January 2013

Train Spotting

My fellow insomniacs, well, you must be if you are reading this drivel.  I hope you all survived the festive hostilities and had time to reflect on how difficult families can be, particularly when you are related to them.  Alas, a sad time in Chateau Nolan this Festive- Tide as son and heir is living and working in Qatar where Christmas is not really recognised and certainly does not involve a public holiday.  The first Christmas in 25 years that we have not been together.  Then again, his absence saved us a fortune.

Those sad and misguided fools out there who are devotees of this article will recall that my last scribblings set a bit of a record since rugby was not mentioned once, quite an achievement for a rugby-based column.   I had been sneaking up on this all year and finally achieved that particular pinnacle.  Just to keep you on your toes, this one has a large rugby element, but by default.  I don’t want to bore you with tales of a poor series of Autumn Internationals and the challenging World Cup Pool that Wales find themselves in or indeed how well all our teams are doing at St. Peter’s RFC.  I thought that I would share with you a conversation I overheard in London earlier this week whilst I was waiting for my train in the bar at Paddington Station.  Brief Encounter, this wasn’t. 

Picture the scene, I was perched on a bar-stool reading a local newspaper with an hour to kill before my departure.  Actually it was the Reading Advertiser which is an interesting variation on the word “reading”.  To my left a group of 6 business people from Swansea who had been there for some considerable time judging by the volume and subject matter they were debating.  Five guys, not named Mo and a lady who may have been called Mo.  She was a recent recruit to their ranks and has no doubt since resigned.  The conversation became wholly focussed on Welsh rugby.  It started off by the character assassination of Welsh scrum-half Mike Phillips.  The leader of the group who struggled to make 5 ft himself (sorry, I don’t do metric) said that he had met Mike and that he was about this big……extending his arm horizontally.  I am not sure of Mike’s vital statistics but I know he is pretty tall.  His acolytes all nodded their heads in agreement.   It got better.  “Gavin Henson could have had it all but blew it”.  Let’s examine this statement I thought to myself.  The guy is a world class rugby player, has umpteen Welsh caps, had a seven figure divorce settlement in his favour and owns a luxury yacht in Swansea Marina.  What version of “blew it” was my new chum referring to? 

He continued …“To be on mainline TV you’ve got to be able to talk”.  Pearls of wisdom I think you will agree but surely it is mainstream or prime-time TV rather than mainline.  Maybe the proximity to the railway was confusing him.  I was reminded of the old adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing but in his case it was proving positively lethal.  He went on and yes, I was taking notes by this stage….comedy gold.  “No player from the 1970’s would have made it in professional rugby.  They were not dedicated enough”.  Well there was no professional rugby in the 1970’s and the players were very dedicated but were somewhat distracted by having to work in steelworks and down the pit to earn a crust.  He went on…”Look at Windsor Davies, no Jonathan Davies, (he corrected himself), he could have been special”.  The man was an international rugby player in both rugby union and professional rugby league and one of the best pundits on BBC Sport, so not too shabby an achievement (Jonathan Davies that is).  The group was much impressed with the encyclopaedic knowledge of their boss and host and all nodded in agreement at appropriate points when invited to do so between rounds.        

Attention then turned to the Welsh Team.  Our friend said “I would play 9-man rugby and not give the ball to the backs”.  I felt like screaming out at this point because as you will have observed, there are only 8 forwards so one of the backs would have to be involved in this strategy, presumably the now diminutive Mike Phillips.  This may be something that Warren Gatland has yet to consider of course so if by some chance you read this Warren………….All this was sad to listen to because the guy denigrated all players and coaches, past and present but still had an Ospreys season ticket and watched them every week (explains a lot).  I don’t know about you but if I paid to go somewhere every week and it was always rubbish I would not go back there again.  Maybe he had a short attention span to go with his short legs?

Then “he” turned his attention and active brain-cell to previous greats.  Saint Brynmor Williams was mentioned as was Saint Ray Gravelle who had both made good impressions on our expert.  By this time the beer was really flowing (I have to stop drinking).  However, he went on to say that “Brynmor must be loaded as he has been on TV for donkey’s years.  Longevity does not necessarily mean wealth and this is probably why Bryn is a working Director of a large insurance company– not for the money you understand.    

At this point a terrible thought occurred to me that they would they be sat next to me on the train going home.  I quickly took some more anaesthetic.  Please don’t take this the wrong way but I hoped that my 1st class ticket might prevent them sitting by me and if this did not work, the “quiet carriage” might give some respite.  Well the sun shines on the righteous on occasions and they did not sit near me but someone else did.  A nut-case with a hacking cough (and I mean every 10 seconds).  My, how the 1 hour 45 minutes back to Cardiff flew past.  I reckon I had caught bubonic plague by the time we arrived at Slough.  I could not work out why, in these days of free prescriptions in Wales, that this guy could not go to the bleeding doctor.  I consoled myself with the fact that he would be dead before the Summer so I would not have to sit next to him on a plane….but that’s another story. 

I recently went to the Wales Millenium Centre with the Leader of the Opposition (my wife) to watch Phantom of the Opera.  It was brilliant of course but it alerted me to something else that is slightly strange that has slipped into our vernacular in recent years.  It has become commonplace to abbreviate titles of stage shows e.g. Phantom, Saigon, Joseph, Sunset, Mary Pop, Les Mis, La Cage (bit of French in there), etc.  It occurred to me that many cannot be abbreviated like Annie or Oliver but what about combining them?  For example you could end up with something like Kiss, Jersey- Fiddler which sounds vaguely rude.  The missing bits being: Me Kate, Boys-On the Roof.  However, a note of caution – be careful when combining Jesus Christ Superstar, Mary Poppins and Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat because you end up with Jesus, Mary and Joseph, which has been done before.

And so to the joke:

This guy has been stranded on a deserted island, all alone for 10 years. One day he sees a speck on the horizon. He thinks to himself, “It’s not a ship.” The speck gets a little closer and he thinks, “It’s not a boat.” The speck gets even closer and he thinks, “It’s not a raft.” Then, out of the surf comes a gorgeous blonde woman wearing a wet suit and scuba gear.  She comes up to the guy and says, “How long has it been since you’ve had a cigarette?”, “Ten years!” he says. She reaches over and unzips a waterproof pocket on her left sleeve and pulls out a pack of fresh cigarettes. He takes one, lights it, takes a long drag and says, Man, oh man! Is that good! Then she asked, “How long has it been since you’ve had a nice cold beer?” He replies, “Oh, God, it’s been at least 10 years!” She reaches over, unzips the waterproof pocket on her right sleeve, pulls out a dry ice pack from around an ice cold beer, hands it to him and watches as he take a long swig and says, “Wow, that’s fantastic!” Then she starts unzipping the long zipper that runs down the front of her wet suit and she says to him, “And how long has it been since you’ve had some REAL fun?”, the man replies, “Good God, woman!, don’t tell me you’ve got a Trombone in there!”.

Happy New Year Readers and remember that if you see some bloke taking notes when you are out with your friends, it might be me!

If you have any opportunities, questions, issues or ideas please do not
hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  

Best wishes
Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

February 2013

Short Blond Bob   

An interesting title I think you will agree.  What does it mean and what is its relevance?  If you are used to reading this rubbish you will know that the answer is nothing and none.  It is just a haircut that the current Mrs Nolan was describing to me and I thought it sounded like an interesting Dickensian-type character although Bob may have played for the 3rd XV once or twice in the past and my old mate Mike Thomas swears he did.

The real title for this months’ offering should be 20-20.  Not a rugby score as you might imagine or a comment on the average referee’s vision quality (ha ha), but the marking of two major milestones in the history of our Club.  Now as you know, I am reluctant to talk too much about our Club since I am aware that of the 3 people who read this stuff, only one is a rugby supporter and that is me.  Nevertheless, 20 years ago was a pivotal time for the Club.  The first celebration is for the 20th anniversary of our beating Cardiff RFC at the Arms Park in the Cup.  An act of truly giant-killing proportions which has never and will never be repeated.  A players’ reunion is planned at the Clubhouse at the end of February to celebrate this splendid achievement.  For the record we murdered Cardiff 16-14 and for a very brief period we were headline news across the rugby world.  The years have been kind in some cases and not so kind in others and so we look forward to the array of Zimmer Frames, plastic hip and knee joints, false teeth and hair-pieces at our reunion (and that’s just the wives).  Of course I did not play in this match.  I played the previous week against Pontypool United and the week after against Treorchy but just like the Murphy’s, I am not bitter (that is the six Murphy brothers who played for us rather than the popular Irish drink of the same name).

 Club joke at the time: 
Q. “What’s the difference between Cardiff RFC and a teabag? 
A. “A teabag stays in the Cup”. 

Very funny of course but with hindsight a teabag does not stay in the Cup and neither did we, as we were knocked out in the next round by Bonymaen RFC.

The second 20 year anniversary I was very much involved in and will be helping to lead the forthcoming celebrations in Paris.  Exciting isn’t it?  20 years ago we were contacted over the early inter-web thing (revolutionary in those days – French pun intended), by a French rugby team, Barbarians Rugby Champagne.  I don’t know whether it was their catchy name or their profound inability to beat us that attracted us to them.  They have become firm friends over the years, two nations with nothing in common and yet still plenty of “Entente Cordiale”.  We now have sons playing alongside fathers and it will be particularly worrying this year when a number of our former youth players make the trip for the first time.  They were not born when this first kicked-off!  Tempus Fugit as they say in France (I know it’s Latin).  This trip has been going for so long that we have travelled by bus, ferry, plane and now the train.  All we need is a helicopter ride and we have the set (apart from a submarine of course but that would be tricky to arrange, or a hot air balloon in Montgolfier Brothers style).  Allez Les Rocks.

I kid you not about the passage of time, mentioned above.  I have just made the triple-whammy mistake of having a new lap-top, printer and mobile phone all at the same time.  Baffling.  No wires, no noises just quiet efficiency until I find the on switches.  I am told that these devices can talk to each other.  Now I am paranoid.  What might they be saying?  The young guy in the shop told me that I can print from my phone when I am not home.  I pointed out to him that if I was not home I wouldn’t need to print anything.  He just laughed at me in a semi-patronising way.  He also said that my phone could pin-point my position anywhere in the World.  Well, at the moment I tend to remember where I am so that function will have a limited appeal.  However, he redeemed himself by showing me how to find the nearest bar to my location. I think we should embrace new technology, don’t you?  

Over the recent holiday period I had the great good fortune to eat at Cardiff Prison.  No, I was not finally locked away for writing this dross but it has a quality restaurant called Clink which is open to the public and is which is extremely good.  It enables prisoners to learn a practical trade alongside catering professionals and guarantees them a job once they have served their time and are released.  I recommend you take a look, you will not be disappointed.  However, a couple of items from the menu caught my eye:  1. Free-range turkey and 2. Catch-of-the-Day.       

St. Valentine’s Day is upon us when card companies like Moonpig (whom I like) do their level-best to persuade people who do not like each other to spend money on something that is truly libellous given its distance from the truth.  If they used a lie detector on people buying such cards I suspect large numbers would fail the test.  Then of course there is the “poetry”.  You know the sort of thing….”Roses are Red, Violets are Blue etc”.  Well roses are not red but can be yellow, white, pink etc and violets are violet so not much reality in these opening lines.  My wife and I enjoy nothing more on St. Valentine’s Day than going to our local pub to watch couples who do not like each other, force down 3 courses whilst trying to think of something to talk about.  I strongly recommend it.  Not to be outdone we have grasped the spirit of St Valentine at the Rocks and are putting on a Boxing Evening rather than a romantic dinner-dance.  I understand it is for amateurs so if you want to bring your spouse along and go in the ring with them for a few rounds I am sure nobody would object.   

 And so to the joke:

 I sent my wife Katie a Valentine’s card.  It read:
“To my Katty, I want to fill you in the way you filled my soul.”
Bloody Moonpig…………they got the K’s and the F’s mixed up.

If you have any opportunities, questions, issues or ideas please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  


Best wishes
Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

March 2013

The Mexican, Assassin and What the Butler Saw    

No, not some new American pulp-thriller mixed with a Victorian melodrama but a short summary of my experiences during the last two Welsh International rugby weekends.  Our recent Eurostar trip for the Wales rugby match in Paris went well with 20 “tourists” (linguistically-challenged alcoholics with passports) renewing our 20 year relationship with Barbarians Rugby Champagne RFC.  We won our match but only because we managed to recruit a Paris-based random Mexican called Oscar who we found in a bar and who happened to be a half-decent rugby player.  Added to which he was sober.  What are the chances of that?  Oscar was aided and abetted by one of our own, affectionately known as “Assassin”, whose first try in 20 years eased us into a comfortable 45-35 victory.  This was a feast of open-rugby.  When I say feast, it was more of a snack.  Fortunately some of our younger players shook off the numbing effects of vin rouge and The Moulin Rouge to put in a good shift.  If truth be told the referee had no watch and relied on me to accurately time the game for him.  I timed it accurately right up until the point that we went into the lead.  Of course this was a much more entertaining game than the one that followed at the Stade De France.  Still, two victories are always better than one. 

Talking of going to France, as I was buying the train ticket the lady said “Eurostar?” I said “Well I’ve been on the radio recently but please…”  Still, at least it’s comfortable on Eurostar…………. it’s murder on the Orient Express!

The previous weekend saw us renewing old Irish acquaintances with former St’ Peter’s player Tim Butler, his wife, son Martin and family.   Tim played for the Club 40 years ago before returning to Cork for the weather and tax purposes.  However, he made the pilgrimage over for the Wales v Ireland match.  His house in Ireland is called Dewi Sant which we thought was a nice touch.  He sat with us after the game and tried not to gloat at the Irish victory but failed miserably in the attempt.  The colourful nature of his language when celebrating the result taught me some words I had never heard.  However, it has since emerged that Tim’s very presence in Wales was the real cause behind Pope Benedict’s decision to resign.  When last seen the Holy Father was wandering the corridors of the Vatican clenching and unclenching his fists and was heard to mutter “It’s not fair.  I am too tired to go on at 85 but I have just heard that the Butler bloke is still going on rugby tours at 82.”  Not sure who is going to come off the bench to replace The Pontiff but there is even-money in Cork on Mr Butler being installed.  A nonsensical suggestion you may think but I understand that any baptised Catholic male is eligible for election to Pope but only Cardinals have been selected since 1378, thus far.      

Those of you who are familiar with this wandering monologue will know that there is usually something that irks me which I feel the need to write about.  This month it is formal shirts or more accurately shirt sizing.  Whilst I am not the biggest bloke in the world I take a size 17 collar.  I realise it may be hard for you Dear Readers to believe me when I tell you that I wear a suit to work but I am fed up with imitating a Gibbon.  The shirt arms are always longer than the tail of the shirt and if left to their own devices would come to rest somewhere below my knees.  I would love to see the bloke who modelled for these shirts as he is bound to be in the monkey house at the zoo.  Now I know there are slim-fit shirts for slim-fit blokes but gentlemen of a certain age look even more ridiculous in a shirt that fits where it touches rather than in one where their knuckles drag along the ground.  Mind you, I am partial to bananas. 

And another thing, what is all this fuss about eating horse meat?  As one of 4 boys growing up in the 60’s and 70’s we ate rabbit, tripe, liver, kidney, heart, chitlin (no idea either), pigs trotters and anything else that was put in front of us.  Shergar Burger, so what?  Latterly having eaten yellow sea-slug in Japan, a horse-steak would be luxurious.  I think these manufacturers could have legitimately got away with this had they written “horse” on the list of ingredients appearing on our food packaging.  After all, you need a microscope to read it and a work-bench and set of tools to open your average pack of sausages.  I smell the whiff of compensation in the air.  Law firms will be springing up called things like “Misold Burgers 4U”, and “The Pony Club Prosecutors”.  We only have ourselves to blame as most people will have heard the saying “I am so hungry I could eat a horse”.  Do you ever get that when you’re half way through eating a horse and you think to yourself, I’m not as hungry as I thought I was.   

There we are.  Two rugby stories and two non-rugby stories.  I must still be jet-lagged from the train journey to Paris. 

If you have any opportunities, questions, issues or ideas please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  

Best wishes
Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

April 2013   

No Slam but it was Grand     

 Those of you who are devotees of this drivel will know that I seldom talk about rugby but there will always be an occasional passing reference to it.  It would be churlish of me if I allowed recent events at The Millennium Stadium to go unreported.  Dragons are not creatures of myth and legend and are clearly alive, well, breathing fire and scared of nobody.  Much has been reported about us winning the 6 Nations Championship but all I can add to the clamour is that our Clubhouse was bedecked in red on Saturday and that the roof blew off (literally in the high wind).  We hosted a number of our chums from outside the Principality and tried very hard not to gloat too much.  Ok, we didn’t try at all but we scored two of them and England alas hit the post with a lucky kick that fell over the bar with exhaustion.  Whilst I do not really subscribe to the jingoistic approach of some of my fellow Countrymen, this weekend was a real David v Goliath moment or perhaps more accurately a Dafydd v George one.  After all, there are only 3 million of us pitched against 50 million from across Offa’s Dyke which brings us nicely to another story where the little guy needs help to triumph over the big guy. 

Some of you may recall the extended battle we fought for many years with the Planning Committee at the Council to enable us to use our facilities during normal hours.  Of course this is old news but I have another planning story to share with you.  It has come to my attention that the good people of Ysgol Glan Taf in Llandaff North need help.  This school has produced a number of Welsh Rugby Internationals of late, the most famous being Jamie Roberts.  They recently invested in an all- weather outdoor pitch to enable pupils to take part in sport, in all-weathers.  Given the paddy-field like playing surfaces we have endured in Wales this Winter this seemed like an educated investment.  Apparently some local residents objected to the use of flood-lights at the facilities and as a result the pitch cannot now be used after dark.  I don’t know whether anyone at the Council has noticed but we have a major obesity and inactivity problem in Wales and these sorts of facilities can help introduce youngsters to sport (not just rugby).  This facility could also be hired out to local teams to provide much needed cash flow for the school.  However, it now seems that only nocturnal rugby players can use it, a breed that is as rare as an England Grand Slam.  In a strange parallel universe and not a mile away, at Whitchurch Comprehensive School, all weather pitches are floodlit well into the night and provide a fabulous soccer facility on a main road in a residential area.  Hardly a consistent approach you might conclude.  Oh, and in case you wonder what my interest in this is, well, it is simply about participation.  We invest in facilities and we invest in our children’s futures.  Soap-box away for the time being.   

And now, a planning joke (and they too are pretty rare): 

A Doctor, Engineer and Planner are playing golf and are trying to decide which profession came first.  The Doctor said “My profession came first when God took a rib from Adam and performed the first surgery”.  The Engineer disagreed and said “When the Earth was dark and a void, God created light.  That was engineering”.  The Planner said “All very well gentlemen but who do you think decided to grant planning permission for the light?”  Let there be light, please.

I was fascinated by the recent election of the Pope, Francis 1st.  Not for the procedure per se, nor for the candidate particularly but more for the behind the scenes activity.  115 Cardinals went into Conclave and came up with a majority leader.  Presumably it could have been any one of them.  Immediately the winner chose his Papal name so I am intrigued with what all the others would have called themselves had they been elected.  Then he was escorted to the Room of Tears where his Papal vestments were put on.  I was thinking that this must be a big room because presumably there must be 115 sets of kit hanging up (names on the back…… probably not) since all the candidates would be differing sizes.  I presume there is a personal tailor on hand and one of 115 acceptance speeches is then used.  Wouldn’t it have been funny if Pope Wayne or Pope Gary had emerged (no offence to Waynes’ and Garys’) in ill-fitting vestments and a speech in Welsh that nobody in the Square could understand, starting with Aggi, Aggi, Aggi.  Not going to happen is it?    

I recently went up to Llandudno Junction in North Wales to work and had lunch in a café (I know, life in the fast lane). I was sat next to two retired guys and one said to the other “It’s nice to get out isn’t it?”  Whilst none of my business, I felt like leaning across and saying to them “You are not out, you are in and in a café”.  I also went to a Bio-Medical Conference recently (yes I need a hobby) and it was not exactly riveting but work flowed from it so I have no complaints.  However, one of the things I did pick up at the conference was the story of the famous microbiologist who travelled to thirty different countries and learned to speak six languages.  Apparently he was a man of many cultures!

Finally, we are trying to compose a history of the Harlequins Ground, our hallowed turf and would like your help.  Anybody who has any stories, memories, or who may know the origins of the naming of the fields we would like to hear from you either via e-mail below or drop us a line at the Clubhouse.  Your help would be gratefully received.              

If you have any opportunities, questions, issues or ideas please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  

Best wishes
Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

May 2013   

Anteaters and Adjectives

Believe it or not the title to this months’ burnt-offering came to me during a recent visit to Bristol Zoo.  I suspect many of us of a certain vintage will not have been to Bristol Zoo for many years.  I visited with the current Mrs Nolan and the sainted mother-in-law.  The big advantage of taking the in-law is that she is a pensioner and therefore has a concessionary entry fee.  Whilst I am all for animal conservation, at £15.50 a head for adults, it is an expensive day out for a family.  I wanted to help wildlife in a small way and not buy my own Panda but there we are.  Since it was the Easter Holiday, it appeared that many of the inmates had gone on holiday too.  The first five enclosures revealed nobody at home in a scene reminiscent of The Great Escape.  I found myself looking for a tunnel and Steve McQueen on his motorbike.      

But fear not dear reader, comedy lurks around every corner.  There we were admiring the Brazilian Tapir (who had not gone on his holidays and put in an appearance).  You know, the 7 foot long, 3 foot high and 500 pound pig-like animal, when we were treated to a mother, (alas Welsh), telling her young child to look at the Anteater.  I found myself thinking how many ants would the Tapir need to eat to be that big and lacking the appropriate nose to hoover them up would spend most of its waking hours licking mud in a vain attempt to harvest enough ants to keep the pangs of hunger at bay.  Not content to rest on her laurels, this lady then went to read the sign on the enclosure.  Seeing it said Tapir she said to her child, “I can’t pronounce that, it’s TAP something”.  My national pride knew no boundaries. The poor child had no chance and is already condemned to a life of mis-describing animals which might be one of the underlying and little-known reasons why horse keeps turning up in our food-chain masquerading as beef.  Not content with the Tapir, another Welsh parent then went on to describe the otter as a beaver or I may have misunderstood the subject matter.  However, just when I thought that there was no hope for today’s children, all was saved by a Grandad who was talking to his grandson over lunch.  Grandad started explaining that adjectives were describing words usually ending in “ING” which the little lad then started to give examples of.  It was worth the entry fee to listen to that.  I bet he knew what a Tapir was too (the little lad that is).

I have noticed an annoying trend recently in my local hostelry.  This is the serving of tea or coffee instead of alcohol which is bad enough, but this is then made to last over an hour by the purchasers. This is fundamentally wrong.  If I am spending five times the amount on an hourly basis as the coffee drinker I would charge £10 for the coffee since my drinking habits are paying for the ambience that the café society are enjoying.  Alternatively, please don’t sell tea and coffee in pubs. 

Here’s another thing.  Now that we are approaching the Summer holidays (two consecutive days without rain), what about the Welsh Government recently purchasing Cardiff Airport?  There are divided views on this but I am broadly supportive because of the future economic development opportunities which this should bring.  However, there is nothing like an airport for bringing you down to earth with a bump.  I have been moved to record here two eye-catching views on the subject which recently appeared in the letters page of the Echo.  The first suggested that since the Welsh Government had purchased the Airport that the Air Traffic Controllers should use Welsh as the language of communication!  Never mind that English is the internationally recognised language of the air.  Picture the scene, hundreds of planes falling out of the sky over Rhoose in something akin to a Kamikaze Raid on Pearl Harbour.  A tense scene develops on the flight-deck as Stavros Nikolaos on his maiden flight from Corfu tries to put the cart down in Wales to a Welsh language equivalent of “Hija, what’s occurring?”  The second writer suggested that rather than buy Cardiff Airport or develop a new Severnside Airport that the Welsh Government should have breathed new life into Pengam Moors Airport, a former fighter station from WW11.  I am not sure how much runway a Spitfire needs but in order to make this work you would have to knock down Tesco, Pengam Green, Tremorfa, the steelworks and Cardiff Bay just to accommodate your average 747.  Another fine idea I think you will agree.  No road, rail or motorway links and a wholly inappropriate site in a residential area with Newport Road being diverted straight across our pitches at the Harlequins Ground (or is that the idea?).

On the rugby front we recently hosted Wales 6 Nations star, Leigh Halfpenny who took a Junior coaching session.  Many thanks to Leigh for taking time out from his busy schedule.  We wish him well and are certain he will be first choice fullback on the forthcoming Lions Tour.  Also on the rugby front I would like to express a personal thank you on behalf of the Club to the staff working in A&E at UHW.  One of our Youth players suffered a dislocated shoulder a couple of Saturdays ago and I took him to UHW to be fixed.  Forget the horror stories about lack of staff, resources, beds etc.  He was seen immediately, given enough drugs to knock a mule over and had his shoulder fully restored to working order all within a very short space of time.  Next week they examine his head which could take a lot longer!          

Whilst this is ostensibly a rugby article we must congratulate the heroic exploits of Cardiff City FC having achieved the giddy heights of Premiership football after many years of nearly making it.  This will have an effect on rugby as some of the biggest names in world football will be playing in Cardiff next season.  Some of our players will have a straight choice of watching Manchester United or playing against Abercwmboi Third XV away on a rainy afternoon in February (no offence intended Abercwmboi). 

No joke this month but what about this for a piece of graffiti allegedly seen in a ladies toilet:  OOAQICI82QB4IP

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

Best wishes
Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

June 2013   

The Eurovision Dambusters

 My title for this month is drawn from the events of recent days.  On the one hand the Dambuster’s Raid some 70 years ago over Germany.  The broadcasters were at pains to point out that this was a commemoration and not a celebration because of the loss of life on both sides.  However, whilst we can hardly condone the bombing of innocent civilians by any country or for any cause, this ultimately helped lead to peace in Europe and indirectly, to having the Eurovision Song Contest thrust upon us.  Eurovision – one flag, many languages, various currencies and tribal differences coming together in “song”.  Not sure if you witnessed the carnage but hostilities between nations were only just hidden under the surface as tactical voting for neighbouring countries again descended into the farce of who would host next years’ multi-million pound music and fashion disaster.  Vive la difference I say but one hope I have is that if we ever vote to leave Europe, as is being muttered in certain circles, this should mean that we no longer have to enter this “Contest” and then could openly laugh out loud at some of our neighbours without fear of reprisal. 

As you may imagine, it has been very difficult to find a Eurovision Bombing joke but:

When Germany won Eurovision, four days later an old WWII bomb exploded “unexpectedly”.  Carlsberg don’t do timely reminders, but if they did….

Whilst driving down from North Wales recently I happened upon a place just outside Ludlow called Rocks Green.  Many of you know our nickname is the Rocks and our club colours are green.  There has been much talk of a twinning arrangement but on closer examination Rocks Green is a select development of environmentally friendly houses.  I think we could do the “mentally friendly” bit but there our paths digress.

It is that time again when we focus on the challenge of the annual holiday to hot climes.  I have shared some of my travel adventures with you in the past but this time I have been focussing on the pre-travel arrangements we all have to go through in order to make the actual journey less painless.  We recently took out holiday insurance from a well-known supermarket chain at a very competitive price.  I have since read the small-print.  The good news is that we are covered for hijacking which is reassuring but only for £50 every 24 hours.  Interesting to think how they worked out what was reasonable expenditure in such horrific circumstances.  Lunch perhaps, a film and some duty-free goods and a toilet-roll are about all I can think of as being readily accessible.  On closer examination I find we are not covered for avalanche though which may be an oversight on my part as we are going to Corfu in July…it would be just my luck!

So let us consider the farce that is the luggage allowance.  Having already established with the online booking computer that two of us were going for 2 weeks it then asked me whether we were taking any luggage.  The temptation to say that as naturists, that would be a step too far flashed across my mind (no pun intended) but would have been wasted on the booking android.  Having confessed to being luggage fetishists (you try saying that), we were then charged £96 for the privilege of not walking around naked for a fortnight.   The prospect of 20 kilos each for me and the current Mrs Nolan was too exciting for words.  I don’t know about you but I have not yet gone metric so I was already struggling to visualise what 20 kilos felt like.  In previous years I have hit on a fool-proof way of ensuring we do not pay extra baggage costs and you can try this top-tip at home.  Weigh yourself on the bathroom scales then weigh yourself carrying the full suitcase.  Take one from the other and there you have the weight of your luggage, in theory.  In practice it is not that simple if you are of a certain age.  Here is what usually happens:

  • Weigh myself (non-digital scale), and cannot see the dial as the disc is still moving and I cannot read it without my glasses on. 
  • Repeat the exercise with glasses on which still involves bending down to focus on the result. 
  • Sit down to ponder what has happened to my weight since this time last year. 
  • Weigh again and then blame the scales.
  • Pick up the suitcase and repeat the exercise except it is very difficult to balance on the scales with the case in one hand. 
  • Put case on head to level the balance out and gingerly look down to peer in hope at the scale which is now barely readable, particularly as I have taken my glasses off.
  • Put case down, put glasses on, put case on head and lean forward to see result.
  • Topple over with case. 
  • Repeat with other case and have a lie down in darkened room. 
  • Stand next to two 20 stone people in the queue at check-in and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Continuing the theme, I read with great interest the other day about the recent publication of the Welsh Health Survey 2012 which found that 34% of Welsh children were overweight and an impressive 19% had managed to graduate to clinically obese.  What a surprise!  It amuses me when these surveys are commissioned since the outcomes are invariably known beforehand and so I have concluded that they must be commissioned for the benefit of those carrying out the survey as a means of reducing the level of unemployment.  I don’t know about you but I am struggling to remember the results of a single survey which made me think, “Well, I would never have guessed that”.   

I think I almost managed to avoid writing about rugby in this article but only because this week has seen me attending a Junior Cup Final (well done the victorious under 14’s Blues Cup Winners), attending our own Committee meeting and one for Cardiff and Vale Youth followed by a seven-a-side tournament on the Saturday.  Nice to be winding down for the Summer. 

If you have any opportunities, questions, issues or ideas please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  

Best wishes
Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

July 2013   

Liebfraumilch, Advertising and Grammar.

I don’t know about you but because I am of a certain age, I have a healthy fear of technology.  Not so much in understanding it but more about what to do if it goes wrong.  By way of example, my computer froze on me when I was writing this rubbish and I kept seeing images of dancing New Zealand rugby players on the screen.  I think I had been targeted by a computer Haka!

For my text this month I have chosen to take a closer look at names.  After all, we all have one, some of us like our names, others do not.  Some of us wonder what state of mind our parents must have been in when they thought about giving us our “handle”.  I quite like my name and Vincent means Conqueror so that is pretty macho.  Not sure about Algernon for example which is an old Norman name meaning “Wearing a moustache”.  It would be quite interesting if we were all described by our most prominent feature!    

Divine, Hula, Bounty, Concorde and Bizz.  Give up?  No, not a new girl-band, but the latest sofa names from a well known high-street retailer.  Please.  The more I have looked into this, the worse it becomes.  Who could forget Tarot and Poet?  I have a theory that the marketing team in these places goes off on a pub crawl, returns to the office under the affluence of incohol and then brainstorms the seasons’ latest names.  Unfortunately, I think some parents take the same approach.  You can tell a lot about somebody’s parents by what they call their kids, can’t you Liebraumilch. 

I have also been taking a peek at the advertising that is beamed into our living-rooms or lounges (depending on how posh you are,…I bet you have a lounge don’t you?).  We have no say in the garbage that comes our way but some of it is very clever and some of it beggars belief.  My pet advertising hate (as opposed to hating advertising for pets) is for any product where the ad has been dubbed into English.  Similarly, if a car is being advertised and it is clearly a left-hand drive model then I am not happy about it.  OK,…. it’s the French generally.  It seems to me that if advertisers cannot be bothered to appeal to the market they are targeting in the local language, they should not be allowed to sell their wares in it.  Having said this, sometimes it is no better in English.  You may have noticed that there is a peculiarity around advertisers of hair-care and make-up products.  They always insist on putting at the bottom of the screen that 70% of 40 people found that the product made a difference.  This is patently wrong on two levels.  In the first place, it not a sufficiently wide enough sample to determine anything and in the second, many of their customers would struggle to work out 70% of anything.    

Turning to our glorious language, and in this instance I mean English, (as opposed to the language of Heaven), what has become of the spoken word?  If I hear another “I’m loving it”, I will intervene and give the orator a lesson in grammar and the use of tenses that they will never forget.  Similarly, the latest phrase “back in the day” as opposed to “then” has just appeared, presumably from some single brain-cell reality TV show.  However, I have a special place reserved for the running commentary trend.  You know the one “And like, I said and like she said and like then I said etc”.  I suspect that all of this is down to youngsters only communicating electronically these days where the spoken word is not required.  Gawd ‘elp us like innit.

I was asked the other day whether my wife objects to me calling her “The current Mrs Nolan” in these writings.  I was pleased about this because it meant that somebody out there reads this drivel.  I discussed this with “She who must be Obeyed” and the “Leader of the Opposition” for they are one and the same and I am assured that there is no domestic crisis looming over the horizon for me.  I have no idea what she calls me though.         

She Who Must Be Obeyed (see what I did there) and I recently went to the Mumbles on the sunniest day of the year so far.  A very pleasant walk, a coffee, sat outside looking at the sea and of course “people watching”.  It did not take long to find something to write about.  A large people-carrier pulled up and out came Mr and Mrs ZZ Top (unkempt US Rockers of a certain vintage in case you did not know), both of whom sported long grey hair, beards and cowboy hats.  Mr ZZ was more svelte than his lady and he pulled along a wheeled contraption behind him.  It transpired that Mrs ZZ could not fit into the café chairs so they had brought their own.  This led me to think that there must have been a point in the past where they had arrived at the café only to find that one of them could not sit down.  I would have paid good money to have seen the realisation dawn on their faces and also to have witnessed the pretence that they always took tea in the standing position as only hard- rockers can.    

And now something about rugby!  We recently had our end of season presentation lunch for the Senior and Youth teams and the guest speaker was International Rugby Referee, Nigel Owens.  He was very funny and as you might expect, dealt with hecklers very professionally.  One of the best put-downs I have heard and used is:  “Do you know mate, I don’t remember very much from school but what I do remember is that light travels faster than sound which is why some people appear to be quite bright until you hear them speak”.  It works every time. 

And so to the rugby joke:

A man went to the doctor and said: “I’ve just been playing Rugby and when I got home I found that when I touched my legs, my arms, my head, my tummy and everywhere else, it really hurt.” The doctor said: “You’ve broken your finger mate.”

If you have any opportunities, questions, issues or ideas please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  

Best wishes
Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

August 2013   

Doctors, Otters and a Pub Quiz.

My fellow Heliophobics, (those who fear the sun), I mentioned in my last scribblings that we were about to go on our annual pilgrimage to Greek-land and I could not wait to regale you with stories of the difficult journey and odd people.  Unfortunately, I have nothing to report this time.  In a perverse sort of way I am disappointed.  Surely, I have not lost my touch.  Nevertheless, by way of compensation, a holiday joke:  What do you call a lady with big teeth who sleeps in the hot afternoon? Siesta Rantzen.

However, I did manage to watch the first two Lion’s Tests in a Sports Bar having obtained prior planning permission from She Who Must Be Obeyed.  “Sports Bar” is a strange description when you think about it since it is not a bar where you can indulge in sports but is a bar where sport is on the television.  So what about a “Soap Bar” (also known as a bar of soap) where only soaps are televised?  Or even a “Mars Bar” where they only show science fiction. Or a Fish Bar….you make up your own.  Anyway, I digress.  We have just witnessed a quite marvellous Lions series which again set me thinking.  A Kiwi Coach led a predominantly Welsh team and beat the Aussies “Down-under” (sounds a bit S&M as opposed to M&S which is an entirely different experience).  A Scot won Wimbledon for the first time but his nationality was expunged by the Press because he was British after all.  Then the England and Wales Cricket Board have been playing against the Aussies for the Ashes although you could be forgiven for thinking it was England since Wales is never mentioned.  While we are on a roll, Justin Rose who was born in South Africa won the US Open Golf Championship and was instantly English.  And you thought the days of trampling on other countries’ national identities was long gone.  Think again my friends.

Pub quizzes, now there’s an entertainment which should be light-hearted.  Not in my local pub it isn’t, which incidentally is a “Drinking Bar” since they have no TV.  The quiz is a once a week fandango involving 5-6 teams (no more than 6 allowed in each team which somebody made up as they only had 5 friends, including their family).  The prize money is usually £10 so at £2 a head to enter and with 6 in a team, you do the maths.  Well, it started out as a bit of fun of course and now we have orchestrated attempts to disagree with the answers given, slag-off the opposition followed by intense auditing of the adding-up in case of errors, accidental or otherwise.  The quiz-setter is wisely never present to take the flak and in recent weeks the usual quiz-mistress has been replaced by another one of the regulars.  In order to calm his nerves our man commences drinking early afternoon as part of his warm-up and unlike Magnus Magnusson, once he’s started he doesn’t know when to finish.  He then launches himself into his task at 8.30pm and the rest is comedy gold.  Aside from being totally inebriated our man is also dyslexic (I had to look up how to spell that).  By the time we have all deciphered and translated the question into passable English he has moved onto the next one.  We often sit there crying with laughter and despair at the same time.  

In an attempt to raise the intellectual bar our quiz-setter has warned us that one of the coming quiz subjects will be all about phobias.  Well forewarned is forearmed I always think so I have been doing some research.  In the first instance, you name it and there is a phobia about it so then I got to thinking about the excuses you could use to miss work.  For example:  “I am suffering from Atomosphobia”, a fear of atomic explosions.  Fancy being scared of those!  My favourite though is a fear of stuttering or stammering which is a cruel thing to have.  Imagine going to the Doctors and saying “Doc, I think I am ssssuffering from ssssssss Psellismophobia which is not helping my sssssssss stuttering”.  That should give your Doctor something to think about unless of course you have a fear of Doctors which is Latrophobia which should not be confused with Lutraphobia,….an irrational fear of otters! 

Oh, I thought I had better mention some rugby stuff.  Pre-season training has started for the Youth and Seniors on Tuesday and Thursday s at 6.30pm.  New players are most welcome.  We will be running three Senior sides this year and two Youth teams as well as our Junior sides.  

I recently attended two Annual General Meetings (you can see the sort of racy life I live).  The first was for the Cardiff and Vale Youth District Committee where I have the honour of being Vice Chairman.  I was going to go for Chairman but the merest hint of the word “Vice” set me off down an entirely wrong track.  Anyway, the serving officers were reinstated after the usual libellous character assignations in the run-up to the election.  I may be able to share with you the Machiavellian shenanigans that went on, once the Court case has finished (only kidding).  The second AGM was our very own, which was a much more genteel affair, ha ha!  It seems that despite some pre-match sabre-rattling we are all ensconced together for another season and are focussed on providing the best we can for all our Members.  

And so to the joke:               

I went to Millets and said ‘I want to buy a tent.’ The guy ‘To camp?’, I said [butchly] ‘Sorry, I want to buy a tent.’ I said ‘I also want to buy a caravan.’ He said ‘Camper?’ I said [campily] ‘Make your mind up.                  

If you have any opportunities, questions, issues or ideas please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  

Best wishes
Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby

September 2013

Musical Tables, HR and a close Finnish

 I was in the pub recently and a party of Finnish school teachers came in to eat and to take part in the pub quiz.  They were a really jolly bunch and all spoke perfect English.  There was much tittering when they asked the landlord what toad-in-the-hole was only to be surpassed when they asked him about the origins of spotted dick, the poor man.  He made some near the knuckle comedy response and his tormentor said to him “you are skating on thin ice there”.  This struck me as something your average Finn would know an awful lot about.   

Same pub, same evening, cut to two female friends who did a blow by blow re-enactment of a job interview one of them had gone through earlier that day, including the PowerPoint presentation.  Not something you would want to listen to whilst doing your crossword, or indeed at any other time.  The interviewee quickly established that she was seriously too good for the job, or so she told her audience of 1 (2 actually).  I felt huge sympathy for the poor interviewers and I would have shown her the door, corridor, stairs, car-park and end of the street had it been me.  She actually admitted her “big idea” was to talk to staff outside of her office environment thus removing that “us and them barrier”.  This was revolutionary thinking and the strikes and discontent that belaboured Britain in recent years could all have been averted by having “a bit of a chat”.  This culminated in her friend saying “You are a force to be reckoned with.  They must give you the job”.  She was and I wouldn’t have.  Incidentally, when did it become “HR”?  It seems to me that once people were thought of as a Resource i.e. something to use and exploit for profit and we lost the good old-fashioned “Personnel” approach, our employment world changed forever and not for the better.  Incidentally, Finnish for “personnel” is “henkilokunta” should you ever need it.  (Don’t look it up.  Would I lie to you?)    

Talking of business-speak, what is this constant reference to “Solutions” in company titles?  This was brought to life by the IT sector who offered solutions to problems that IT non-literates encountered but then it got out of hand.  I find myself looking at various companies and am amazed that I did not know I had so many problems that needed a solution.  A good example is road hauliers who morphed into transport companies, then logistics companies and now they are delivery solutions providers.  Please.  Some of the things I have seen:

Tubular Construction Solutions – scaffolders. 

  • Fenestration Cleansing Solutions – window cleaning.
  • Sensitive Disposal Solutions – undertakers.
  • Sensitive Disposal Solutions – Mafia.
  • Recycling Solutions – bin men.
  • Advanced Pest Solutions – rat-catchers.
  • Apache Solutions – no, it’s an IT company. 
  • Talent and Performance Management Solutions – theatrical agent.     

At the risk of losing any female readers who may glance at this rubbish, I am constantly fascinated by women in pubs and restaurants.  Nothing wrong with that you might say and indeed the current Mrs Nolan is long-suffering in such matters but I am talking about how some of you ladies choose a seat.  Most blokes will sit anywhere in a pub or café and not give it much thought.  My own preference is to have my back to a wall but that is a reaction to working with some nasty people over the years.  I once witnessed four ladies come into the local pub together and all sit at a different table.  They then had to persuade each other who had the best table – ridiculous.  Last weekend we went over to Clevedon (missionary work) and sat at an outside table in a rather splendid restaurant (Hunger Eradication Solutions) to people-watch over lunch.  Well, I have never seen anything like it.  There must have been 10 tables and none of the lady occupants were happy with their table or the number of chairs around it and proceeded in turn to move themselves and their companions around.  If they had a time-lapse camera filming this, David Attenborough would have had enough material for a new feature-length documentary on human behaviour.  We of course took the high moral ground because our table was positioned under a large patio umbrella which came in handy when it poured down with rain soon after.  We did not need to move but the others had to leave their carefully built locations and go indoors – presumably to start the whole process off again.  Or is it me? 

And another thing, who are those people who read newspapers in supermarkets but never buy one?  They hang around the news-stand and flick through a variety of papers with no intention of making a purchase.  I don’t know about you but I like to buy an unread paper.  This might seem like a daft thing to say but I wouldn’t buy a pair of trousers somebody had just tried on so why buy used news?  

All right, some rugby stuff: 

On hearing that All Black outside-half Stephen Donald had signed for Bath RFC their fan-site carried the following headline:  “All Black Donald signs for Bath.  E-I-E-I-O!”

“It’s the Lions versus the Wallabies today and I think I know what the result will be.  I’ll get sacked from Longleat Safari Park.”

I have just taken up speed reading.  I read War and Peace in two seconds.  Ok, it’s only three words but it’s a start.  I have in fact just read JK Rowling’s new murder mystery book, The Cuckoo’s Calling, which she wrote under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith.  It was interesting to note how the literary critics claimed to know it was her after she had been “outed” (and not before).  In her defence I am a firm believer that you can fool most of the people most of the time.  After all, I am really Enid Blyton.  Bye for now.

If you have any opportunities, questions, issues or ideas 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 2013

Literary, Lottery and Dietary   

My dear insomniacs, it may surprise you to know that I am in the process of writing a book.  I know that once you put it down you won’t be able to pick it up again.  Alternatively, I read a book the other day about the history of glue, I couldn’t put it down. 

Now that I have your undivided attention I wanted to talk to you about the dangers of gambling.  I have never been particularly lucky by which I mean I have yet to win the Euro Millions but undeterred, I buy tickets for the Rugby Club Lottery each week.  £1 per ticket and the prize rolls over until the right four numbers are selected by a lucky punter and a winner is announced.  All proceeds go to running the Club Teams and consequently this really is a good cause with no administration costs and is open to all.  Picture the scene, the other Saturday I bought my weekly quota of tickets (along with many other folks) and was poised with excitement at the prospect of winning the jackpot which had reached a life-changing £7,400.  To let you into a secret, I had devised a system of picking meaningless random numbers which was bound to work eventually, or so I thought.  I was sat alongside a former youth player, let’s call him “Matt O’Brien” who had invested £5 of his hard-earned and so I was in a much better position than he, having purchased more tickets and with a cunning plan in place.  Imagine my surprise when “Matt” won and I did not.  My, how I laughed as I was so pleased for him!  However, taking a more mature view of matters, I consoled myself with the inexorable fact that the double-decker bus of ambition eventually crashes into the low bridge of reality.  If you want to take part in the weekly Club Lottery for £1 per ticket please contact the Club or pop in and buy a ticket, you never know, you just might win it and then I can write about you.

You will have noticed that the rugby season is once again upon us and all is healthy at Rocks HQ.  We have 10 junior sides and are probably the only club in Wales to run two youth and three senior sides.  Whilst we have much to do in order to improve the way we attract and retain sponsors and to fully utilise our facilities, we are on the right track.   Mr Denfa Davies recently took office as Junior Secretary.  “He has a dream” and is pursuing it enthusiastically with everyone’s support.  In other news, Claire Fahy has been appointed Coach for the Pebbles (the Little Rocks), yes, a lady-person and the first of many we hope. History tells us that her namesake Claire Fahy, was taught to fly by her husband, test pilot Lieutenant Herb Fahy in 1940’s California.  Unfortunately she died in a plane crash one year later.  Nice teaching Herb and if anyone offers our Claire flying lessons, turn them down.

Whisper it quietly but Christmas is not too far away and for those devotees of all things rugby we have a Club Shop selling a variety of merchandise at competitive prices for seniors and for Santa’s little helpers.  Why not treat yourself or someone you don’t like to a gift that keeps on giving?  You can shop on-line or why not come down and browse.  Whilst you are here, why not buy a lottery ticket and a pint of foaming ale which Don makes around the back in an old tin bath.  Our facilities are available to hire for both members and non-members so if you are looking for a party venue with a difference, within a mile of the City Centre and at prices you can afford, please contact us.  We can cater and provide karaoke or just the bar.  Please book early to avoid disappointment.        

Ok, so that was the end of the party-political broadcast and I apologise for the high rugby content of this article.  I will try to ensure that it does not happen again.  Anyway, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were invited to a wedding the other Saturday which was a splendid event and largely peopled by ex-Royal Navy types.  Before you make up your own stories it was not full of sailors but I was given a lesson in how appearances can be deceptive.  One of the male guests wore a hacking jacket, jodhpurs and riding boots which is strange garb for a salty old sea-dog.  He then proceeded to entertain us all, whether we liked it or not with a medley of songs on the piano-accordion which he had taught himself to play.  However, he turned out to be a really interesting character and a nice bloke.  I say this for two main reasons, in the first place he had a very attractive wife who was 20 years his junior so fair play to him and in the second, he has given me a contract to work on a project with him.  As you can see, I have mellowed with age.  Having sat with four ex-sailors who had spent 25 years each in the Service I found it quite staggering that they only had something like 10 years at sea between them.  It seems that there are many more posts ashore than on the briny.  Then again, with defence cuts the way they are, we are forced to rely on the French to lend us one of their aircraft carriers if we need to bomb anyone soon and history has shown that relying on the French military is not always a good idea.  After all, how many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris?  Nobody knows, it’s never been tried.

In previous articles I have joked about those who are horizontally challenged or who have a lot on their plate, literally.  In the interests of balance I thought I would tell you that once upon a time I used to date a couple of anorexics.  You know the old saying, “two birds, one stone”.

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

November 2013

Live, Laugh, Love, Dance and the French….. 

My Dear insomniacs,

those of you who read this drivel on a regular basis need examining but I am not devoid of psychological challenges myself.  Whisper it quietly but I must confess to admiring the French in any number of ways.  Who could forget their “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”, (Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood), the national motto of France (following the French Revolution).  As you know, the populace rose-up and removed the aristocracy to make way for a brave new French Republic, or so I thought.  Imagine my shock and horror when I found out only last week that the women of France were only given the vote in 1944, some 150 years after manning the barricades.  Surely their motto should have been Liberté, égalité, make the tea!    

Talking of brotherhood, Rugby Club Members, Peter, Kevin, Bart and John O’Brien were in last week’s Echo.  No, not in the “Brought to Justice” bit but because Peter, beat Kevin in the St. Peter’s Bowls final.  This match was refereed by Bart (Dad) and overseen by John. It was an O’Brien Fest.  I have been asked to point out that there was positively no collusion and not a hint of nepotism in sight. 

In other news, and loosely keeping to the revolutionary theme, my eye was drawn to the reports this week of the recent arrival in Syria of the specialist team of chemical weapons inspectors who are charged with putting any weapons or ammunition they find beyond use.  They are empowered to conduct surprise visits to sites that may contain stockpiles of undeclared weapons.  So presumably they leave their hotel, drive across the desert unseen and shout “Surprise Surprise” like some demented Cilla Black at bemused Syrian goatherds.  But it doesn’t end there.  Their reported methodology to decommission the weapons is to hit them with sledgehammers or to drive their trucks over them.  I don’t know about you, but I for one am glad that we have sent experts into the field rather than our Youth Team, who by the sound of it, could do just as good a job and probably much quicker (and cheaper).    

I also wanted to talk to you about sayings we use on a regular basis which often have their roots deep in our history but do not really stand up to closer scrutiny.  You know the sort of thing:

“A watched pot never boils” – Of course it boils and just as fast as an unwatched one.

“More haste less speed” – The faster you go, the faster you go.“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” – No comment.

“A stitch in time saves nine” – Interestingly, this is an anagram of “this is meant as incentive” which I think is rather neat.  (Don’t bother checking it).          

“To cut a long story short” – Now this is the one that bothers me.  Put simply it means what it says.  However, recently I have heard any number of people saying “Long story short” which means they have further abbreviated the saying.  Where will this end…..”Long story”, “Long”, “L”.  I am concerned about this murdering of our language and its’ wider effects.  For example, this could also cause unforeseen problems for 1980’s New Romantics band Spandau Ballet if they ever toured again.  Who could forget their hit “To cut a long story short, I fell in love”…..Don’t even start me on “Back in the day”. 

The long-suffering and current Mrs Nolan and I are deliriously happy as you all know and so it is with an enormous sense of pride that I announce her appearance at St. David’s Hall, live on stage with 200 other dancers and singers from Studio 1 with age ranges from 3 to a lot older in their annual spectacular Charity Show which this year is entitled “Live, Laugh, Love, Dance”.  This elite band of artistes holds classes and practices within the confines of our spiffing facilities at Rocks HQ and we hope they all break a leg. 

I had a meeting in Bridgend the other day and as I was going back to my car (which was miraculously where I left it), I saw the following written on a white van “Panel beater and sprayer – Vincent Van Gloss” which I thought was brilliant. 

Now, as a self-employed person I am constantly on the look-out for the next fee.  However, there are times when it is clear to me that I do not want to work with a potential client for any number of reasons, the main one being I don’t have to.  When dealing with someone who will not take no for an answer I have devised the following method.  A bloke phoned me last week and inquired about how I calculate my fees.  I said, “Well, typically I scope, structure and draft a plan in advance, and charge £20,000 (plus VAT and expenses) for three questions”.  “Isn’t that ridiculously expensive?” he asked.  “Yes,” I said, “and what was your third question?” It works every time.

Au revoir.  

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

December 2013

‘Tis the season to be jolly, apparently 

I don’t know about you but “Festive”, “Happy”, “Yuletide” and “Yo Ho Ho” could easily bring out the “Bah Humbug” in me, or so you might think.  However, it may surprise you to know that I like Christmas.  The trouble is, I live in an Advent Calendar and its freezing because the windows are open throughout December.  Now here’s a Christmas idea, if all you Dear Readers do one good turn for somebody this month, then that will result in many thousands of good turns being done in Cardiff alone.  Now there are a variety of ways of doing a good turn which need not involve spending any money.  For example, if asked by your other half if her bum looks big in her new dress, tell her yes and do her and the community a fashion-favour.  She will thank you in the end (I am dead).  Similarly, if your office party is not going with a proper swing, start telling people what you really think of them.  This will be a gift that will keep on giving throughout 2014 as your former friends and colleagues plan their revenge. 

Here at Rocks HQ we will of course be doing our bit for the community.  Believe it or not we have organised a tinned food collection for the elderly and disadvantaged of the area which by strange coincidence covers many of our Members.  Seriously though, we will be working with the local churches to provide food parcels for local people in genuine need.  All ages and groups within the Club have joined together for “Bring A Tin” in the weeks approaching Christmas.  Don our Steward, has opened a stall in Splott Market in anticipation of this (only kidding), actually it is Ponty Market.  We have decided to theme each week hence tinned meat, tinned beans etc.  This became necessary because at one stage we had a tin of bicarbonate of soda, one of spaghetti hoops and one of golden plums.  Even Heston Blumenthal would have struggled to make a meal out of that lot.  Well done to everyone who has taken part.  I am collecting tins of beer if anyone is interested. 

Whisper it quietly but now for some actual rugby news.  Our congratulations go to a number of our youth players.   Jordan Viggers has made the Wales under 18 squad to play against Australia.  Rob Lewis and Rory Harries are in the Blues under 18 Academy and Sam Parker is in the full Blues Academy.  Well done guys and all have come through our Junior ranks.  We have also recently passed a significant landmark in our Club history and now have 500 Members.  Our grateful thanks go to all concerned but particularly to Denfa Davies and to Kevin O’Brien for leading the campaign.  Next up, we urge you to take part in the Club Lotto.  Standing order forms are available from behind the bar and online and all proceeds go to support the rugby needs of all age groups.   The main prize currently stands at £1,000, not bad for a £1 ticket. 

I had the great good fortune to meet a new client in London the other day but I happened to pick a London Taxi with a driver who was smitten with terminal and verbal diarrhoea.  I could not get a word in edgeways which is almost unprecedented for me.  His favourite saying was “Ere’s one,….this one will top you right up”.  He was Cockney, racist, anti-semitic and had surprisingly fallen out spectacularly with his family.  He was not talking to his father because he ripped him orf for work he had done on his bungalow.  He was not talking to his sister because she had moved into the said bungalow with their Dad, “money-grabbin cah”.   He was not speaking to his brother who had an affair with his ex-wife.  His son was also having the same treatment for passing his driving test and for taking his mates to Alton Towers without charging them.  (Clearly he wasn’t a chip orf the olde block).  Anyway, 20 minutes later and £35 lighter I decided to make my escape.  I didn’t ‘ave the hart to tell the geezer that the origin of Cockney dates back to 1362 when it was first used in literature (The Vision of William Concerning Piers Plowman) and is understood to have meant “a small misshapen cocks-egg”………ow apt.    

I don’t know about you but isn’t technology a wonderful thing?  However, the trouble with technology is that the minute something new is introduced, something old is thrown away or made redundant.  This got me thinking that the same could be said of songs because some of them just don’t work anymore.  For example:    

“Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree”.  Text me. 

“Knock 3 times on the ceiling if you want me”.  Text me. 

 “Don’t keep me hanging on the telephone”.  Text me.

“It’s so funny how we don’t talk anymore”.  That’s because you keep bloody texting me!

On the same subject, how about this for a one-liner which I am told is a song title:  “Your Phone’s Off the Hook But You’re Not”!

I had a complaint last month from an avid reader of this rubbish who pointed out that I had not listed any jokes.  In trying to raise the tone I had cunningly disguised the humour in the writing, or so I thought.  Ah well, you can’t win them all.  In an effort to please all tastes, these are the jokes folks: 

I phoned the local ramblers club today and this bloke just went on and on and on.

I got a job as the Duke of Edinburgh’s hairdresser.  I parked outside Buckingham Palace and a policeman came up to me and said “Ave you got a permit?” I said, “No, I’ve just got to take a bit off the back”.

I went to the doctor and said “That tastes of apple, that tastes of pear, and that tastes of strawberry. He said “Don’t worry, you’ve got fruit gums”

It only remains for me to wish you all a Happy and Peaceful Christmas.  Goodwill to all men, well some of them, well only the ones I like really, well, you know who you are.  

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