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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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