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letters

13th March 2002 – Observation of the week

Dear Mrs Davies-Todd

 

May I take this opportunity to observe that I find that there are many opportunities for  social comment in the maths homework that you set me.

 

This week (section 2 test 9 part C1) is a perfect illustration of the genre.  It is noted that 18% of attendees at a concert were men and 38 percent were women,  the remainder being children.  What can we read into this?

 

Firstly it is unlikely that, as in the time after the first world war, there were fewer men in society. Why therefore the imbalance of the sexes?  This could be that the concert was in an area of the country where men adopted traditional attitudes about family life and preferred to spend their time in the pub whilst the wife attended to the children’s needs.

 

On the other hand it may be that the concert was something arranged by the Women’s Institute and that therefore the entertainment on hand may have been less than suitable for the man of the house.  If this was the case then we should either pity or admire the 18% of males who did turn out.

 

The concert may have taken place on the Saturday of the FA Cup Final.  If this was the case then it would have been unreasonable for a wife to have expected her husband to turn out. The 18% might then have been accounted for by the fact that there are undoubtedly men in society who have no interest in football.

 

If the concert had taken place during the school holidays then there would potentially be more mothers than fathers available to attend as the former may well have been at work.

 

Finally could you please explain the principle behind and uses of the square root of minus one.  My father insists that there is an answer to this.  As my respected teacher of mathematics I am confident that you can explain this to me.

 

Best Wishes

 

Tom

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letters

10th March, 2002

Dear Mrs Davies-Todd
I note from this week’s maths homework, section two test 8c, question eleven that Mary gets paid three pence for every two pence that Tim receives.

I hope you don’t mind my asking where you got the idea for this unusual renumerative differential. As you may be aware it is often the case in the real world that Tim will get more than Mary. This is regardless of what you might think of the fairness of this arrangement.

You may have noted that for example in the world of professional tennis the ladies are often up in arms over the fact that their male counterparts get paid substantially more than them. Obviously the establishment response to this is that men play five sets compared with only three for the fairer sex and thus the paying public gets more entertainment when watching men than ladies. This is of course subject to the seasonal downpours that seem to be a regular feature of the Wimbledon Tournament.

As an aside I wonder whether Cliff Richard gets paid for his efforts during the wet periods. Perhaps he gets a refund for his ticket?!

Notwithstanding all this I realise that the debate over the rewards paid to professional tennis players, whatever their sex, bears no real resemblance to the issue of who gets paid how much when it comes to Tim and Mary.

There have of course been some well publicised cases in the national press involving females pursuing compensation from their (generally past) employers for unfair levels of wages in comparison to male counterparts. One can also point to examples of women who are paid much more than men (eg financier and supermum – Nicola Horlick).

In the absence of any real data as to why Mary gets paid more than Tim I wonder if you could shed any light on the issue. This is a real concern to the average 10 year old male who struggles to make ends meet with his one pound a week pocket money.

It would really be an issue if this kind of homework question were to send out subliminal messages (reading no doubt over Tim or Mary’s shoulder as they were sat in the dining room chewing their pencils) to parents to the effect that it was ok to pay girls more pocket money than boys.

On a completely separate note I would be most grateful if you could inform Mrs Bennett that I will be unable to partake in the PE lesson today as I am in dire need of cutting my toenails. Hard contact with objects offering any resistance whilst wearing trainers could cause painful damage.

Your attentive student

Tom

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letters

13th April 2002

Dear Mrs Davies-Todd

On this last weekend of the holidays I find that I have time to pen you a missive. Holidays, as I am sure you are aware give us the time to mentally recuperate and therefore find the time to indulge in playful notes such as this.

This has been a good holiday. The first weekend was Easter weekend and we had Grandma, Grandad and Aunty Sarah to stay. This is, in my Dad’s words somewhat of a mixed blessing. We don’t really mind them coming but we are always glad when they go.

To illustrate the issue I can use our visit to Sian and Adrian’s over the back fence. We went around for an Easter Egg hunt and whilst we kids were hunting the grown ups were having a drink. Grandad was hugely surprised to the extent that he laughed afterwards that Sian offered a range of drinks including a variety of teas. Grandad’s experience was that at that time of morning one only offered coffee. Different generations!

Anyway you can imagine that this sort of thing compounded over a weekend makes for a sigh of relief when they eventually set off for home. The biggest difference in lifestyle is the fact that we are all up by 7 am (by 6 am the kids are in mum and dad’s bed). Having had breakfast well before the visitors get up it is then somewhat strange to go through the whole process again at around 9.30am and find that it is nearer 10.30 when everyone is ready to tackle the day.

After the departure of the Grandparents the family headed South to London for a few days of cultural activity. We stayed in the Regents Park Marriott Hotel which turned out to be a find. The hotel was conveniently near to Swiss Cottage Tube Station and in a very desirable area of London. Desirable that is until we arrived – no only joking of course.

We met with Mamgu, Tadcu, Aunty Mair and Aunty Sue on the first night. Also Jamie of Jamie and Janice swung by for a visit. We ended up eating in the hotel whereupon Tadcu picked up the bill. Mum and Dad were highly pleased with this.

Over the following three days we did Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, the Lion King (Mum and Hannah), a tour on the open top bus, Pizza Express, The London Eye, the Tower of London and London Zoo.

The Crown Jewels were genuinely amazing and on their own worth the entry to the Tower. The other amazing thing was the size of Henry XIII’s codpiece on his suit of armour. On the last night Mum and Dad had dinner in the hotel with Aunty Sue whilst we crashed out in the rooms.

On the Friday Dad drove us up the A1 to Welwyn train station and waved goodbye. He was flying to Seattle on Saturday whilst we wended our way back to Lincoln and reality. Unfortunately Mum forgot about the road works at Long Bennington which did delay us a little.

That’s all for now.

Tom

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letters

Trains Of Thought

Monday 25th October

Sitting on the train is a good time to write letters.  Although modern technology allows us to stay connected and communicating almost wherever you are these days, including on the train,  it is a good time take a few minutes out to pen a few notes, thoughts or missives, depending on how you want to describe it. If the train isn’t too crowded that is.

 

There are two types of people you meet on a train: the friendly chatty type and those who are not in the least interested in talking to you.  Coming out of London you meet the tired commuters who do the trip day in day out and who look completely miserable.  I guess they must typically fit in to the “don’t want to talk” types.  Usually they have to drive when they get to Peterborough or some similar nonentity of a long distance commuting town so they can’t even have a beer to relax. Because they do the same trip every day it would be a recipe for disaster in any case if they got into the habit of a drink on the way home, speaking from the perspective of an individual who wants to look after himself that is J.

 

You also meet the “speak loudly into the mobile phone” types.  Usually the conversation centres around the fact that “they” are on the train and that “we might get cut off at any time”.  “I said we might get cut off at any time. Oh, we’ve been cut off”.  I mustn’t mock because we’ve all done it.

 

Monday 8th November

It’s funny how your attitude changes quite quickly to catching the train out of London.  When London represents an occasional visit then the time of the train back isn’t really so important.  Now that I’m doing it once a week, sometimes twice, then catching the right train whilst not actually a matter of life or death climbs the scale of necessities such that running for it to make sure of being on board when the doors slide shut becomes part of a regular fitness regime.  I never thought I’d join the ranks of those rushing up the escalator in Kings Cross.  The fact is that if I miss the 18.50 I have to wait until 19.30.  Not a long time in the great scheme of things but all the same an extra 40 minutes before I get home.

 

One of the problems facing Londoners is the unreliability of the tube.  In theory it only takes fifteen minutes door to door from leaving the office in Camden to stepping on the train at Kings Cross.  It is only two stops on the Northern line.  Reality is that when you get to the tube in Camden the sign tells you that there are delays, the trains are not stopping at Tufnel Park (for what it is worth)  and the electronic notice board informs waiting commuters that it is eight minutes until the next train (at rush hour) and you have only twenty two minutes until your train leaves Kings Cross.  Result: running up the stairs at Kings Cross.

 

Ah well.  Still there is a vibrancy about travelling to London.  The neon lights in Camden, the pubs, the late opening shops, the rush of people-like ants on their concrete runs all failing to walk anywhere in a straight line, waiting for gaps in the traffic to cross on “don’t walk”.  Corny huh?  They all look tired.  No one smiles on the tube.  It is also a young person’s game.  Where do all the older people go? Or is it my imagination? For somewhere that is supposed to be a happening city London certainly does its best to hide the smiles.  Possibly it takes a couple of drinks after work to bring it out in which case it is a city that seems to thrive only on stimulants.

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letters

17th September 2004

Dear Mr Jones,

Sorry to hear that you are still unwell. We hope and trust that you will undergo a full recovery and be back amongst us at William Farr School as soon as possible. This is particularly important as in your absence your lack of guidance for our young minds is affecting discipline and order in the classroom.

The class council has decided to rearrange the desks a little. This has been done because we found that at this time of year those of us sat at the back had the sun in our eyes for most of the afternoon. In consequence we have put your desk at the back and moved ourselves to the front, in effect rotating the classroom by 180 degrees. The council assumed that you would be ok with this because it was put to a democratic vote. In any case a decent pair of sun glasses would get round any problems you might have.

Moving the desks wasn’t too difficult and in fact hardly any of them were damaged in the process. Not as many as were damaged during the class party we held at the start of term in any case. Before you get excited and start laying blame it wasn’t our fault at all that the desks were broken during the party. In fact none of the damage would have happened if William Ward hadn’t discovered the process of distilling alcohol during chemistry lessons. Some of the kids were just not as used to hard drink as the rest of us. So it is not really anyone’s fault.

You will be pleased to know that we eventually moved the home brew out of the stock cupboard. It was starting to smell a bit anyway and got in the way of couples looking for a bit of privacy during the party. Some of us with responsible heads on our shoulders did make the effort to tidy up the cupboard the day after the party (the cleaner wouldn’t go near the classroom let alone the stock cupboard). I have to confess that we weren’t completely sure which inserts went with which folders but we had a pretty good stab at it so I imagine it will largely be ok.

I’m sure that you will agree it is also good news that Jane Smith’s pregnancy test proved to be negative. Imagine the worried looks on a number of the lads in the class over the past 2 – 3 weeks. Boy I tell you we aren’t going to have too many parties like that in one term.

On to more mundane things the new whiteboard is due to arrive next Monday and should be up on the wall before you come back. We wouldn’t have had a problem if William Ward hadn’t used permanent marker pens to write his poetry. Even then you could probably have worked around the verses – they only took up half the space on the board. The Headmaster suggested, however, that some of the words were a bit on the strong side and might confuse some of the younger kids who might happen to pass by the classroom and read the whiteboard through the door. Creative individual that he may be, spelling was never one of William’s strengths, and the poem was all in all probably not worth keeping on display.

Fair play to William he is always ready to admit when he has made an error of judgement and he did try to rectify the problem. He found, though, that using white gloss paint didn’t work out and in fact the resultant collateral damage to the polished wood floor from the splash-back from the paint roller was not really a desirable outcome. Again to William’s credit he did bring in a rug from home to cover the spot where the paint has stuck. His mother was a bit annoyed at losing here best rug but it just goes to show you can’t please everybody.

She should be glad that Jane Smith didn’t sue William for damages following the accident she had when she slipped on the rug and went flying into the classroom window. Jane herself was partly to blame because she ran into the classroom in careless jubilation having just had the results of her pregnancy test. The Headmaster has very generously said that the cost of replacing the glass in the window can be covered by their insurance policy and that Jane could take the rest of the term off to give her injuries a chance to heal. I think she is in a ward quite close to yours at the hospital so you two might be able to get together for a chinwag when she gets a bit more mobile.

Well Mr Jones that’s it for now I think.

Get well soon,

Tom

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letters

L’Orangerie De Lanniron, 25th August 2004

Dear Mr Jones,

Bonjour. I am writing to you from a soggy campsite in Brittany where, if I am able to claim any good fortune in respect of our holiday activities, the Davies family is ensconsed in a mobile home rather than a tent. As I write I am unable to hear myself speak due to the thundering rattle of the rain on the roof of the mobile home. This has been the pattern for a substantial part of the thirteen days of our holiday so far. Today is Wednesday and the forecast for the remainder of the week, and thus the remainder of our holiday, is not good.

Considering this I now come to the main purpose of this letter. I would be most grateful if you could make representations to the Headmaster, Mr Strong, for an extension to the timetabled holiday. It is patently unfair that two of what should have been the best weeks of the holiday have been literally washed out by what might in some circles be seen as an Act of God. Clearly as the Head of a Church School it is not unreasonable that Mr Strong should find some sympathy with this request.

Moreover, if your bid to prolong the summer holidays was to be successful, it would seem that your popularity amongst the pupils of William Farr School would rocket higher than it already is. Therefore I would urge you to contact Mr. Strong by any means possible, and lengthen the period that we all know and love as ‘The Summer Hols.’ May I take this opportunity to thank you for reading this letter and I wait in hope (and torrents of unexpected rain) that your efforts are successful. I expect to be contacted within forty eight of you receiving this letter, inviting me back to school on the sixteenth of September.
Au Revoir,

Tom

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letters

Center Parcs, 20th October 2004 – later

Dear Mr Jones,
We went for a family game of mini golf this morning. For the princely sum of £12.80 all four of us kids got to play 18 holes. Dad said to the girl in the kiosk that you could almost have a full round of proper golf for that. The 18 holes comprised of two different 9 hole courses, each of which kept the ball after it was sunk on the 9th green. The two courses were the Greenwood Course and the Castle Hill course. There was nothing to distinguish the two really except that you could see all the balls in the hole on the Greenwoods course which was a good job really because I hit my ball into the lake on the second hole of the Castle Hill course and had to go back and fetch another from the Greenwoods 9th hole, if you can follow that.

The rain kept falling steadily and wetly and a number of the fairways were waterlogged. It didn’t dampen our spirits though. The final scores for the 18 holes were as follows:
Tom 89
Hannah 125
Joe 142
John 165
I think there was some creative accounting going on somewhere but I can’t quite lay my finger on it. Also the contestants were not always fully acquainted with the full rule-set of the Royal and Ancient.

Later Hannah and Dad cycled through the rain to the Country Club for lunch. Dad said that he needed windscreen wipers for his specs. Dad likes going off with one of his kids for a little treat every now and again. Whilst they were there they booked a squash court for 10.15 tomorrow immediately followed at 11am by an hour’s snooker. Fun for all the family.

I went off to the pool and was just coming back to get my football kit ready when I met the rest of the gang on their way with their costumes. Apparently they invented a new kind of sling for John made out of a plastic carrier bag. He thought it was pretty cool and spent a lot more time in the water than on earlier occasions.

Mum and Dad are off out for a curry tonight. They have booked a table at Rajinder Pradesh for 8pm. We will all be forced to stay in with me as a baby sitter. There is plenty of popcorn and tortilla chips to keep us quiet. It’s dark now as I write – about 6.25. It just goes to show we are nearly into winter. The clocks will soon be going back. Always seemingly a step function into winter I think. Incidentally we are also having curry tonight for tea and, tapping away here as I am the smells are wafting over from the kitchen, 4 feet away.

Well that’s it for now I think unless I can come up with some inspiration as the closing paragraphs take form. It’s more a question of weariness rather than writer’s block. I say paragraphs but it is more likely to be paragraph really, although I am not aware of any rule limiting the length of a paragraph and in practice could extend it as long as the mother of invention requires. That isn’t to say that the paragraph would be extended without good reason. I mean to say I’m not going to waffle on for the sake of it.

Bye for now.

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letters

Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest, October 20th 2004

Dear Mr Jones

What can I say. Here we are on holiday again, a cosy family unit ensconsed in villa number 31 at Center Parcs, and dehors le deluge as they would have said in Brittany. Perhaps our family motto should be “Avec Nous Le Deluge”.

As we were walking to the Sub-Tropical Swim Paradise yesterday Dad actually remarked that if we had been in Brittany we wouldn’t have been doing anything so namby pamby as going to an indoor swimming pool. We would have been stripping off at a beach with true British fortitude, or perhaps stupidity as the French might have put it.

Although a villa at Center Parcs is a step up from a mobile home in Brittany it still shares some of the characteristics. Namely the noise of the rain on the flat roof at night wakes you up and from Dad’s perspective the noise levels from us cooped up kids also becomes intolerably high. Even if there is no noise from the kids this is compensated for by the noise from the TV, that being the one way to keep the kids quiet. Except of course when they can’t agree on what to watch or one of them has possession of the remote control and annoys the others by flicking around the channels without prior agreement.

Old John is still in the unfortunate position of having to wear a sling on his right arm after the broken collarbone incident of two weekends ago. He stayed out of the pool on the first day. Either Mum or Dad stayed with him and Dad to a certain extent made a rod for his own back because on that first day he took John to the pool café for a drink. The next day John didn’t want Mum to look after him on the obvious premise that he was more likely to get another trip to the café with Dad. In the end Dad ended up taking him into the pool with his sling on much to Mum’s quite natural concern. The upshot of it all was that the sling was soaked and in fact inadvertently left behind at the pool when we departed.

That was yesterday. Yesterday was actually a fairly action packed day starting with badminton in the morning, ten pin bowling after lunch and, following a stint in the pool, I went to “Football Camp” where, in the rain, the only difference between football and the swimming was that I got dirtier playing football. Wetness was a prominent feature of both activities.

Dad and I went out last night to watch Liverpool play Deportivo in the Champions League. It ended a very disappointing nil nil draw. Dad always says he can’t understand the attraction of football. There are never very many goals involved. Unlike cricket or rugby (typically) or even golf for that matter.

On our way home we stopped off at Chez Pierre, the Parc’s French bistro, for a nightcap. To Dad’s disbelief they only had one brandy, and that was a cheap one at that. He couldn’t imagine a French bistro with half an ounce, or even a gram, of credibility not having a reasonable selection of brandies. He also reflected upon a number of associated thoughts: namely that the French bistro was staffed entirely by locals from nearby Ollerton (our waitress’ name was Sharon, or Shaz as the receipt indicated) and that there we no persons of Asian origin in sight at the Rajinder Pradesh curry house across the Market Square from Chez Pierre. Equally I doubt that the Mediterranean restaurant (pizza), the American food joint or the top French fine dining restaurant were staffed by the relevant nationals. None of this of course takes anything away from the excellent leisure product that the owners of Center Parcs have put together for our enjoyment. You just can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Dad and I had a hot chocolate sat outside under the stars (clouds and drizzle actually) being kept warm by the patio heaters positioned near to every table. We enjoyed ourselves.

When we got home Mum was still up watching the television but after a short while we called it a fairly action packed day.

Categories
letters

8th October 2004

Dear Geoff,
I hope you don’t mind me calling you by your Christian name. I realise that it is normally considered inappropriate for a pupil to call his teacher by their first name but I think that the medium of the letter is quite an intimate one and within the four corners of this piece of paper I feel able to open up a bit more than I might otherwise do in the confines of the classroom. It’s a funny thing. My Dad tells me that he used to call one of his old headmasters Mr Phillips until both Mr Phillips retired and Dad went to university at which time he changed from Mr Phillips to Pete. He’s dead now. Pete that is, not Dad. He was a golfer, as is Dad.

Anyway this is not developing the theme of the letter as it should be not that I have a particular theme in mind. There are no threads coming out of this train of thought; no revelations; no profundities. Two good words there: revelation and profundity. I think I prefer profundity but really have nothing against revelation. This in itself is not much of a revelation nor is it a profundity. If I were to tell you that I was a in love with you that would be a profound revelation. In fact it would be totally astounding and I also have to tell you that it is totally untrue. I thought I’d get that in quick to make sure that there are no misunderstandings here, Geoff. It’s all very well playing around with words but we have to draw the line at playing with fire.

Staying on the subject of fire there is a fireworks display on at the rugby club in Lincoln. It has been an excellent event for the last couple of years. Good value for families and safe to boot. I don’t use the word boot in the context of rugby footware here of course but I’m sure that you realised that. We are a fairly keen rugby family here. I play with the Under 13s at Lincoln RFC, my brother Joseph and John play with the Under 8s and Under 6s respectively. Dad is past it now and sticks to writing the rugby reports for the Echo and the Chronicle and he also maintains the club website.

Poor old John has had his first taste of rugby injury as he has broken his collarbone during an unfortunate period of rough play with Joe at the club yesterday. They weren’t officially playing – just messing about whilst Dad watched the first XV. John had scored and Joe followed through and fell on top of him. The poor lad was in some discomfort and a friend of ours Sue Protheroe, who is a doctor, made the diagnosis and despatched Dad and John off to the Accident and Emergency department at the Lincoln County Hospital. This is conveniently down the road from both our house and the rugby club. He is going to be out of action for a few weeks with his arm in a sling and is an illustration as to why properly organised mini rugby at his age is non-contact.

Dad tells me that Saturday afternoons at the A&E department was a fairy regular event when he was playing!

Later that evening we were scheduled to go to the 18th Bailgate Scout Group family quiz evening at the Bailgate Methodist Church. Dad said it wasn’t normally his cup of tea on a Saturday night but both he and Mum thought that we should support the event. It turned out that other people we spoke to at the quiz felt exactly the same. There is a scenario whereby everyone taking part in the quiz was only doing it because they felt that they should support the event. I’m sure that the organisers thought that they were doing the right thing. Nothwithstanding this we all had a good time.

I went on Callum Mackenzie’s team much to the annoyance of Dad who thought I should be supporting the family. The Davies and Mackenzie teams were level on points at the halfway mark. Then after the cup of tea Mum took John and Hannah home and the bombshell was dropped. The next round was on the Bible. Of course being complete heathens neither Dad, nor Joe’s Godfather Terry who had come along for the action thought they had much of a clue in matters Biblical (despite being well read!) and with Mum having gone home they had lost their subject matter expert. In the end they called home on Dad’s mobile and spoke with Hannah who relayed the questions to Mum whilst she was reading John a bedtime story.

We got nine out of twelve in that round. Not bad and even Joseph contributed with “frogs”, that being the second plague of Egypt. All those days at Sunday School had paid off at last. The Mackenzies beat us by half a point in the end. Not bad considering we had lost half our team at the break. Clare Mackenzie ended up giving Joseph and myself a lift home and Stuart went to the Morning Star with Dad and Terry. A reasonable finish to the evening they thought.

Off to bed on – more in due course

TTFN

Categories
letters

Chateau De Lanniron, Thursday 24th August, 2004

Dear Mr Jones,

Hello. Le Soleil ne brillait pas. Sorry to go on a bit about the weather but it has been somewhat uppermost in our minds. Actually I am not being completely fair. The soleil in reality does brillait this morning. It is one of those rare mornings where we can sit out doing nothing but relaxing as one is supposed to do whilst on holiday in Brittany.

Yesterday we went to visit the Wards at their campsite near Quimperle and Dad and Alistair spent the afternoon drinking the local plonk whilst us kids hit the pool and the water slides. The Wards, in an attempt to get him to learn French have renamed William, Guillame. Don’t be surprised therefore when we return to school that you may well have to change the class register from W Ward to G Ward. You might of course, being a German language teacher, elect to persuade William to keep his original initial and call himself Wilhelm. I don’t think he has particularly strong views or any strong attachment to the French version. I leave this to you to decide.

We had a bit of a drama on the way home. It was quite late before we set off from the Wards campsite. Mum was driving and the petrol warning light had come on. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem because there were two 24 hour petrol stations nearby. However French petrol machines don’t seem to like British credit cards and we found that whilst our credit was good we were unable to pay for the fuel. French petrol stations being unmanned at that time of night therefore meant that we couldn’t actually get any petrol. Oh!

Not to worry said Dad and he promptly rang the international AA. He had just joined before going on holiday at the enormous rip off expense of £155 for 1 year’s membership to insure against this very possibility.

No problem said the voice on the other end of the phone. You just carry on driving and when you run out of petrol just give us a call and we will have assistance to you in 45 minutes or so. Great said Dad. That was clearly £155 well spent – not!

In the meantime Mum, who being the designated driver and had therefore not been drinking, spotted someone filling up at the service station and persuaded them to pay for our petrol with their credit cards in exchange for cash. Phew as they say in France. At least that’s what I imagine they would say as phew seems to be an universally accepted exclamation. They may spell it differently and emphasise it differently, though I doubt the latter, but say it I’m sure they do.

We made it home after the camp guards had put up the shutters for the night so we parked outside the perimeter fence and making full use of World War 2 raiding techniques stepped over the low chain fence and walked to the mobile home and bed.

I mention World War 2 because it is a hot topic here at the moment being the 60th Anniversary of the liberation of France. Vive la Republique, vive l’Entente Cordiale!? It gets nearly as many column inches (pardon monsieur, centimetres) as the Olympics which are on in Athens at the moment. Particularly annoying as whilst the British are doing better medalwise than perhaps they expected, the French are doing even better – zut alors.

Categories
prose

Lincoln 12 – 18 Paviors 18th January 2003

When you are down and having a run of poor results, bad luck seems to come looking for you and there is no place to hide. This certainly seems to apply to Lincoln Rugby Club as they struggle to find form in the 2002/3 Powergen East Midlands Division 3 (North).

On Saturday they played host to Nottingham side Paviors in a game that they might have expected to win. Indeed whilst at times the visitors performed better in the set pieces Lincoln were easily a match for them in the loose and had the crowd in a state of anticipatory excitement on a number of occasions with territorial breaks coming from both forwards and backs.

This was a crowd who, feeling comfortable after the pre-match three course lunch, wanted to be entertained by a home win. Their hopes were to be unfairly denied to them in a game in which the dice were rolling the wrong way.

Although Paviors kicking down the slope went into an early lead with a penalty in front of the posts. Lincoln came back with a vengeance with a period of sustained pressure in the Paviors half. A clearance by Paviors was kept in by scrum half Ewen Hamilton to set up centre Paul Clarke for a superb Lincoln try. This was converted and although Paviors were to reply with one more penalty Lincoln went into the turn one point ahead and with the wind and slope in their favour.

The second half however had a completely different tone to the first and was dogged by stoppages. It is unfair to complain about the refereeing because this amateur game could not be played without the efforts of referees giving up their Saturdays to enable others to lay the game.

However in this case it is possible to identify two specific refereeing mistakes that lead to tries by Paviors that decided the result in their favour.

The first was a clear knock on by Paviors in open ground that was seen by everyone. The ball was picked up by Lincoln but no advantage was gained and the same movement saw Paviors recover the ball to score.

Nevertheless Lincoln came back and despite a period where every decision seemed to go against them found themselves awarded a scrum five metres out from the Paviors corner. Veteran Clive Lewis playing at flanker took no chances and a thundering drive took him over the line and Lincoln back into a slender 12 – 11 lead.

Lincoln held on to this lead until near the end of the match when the second major refereeing mistake cost them the game. A kick forward by Paviors lead to Lincoln full back and skipper Nick Middleton being unable to control a difficult bounce. A further fly hack saw a race between a Paviors payer and Lincoln winger Adam (Sid) Whitwell actually won by Whitwell. The referee following on at a distance of some 30 to 40 metres awarded a try to Paviors.

Categories
prose

Boxing Day Rugby Match, 2004

Boxing Day at any rugby club in the country is when the true spirit of the sport emerges and its innate entertainment value is brought out by the bottle (seems a better way of putting it than bucket load).  Just as Christmas is a time for families to come together the traditional Boxing Day sporting event sees anyone that has ever been involved in the wide community of  rugby turn out to meet old friends and for some festive fresh air and exercise. The outcome is usually hugely amusing, the rugby flowing and people discover their shortcomings under benign and understanding circumstances that all can enjoy.

These days it is often the only game of rugby a veteran plays in the year.  An old trooper who has long hung up his boots will root them out of the cupboard when his son or his daughters’ husband comes home for the holidays in a desperate attempt to keep in touch with his youth and to show he can still do it.  It is a well known fact that a rugby player never retires.  It is simply that the gaps between matches get longer and longer. Indeed at a recent holiday in Center Parcs this rugby writer dug out his old shorts to play badminton with his kids and not only did they refuse to play with him in his old gear but they frogmarched him to the sports shop to buy a more modern, longer and therefore trendier and more acceptable kit. Harrumph.

At Lincoln Rugby Club,  Boxing Day was a beautiful crisp winter’s day.  Even though the midday the sun was low in the sky and the ground was largely frozen around fifty players old and new turned out to do battle on the ice rink.  If this had been a league match the game would have been abandoned before it started but there was one hundred percent consensus that the game was important enough to carry on.

Because Lincoln only have the one strip there was some objection because of the cold conditions to the notion of playing one side in “skins” and it was decided that one team would just turn their shirts inside out. As Chairman of Selectors Keith Younger read out the teams individuals would troop over to one side or the other just as they still do in school during the break when the two captains pick their own team.  Those not chosen were not too dejected because they knew that they could keep their coats on for another half an hour on the touchline.

This truly is a family day at Lincoln Rugby Club and a number of families turned out to play.  In the vanguard was Geoff Newmarch who brought three grown up sons along for a game, followed by Adie Smith and son Tom. Other father and son pairings included the Smalls, Dudleys, Woods and Woodthorpes.  The Younger brothers added a fraternal slant and Malcolm Withers at the young old age of 68 turned out in a museum piece of a scrum cap that has preserved his good looks through six decades of the sport.

Referee John Kirk turned out in a Father Christmas outfit that bulged so much after his Christmas lunch the previous day that everyone present felt that he would never get down that chimney again unless he put in a real effort at slimming in the New Year. John kept the game flowing as never before – nobody really wanted to slow down for a scrum or lineout because it was too cold.

At half time as the teams changed round and those players yet to have their turn came on several bottles of port were distributed together with oranges soaked in chilli vodka.  If anyone minded the vodka no-one mentioned it and in fact it was so cold that it may be the case that no-one actually noticed the difference from the normal healthy orange segment.

As for the game itself?  It ebbed, flowed, it entertained, kicks were booed and individual performances were cheered, many tries were scored and nobody kept the score. Old timers received knocks that reminded them why they didn’t play any more and of all the players on the pitch no one person gets a specific mention other than Pete Webster who likes to see his name in print. Well played Pete.  Well played everyone.  See you in 2005.

Categories
poems

Leader

A hard fought campaign.

The hustings.

The response of the crowd.

The populist vote.

Laughter, silence, emotion.

Tension.

Release.

Victory.

Celebration!

Categories
ideas

Choir by conference call

Anyone wanting to participate in a choir could ring in to a conference bridge and participate in the session remotely.

Categories
ideas

The Virtual Rock Concert

How about we create virtual rock concert venues where we get everyone a seat. The early bird get the lower seat numbers. there could be incentives for early birds eg free cd’s, t shirts.

The venues don’t have to be virtual. This could be something we offer concert promoters as an added value and a means of creating additional revenues from concerts.

Attendees could log on and check venue details, concert information, ticket delivery information, buy merchandise in advance, book parking facilities etc