Clean Monday

Another Bank Holiday and the kitchen cried out for cleaning. Dishes, floor, cupboard doors, vases and recycling-done. Now for the DIY, lawn mowing….nah, it will keep. The bees are on my side I’m sure. Not because they are anti DIY, I have no idea what their opinions are on that subject, but our front and back mini jungles are replete with wild flowers (weeds to most people).

If the sun keeps shining, my thoughts might turn to burning garden waste and christmas trees. I love the whoosh you get from a well dried out pine tree. I suppose meat will have to be bought. Ribs and steaks or chicken? This question should be an easy one to answer if I was sticking to a diet. Unfortunately I lack commitment and keep putting off the start date.

Saturday was a bit of a boozy occasion. I had gone to Lavery’s to watch the Ospreys vs Ulster game and fell in with a fellow rugby fan and front row forward. Peter is a Tigers fan and plays for Bournville in the English midlands. He’s working in Northern Ireland for an aerospace company on a short contract. The Guinness went down easily, the conversation was relaxed and I suggested we try a couple of bars on the Ormeau Road. This had been a pleasant departure from my usual Saturday slothfulness. Making sure that Peter had the number for a taxi, I made my excuses and headed home for tv and a chinese takeaway.


Ulster fans, where were you?

I am paying nearly £100 every month for cable TV, phone and Internet – that’s without Sky Sports. So I headed for the pub to watch Ulster vs Glasgow because Sky were the only people broadcasting the match.

That’s when I discovered they had closed the King’s Head for renovations. Luckily I was in a taxi and moved on to the Bot. The game was on in the front bar with no sound. I asked the bar staff to turn up the volume. After fiddling about with the channels and setting the main bar’s TV to the GAA football for a customer who came in after me, we finally had sound. It was so low I moved closer and craned my neck to see the TV.

I was the only person interested in the game. Where were all the Ulster fans? Were they put off by the less than friendly service in the Bot? Maybe they went elsewhere for service with a smile. The Pavilion bar is close to the Ulster rugby ground and has a great post match atmosphere. Cutters Wharf and Lavery’s would normally have more than a few Ulster fans in to watch the games.

The Bot used to be a very popular bar with students. It was where I first drank a hot whisky in a bar. A great drink on a cold day and a roaring open fire added to the welcome. On a recent trip to Glasgow, a woman behind the bar put on her best sarcastic performance to tell me that they didn’t have the recipe for a hot whisky, as she poured boiling water into her mug of tea.

The Bot might not be in business too long if they don’t offer a welcome to their dwindling customers. It might be worth getting Sky Sports if I have to endure poor bar service. £4 a pint in gloom or three pints for £5 from the supermarket to drink in your own living room with self-service catering only a kitchen away.

Ulster vs Dragons

I will be going to watch Ulster play the Newport Gwent Dragons in the Pro12 this evening with my youngest son. It will be a good excuse for a few pints, some loud cheering and meet up with some fellow Ulster fans at the ground.

Charles Piutau 15 Ulster 2016

Our new full back, Charles Piutau is a formidable player and his off load pass against Northants was sublime. Pienaar is leaving Ulster at the end of this season and his contribution to the club has been phenomenal.



Home time

Poured mum a large one (watched Liam’s eyes pop) and said our goodbyes. Back to the Norbiton Dragon to watch Ulster beat Treviso then on to the Cardinal for Italian grub.

Mum’s parting words might shock or alarm, but objectively are what one might say aged 86 and looking down the barrel of a gun wondering when it’s going to go off.

guys and dolls

Had a long chat with people I hadn’t spoken to for a long time. Free UK landline calls from mum’s bedside phone/tv helped. Shirley filled in some gaps in my extended family history, and Jean has been a lifelong friend of the family who paid me some compliments about the care I have shown my mother. Ego suitably massaged, my days of rubbing my hands with surgical alcohol are over for a bit.

No trains to Gatwick between 1am and 7am – taxi it is then…

Brute force and ignorance

tom court red carded

Modern rugby dictates that clubs have a few battering rams to punch holes in the opposing team’s defensive line. Sometimes the rams are endowed with intelligence and speed, but they are not always essential requirements.

Tom Court for Ulster is one such ram who shows little sign of intelligence. After the Saracens game  did Ulster really need another red carded player to make their clash with Leinster an uphill battle?

Lift a player above waist height and dropping him on his neck got Tom Court sent off in the first half. That’s the way I saw it and the referee judged it. What about you?


Red card blues

One wrong decision can spoil the enjoyment of an evenly fought contest. The accidental collision of two players in a game of rugby gave rise to just such an injustice. The referee got it wrong at the Ulster vs Saracens game in the Heineken Cup quarter finals, resulting in Jared Payne’s sending off. A more confident referee would have seen the replay, noticed that Payne only took his eye off the ball when it was too late for him to do anything about it, and decided whether to award a yellow card or just a warning. The red card is for dangerous play and implies forethought and intent. Neither of those reasons could be levelled at Jared Payne.

jared payne red card

It’s a shame that a great game of rugby that was played heroically by a 14 man Ulster team did not yield the victory that surely would have been theirs with the full team. The crowd tried to bridge the gap with some lusty cheering and chanting, but it was not to be. Two points down with five minutes to play, Ulster went looking for a try or penalty within kicking range. Without a distance kicker they opted for a corner kick and a very good Saracens defence closed out the game victorious.

But don’t let me be the sole arbiter on this matter -vote now.


2 is a magic number

I take it all back. If you google stuff you can save yourself hours holding a phone wondering when the world will end, and will it bring all the call centres to the gates of hell individually or in a cataclysmic big bang releasing multiple universes into the cosmos.

big bang

I have ordered a replacement remote controller from Virgin Media and it’s free and the gentleman on the phone double checked the delivery address, and it all took less than 10 minutes. If I had not been forewarned about the magic that is 2, I may have guessed and ended up in some sad backwater such as 3 or, God forbid, 5!

We won’t be roasting the fatted calf just yet for the remote’s return. I may be joyful, but I am not naive. In the meantime TOWIE and wowie and you’ve got to be Kardashianing me babble on in low density pixels.

Joy of joys, we have a Samsung remote for our V+ box of tricks. We have to teach it about volume control, but it’s so new how could it be expected to know all our little peccadilloes.

Now I can watch the NZ vs RSA rugby match having avoided being told the result. My money’s on the All Blacks but it should be a hard fought game with plenty of chances for skill and flair. Our own Ulster scrum half, Mr Ruan Pienaar (who is in the Bokkers squad), will not, as widely reported, be moving to a French club next season. With Paddy Jackson proving he can kick with ball in hand and from the spot, we now have two brilliant game winners in the squad.