Sunday 11 September 2011

Sick as a Parrot

This weekend has been a game of two halves. On Saturday we go to Aberaeron and the elegant 18C bijou gentleman's residence of Llanerchaeron, an early work of London Welshman John Nash who went on to become the pre-eminent architect of the Regency not least as the creator of the Brighton Pavilion. Lovely kitchen gardens where we scrump some juicy plums for lunch and somehow I am attracted to the utilitarian brown linoleum below stairs.

Why do I - and many other people of my acquaintance - not like the National Trust? Could it be the plastic cow in Llanerchaeron's old dairy or is it their hypocrisy in opposing relaxation of planning regulations while themselves developing fancy housing for profit on ancient estates like Erddig near Wrexham in the teeth of local opposition?

On Sunday it's all sport, mine and other peoples'. Running early morning in the gym I see highlights of Swansea City's match the day before on Match of the Day. Their goalie Michel Vorm looks sick as a parrot after letting Arsène Wenger's embattled Gunners off the hook by bungling a clearance which every Swans fan from Sketty to St Thomas is confident they would not have bungled.

A little later I am in the biggest pub in Wind Street watching the Rugby World Cup over a cup of tea (it's still only 9.30 am). Hafal Senior Employment Officer Andrew Mulholland's £20 bet at 80/1 on Wales to win the tournament starts to look well-judged as we outplay and are ahead of the current champions South Africa...until the closing minutes when the Boks go one point ahead and then Wales bungles both a penalty and drop-goal opportunity. Robbed!


My own rugby career peaked early and went rapidly downhill. I played for my school first fifteen aged 12, for my house at my next school aged 17, and for my college's third fifteen aged 19 - and never since for shame. As a callow youth I showed some promise because I was both fast for my size and also unusually aggressive. I mainly played wing-forward (I'd never heard the word "flanker"), a great position in the low-grade game as the scrum-half frequently fumbles the ball and so you can descend sadistically upon him - and of course he's generally much smaller than you. Happy days.