Posts Tagged ‘rugby’

I’m back from my friend’s, and the sun is shining for the fourth day in a row, and the builders are lurking in the garden with noisemaking equipment and the radio (I so wish I could impose my taste in music, or shared theirs) . All seems well with the world, so there’s a glaring “what is about to go wrong?” feeling in the back of my mind. I don’t mean small stuff, like finding out that my adored jasmine has been decapitated, of something (don’t worry: it hasn’t been, yet). More the kind of “we’ve hit a snag that means we need to scaffold immediately and rebuild the rear wall of your house and your new toilet is now going to cost £15,000” kind of a go-wrong. But maybe not. We live in hope, which is fine. It’s the holding my breath part that’s getting to me.

My friend was as much of delight as she has been for the last twenty-odd years. Her children were new, but quite as delightful as their dear mother. I’ve also decided that maybe her husband doesn’t hate me after all. Why did I think he did? Other than generic neurosis? No idea. Either way, they announced the Lions touring party to South Africa and we chewed that over for a while. Wales has supplied 13 of the 37 players, and England only 8, so I was happier than him, but I don’t think he cares quite as much. Rugby tends to mean so much more to Welsh than English supporters, largely because it’s a significant part of how we can externalize our separate national identity. We are, in this one aspect, not entirely subsumed and we can hold our own against them, a nation with a population getting on for twenty times the size (can that be right?).

And to answer a burning question: no, she is not a knitter, but yes, she is as close to perfect as a non-knitter can be. It transpired that her mother is a big knitter, and she understands. I wasn’t planning on knitting at all, but she had to deal with some telephone calls, and I was sitting in the garden (and yay, I even took my tights off!) keeping an eye on the various children. I thought I could sneak in a bit of sock time without being rude, so I did. She eventually returned and picked up the conversation without even appearing to notice the sock. After a few moments I remembered it myself, apologized, and made to put it down. “No, not at all,” said that paragon of amicable virtue, “I know it doesn’t interfere [with the conversation]. It’s like, …smoking or something.” Well, only in this one respect is it ‘like’ smoking, but the analogy amused as much as it disconcerted me, and so I pass it on. And in the event, the sock stayed out. Hooray for the Paragon.

In addition to everything else, I got to give them their wedding present, a mere matter of five or six years late. We were moving around when the wedding took place and I ddn’t want to give her some random thing, so I said I’d wait. I didn’t forget my promise, but she seemed so surprised that I think they may have. I decided ages ao i’d give them some glass, but I swore to myself that I wouldn’t do so except in person (it would have been really ridiculous to wait all this time and then send something). I chose a dish in grays and plum, and a pair of coordinating coasters. It’s hard to tell with people as pathologically polite as my friend, but I think she liked them and I suppose they are guaranteed to be better than nothing. Which reminds me of a very funny thing I came across once: a rant on the pseudoscientific graph on a cereal packet which concluded: Cheerios – better for you than starvation. We use this around the house as a visiting pet slogan.


Coasters: better for you than no wedding present?

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The Beloved was off to South Africa for a couple of weeks on Sunday. Firstly, it had to be Sunday and not Saturday because of the priority of watching the finale to the season’s Six Nations. Which was very thrilling, but ultimately disappointing for Wales. Well, never mind: at least they won’t have to struggle from under the muffling mantle of favorites next year.

nice foot at leastSecondly, I had to finish his socks in time for him to give them a wearing before leaving. Now he was not to be allowed to take them with him (he said it was too hot anyway), in case they fell foul of The Infamous Washing Disaster of Johannesburg, an incident involving a less-than-state-of-the-art machine and an operator unprimed in the delicate matter of handling hand-made socks. So they were finished for good or ill by the Knitting Dervish of legend, on Saturday morning and presented to the Beloved’s feet. He said they were going to be too hot (it having been unaccountably, confusingly, but short-lived-ly spring-like), but upon receipt of an appropriate look, he demurred and on they went. I think they went down fairly well.

Sock A was truly rubbish: holey crap, in fact. Sock A was so terrible it needed darning before it could be put on, and that was only so it was a plausible match for Sock B. Now Sock B was preferable, by far, and at least could be called a sock instead of a waste of good wool, but it was hardly the dizziest height of elegant hosiery. Sock C (ongoing at the moment) is as superior to Sock B as Sock B was to Sock A.

terrible sockI should really have taken a photograph of Sock A before it received the ministrations of the darning needle: it was sadly comical. The sock equivalent of two-year-old finger-painting. My father – cruel man – on spotting it on a recent (rare) visit declared that he would be throwing away a sock with that many holes in it. Very witty. But he won’t be getting socks from me anytime soon. Unless he begs. Which I have to admit is unlikely. It is actually still pretty terrible. See this? How bad is this? I also had to warn the Beloved that they might not be his socks forever. Who knows what will happen to them? I think the gauge is too loose, so they might just streeeetch impossibly; they might shrink in the wash. They might do the former and then have the latter done unto them in a desperate remedial – or retaliatory – gesture… I will anyway do him better ones some day.

sock cIn my own defense, I feel it only fair to give a foretaste of Sock C: altogether better. I don’t think I’ve managed to drop any stitches (yet) and there are no great gaping holes (or none worth mentioning). I think I have benefited from experience – the joy of still being at the Early Learner Exponential Improvement stage of socks – and smaller needles. Yes! Half the size of porcupine I was using before. Size 3 (3.25mm) has given way to size 2 (2.75) and the result looks altogether sturdier. I’ve also gone for 1 x 1 ribbing instead of 2 x 2 (but I still “cheated” and did that part on straights. Hey: it works for me, OK).

I quite like this sock thing at the moment. I can see how it could get addictive. Where next? A pattern? Maybe.  Let’s finish Sock C first. Oh – and Sock D, too.

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Get a grip.

No histrionics please: we’re only Welsh, after all. Land of many things Wales may be, but wild, soaring self-belief is rarely one of them.

That said, you should have watched Scrum V on BBC1 Wales last night. I note that BBC1 in the rest of the UK had different programming, while we in Wales got to soak up a little more of this weekend’s six-nations rugby-fest. As on Saturday France lost to Ireland and England stumbled around shambolically against an Italian side that had gallantly greed to play with one hand tied behind their backs (thus allowing the home side a chaotic and undeservedly flattering home victory), things could hardly have been better when completed by Wales cruising to a win in Scotland. 26-13, and they let themselves down badly in the last quarter of the game to win by so little.

Well, we enjoy our rugby, and we rarely get to enjoy it as much as this. There is normally so much negativity in Wales, and no-one ever seems to dare get caught in possession of a positive thought (that might jinx the team’s chances) that it was refreshing – and astounding – to see the entire TV panel grinning and smiling and generally, well, gleeful.

And no, they probably won’t win another Grand Slam, or even the tournament this year (there I go with the negativity), but it’s a delight to enjoy the moment.While we can. And yes, England being awful is always a bonus. Which isn’t to say they might not come to Cardiff and win next weekend, because part of the joy of rugby – all sport, I suppose (though rugby isn’t really a sport, but the One True Religion) – is that the upset is always so possible. However, every year the British media, by which I mean the overwhelmingly English media, talk up England to win, all the time – it’s always England as favorites, England as the team to watch, the team to beat. Yards of newspaper coverage, they get, and Wales get about half an inch. It makes me sick. It’s nice to see the roles reversed for a change, however briefly.

So perhaps I should be embarrassed at this, but good Welsh rugby acts as a real tonic to me. I remember last year, when I had a three-week continuous tonsillitis event, and was feeling very sorry for myself (something about not being able to swallow without pain for three weeks – and for the third time in as many months – was making me ‘unaccountably’ deranged: go figure) – my husband would whisper “16-12” to me, and that was enough to cheer me up. (That was the Wales-Ireland score a year ago.)

Remind me to tell you about the Cursed Shirt before next week’s game.

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Half-term is over!

And the Ospreys are into the semi-finals of the Anglo-Welsh Cup (that’s Rugby Union, for the pitiably ignorant out there), which is one of the good things to have happened this weekend. Also, Child One returned unscarred form France and the little ones were much, much happier all day yesterday as a result. We made sushi for dinner and have reached the point where almost all the glassware used was my own work. Some of my very first efforts, some plates that I intended to sell, but started using instead, and a couple of odds and sods and prototypes. I’m reminded that in my first flush of glass enthusiasm I did attempt to make – very dangerous-sounding – glass chopsticks with dichroic ends. Possibly luckily, I quickly saw I couldn’t get them thin enough and round enough and abandoned the idea. Those prototypes were broken down into cocktail stirrers, and very nice they are in that role. I might even resuscitate the idea as a holiday gift item. Why not?

After all, I’m now entering the blind panic zone of Christmas preparation. I have a few fairs lined up, and no idea how much stuff to make, which items will do well, how much they should all cost… I’ve never really done this before. Last year I had just started out and I peddled a little dichroic jewelry at one of the local primary schools. Now I have a whole range of things, and at least one “proper” craft fair to take them to. As the venue charges real money and requires public liability insurance (as well as filling out an absurd ‘risk assessment’ form – aggh!), I don’t particularly fancy shelling out the big bucks, driving half-way across South Wales and running out of stuff at midday. I should be so lucky. What I really mean is running out of the stuff people want and being left with a load of items that aren’t right for the market. Ah, well, we’ll see. Got to try, I suppose. Meanwhile, note to self: go round to the local craft shop that has got some of my stained glass hearts and get them back. At this time of year, I have a much better chance of selling them myself – and they are taking a ridiculous 150% mark-up, which I didn’t care about so much during the slack part of the year, when I figured at least the hearts were being placed in front of a few eyeballs they wouldn’t have met the gaze of in my kitchen. But I damned well care now, when getting those ones back will save me making a million more…

Photos of all these pretty things when I get to it.

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