Category Archives: Rugby

Party Animal Aces It!

Party Party

As Lifestyle Support Guru followers know, I was invited to a pre-wedding party and I could well have made a complete and utter fool of myself by turning up at the wrong time, believing it to be an evening ‘soirée’ before finding out it was an afternoon do. As it was, the LSG achieved perfect symmetry by arriving at an acceptable time – a fashionable 20 minutes late – and leaving at 7.30 pm, the time originally planned for arrival. The only sad point was having to leave half a glass of wine because the taxi to take me home turned up unusually early.

Surprise

The afternoon went well, if you discount the bride-to-be – who has known me for several years, including two as her French teacher – introducing me at one point as Ian. I explained that I had not had any gender-reassignment surgery since I had last seen her and she seemed quite satisfied with that, so I shall simply put it down to one glass too many of French wine (which flowed copiously).

Conversations

It was lovely to see so many people whom I hadn’t seen for many years, including the delightful Mark who made so many French language classes a joy to teach, and it was even fun to sit on the ‘sad settee’ with two other women as we discussed Trump, Assad and North Korea while all around us others were reminiscing about the joys of organising school trips before Elf’n’Safety reared its ugly head. I also had a good conversation with the (Irish) husband-to-be about the likely team choices for the forthcoming Lions rugby tour. This may not have been everyone’s idea of a fun afternoon, but I was having the time of my life!

Airport – WHERE?

I think one of my enduring conversational memories (apart from the sex-change operation) will be talking to a friend and ex-colleague about my plans for a visit to Turkey in the near future, flying from Humberside because, as I said, ‘It’s such a small and friendly airport.’ ‘Oh,’ she replied, ‘I didn’t even know they had an airport there, especially for international flights.’ Her husband gave her what can only be termed ‘an old-fashioned look’ and asked me to repeat the name of the airport. ‘Humberside,’ I said. ‘Oh,’ she responded, ‘I thought you said Ambleside.’ Ambleside is a small village in the Lake District!

Under Lock and Key

I was most impressed when the bride-to-be’s father, when I asked for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, produced a set of keys and said, ‘I’ll fetch you one.’ ‘Wow!’ I thought, ‘This must be something special to be under lock and key, especially since they’d been telling me about the bargain they’d got for 2 euros 10.’ It turned out that it was only under lock and key because it was a party-size box that they had to keep in the garage because it wouldn’t fit in the fridge!

It was a wonderful afternoon and the party was still in full flow when I left, so I could easily have turned up at 7.30 pm and still had a good time! Not a sign of cocoa, slippers or ‘Casualty’!

Thank you, one and all, for a joyous afternoon – may your wedding be peaceful, happy and bright, whether you are the bride, the groom, the parents or just friends!

Gin Cheesecake

PS The gin cheesecake was delicious! (= Cheesecake made with gin and lime)

The Lost Weekend

An Old Classic

For those of you old enough to remember, this post’s title refers to a film starring Ray Milland and Jane Wyman about a man who goes on a bender and I immediately spotted the similarity between it and a rugby weekend in Llandudno. ‘Why Llandudno?’ I hear you ask, as you cut to the heart of the matter. A simple answer suffices – one member of the group had been conceived in Llandudno. No further details are necessary.

The LSG’s almost limitless patience was severely tested right at the start, I can tell you, when one of the Midlands contingent thought it would be good fun to get the meeting time wrong, arriving almost 45 minutes late. I shall refer to this sorry individual as TP (or TeePee), which stands for Tall Paul because a) he’s tall and b) his name is Paul. The other Midlands passenger was TT (the Tiny Tyke), who has been mentioned in previous posts.

Four hours later, instead of the 2½ promised by Google Maps, we arrived at our destination – this lengthy journey was partly due to the three satnavs in the car being unable to agree on the route to our hotel. The three satnavs were Google maps, TT and TeePee. I had printed out the directions to the hotel and asked TT to read these out to me because Google maps had gone into a sulk as we passed Rhyl and had stopped speaking to me (having been to Rhyl once, I can understand this). TWENTY MILES from Llandudno, TT started reading out the directions – EVERY SINGLE ONE, including street names, exits on roundabouts, left and right turns… Now, the LSG may have a superior brain and memory, but even she was going to have difficulty remembering all these instructions, so she politely asked TT to read them out once we got closer (I think the exact words may have been: ‘Shut up and don’t be silly. I’m not going to remember all those. Be like the satnav and read them one at a time when we’re actually in Llandudno.’ It had been a long day, Faithful Followers…).

We met up with the rest of the merry band, who had travelled from all corners of the globe – well, London and Hull, to be precise – and, after a reviving drink or two, we decided to go for a meal. The meal was pleasant enough and the bill was acceptable, but TT showed his Yorkshire colours when he rounded the bill up so that it would divide easily between six of us as well as allow for a tip … of £1.27.

The following day was taken up with watching the rugby in a pub chosen by the member of the group who had also chosen Llandudno as our destination for this year’s rugby trip. The pub was rather lacking in atmosphere – and rugby fans. In fact, it seemed to be lacking in Welsh people as well. (One of TT’s comments on the weekend overall was that he had been disappointed because Llandudno ‘isn’t very Welsh’. I think he may have been expecting to see hordes of women dressed in traditional Welsh costume, complete with tall black hats.) The nearest we came to another fan was someone standing behind our seats shouting that well known rugby chant: ‘Meat pie, sausage roll; come on, England, give us a goal… or a try.’ Youngest sibling even managed a few moments of shuteye in between games, but this is not unusual, since he falls asleep at the drop of a hat (Welsh or otherwise).

That evening’s meal was Indian… it was supposed to have been Chinese, according to TripAdvisor.

The journey home on Sunday was uneventful, mainly because the LSG knew where she was going and didn’t need to rely on TT, TeePee or sulky Google. The weekend was completed by an evening meal out with TT, TeePee and his new girlfriend (who hadn’t come to non-Welsh Llandudno). The LSG had opted for a casual look for the evening – i.e. jeans and trainers – because thinking of anything else to wear seemed too tiring after two days in Llandudno. Meanwhile, ‘new girlfriend’ had obviously had time to think about what to wear – a whole weekend, in fact! – and was dressed in a rather glamorous fitted red lace number and heels. Of course, as the LSG, I managed to rise above lowly feelings such as jealousy, thinking only that I would have somewhat resembled an overblown rose with a bad attack of ‘downy mildew’ should I have attempted to wear anything similar, whereas ‘new girlfriend’ looked like a willowy tulip. Shan’t be making her my new best friend.

And there you have it, Beloved Believers – a lost weekend in Llandudno. Highly recommended, but only once…

Four Friends and a Funeral

Preparing For  A Funeral

Good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru! Tonight’s topic – a funeral – may surprise you, but even funerals can be enjoyable. The tale may be a little long, but I make no apologies – besides, I am the LSG and I don’t need to apologise for anything!

Firstly, I like travelling with youngest sibling, even to a funeral – he’s about the only person I know (male or female) who doesn’t raise an eyebrow when you ask, ‘Is it OK to take four jackets?’ – mainly because he has also packed four jackets! (one for if it’s fine and mild, one for if it’s fine but cold, one for if it’s wet but mild and one for if it’s wet but cold)

Where Is It?

Be sure to arrive early for the service so that you can find out exactly where you need to go. Unfortunately, you find nothing to indicate whether to go to the North Chapel or the South Chapel and no one around to ask. Leave youngest sibling standing in the doorway of the South Chapel, sheltering from the pouring rain (coat – the one for ‘wet but cold’) and go on the search for any helpful signs. Luckily, you find a (tiny) waiting room and also spot someone who looks as if he might know what is going on. He says that the service will be in the North Chapel and points to a large door right next to the waiting room, so you fetch youngest sibling and take a seat in the waiting room as time passes and you wait for others to join you. Suddenly, a disembodied voice rings around the waiting room: ‘Hello! It’s nice to see you here.’ You both jump because the waiting room is not big enough to hide a mouse, let alone another person. Confusion – even terror! – reigns until you spot a speaker up in the corner of the room, which is obviously relaying the voice of the minister taking the service. Phew! Not a voice from above, then!

Troublemakers!

Five minutes before the service is due to start, despite there being no one else around, which you find rather surprising, you decide you’d better make your way into the chapel and you head

for the door indicated earlier. The door opens directly into the chapel and you are followed in by a strong gust of wind that blows all the Order of Service programmes onto the floor from the pews. The minister looks a little surprised at your entrance and tells you to sit at the back – he’s obviously spotted that you are troublemakers – before going around replacing all the programmes on the pews. Two minutes later, the door opens to allow the family and a huge crowd of mourners to enter – unfortunately, the door was not the one through which we had entered! We had come in through the back door, so to speak, which explained the faint looks of surprise on the faces of those entering to see two people already in place. It was a lovely funeral service, with some great singing, although you have to restrain yourself from shouting ‘Wales! Wales!’ at the end of ‘Calon Lân’, because that is your usual response during a rugby game. (I’m sure Speedy Freda would have approved!)

Welsh Food

It is then on to the post-funeral refreshments at a local rugby club – I have to say, dear followers, that the Valleys can equal any top-flight London restaurant when it comes to putting on a spread. Please don’t expect cheese and pineapple on sticks any longer – oh no, the cheese and the pineapple were served in separate dishes. There was even a pot of hummus. Dead posh! And vegetarians were amply catered for – at the far end of the table was a small plate with a little flag saying ‘Veggie’ and on the plate were two slices of quiche and half a tomato (cut in a posh way, of course). They were still there at the end, as was most of the hummus, so vegetarians are not yet running rampant in the Valleys.
You might be wondering where the ‘four friends’ of the title come in – they were the LSG and Speedy Freda’s son and two daughters, some of the LSG’s oldest friends. ‘But what about youngest sibling?’ you cry. ‘Doesn’t he count as a friend?’ Well, of course he does, but that would have spoiled the title!
A day of tears and laughter, but that’s what the best funerals are all about – and this was one of the best! Nigel, Karen, Sarah, you did your Mam proud. Nos da, Freed.