  Of course there was also a Vin in the Magnificent Seven (played by Steve McQueen).  Vin says in the film “I took a job in a grocery store. Fella says I’ll make a crackerjack clerk”.  Altogether now: Crackerjack! 

The other thing about drinking in Paris is that it is the UK Governments’ fault and the Labour Party has yet to hit upon this as part of the General Election muck-throwing.  How can this be I hear all you economists whispering?  Well, the Pound is very strong against the Euro at present so we will have more money to spend than we would normally have had and alcohol is a readily available consumer option.  By way of example I have found a bar in the Latin Quarter (not too far from our base) called Nos Ancetres les Gallois (Our Ancestors the Gauls), how very Asterix of me.  It appears to be inexpensive and offers a modest menu with “as much wine as you can drink” thrown in (probably not thrown in but you know what I mean).  I guess the owners are probably targeting romantic couples.  However, 24 rugby folks with a thirst and a free bar for the price of a steak may see them throwing in the towel.  I have read that the Patron is very tolerant until he becomes bored and then throws diners out.  I have also read that the pony-tailed and white-haired resident guitarist will stop playing if he is paid to.  Of course, he may also struggle to play his guitar if he is wearing it.  It could be quite a clash of cultures.  Vive la difference.    

Anyway, there’s a man sitting in the front row at the recent Wales v England Six Nations Match (don’t) but amazingly, there’s an empty seat beside him. Another man spots it, goes up to him and says: “Do you mind if I sit here?”
“No, not at all,” replies the first man. “It’s my wife’s seat, but she died recently.”
“So why didn’t you get one of your family to come,” asks the second man out of curiosity.
“They’re all at the funeral” he said.

See you next time.  

February 2015

The Tale of the Ring and other Tall Stories

My fellow insomniacs, all of a sudden it’s time to compose another page of drivel.  Believe it or not it is “composed” so you can only imagine what it might be like if it was written “al fresco” so to speak.  Since we last met, it has come to my attention from differing global sources (Splott and Cyncoed primarily) that there is some question about whether my scribblings have any vague relationship with the truth.  I was much wounded by this foul slur.  Now you may think that I have been guilty of telling tall tales in the past but in truth, most of what I write comes from having observed it personally.  More specifically, I recently wrote about the gun and knives that my sainted mother-in-law gave to me to hand in at the local Police Station.  Many people have questioned whether this was true or not.  Believe me (please) that this was absolutely true, as is the next tale.

I have often discussed the possibility or indeed likelihood of me writing a book.  I have a working title which is “When I tap the table you will speak”.  This is a direct quote from a former boss of mine uttered prior to a meeting we were to attend with the late Lord Richard Attenborough.  In fact I subsequently met the Lord on a number of occasions culminating in a lunch with him that is another story.  Anyway, prior to the meeting my alleged boss was concerned that I might say the wrong thing or indeed dominate the conversation, as if!  He said to me “When I tap the table you will speak”.  You can imagine the laughter that then ensued from me.  Anyway, we met, I talked at will and I nailed a contract to write a business plan for the Great Man. 

Since you have forced me to open the above can of worms about a former employer, a man so fuelled with a titanic ego and surrounded by sycophantic acolytes, that he started to believe in his intellect, pronouncements and wit.  There is probably an “ology” which describes his character, but since it is about him, I can’t be bothered to look it up.  He used to say things like “I’ve just come back from the Big Orange” (one assumed this to be a reference to New York) and “I do not agree with all this bungy drinking”.  Again, one assumes binge drinking was the target phrase. 

Anyway, I digress.  Essentially I have dashed down a number of work experiences, again all true, but names may have been changed to protect the innocent or as I like to call them, those who have yet to be caught.  Here is an extract from Chapter 1.  To give it some context, my colleagues believed that that one of our number was enjoying a gymnastic arrangement with somebody whom they were not married to.  Nothing to do with me or us of course but having listened to their imaginative stories about the reality of all of this, I decided to follow the said person in order to gain the truth one way or another.  Here is an extract of my report to my former colleagues: 

“It was raining, you know the kind of rain that you don’t notice but it notices you and soon it is dripping down my neck.  I turned up the collar on my raincoat and followed her at a discreet distance on the opposite side of the road as all good detectives did in the movies.  Early evening lights were twinkling in the shops and the taxi-cabs were busy.  She hadn’t seen me.  I watched her go into a café and sit in the window clearly expecting company.  This was what the job was all about I thought to myself.  Suddenly a dark and unrecognisable figure approached……………………………I was arrested for stalking”. 

I was in my local Tesco store the other day (other supermarkets are available) since I do all the shopping and cooking in our house.  This is not a smug comment as the Leader of the Opposition will confirm, since I do nothing else re housework etc.  The vacuum cleaner and I would need an introduction once I had managed to find it.  Anyway, back to the story.  We do not really eat chips but a bag of the frozen variety is always useful to have.  As I found my way to the particular aisle, (not surprisingly perhaps, the biggest aisle in the store), I reached out for the said item and my wedding ring, having lasted for a record breaking length of time on my finger, decided to part company with me and landed in the open freezer.  My, how I laughed.  The prospect of telling the current Mrs Nolan that she had been technically divorced over a bag of frozen chips in Tesco was going to be a tricky thing to handle and would require some very delicate and diplomatic negotiation.  I quickly realised I was equipped for neither.  Three of us ended up emptying the chips onto a pallet in the aisle.  The guys from the store were tremendous and began to dismantle much of the freezer to the amusement of a growing audience of annoying pensioners who seemed to have nothing better to do.  Alas the ring has disappeared down a drainage hole in the bottom of the freezer and was gone.  The supermarket guys then sent for a vacuum cleaner and started to suck all the gunge out of the drain and into a bucket which quickly dispersed the crowd.  And lo, there appeared a shiny ring which was gratefully reunited with its owner.  All of which simply goes to prove that chips are not good for you.

We spent Christmas Day with my brother Pat and his family which was hugely enjoyable.  However, it was not without cost.  My brother has been suffering from a very painful hip and the diagnosis after a scan was that a replacement would be necessary due to the ravages of osteoarthritis.  Imagine therefore my surprise when my hip began to give up the ghost recently and I went to see my GP.  After an x-ray and blood tests she said I had osteoarthritis but she had decided to keep the hip and replace the rest of me.  The current Mrs Nolan said:  “Hip replacement?  You were never hip to begin with”.  Thank you Florence Nightingale.  I reckon I must have caught osteoarthritis off my brother, cheers pal!     

See you next time when I may have some Paris stories to tell you after our forthcoming rugby trip. 

Allez Les Rouges.

January 2015

Offensive Weapons and the Year of the Shetland Pony      

Happy New Year Chums.  I hope that 2015 brings you all that you desire.  This is apparently the Year of the Goat (Sheep) so that could be quite confusing already.  According to some Chinese sources: “Nobody wants a baby born in 2015, the dreaded Year of the Sheep.  Sheep are meek creatures, raised for nothing more than slaughter.  Babies born in the Year of the Sheep, therefore, will grow up to be followers rather than leaders.   The children are destined for heartbreak and failed marriages, and they will be unlucky in business”.  So there’s something for all you expectant parents to look forward to.  Did you hear about the little fortune teller who killed his customers?  The police were looking for a small medium at large.  Eventually they captured him and he was imprisoned but there was a prison break and I witnessed the little guy climb up the fence. As he jumped down he sneered at me and I thought, well that’s a little condescending!

It has been a strange time of year.  One Sunday afternoon just before Christmas, the Leader of the Opposition and I parked the car on a side-road by Roath Park Lake and were nearly mown down by a girl riding a runaway Shetland Pony accompanied by an Arabic looking gentlemen who was taking his goat for a walk and wishing everyone Merry Christmas.  No I hadn’t been drinking.  A very nice man he was too but we did not ask him about the goat/pony because clearly he was dying to tell his story and we were not dying to listen to it.  They looked like two escapees from a local Nativity Play.  Clearly this was a Wales based non-Chinese omen ahead of the Year of the Goat (Sheep).          

The sainted Mother-in-Law recently moved house and after much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth decided to clear out many items which she no longer had use for.  Much recycling went on, until we got to the offensive weapons, not something you would want your mother-in-law to have.  Of course, I was grateful that she had decided that she no longer needed them.  She had after all moved to a nicer area and probably no longer felt the need to go shop-lifting fully “tooled-up”.  Which reminds me, it’s hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs because they always take things literally.  Anyway, I digress.  I was given a handgun and a number of hunting knives to dispose of (she kept the knuckle-dusters).  I thought it best not to ask where they came from.  Our local police were having a weapons amnesty so what better way to dispose of said weapons than to hand them in at the local nick.  Let’s just say that my local nick is not in the most salubrious part of town so I parked the car and walked the long 200 or so metres to the building passing some very dubious characters along the way.  Despite the early hour most appeared drunk already.  I envied them briefly.  Of course, I felt relatively safe as I did have a handgun and various knives in an Asda carrier bag.  I walked into the foyer of the nick and approached the diminutive female PC who was sat behind the armoured screen.  I don’t know about you but prior to meeting somebody for the first time I subconsciously rehearse my opening remarks so as to put them at their ease.  I don’t know whether it was being in a police station or being armed to the teeth or a combination of the two but I said to the officer and I quote:

“I have got a gun and some knives in this bag,” pointing to my 5p bag-for-life.  To say she was somewhat taken aback is an understatement.  She disappeared faster than a rat up a drainpipe, leaving me, the CCTV cameras and a number of armaments hanging about reception.  Some time passed and I was now concerned that I had perhaps not explained my reason for being there too well.  Eventually a very large policeman, with stab vest and behind the reinforced glass door, opened it a fraction and said “Are you the guy with the gun?”  I confirmed that indeed I was and managed to explain why I was there.  He gingerly took me to an interview room and carefully disarmed me.  Having taken my details, I was free to go.  I then of course had to walk back to my car through the growing numbers of drunks and nut-cases but was now unarmed……….I never did see that police woman again. 

Very recently our son and heir travelled from his HQ in Qatar to meet a mate for a holiday in Bali, as you do.  This coincided with me going to Tesco (not quite the same) and amongst other things purchased some air freshener.  Imagine my surprise when I saw it was called Bali Sunset.  Story of my life, the boy is in Bali and I am buying Balinese bog freshener.

I have mentioned before in this collection of muddled musings that I never cease to amazed at some of the research that is being commissioned around the country.  Most recently I read that a leading research group at Leicester University had found that diabetes and obesity were linked to the number of fast-food outlets near peoples’ homes.  You don’t say!            

 I need to tell you about a Christmas bash we attended as guests of the Editors and staff of this fine publication.  My fellow contributor Wyn Evans and his wife Nicki were also guests.  It was the first time we had met and it was a good fun experience apart from the fact that I was apparently taller than expected and the current Mrs Nolan was blonder than expected.  I was also drunker than expected but had a great night out, only made better by hijacking somebody else’s taxi after the bash which I was particularly proud of at the time……sorry!

And finally, it’s that time of the year again when all thoughts turn to Paris as our biennial rugby trip following Wales in the 6 Nations comes around again.  This time we are booked into a hotel in the Bastille area.  Fortunately the prison no longer exists so nothing for us to storm.  Talking of rioting, what do you get when a grenade is thrown into a French kitchen? 

Linoleum Blownapart.

Au Revoir