The sheep-shaggers derby

“This is it, this is the big one” my resident sporting masochist kept repeating in the build up to the weekend. I stifle a yawn and feign interest, as this is the person who fills my bowl and knows not to disturb my finely calibrated sleeping routines. To me the idea of mutual arse-sniffing is a distinctly dog-thing, not to be engaged in by 30 self-respecting grown men, under the subtle cover of playing something called Rugby Union. But, on this occasion it seems we are talking the world’s number one all-conquering New Zealand All-Blacks coming to town. I gaze into a mirror and try to remind the unobservant one that the all blacks are always in town… me!

In a failed attempt to avoid all forms of stereo-type I imagine the trophy for this occasion… a startled Welsh ewe being mounted by a triumphalist kiwi. While my in-house hopeless romantic is dreaming of another planet somewhere in a parallel universe, where a Welsh 15 are putting the all-blacks to the sword. However, it is an occasion to behold, as it is not often that a consistently world-beating team swagger into town. As I stroll about the town centre, a mere three hours before kick-off, it is obvious that the forthcoming encounter requires serious preparation, as kiwi’s gather in familiar territory even when on the opposite side of the world.

Kiwi's

Not to be out-done in their own back-yard, the locals of Wales put on a display of national pride… otherwise known as the Max Boyces’ version of a boy-band called Boycezone!

Max Boyces

Everywhere you walk is accompanied by the deafening silence of plastic glasses, as the overlords of health and safety ensure everyone has fun… but with a strange after-taste in the mouth.

‘What about the match?’ You ask. ‘Who needs a match when you have an excuse to drink yourself stupid all day?’ I wonder. For the record, local expectations were high, and it all begins with the usual New Zealand tradition of the Haka

New Zealand captain Tana Umaga (2eR), su

haka_585_486970a

The match quickly develops throughout the first half into the unusual rugby combination of a low scoring ‘cracker’, before the home team twice take the lead in the second half, to set up the unlikely prospect of a ‘haha-wacker’!

But we are talking the world’s number one team here; and for all of the expectations as Wales lead with little more than 13 minutes left on the clock, inevitability strikes… with three tries and no further points conceded the scoreline takes on a familiar, but for this match rather unrepresentative, look:

Wales flags

 

Wales 16 New Zealand 34

NZ Flags

 

 

 

 

 

 

My resident optimist searches for a ray of hope in the repeated gloom, and offers a thought that maybe revenge will be sweet in the World Cup in 11 months time. Until we speak again I have been a bewildered Juno, and feel any such optimistic thoughts belong locked away in the bubble from whence they came. Don’t suffer too much disturbed sleep dreaming of the vision of that Welsh ewe!

[With thanks to BBC News Online for images of the Haka].

Introducing Fat Freddies Cat

This week I want to introduce you to a true polymath, a cat of infinite talents… the Leonardo da Vinci of Grangetown…

Whether it is beer or photography, travelling or just knowledge of the all-night sounds of downtown radio ‘FM San Francisco’, Fat Freddies Cat is the go-to guy. His knowledge expands across many fields, from the iconic Ninian Park in Cardiff (now only a lifetime of memories) to the Estadio do Maracana in Rio, via the greener parts of Scunthorpe and Walsall. Santiago and Kilimanjaro are no strangers to this world traveller; very much at home at any event in Cardiff; an occasional drifter into Fagins Ale & Chop House in Taffs Well; but never cooler than when he is purring through the old streets of Bath. If you don’t know Bath you just haven’t lived, in this cat’s eyes.

Nothing and nowhere in the animal kingdom or pub environment is a stranger to his inquisitive eye:

Just take a picture of this…           is that a fisheye lens? asked the bull  as many of God’s creatures collide in a cat’s eye perspective of a cow through a fish-eye.

max boyces £1 each  Always an eye for a bargain, with Max Boyce’s apparently available for £1 each.

And when the famous or infamous disrobe, reapers day off   beware, for Fat Freddies Cat just might be there to catch anyone on a day off… even the Grim Reaper (sans cloak and scythe)!

But never is this cat happier than combining interests, such as the unique ongoing series of ‘A pint in…’

The City Arms, Cardiff…       a pint in the city arms II

a pint in the packet  The Packet, Cardiff.

The Couer de Lion, Bath:           a pint in the couer de lion

a pint in the green tree   The Green Tree, Bath.

And when a watering hole is not the priority, you can always rely on this supreme opportunist to be on hand when the special moment happens; such as the relatively unknown ‘Welsh incident’ where an inexplicable giant cake-icer transformed Flatholme island…

from the delightful to the delicious:         welsh incident

And then there is Bath… did I mention Bath?

Any time of day or night, lamplight  any angle or perspective… and most of the city centre pubs… fall prey to this inquisitor.

Circus

evening falls on bath

Nowadays our friend the cat focuses his prying eye on people, and a curious bunch they can be (cat’s eye view of people)… check out the ever-growing gallery and you will find a merry band of folk celebrating all kinds of life on the streets of Cardiff… oh, and did I mention Bath? Click on and open the following links for Lindsey the tightrope walking violinist 9695091724; Cardiff LGBT Mardi Gras 2013 9638382836; Ninjah 9431888430; and Jah Scouse 9485654736. And if you’re talking beer and pubs you can’t help but entertain a cameo slot from my old friend Sean… still at home in his world: 9370359347.

So… did I mention Bath? If I didn’t just call in on The City Arms, and look for a cat on a stool at the bar, the one with a fish-eye to hand. Talk to him nicely and Fat Freddies Cat will organise special tours, even with the occasional reference to the history and architecture of the old roman city… between the pubs that is! Little do the tourist information folk in Bath realise, but there is a thriving franchise frequently to be seen boarding the buses and trains out of Grangetown, armed with a camera and more enthusiasm than Julius Caesar himself. As for me, I’ve been Juno, and all I got was a trip to Newport! See you again soon.