Man, myth, legend, tarmac

X-ray eyesIt’s with laser focus that I decided I would look into the myth and legend of the great Welsh politician of the early 20th century. Yes, you guessed it, he is English. Or is he? Born in Manchester to Welsh parents, he was brought up as a Welsh speaker with English as his second language. As a nation few in number we will take what we can get, so he is Welsh, particularly as he is instrumental in laying the foundations for the welfare state, and was prominent in the development of peace after the ignominiously named ‘Great War‘ (1914-18).

So, how is this majestic pillar of Welsh political traditions celebrated in the capital city? No such thing as just naming a road after this Chancellor of the Exchequer, Minister of Munitions, Secretary of State for War, Leader of the Liberal Party, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom… he gets an avenue.

Road and purposeBut, in keeping with any questions about ancestry and origin, I wondered just what this tribute was trying to communicate. Most auspiciously, this is a road in search of a purpose, as it’s rush hour dream-like barren state doesn’t reflect what you would normally expect in the name of a great man…

Rush hour dream [1]Rush hour dream [2]

What a difference a match makes. If you needed evidence of how important rugby is to the natives just take a look at this so-called tribute to an icon on a match day (and Wales weren’t even playing!)…

 

 

Road and purpose [1]

Road and purpose [2]

 

 

 

 

 

Who needs an eye-sore of a made-for-purpose coach park when you’ve got a dual carriageway iconically named and vastly under-used. Until we speak again I am Bella, living a politician’s promise away from a made-to-measure coach park.

Road and purpose [3]

Defining disaster

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Its the predilection for sniffing each others arses¬†that reminded Juno that rugby was more a sport of dogs than the superior refinement of the cat. Yet setting aside the strange sexual proclivities of the public school playing fields of England, dressed up as men playing sport, it occasionally provides moments of ‘event’ proportions… and the Wales v England fixture is up there amongst the world’s great rivalries.

IMAG1515The stage is Cardiff, lauded by the locals and many fans around the world as a historic rugby fortress.

It is an hour before the kick-off, and no place for any weary shepherd and virgin combinations, as room in the inn has become impossible to find…

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But the Millennium Stadium is poised ready to greet warriors of both tribes as they converge on the battlefield…

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The tension gets ramped up even further as the full-strength gladiators of Wales enter the arena preparing to slay the under-strength superior numbers of England…

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10 minutes into the match, and everything is going to the home fans favoured script as Wales take a comfortable 10-0 lead. All Welsh minds are reflecting on the demolition of their opponents in this very stadium a mere two years ago. However, England’s patchwork quilt of a team manage to fashion a try of their own to stem the red tide. A few other points from respective boots and half-time arrives with an unexpected but still seemingly comfortable 16-8 lead for the hosts.

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Half-time team talks that transform a performance are legendary, but few and far between. But this must surely have been an occasion when the words said in the England dressing room should be bottled and sold for a fortune. My mind drifts back to a poster featuring one of the present day commentators, England’s own Brian Moore, which basically posed the threatening message ‘It’s not the winning or losing, it’s the TAKING APART!’ Well, Juno would have undoubtedly taunted me during the second half of this match, as the country of her birth, England, set out as a team possessed. With only a few minutes on the clock their persistent pressure and a moment of magic brings about a converted try. 16-15 to Wales, followed shortly after by further disarray in the battered home defence leading to an 18-16 lead for England. With little of any threat from the home team, the visitors add another penalty for a final score of Wales 16 England 21. The home nation are stunned, and the underdogs instantly show what this score means to them…

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It’s the start of the Rugby World Cup year, when these two teams will meet in England in the group stages of the competition. When a full strength Wales lose at home to an understrength England in such a shock one-sided end to a game, don’t believe me or any of my fellow countrymen when we say this has no bearing on the forthcoming World Cup. Half cat half doorLike all good cats we like to shrug off such an experience as a disappointment, when in reality it is better described as a calamitous disaster.

Until we speak again, watch this space… while memories of Juno’s favourite rugby pose neatly sums up the performance of the Welsh team.

[With thanks to shutterstock.com, erfeidine.blogspot.com and tweetsport.co.uk for original posts of the images borrowed to illustrate this tragic tale].

The pain of deja vu

Wales flags

 

WALES 28 AUSTRALIA 33

Australia flags in St Mary Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was a rugby match that had as much, if not more, to do with other days as it was about today. Whoever said that rugby is just about 80 minutes of 30 big cats running into each other clearly hasn’t been in Cardiff on an autumn international match day when Wales are hosting Australia. This type of afternoon in the Millennium Stadium is what psychology looks like in the raw.

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Today is just tomorrow’s yesterday‘; or you might want to think in terms of ‘times of future past‘. But, whatever linguistic scrummaging you want to get your headspace into, there is no getting away from the fact that Wales have developed a habit, one that nobody should really fall into. This is now 10 straight defeats to this particular opponent. But worse than that… this has become a fixed pattern of Wales leading with minutes to go on the clock, only to commit sporting harikari as they commit a simple error or two to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

So, that takes care of the psychological impact of the past, what about the future? Today comes with added spice, because these two teams find themselves in the same World Cup pool as England in October 2015, and only two teams can qualify out of the pool into the quarter-finals. While at the last World Cup Wales and Australia were both losing semi-finalists, and England returned home early in disgrace! (Welsh folk seem to like using that adjective); now the circumstances look more evenly balanced. So, 3 into 2 is going to leave one nation languishing in dejection. Cue the moment for ending a long run of a particularly poor habit!

 

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Until we speak again I guess I will be Solemn Juno surrounded by a nation in mourning for what could have been… yet again!

[Thanks go to Wes Clark and Afro J Simpson for posting the two fabulous images].