In Defence of Rugby


Main story of the day is doctors becoming concerned about rugby injuries at school.

It’s not a new story and it comes up every few years. As usual when I know something about the subject under discussion there is an amazing amount of garbage in in articles by people who profess to be authorities on the subject. I say garbage because I feel I have a duty to be polite on a blog, but I really do want to use a stronger word.

People are out there saying that every parent’s worst nightmare is for their child to get injured playing rugby.  Not true. From the ages of 10 – 18 I didn’t have nightmares about my kids because I’m quite laid back, I spent quite a lot of time with them and because my kids are fairly sensible. My main fears (falling far short of nightmares) were that they would have a road traffic accident, be mugged on the way to or from school or that they would experiment with drugs.

In all that time although they played rugby union in winter and rugby league in summer they escaped serious injury. The older one was badly concussed on one occasion but he was in a school playground playing what he later described as “a form of rounders” when a clash of heads rendered him more  senseless than usual. It was all to do with being an energetic child and nothing to do with rugby.

They did have rugby-related injuries. They both have broken noses, for instance, and one has a cauliflower ear. The elder one retired from rugby at 21 after breaking his leg. It was the third time he had needed hospital treatment (needing a finger joint screwing together and a cheekbone setting before the leg). The younger one led a charmed life with a cauliflower ear and minor breaks of a thumb and a finger before he need his reconstruction. He has just recovered from the knee operation but is showing no signs of going back to rugby. I can’t say I blame him.

However, at no time were they forced to participate. They went to a state school that, in the main, avoided rugby. I had been hopeless at games and encouraged them in their sporting endeavours but never forced them into anything.  They were both good at martial arts and one was good at running. When they decided they wanted a team sport they decided to give rugby a go. One of them went so far as to get the school to agree to raise a rugby team if he could find 14 other players. He did. Fortunately one of the games teachers was an experienced rugby union coach.

They were a mis-matched group of kids and most of them weren’t good at any sport, they were just easily persuaded. They won the City Championship. They then went on to reach the final of the County Cup and were just edged out in a very close match.

It taught them a lot of valuable lessons about teamwork and hard work.

Yes, kids get injured playing rugby, but at that age I got injured playing hockey, playing in  a ruined house, walking, fighting and being hit by a car.

People do force kids to play rugby – but it’s mainly schools and parents at fault. I can’t, with my hand on my heart, say that the RFU or RFL ever did anything that I considered damaging to my children. In fact they have spent millions on building systems to develop young players and lead them gradually to becoming the best players that they can be.

We saw some dreadful parents, and some dreadful coaches during our time in junior rugby, but I always had the feeling that the governing bodies were over-protective if anything, not the heartless machine that some people are trying to portray.  Perhaps that’s because I’m a dreadful parent. However, my feeling from rugby is that the kids came out better disciplined, harder working and with a sense of self-worth. They also know that you have to work to achieve success, that you call a referee sir and that not everything you read in the papers is true.






Luck, liars and lotteries

I won an i-Phone 6 tonight, which seems wrong because I never win anything. In the end I decided to pass on it because I don’t want one, and I don’t want to either give out personal details or pay the £1 for delivery.

Over the years I have become very suspicious of anything that seems to good to be true, because that’s precisely how it tends to turn out. This has become even more true when associated with the internet. I’m still waiting for the week in Spain the double glazing firm offered me 28 years ago so what chance do I have of getting anything from a man with a computer several thousand miles away.

It breaks my heart every time I have to turn down pleas for help from African politicians or their widows. I truly would like to help them, and I would love the millions of dollars they promise me, but deep down there is a suspicion that they may not be telling the truth.

Even the National Lottery has failed to make good on its promise to make me a millionaire, and you’d think you could trust a government backed scheme wouldn’t you?

Now that I’ve written that down I can see the problem.

Anyway – here’s a question for you – do you feel that use of the internet has made you a more suspicious person?

If not, please could you help me with some academic research I’m doing about trust and internet banking? I just need your bank details and password…

Reflections on Age and Archaeology

Today, as detailed on the other blog I had a sort of day off, ending with the annual inspection of my legs by the district nurse. I have two, they have five toes each, they are pink and they have blood in the that goes right to the ends of the toes. They spoke in Latin while they checked the circulation and I was half expecting words like pastern and fetlock to come into play.

I thought about asking if they thought I’d make good breeding stock but remembered in time that what sounds amusing in my head could be seen as inappropriate. In fact, as I was old enough to be father to one of the nurses and grandfather to the other it could be seen as downright creepy.

I half thought about taking a picture of my feet as I’m short of pictures but common sense took over. After over half a century of abuse, including long-distance walking, platform soles and wellingtons they are feet in the same way that the Coliseum is a venue for entertainment – they are monuments to past glory and a crumbling relic of what used to be. However, nobody is going to gasp in awe at my feet, or pay for a guided tour, so I think it best to keep them to myself.

It’s a bit like the old saying “My body is a temple”. Mine is Angkor Wat – a rambling structure that has seen better days.

Looking for the last link gave me food for thought as it mentioned archaeologists from the University of Sydney. I don’t want to be rude, and I’ve had this thought before regarding the USA too, but what do archaeologists do in countries which have a less stuff to excavate? They are both big countries so I expect remains are spread out quite thin, plus they didn’t have the benefit of being colonised by the Romans, so they have a lot less pottery and stonework to go for.

On the other hand, when you start thinking about maritime archaeology   you have to admit that Australia and California offer a more attractive prospect than the North Sea.

A final though on archaeology from Agatha Christie:”I married an archaeologist because the older I grow, the more he appreciates me.”






Europe and me

I may as well start with a big subject, so here it is – my contribution to the European debate.

I’m going to vote to stay in because I’m lazy, I’m concerned about what might happen if we leave and because my kids want to stay in. It doesn’t really matter to me – in around 30 years it won’t be of any concern to me but the kids will be left with the results of my vote.

That, incidentally, is why I keep trying to treat the planet with more respect – it’s no real concern to me, but if cutting down on plastics, recycling and composting will help my kids and grandchildren (if any) it seems churlish not to do it.

Live as if you’ll die tomorrow but farm as if you’ll live for ever, as they say, not that farmers are particularly good at it.

So, having made up my mind without the need to listen to the torrent of trivia currently spewing forth on TV, I feel no remorse at continuing to dodge the news and watch programmes about cookery, tattoos and crime.

I’ll keep it decently short instead of ranting, because we aren’t going to run short of words on the subject.

Sovereignty is a major point in the argument, but as I never had much sovereignty before the EU I’m not going to worry too much about whether the legislation I can’t influence comes from Europe or from Westminster. Basically my lack of sovereignty boils down to three things – I’m not allowed to execute people, I can’t refuse to admit refugees and I have to have a smaller motor on my hoover.

As I don’t want to execute people, we never refused refugees even before the EU and I agree with smaller motors on hoovers (though I’m not honestly that concerned) membership of the EU doesn’t really restrict me too badly.

The only other matter worthy of mention is the Boris Johnson debate. I always thought he was OK, but that covers a wide range of people from the Dalai Lama to Attila the Hun – most people have some good in them and as long as they leave me alone I’m happy to let them get on with their lives.

Now, I’m not going to pass an opinion one way or the other on BoJo’s European stance but I will say one thing.

If he was up for election on the rugby club committee (which seems to be as good a place as anywhere for him) he’d be great as a Social Secretary. Maybe even an inspirational, though disorganised Chair. But I wouldn’t vote for him as Treasurer. And if rugby clubs are ever allowed to have nuclear weapons I wouldn’t want him to have the button.

Hopefully that is all I will have to add to the European debate.




New start

To those of you who followed this blog before – sorry I’ve been away for so long. It wasn’t intentional but one day lead to another and next thing I knew I was blogging entirely on and ignoring Sherwood Days. For those of you who have popped across from the other blog, welcome.

Fair warning, I tend to ramble, and I don’t have  a grand plan for reopening the blog. All I know so far is that I want to focus the other one a bit more by bringing some of the less focussed subject matter here.

I’m not really selling it am I?

For the moment I’ll leave things here, and start with a proper post tomorrow.


And another thing…

I went to the supermarket this morning on my way to work and by the time I came out I had eaten breakfast, bought bread and been told that a friend of mine had died. Last I heard the hospital was pleased with the way things were progressing, which just shows that you never can tell…

For once, words fail me.

2015 – two funerals already

It’s been a hectic month, starting with cooking two Christmas dinners on the farm, progressing to a serious chest infection and ending, last week, with my mother’s funeral.

It was the second funeral I’ve been to this year. The first was sad, a lady of 86 who embodied pretty much all that was good about old-fashioned values and being active in old age. I often used to look at her and compare her to my mum. She was much healthier and fitter, but in the end you can’t ignore the call.

I haven’t mentioned that to many people, but now it’s over I feel more like talking about it. If you don’t like sentiment you may not like me doing so, and if you don’t like levity in the face of death you may feel the same way. To be honest, this is a good way to talk about it, because I don’t have to endure people trying to be sympathetic or asking me how I am. It’s not that I’m not grateful for the concern but there’s no good answer.

She was 85, she was well-cared for, but she had Parkinson’s Disease and life wasn’t great. . For about six months before she died she was significantly worse each time I visited and a week before Christmas the doctor warned us she was slipping away. It was a release for her and it wasn’t a shock for us. Nobody wanted it to happen but it had to happen and it was about as good as it gets. It wasn’t the youngman’s death that Roger McGough wants, but for a lady of 85 “a curtains drawn by angels borne, ‘what a nice way to go’ death” is much more suitable.

I often say that I’d like to die of a massive heart attack whilst driving a coach load of tax inspectors along a winding cliff road with no safety barriers but actually I wouldn’t mind slipping quietly away surrounded by my family. There’s an ornate brass plaque in the church commemorating a man called Herbert Selwyn Scorer. I’ve been reading it for over forty years when I visit the church. I bet he’d have liked to slip away surrounded by his family at the age of 85. Instead he shuffled off this mortal coil at the age of 29 surrounded by the Prussian Guard.

My sister organised the funeral and did a tremendous job. At one point she was worried that there would just be half a dozen family and a few others, all clustered at the front of a cold, empty church.

In the end we had people travelling from as far as Lancashire, Surrey and Norfolk. Mum was 85, as I have said, and at that age you’ve outlived a considerable number of your friends and family, with others being too old to travel, so it was a good turnout. To prove this point, my sister had attended a funeral for Mum’s best friend in the same church just five weeks ago.

None of this, of course, is of any interest to my mother, but it was very important for my father. That’s what funerals are about really Although it’s important to pay respect to the deceased it’s also important that the survivors are able to feel good about saying goodbye in a suitable fashion.

Great Uncle Bill

I’ve already given some details in an earlier post but as this is the 97th anniversary of his death it seemed a good subject for the day. It’s also a good day to remind people of one of my regular gripes: this year is only the centenary of the beginning of the war. Many of the events we consider to be important in the Great War are several years away from their centenary. We’ve already commemorated all the dead and most of them were still alive 100 years ago. Most of them probably weren’t even in the army.

Anyway, back to Uncle Bill, or Billy, as my great-grandmother called him. After writing the previous blog I had a chance to read the copies of the letters that great-grandma sent to my grandfather in India. He was wounded in the chest and shoulder late in the day and  died without regaining consciousness. Having read several letters like this in press reports from the war I’m suspicious that this is a standard letter to make the family feel better. However, I do hope it’s true.

If he’d lived his Christmas would have been brightened by a ten shilling note and a cake sent out by his mother just before he was killed. .

Sadly we don’t even have a photograph of him. There is one that my aunt says is a picture of him but the soldier in the picture is wearing the badge of a fusilier regiment, not the York & Lancs. There’s no picture of him in Craven’s Part in the Great War  so I suspect there never was one or they would have let the paper have it at the time of his death.

Frustratingly the picture we have, which I suspect is his brother Francis, isn’t marked and looks nothing like the 1921 family photo we have. However, as he was severely wounded in the 1918 Spring Offensive it’s hardly surprising he looks gaunt compared to the cheery young soldier in the earlier photo.

And no, so far I haven’t been able to trace his regiment to match up the cap badge – with Wilson being the 7th most popular  name in the UK there were a lot of them in the army. I remember once seeing something in a family history magazine saying it is the third most popular name in the North West so it’s tough being a Wilson and doing family history in Lancashire.


I took a few selfies this week because I need photographs for profiles. Unfortunately though I take a picture of myself, many of them seem to feature a complete stranger.

The pictures feature strange-shaped heads, bulbous noses, shifty expressions and a middle-aged man who looks like he didn’t sleep well.

The nose and head shape is (I hope) a problem of perspective. The shifty look is caused by squinting at the camera whilst attempting a three-quarter view. That just leaves the worn out middle-aged man. Sadly there is only one explanation for this…

No wonder so many people opt to be anonymous or use photos of film stars, and that’s before you take the unsuitable background into consideration.


An article I was reading earlier in the week suggested that putting a face to the blog would get a better response. however, having frequently been told I have a great face for radio, I have to question the wisdom of this. Time will tell.

This one is seasonally adjusted, though probably not very useful come January.




Celebrity? Modestly? How words change.

I’ve just been reading “Celebrity Couples who live surprisingly modest lives” and been left spluttering with so many things that need saying and not enough mouths.

Disclaimer: If you click the above link and find yourself lost for words, infuriated or wasting your life on trivia, don’t blame me, blame the internet and the tempting array of links it offers as you log in to your email.

For one thing, how can a couple be a “celebrity couple” if I haven’t heard of them? I admit that I’m not the man most likely to be up to date on all this celebrity stuff and I’ll concede that some of the couples may be well known though unknown to me. However, I’ll ask people to concede that simply being known isn’t the same as being a “celebrity”, which needs a sprinkle of glamour to make it true.

I’ll make a quick sidestep here to show my thinking.. “I’m a Celebrity…Get me out of here!” consistently features people who aren’t celebrities and in any right-thinking society would be prosecuted for fraud if not for being terribly irritating TV. They have just announced a winner – Carl Fogarty. He’s a good bloke and deserves to be called a celebrity after all he’s done. Second place went to someone who came second in the X-Factor. Not really the same is it?

Same goes for Fogarty’s MBE. He wins four World Superbike Championships, Isle of Man TTs and loads of other stuff, risking death on the way round. He gets an MBE. If he’d won a couple of Olympic Golds, risking a pulled hamstring, he’d have been given a knighthood.

Such is the strange and arcane way of the British Honours System.

Anyway, back to the “celebrity” couples. Their modest lifestyles include saving money in the bank (sensible, but then they do have  alot of it), using money-off vouchers (just plain miserly) and living in homes worth only $1,000,000 (or $2,000,000 in one case – how modest!). Best of all is Kate and Wills, our favourite Royals. It seems their modest lifestyle includes doing their own shopping instead of getting a royal retainer to do it for them. What sort of world do we live in where doing your own shopping is considered out of the ordinary?

And yes, I’m not famous, don’t have an MBE and live less than modestly due to having no money. It may well make me jealous. But does it make me wrong?