Saturday, 31 December 2011

An Ode to Robert Parsons OBE

Uncle Rob

There was on old(ish) man from Cyncoed
Who was kind to all he employed
With a fatherly smile
He'd walk the extra mile
Whilst remaining incredibly coy

At Christmas he'd put on a big do
The whole family gathered there too
He'd go after a BAFTA
Have us crying with laughter
As he dressed up in drag - woo hoo.

His New Year honour "winnings"
Came from most humble beginnings
On Cardiff's mean streets
Shoes with holes on his feet
He dreamt of nights on fine linen.

Twas back in the year '88
He decided it must be his fate
To help families in need
He must now succeed
(Tomorrow was always too late).

And so now he has his earthly reward
(It was passed and cleared by the board)
He's been helping so long
He deserves this fine gong
What next? Will they make him a Lord?

Uncle Rob Gets an Oboe? Knighthood for Old Pa Hurley?

It was a busy day today. After trying for the umpteenth time to unlock a phone from O2, who have been as helpful as a boil on the posterior, I decided to clear out the shed, which hadn't been done for months (after what seems like an eternity of work leading up to Christmas left me feeling like a piece of Alex Ferguson's match-time chewing gum). So with cardboard boxes flying hither and thither (and back to hither) pots of paint, bikes, scooters and all manner of chattels being cast to the Easterly biting wind, I didn't hear the dingaling as a text message was received deep in the deepest pocket (and I have deep pockets as my children will attest).

So when I read that my uncle Rob had got an oboe, I thought that was 'nice' but, with all due respect, it's a late(ish) age to be doing such things. After all, we're waiting for the results of our littlest one's level two violin exam. But you do hear of these "silver surfers" who start a new venture, such as learning Russian, taking up the drums, or bungee jumping.*

So it came as something of a relief (no offence to oboists one and all) to find out that uncle Rob hadn't taken up the oboe but had rather been given the O.B.E. in the Queen's New Years Honours List, for his services to charity.

So with one gong safely in the bag for the family, it's high time we started lobbying SA Brains Ltd for some worthy reward for Old Pa Hurley, after all over all the many years "Hollow Legs Hurley" has been quaffing ales at the Park Cons, he must have kept many hundreds of SA Brains employees in, erm, employ; not to mention keeping their extended families in the opulence they are accustomed to.

As one of the four 'sins that cry to heaven for vengeance' is to defraud a working man of a just wage, by handing over a bright shiny penny for every quart of ale and thus ensuring, indirectly, that the workers of SA Brains are given their full wage due, might we not suggest to the powers that be that Old Pa Hurley has carried out great works of charity, on an ongoing basis, for the material benefit of a good number of workingmen? Not to mention the many and great developments in the brewing process that must have occurred during his ever-so lengthy life, which I would humbly suggest have been spurred on in the full knowledge that their fruits would be tasted by the old venerable man of Roath.

So three cheers for 'Uncle Rob' Parsons** for his OBE (and a polite applause if he has taken up the oboe too) but let us begin campaigning here and now for the due recognition of Old Pa Hurley.

Arise Sir Old Pa Hurley! Knighted for his services to employment, research and development, charity and dog-walking.


*Old Ma Hurley may be taking notes...

**Robert Parsons was also the name of one of the first Jesuits to return to Elizabethan England on a Papal mission to bring the Sacraments to a suffering people, accompanying St Edmund Campion in 1580 who would be captured and horrifically martyred. Parsons went on to found seminaries across Spain and the first post-Reformation English Boys' Catholic School (in France). For a great book, which reads like a boys' own adventure, on the Jesuit missions read God's Secret Agents by Alice Hogge (I bought it cheaper on Amazon - Old Pa "10p doughnuts" Hurley would approve).

Monday, 26 December 2011

St Stephen's Day: Family China and the Tale of St Margaret Clitherow

Yes it's St Stephen's Day (when St Wenceslas "looked out" on his favourite pizza - deep pan, crisp and even) aka Boxing Day. So it's been cold cuts, left-over Christmas dinner, and bits n bobs.

Another opportunity to get out our favourite Christmas china - our 12 Days of Christmas set of plates, each with the presents given on each of the 12 days of Christmas (from Christmas Day to Epiphany).

Calm down Old Pa Hurley, they did not cost a king's ransom - these were bought for £3 at a car boot, albeit in foreign parts (England).

Now you may not know this, but the poem/song 'The 12 Days of Christmas' is Catholic in origin. It came about after Elizabeth I reneged on her Coronation oath to uphold the Catholic faith and walked out of the Coronation Mass as the Blessed Sacrament was elevated by the priest.

She made England, Wales and Ireland protestant by forcing through a law whilst some of the Bishops were waylaid by her hirelings, so not only did she break her oath, but she forced through a law by guile that would never have gotten through otherwise.

After this it became illegal to celebrate Mass, attend a Mass or to house a priest. People had to to go to her protestant services or face fines and property confiscations. "Good Queen Bess" my backside!

And so, from circa 1558 to circa 1829, Catholics were forced underground, those who had the courage, stamina and fortitude to continue with the Faith of their Fathers.

If you want to know how cruelly and horrifyingly normal Catholics were treated, look up the treatment of St Margaret Clitherow, whose only crime was in having Masses celebrated in her home. She was crushed to death, whilst probably pregnant, at the age of 33.

The 12 Days of Christmas came about as a means of teaching each other, and especially the young, all about their Catholic faith, but in a hidden way - in the days when priests had to hide and the faithful lived in fear of their livelihood, property and lives.

As says:

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” celebrates the official Christmas season which starts liturgically on Christmas Day and ends twelve days later on the Feast of the Epiphany. “My true love” refers to God, “me” is the individual Catholic. The “twelve lords a leaping” are the twelve basic beliefs of the Catholic Church as outlined in the Apostles Creed. The “eleven pipers piping” are the eleven Apostles who remained faithful after the treachery of Judas. The “ten ladies dancing” are the Ten Commandments. The “nine drummers drumming” are the nine choirs of angels which in those days of class distinction were thought important. The “eight maids a milking” are the Eight Beatitudes. The “seven swans a swimming” are the Seven Sacraments. The “six geese a laying” are the Six Commandments of the Church or the six days of creation. The “five golden rings” are the first five books of the Old Testament called the Torah which are generally considered the most sacred and important of all the Old Testament. The “four calling birds” are the Four Gospels. The “three French hens” are the Three Persons in God or the three gifts of the Wise Men. The “two turtle doves” represent the two natures in Jesus: human and divine or the two Testaments, Old and New. The “partridge” is the piece de resistance, Jesus himself, and the “pear tree” is the Cross.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas from The Hurley Family

A very Merry Hurley Christmas to you all!

This was the teapot my dear wife received from Santa. All very exciting.

Merry Hurley Christmas 2011. You bet!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Countdown to Christmas at Hurley Towers

Oh joy... that mad period before Christmas when work is so overwhelming is coming to an end.

Now we can start to get ready for Christmas festivities. Hoorah!

Get the logs in for the fire. Get to Confession in time for Christmas day. And stock up on the pork pies and itchy-gum cheese. Drop off the last few Christmas cards to friends and neighbours.

I may even have a sneaky foaming ale or two (otherwise Old Pa Hurley may think I've gone  a bit 'ginger').

Only a few little doors left on our Advent calendar. It's all very exciting.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Bad Korea Move for Hoo Flung Dung?

So Kim Jong Ill has died. You'd have thunk his name was a giveaway.

Now the weirdo North Koreans have appointed Kim Jong Young. They've got a better chance with him, judging by his name.

Apparently Kim Jong Young's older brother Kim Jong Nutter was by-passed because it was just too much of a giveaway. And the less said about Kim Jong Streaker the better!

It all reminds me of a rather rude poem my elder brother taught me when he was a rather rude teenager, which included the character Hoo Flung Dung.

Oh the carefree casual anti-Oriental racism of one's youth! Where have the good times gone?

HVP Huzzey: Big Hitter for Wales

HVP Huzzey 2nd left middle row, Welsh rugby team.
I have written much about my famous great-grandfather Henry Vivian Pugh Huzzey (aka HVP or Vivian).

There's a cracking article in today's South Wales Echo (page 33 I'm reliably informed) outlining this little known sporting great.

With his tally of tries for Cardiff and Wales, there can be little doubt that HVP Huzzey would have been one of Welsh rugby's most famous names had he played in Welsh rugby today.

How fantastic that as of today, more people know of my great-grandfather, his sporting prowess, and his achievements for both Cardiff and Wales, rugby and baseball.

HVP Huzzey in today's South Wales Echo

When is a Bubble a Booblé and a Soufflé a Sufle?

Mrs Bucket - or Old Ma Hurlé?
If crooner Michael Buble is pronounced as Booblé, does that mean:
  1. I can try and bake a sufle for Christmas dinner dessert?
  2. I have been hanging baublés on the Christmas tree?
  3. We will have a glass of booble on Christmas morning?
Or is Michael Buble just pulling a Hyacinth Bucket from the comedy Keeping Up Appearances who insisted on being called Mrs Bouquet?

Whatever next?

Gareth Hoorlé reporting.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

One in the Eye of Richard Dawkins and his ilk

Today at Mass one of the readings was of the Annunciation, that moment which gives us the first part of the Hail Mary (Hail full of Grace, the Lord is with thee).

Of course Mary's submission to the Will of God, meant that the Incarnation of Christ could happen. The whole of creation was dependent on the submission of Mary, the second Eve.

What a beautiful moment - perhaps the most important moment in the history of the world, for it enabled Christ the Saviour to be born - the event we are all about to celebrate.

Back in the Summer I picked up an old Missal at a car boot in Swansea for £1 or so (you can imagine I skipped home). It contains some beautiful colour illustrations, including this one, which shows The Annunciation.

It's easy at Christmas time to get lost in the consumerism and some of the schmaltz, so let's remember this Christmas that we are indeed celebrating the Incarnation, made possible by Mary the Mother of God.

And if any atheists try to tell you otherwise you have my permission to tweak their nose, kick them up the Khyber and tell them we will not live in a new Soviet regime!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Congratulations to the Dingles

Good and bad news today.
Me dancing - badly

Good news is, little Alexander Joseph Dingle was born this afternoon to Paul and Janine.

They dismissed the idea of calling him Dan Glyn Dingle. Hmmm.

Bad news is that I'm now a Great Uncle! Well, I kind of suspected I was a great Uncle, but after turning 40 I am tempted to say this is another foot in the grave, but then I'd have two feet in the grave - and that is just creepy.

Still, commiserations where they are due, because if I'm feeling old, how are Old Ma and Old Pa Hurley feeling? Great Grandma and Great Grandpa! Zoiks!

And so the tail end of 2011 sees another member of the extended Hurley family peek his way into this world. I wonder what he'll be writing about circa 40 years from now? Blimey! If the good Lord sees fit to keep me on this earth that long I'll be a proper greybeard by then.

And so the generations roll on...

Friday, 2 December 2011

Are Old Pa Hurley and GK Chesterton Distant Cousins?

I always wondered was I was drawn to the great English Catholic writer GK Chesterton.

Was it his innate humour? His dry wit? His piercing observations? His loathing of pomposity? His love of the poor and the underdog? His defence of Catholic tradition? His absolutism against relativism? His love of country but loathing of jingoism? His love of politics but scepticism of politicians? His embrace of history but his emphasis on creating a better tomorrow?

Apparently not!

GKC? or Old Pa Hurley?
This you tube video of a GK Chesterton talk, pricking the bubble of Protestantism's central tenet of 'sola scriptura' (scripture alone) in his wonderful style has an artist's computerised impression of a (admittedly slimmer than usual) GKC.

Take a look at the image (reproduced at right) of GKC. Remind you of anyone?

Someone who totters down Albany Road of a Saturday night after righting the wrongs of the world in the bar? Someone who likes to get a 10p clearance bag of doughnuts to nibble as he meanders his way homeward, just as (GKC's chum) Hilaire Belloc wrote of the winding lanes of Sussex in his celebration of life, England, social history and so on, in his famous book The Four Men?

The GKC cartoon character even wears the kind of suit adorned by Old Pa Hurley that led to him getting free beer in one Cardiff hostelry when they assumed he was a plain-clothes policeman!

Little short of a Damascene Conversion (if one can mention such non-ecumenical things in the modern world without straying into hate crimes), I am now given to thinking (I know, it's worrying) that I must have first picked up a GKC tome because of some familial tie, some inner yearning to learn from the wisdom of my old dad.

I thank God (ditto re. ecumenism) that I don't believe in the many-armed elephantine deities and turbanated wotnots of the Hindoos, for with GKC passing away in 1936 and Old Pa Hurley being brought into this unsuspecting world in 1937, one might wonder at the possibility of reincarnation.

Now if I find out that GKC had a fondness for supping Brains SA*, then I think I'll have to phone up some clever genealogist in the morning.


* I am still awaiting my letter confirming sponsorship by Brains Brewery. One of their vans travels down our street with worrying regularity as if to coax more pennies from my padlocked coin purse (all very medieval).

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Are You Opening Those Advent Calendars?

I hope you all opened the first door in your NATIVITY Advent Calendars today.

And not a Coca-Mc-Cadbury 'Happy Holidays' Snowman choc-fest one either.

Advent has begun. Let us prepare for CHRISTMAS.

Here's a wonderful icon, reminding us that Mary is the Mother of God, and the sacred nature of life in the womb.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Gary Speed, Welsh Football Manager, RIP

Sad, sad news today at the sudden death of Welsh football manager Gary Speed.

Only last week I was chatting to a friend who's a Swansea fan. Gary Speed came up during our football banter, and we were saying what a great manager he was for Wales, and what a good character he seemed to be in his whole professional life.

The news this morning, which seems to state that he committed suicide, came as a real shock and one can only surmise that he was under some hidden pressure or depression. The world can be a terribly sad place at times.

Keep Gary Speed in your prayers, the Good Lord knows that he, like all of us, needs them.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

A Child in Court and Homophobia at Church Jumble Sale?

Every now and then I enjoy winding-up Old Ma Hurley. So it was I sent her a text this morning at a most ungodly hour. I hope that winds up sour-faced atheist mullahs who've taken to moaning about my blog and its religious nature on a particularly vile anti-Catholic blog.

The text was "I'm taking [our eldest child] to court." After a few texts I had to confess (oh these bigoted Catholic terms!) that it was all merely part of his studying Law and he and fellow students from various South Welsh schools were there to take part in a pretend-trial competition.

This afternoon at our local Catholic Church's jumble sale (I can hear atheists falling like flies at all this religious bigotry) some of the ladies running the stalls asked after the children not with me (the youngest was busy winning bottles of smellies and suchlike from the bottle stall) and as part of this I explained that the eldest was taking part in the pretend trial.

"I only hope there isn't a dreadful mix-up and he isn't 'sent down' for five years" I quipped and they all grinned, "mind you," I continued, "if I work out how much it'll save me in food bills maybe it wouldn't be a total disaster." I added a wink at the end, just in case.

We bought some fairy cakes ("is this yet more Catholic homophobia?" screech the atheist commissars) and made our way home.

That very evening the eldest child did indeed make it home just in time for sausage in batter and chips from the best chip shop in Wales, proving my argument true at least. Still it was good to see him walk through the door. Honest.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

November Winterval Warning

Birmingham Council pushes Winterval in 1997!
T'was the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
 Not a Christian was praying

Nor taking a stand. 

See the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things. 

It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a ' Holiday'.
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it! 

CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-Pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda. 

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears      
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzer
 On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.   
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
 Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, 
choose what you say
not Happy Holiday!

Please, all Christians join together and
wish everyone you meet
Christ is The Reason' for the Christ-mas Season! 


A big thanks to Uncle Maynard from America for sending this to his favourite (I believe he says "top of the will") nephew-in-law.

Stand up for Christmas oh itinerants of the blogosphere! Not since the heretic Oliver Cromwell has Christmas been under such an attack.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Tip of the Week #1: Dog Training

A new series! How exciting! 

This will be a highly irregular series of hints and tips to help you live your life in an orderly and correct manner:

Tip #1

Don't ask Sean Connery to train your dog to sit.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Heroic is My Middle Name (aka Conquering Man Flu)

It's official. I've got MAN FLU. 

I didn't get a wink of sleep last night with pounding head, sore throat, nausea... but fought through today (listening to some great podcasts!) - just like Mummy's little soldier should!

I think it's an early night tonight for little Gaggsy, tucked up in my jim-jams. I may even get a hottle-wottle-bottle.

Yes - and I even took Patch the dog for his morning walk, but don't let anyone think I'm craving plaudits: it is simply my duty as an heroic man battling with MAN FLU.

As I pulled my hat down and my scarf up this morning just the right side of 7am, I felt I could empathise with the men of the arctic convoys heading into Murmansk as the U Boat wolf packs prowled, or with Old Poppa Joe as he climbed the winter skies over Britain in his Spitfire hunting for German raiders, ice forming on the inside of his canopy.

I don't want a helping hand, nor too much sympathy. But perhaps when the next Bravery Awards are handed out, I might just get a look in? I have looked Man Flu in the eye - and worked through it!

William Wallace or what?

P.S. Mrs H had this last week, but that doesn't count as it was just a really bad cold for her (and she had lots of early nights and "afternoons off").

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Advent Calendars and the Downfall of the West

No Cadbury's, no!
Advent in Welsh is known as "Winter Lent" the name goes back to when these islands were Catholic (hurrah!) before the Reformation (boo), and people would fast in preparation for the Feast of Christmas.

In those days the good people of Wales (OK, and England too) would prepare themselves for Christmas, and following Christmas Day would celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas until Epiphany - the day the Wise Men visited the Infant Christ, the first gentiles to see and worship the Son of God.

Spot the difference?

Today Christmas at its consumerist best seems to start mid November, rattles on for weeks and weeks, then by the time Christmas Day arrives, and folks eat even more chocolate than they have in the whole run-up to Christmas, a lot of people are all Christmas'd out, can't wait for Christmas to be over with, get into the shops for the sales on Boxing Day...

Where have the Twelve Days of Christmas gone? Where has the Winter Lent of Advent gone? Like all our Feast Days that used to be dotted across the calendar - they have been robbed from us, by a robber band of merchant Protestants (or morecorrectly the Mammonistas!) who saw our old traditions as a barrier to working the poor 364 days a year.

Even in my own lifetime I have seen the demise of the traditional (semi-)religious Advent calendar with its little pictures, culminating on the 24th with a double-doored picture of the Nativity, so the excitement and the reminder of what Christmas was all about was brought home to the wee bairns on Christmas Eve.

Advent calendars originated in Germany
Now, as I potter around and rarely walk about shops (having an aversion to spending money, I am my father's son) all I tend to see are chocolate-filled calendars, most with very little to do with the Christian Feast Day of Christmas at all. They may have a Coca-Cola style Santa, a snowman, little elves, or even a pop band, singer or wotnot on the front.


So I am pleading with all my army of readers (yes, both of you) to not cave-in the chocolate Cadbury (owned by Kraft Foods anyway) calendars! We'll all eat enough chocolate and other goodies over Christmas anyway -- so whether buying for the grandchildren, children or the kids next door: choose an old fashioned Advent calendar, with a bit of Bethlehem about it!

In our own small way we can get Christmas back to being Christmas, and the period beforehand all about the anticipation of the coming of the Christ Child, as Leonardo Da Vinci might say the Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World).

As the greatest Englishman of the 20th Century put it:

"There is no more dangerous or disgusting habit than that of celebrating Christmas before it comes."
- G.K. Chesterton

GKC will be chuffed to know that's what I think too.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Families Pay for True Beauty in USA and France: What About Wales?

The Bush Family's Paving Stone, in Florida.
I have to admit that when George W Bush came to power I hoped for great things. The word was out that America was going to have a Pro-Life President. After years of Clinton (and all his shenanigans viz Ms Lewinski etc. which we'd best blow over) it all seemed too good to be true.

Without getting too political: it was. But hey, on our recent sojourn Stateside we came across this - which we took a picture of. It's a sponsored paving stone at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Universe.

If this did come from G.W. Bush & Co. I'm not sure if a paving stone makes up for a war that ruined a lot of lives, American, British and Iraqi. As his brother was Governor of Florida maybe it was his and not George W's.

But what a great idea to pay for a shrine! Seeing all the many hundreds of names of individuals and families there, made you realise how much Faith still means to people. Great to see all the Polish, Italian, Hispanic, German, Irish and other sounding names too (reminds you of American history).

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Paris
Wouldn't it be marvelous to have something like that here too? I do have my name on a slab at the home of Welsh rugby, Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, but how great would it be to have the opportunity to have something similar?... If only the Catholic Church here had the cajones to build something big, brassy, traditional, inspiring and breathtaking - especially in honour of the Mother of God. Now we've got over (please say we've got over!) all the 1960s liberal claptrap, happy clappy roller-disco churches with modern art windows with tabernacles hidden off in the cloakroom, let's build a great shrine!

Anyone seen Montmartre? The Basilica of the Sacred Heart there is breathtaking. I mean really breathtaking! Money for its construction came from parishes from across France. I was there back in the early 90s (heard a Latin Mass there - quite a memory!) and I recall someone telling me that it was known as the church raised by the pennies of the faithful, who gave what they could afford.

I was reading recently how the National Shrine of Wales in Cardigan (Our Lady of the Taper) is not very conducive to raising one's soul to heaven. So there's an idea. A new National Shrine. I'm sure the Archbishop of Cardiff reads this blog, when he's not catching up on the latest news from the Bluebirds, so there's your next move Your Grace. And put me down for a paving stone.

Or maybe we can get an even bigger Basilica in Wales, even one dedicated to the Sacred Heart atop Penylan Hill, perhaps then we'll beat France more often in the rugby ;-) We could ask Shane Williams to pay up for the first paving stone.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Going mobile

Hi everyone. Just experimenting with mobile blogging. Or as my children would have it - entering the 21st century. Even our local priest, who is YOUNGER than I (wow, I feel old) said I should get a better phone. For the last 15 years or so my phones have cost £10 - £15 maximum. So never let it be said I'm not cutting edge. Just be prepared for lots of mistakes in Some posts... Tally ho!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Who's that Happy Chappy over the Park?

Oh look - just like me over the park @ 8.30am
Most mornings, work permitting, I walk our youngest to school, giving Patch the dog an opportunity to stretch his legs too.

On the way back, if I am in a good mood (relatives will testify this is a rare occurrence, some say Haley's Comet has a bearing on it) I take Patch over the park ('tis but a slight detour) and run back through the park to the gates on the main road.

I was doing this a few weeks back, not long after we had got Patch from the rescue kennel, and as I emerged from the park through the gates (which are set in chest-high stone walls) a mum of another school pupil was just walking up to the gates.

As I walked out with Patch she said: "oh - you've got a dog, I saw you in the park, but didn't realise you had a dog."

As I walked home I realised she must have looked over the wall and seen G. Hurley esquire running across the grass, as if full of the joie de vivre at 8.30 in the morning.

Just goes to show how easy it is to fool somebody. Now I must get back to shaking my fist at the evening news, moaning at the price of everything, and generally being a sour puss. Patch may not approve, but I can't have people thinking that I daily skip through the daisies can I?

Friday, 11 November 2011

My Pumpkins are Tiny - but so are Terry's

OK. So our pumpkins didn't amount to much this year. Here are two of them ripening on a window sill.

It was our first attempt growing them, in a raised bed too, and there was plenty of foliage and beautiful yellow flowers (now on the compost).

I was dishevelled and downcast - until I heard "Terry from the Rhondda" on the radio, speaking from his allotment on his usual slot. He said that this year had been appalling for pumpkin growers and the crop was very small.

So if Terry from the Rhondda had a bad year with his pumpkins, I don't think I need to worry.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Is Irish Comedian Ed Byrne the Snow Queen?

I got this clipping out of the South Wales Evening Post, one day last week.

I always thought Ed Byrne was a bit "frosty" and his stint as the Snow Queen explains why!

Or are we dealing with identical twins separated at birth here?

The world needs to know! What is the truth? I will tweet Dara O'Briain and demand the truth! Unless he too has a secret double life (widow twanky). I did shout out and ask the comedian Greg Davies (at his show in Swansea) if Dara was the world's worst transvestite, which seemed to make him smile. I think he said that was the sickest thing he'd heard! ;-)

Oh what tangled lives these comedians lead - all to gain more filthy lucre and lord it over us and be able to buy such frivolous items as gold taps, Freshsco's finest gravy granules and two (or even three!) Sunday papers, every week!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

All Souls Day: Pray For Your Relatives and Friends

Candles to remember the dead
It's All Souls Day! Yesterday was All Saints when we remember all the Saints, including the many we don't know by name - including those in our own families/bloodlines.

Imagine! A distant (or close!) relative in Heaven to intercede wth God on our behalf as part of the Church Triumphant.

Today is All Souls, when we remember the Church Suffering, those souls in purgatory, who we have a duty to pray for and who, in turn, will remember us when they get to Heaven.

Sadly in the modern world too few people pray for the dead. Some think it morbid. Some think it medieval. Some think everyone who dies goes straight to Heaven (a kind of instant canonisation). The sad truth is that very few of us are living Saints, and so many of us will see Purgatory.

It is our duty to pray for those who have gone before us. The Church has always taught this right from its earliest days. Prayers for the dead even featured in the Old Testament.

That's what "RIP" means. Rest in Peace - i.e. pray for him, that he may be loosed from Purgatory and find peace in Heaven.

Let's hope that if we get to Purgatory there are still those in our families that will pray on our behalf!

So offer up a prayer for your friends and relatives - today and every day - that we may help them, and they in turn will one day help us!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Some Fiscal Common Sense - 2066 Years Later

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC-43 BC)
What have we learned in 2,066 years?
"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."
                                                                          -  Cicero    55 BC
Evidently nothing.....
Thanks to Maynard, who took time off touring his estate and bossing his hirelings to send me this in a missive. According to Maynard, Cicero was a nice enough chap, but a bit of a swot at school. Happy memories!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Our Lady of Rugby and the Conversion of Wales

Our Lady of Rugby
There is a Catholic shrine to rugby! Well, to Our Lady of Rugby to be exact, and as a fellow Welsh blogger explains, this may explain how France managed to get to the World Cup final on Sunday!

Ah, you see Wales: return to the Faith of your Fathers and you too could embrace rugby glory, for the greater glory of God.

In the end, beset by Protestantism, we achieved 4th place. Not bad all in all, having lost our essential players Adam Jones, Sam Warburton and (who'd have thunk it) Rhys Priestland. Now if we can become a land of priests, if we can reignite the Land of our Fathers with the Faith of our Fathers and bring back the glory and beauty of the Age of Saints, the next World Cup will surely be ours for the taking.

Warren Gatland! Are you listening? Get on your knees. Get to Confession. Take your Rosary to training. You've gone to Catholic Poland to freeze your players' proverbials off... now take the next step and make the Welsh squad a Catholic force to convert Wales, Europe and the world via beautiful, majestic and sublime rugby.

As the great-grandson of Welsh rugby legend HVP "Viv" Huzzey, I demand no less!

There. That's that sorted.

St David - Ora Pro Nobis.

Teacher Training? Watching Rugby!

Quite a few of the local schools are "closed" today as an inset day, which I believe is for teacher training.

I wonder how much of that teacher training will take place near a TV, with the Australia V Wales match, live from New Zealand, in the background? or the foreground?

Well I suppose it is 'team building'.

Another bacon sandwich Mr Williams?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Welsh Assembly Vote to Ban Smacking - Oh Hoorah!

Politicians need telling-off
I'm sooooo glad the Welsh Assembly thinks that a government should make the smacking of children illegal.

After all, it's not as if youth unemployment is rising, or that drug addiction is a problem in towns across Wales, or that youngsters can't afford to buy houses... real issues needing real solutions.

How refreshing rather that they want to stick their noses into family's affairs and stop parents teaching children right from wrong with an occasional smack in extreme circumstances (running into roads etc.)!

They say smacking can lead to abuse: but abuse is already illegal. We may as well ban everyone drinking the odd beer, as that could lead to heroin use. Or ban us all driving 30mph on the streets as that could lead to driving 60mph in our towns.

I've got an idea though. Let's ban politicians: because at the moment putting them in office does inexorably lead to ridiculous laws and nanny state stupidity.

They should be made to go sit in the corner, stop passing silly measures and made to write out "I must deal with real problems that impact on peoples lives and communities" 500 times.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Alain Rowland: Should've Gone to Specsavers

"The card is yellow, right?"
Rumour has it that if you bet on the All Blacks to win the Rugby World Cup final next weekend against France you'll get less back then you put down.

I read this morning that Alain Rolland (the "red card ref") sells mortgages in Dublin. Can we blame him for the Credit Crunch? Anyways, it could be worse, he could be an estate agent. He certainly oversold Sam Warburton's 'aggressive' spear tackle.

I don't think he acted in a partisan way, it was clearly just over-implementation of the law, but one has to ask if it was for the rugby authorities to put in a ref in a Wales-France game who is half-French and half-Irish (Wales having just beaten Ireland). It certainly leaves room for those who want to point the finger at the possibility of the ref being the "16th Frenchman on the pitch."

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Welsh Rugby Rule #1: Beware Any Referee with a French Name!

What can I say? What a terrible day for Wales and for Welsh rugby!

We knew we were going to win, then one terrible, terrible referee decision robbed Wales of a cup final place, and Wales (and all our new friends in the rest of the UK!) of a wonderful occasion next weekend.

I know it seems wrong to some people who don't like  rugby, or who don't understand Welsh passion for the sport, in a world where people face real suffering, war, and so on... but boy oh boy.

"We wuz robbed" is an overused cliché in sport. But it seems more than apt today. France struggled to hold even the depleted 14-man Welsh team back.

Yes I know there is poverty and suffering in this world. But please go easy on us Welsh today. We've gone from euphoria to melancholy, not so much in the blink of an eye, but in the flash of a card.

Even Cardiff City slipped 2 points by drawing a game to Ipswich in which a goal that the linesman flagged against was given to the disbelief of everyone! It's just been one of those days.

I was up some ladders painting the front of the Chez Hurley this afternoon and as the neighbours came out, and as red-clad people went to and fro, there was only one topic of conversation. And it wasn't the resignation of Liam Fox!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Save the Old Roath Steam Laundry Building - In Memory of Betty!

This is the "old laundry" in Roath, Cardiff along Marlborough Road. There is a campaign to stop this beautiful building being torn down for new housing, and to turn it instead into a community resource, saving the building and giving a valuable centre for everyone in Roath and Penylan.

If you want more info contact the people who put the leaflet out - details on their poster pictured below.

You'll be surprised to hear I wasn't around in 1898 when the "Roath Sanitary Steam Laundry" was opened, despite some rumours to the contrary.

No, you see as a cute, adorable and cherubic child in the halcyon days of the 1970s, despite strikes, the four minute warning, the three-day week etc. etc., I had not a care in the world beyond what was for tea, collecting Panini football stickers, playing with toy soldiers at home and what we would play at dinner time in school.

The walk to school was a short one, and there en route was the old laundry, better known to us at the time as Marlborough Carpets - for it was they who occupied it at the time (they later decamped to Penarth Road).

The front of the old laundry had two gates, allowing vehicular callers to pull in via one and drive out through the second, if they were dropping off or picking up via the front doors. All very 'Downton Abbey' so far.

They also took to parking their fork lift truck outside the front of the shop, and what else could guarantee the attention of boys walking home from school than a fork lift truck? It speaks of adventure, of dreams-fulfilled, of industrial hijinks. Think Biggles - but scuttling around a fore-court, rather than over the skies of Flanders.

Thus it was, as a dare if I recall right, certain little legs scuttled over to the fork-lift truck. Then a school chum took to pressing the up/down button, and the fork lift kicked into life and whizzed and whirred loudly. As you can imagine this shocked everyone, and little legs scurried away as fast as they could.

Still, we weren't discovered and the fork lift remained in situ in the days ahead, and so it became a dare to get over to the fork lift as quietly as possible, push the button for a split second, and then get out of there immediately before being discovered.

Oh the naughtiness of it all. It all stopped ingloriously when Old Ma Hurley asked who had been doing such naughty things. Oh oh. It seems Betty the Crossing Lady had, from the side of the old laundry, through the railings, witnessed the little people up to their split-second adventures and naughtiness.

Old Ma Hurley's spies throughout the community had struck once again!

So if not for me as a naughty herbert pottering home from school, if not for Old Ma Hurley, if not for the fork lift truck, then vote to save the Old Roath Steam Laundry building for the memory of Betty the Crossing Lady (RIP).

Campaign Launched
Sign the Petition

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Y Gogledd: The Rise of the Cymry - or Just Pub Talk?

Celt & Saxon Kingdoms circa 500AD?
Sterling news! Some of the Hurley Clan have marched north to reclaim the Celtic Kingdom of Rheged from the Saxons and Danes who took it via intermarriage and stealth, even after it passed to the Welsh Kingdom of Strathclyde (from whence William Wallace - Wallace meaning "Welsh" - came to deliver freedom to the Welsh, Scots and Picts of Scotland).

They followed two pathfinders (codename Uncle Pat and Auntie Mary) who were brave enough to travel north into the icy wastes of what, incredibly, is today part of England!

Yes! The Welsh are marching to free the Cymry 'Men of the North' and I have reports back from an elderly man (codename Old Pa Hurley) that he has indeed discovered evidence of ancient Welsh culture "up North."

A pub serving Brains Beer* no less, has been confirmed back to base by two elderly men (let's call them Agent Joe and Agent Pat), reported to be "grinning widely" and with a strange gait in their movement.

At this stage, further reports of them painting half their faces blue and shouting "FREEEEEDOM!" whilst kicking a rugby ball up the high street, have yet to be confirmed.


*I am still looking for sponsorship!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Catholicism, Cats, Llywellyn's Moggies and Heaven

I read somewhere that many Catholic bloggers are meant to love cats. I would happily count myself in that number, notwithstanding our new pet, Patch the crossbreed Jack Russell and Lakeland Terrier.

So, in order that the Catholic bloggers who do look in from time to time, here's something to keep you happy, even though it is a bit cheeky - Welsh being one of the oldest European languages etc. etc.

If Latin is the official language of Heaven, then surely the angels must converse in Welsh on their dress-down Fridays.

Oggy oggy oggy: an old Welsh poem written by the bards - originally "moggy, moggy, moggy" - about Llywellyn Ap Gruffydd's three pet cats.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

You Gotta Feel Sorry for Fiji - And the Green Duck

Patch has been settling in well to his new family this week.

Being a rescue dog he was very nervous at first, though always well behaved, this did lead to a few little "accidents" especially when left alone at night.
Like a Wales V Fiji game - no competition

Funniest moment of the week was when Patch "coupied" down to 'squeeze one out' only for someone to come along and see him, shout "no" and take him out into the garden quickly. Just a little nugget of poop was left on the kitchen lino. Hearing the commotion one of the children came hurtling through the kitchen door (eager not to miss out on the "fun") excitedly asking "where's the poop?" just as he trod in it! Not so much egg on his face as pooh on his shoe.

Gradually though, with patience and love we've got him doing his ablutions when out. Yesterday we gave him a bath in the garden and now he's coming out of his shell a bit more.

We took him out yesterday to a car boot (where I picked up a really beautiful 1950s Daily Missal in superb condition for £1.50, and some equally great condition 60s Ladybird books for 5p each).

On the way home we stopped off at a pet shop to get some doggy shampoo, and we tried various treats and toys to see what Patch liked.

On the treats he wasn't bothered. Doggy chocs, biscuits, bones and all manner of fun treats. We thought he was going to be the same with the toys. We tried rubber balls, fake sausages, all sorts of bright, noisy, bouncy and squeaky things. No interest from Patch Hurley.

Then we flung a large green and yellow duck to him and the rest, as they say, is history.
In for the kill - it's Sixty Six, Nil!

Now he plays with it, runs about with it. Even though it is almost a third the size of him! It looks quite comical.

Even this morning as I sat thoroughly enjoying the Welsh team putting on a bulldozer of a performance against a Fijian team known for its physicality (66-0!), Patch sat biting his big green duck.

Come on Wales! Sorry Fiji. Come on Patch! Sorry duck.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Welcome to our new Family Member: Patch Hurley

Patch Hurley
This is Patch, our new family pet.

He is from a rescue kennel and is 18 months old.

So far he is fitting in really well (if a bit excited by the chickens).

He is well behaved, not at all noisy and we can't believe how lucky we are to get him.

He is a Jack Russell cross breed, we're not sure with what, but another Terrier of some sort we think.

He was so well behaved on the drive home and we've taken him for a couple of walks already.

Yes, it's all very exciting in the Hurley home.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

It's Bilbo Baggins Day - Hello to all Hobbits

A very Happy Birthday to Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

Especially for a hairy footed Welshman who betrayed everything and moved to... London. Home of Saruman & Co.

I went on a long adventure, there and back again, and now I'm home, in The Shire with the other halflings.

Oh Hobbits in the foul, unfolksy places of the world, don't give in to Saruman and his McRubbish. Drink Brains Beer* and eat Clark's Pies* (except on Fridays). Defend civilisation!

*I am always open to sponsorship.

Clark's Pies - Lembas Bread in all But Name

Four Paws Animal Rescue: A Very Bad Experience

A sad and perplexing tale this week.

On Sunday (18th September) we went to a dog show and purposefully went to the stalls for dogs homes as we had decided for some time that we would try for a dog to be rehomed.

After gathering information from the Dogs Trust we went over to the Four Paws Animal Rescue stall. Being "novices" at housing a rescue dog we were intent on gathering literature. On getting talking to one of the volunteers, she called over to a young lady who brought two dogs over.

Our youngest immediately fell in love with one of them called Cooper and asked if we could "get it now." Both we and the people on the stall said 'no - that's not how it works' that there would have to be forms filled-in and a home check etc.

So we told them that we were very keen on Cooper and would be going home to fill in the form that very day. It was then that the young lady in charge of the dogs, having seen how keen we were, said 'fill out the form with your number and as soon as I get it I'll give you a call.' She said that she was in charge of the two puppies and would be handling the case.

So whilst we knew it wouldn't be a shoe-in, we knew we would be in with a fair chance, especially when we told them that we would not leave the dog unattended at any time during the day. We had been promised an immediate phone call and so felt assured of fair treatment and the high possibility of homing Cooper.

We went home full of joy. The little one looked online and got pictures of Cooper and the older siblings were duly informed. There was a buzz of excitement.

Monday afternoon and she paced the floor ready for the promised call... nothing. Then I phoned and was told there were a lot of enquiries for the puppies (Cooper and his brother) and to be patient.

OK, I thought, they promised to phone and then there will be the home check etc. - no problem. Perhaps we would be contacted later in the week (I asked this whilst on the phone and was told - yes, within a few days) and then the various people would get home visits etc...

The next day (Tuesday) we received a standardised email stating that Cooper had already been rehomed. A kind of 'thanks but no thanks' impersonal round robin.

Now I understand how the world works and you have to be patient, but try telling that to a young one who had been promised at least a decent possibility of being in with a chance, was promised a personal call immediately on our details going in, and a home check.

We received none of these, and I had to say as the "grown up" comforting a crying child who had hoped for the best, to be ignored after we were promised at least a fighting chance and a personal contact from the young lady immediately in charge of the two puppies, we felt very let down by Four Paws Animal Rescue.

Forum post announcing Cooper's arrival Sept 19th
I felt that the decision had been made on the hoof, with no apparent fairness. When I phoned to ascertain what had gone on I was told the puppies had been available "for weeks" and so there were many people involved, yet the forum on their site announced them as available from the 18th September - the morning of which we saw them! (see screen shots).

I do not expect anyone to get preferential treatment, just a fair crack of the whip. And as people with all the right conditions (enclosed garden, someone always home, able to walk the dog daily, living near a beach and large parks etc. etc.) you would think we would at least get the courtesy of a call or a visit.

I am not suggesting something dodgy went on, that a friend of a friend turned up later that Sunday the 18th, or phone up on the Monday when the images were put online on their forum (the 19th) nor even that the person on their contact line lied when she said Cooper had been with them for fostering "for many weeks" when it says on their forum that Cooper had been with them for fostering since Sunday the 18th of September (the day we saw him).

But what I am saying is that to promise to phone, and plan a home call etc. etc. and then announce on the Tuesday that the dog has already been homed smacks of favouritism and/or of ignoring "normal" customers.

There was something not right in the way this was handled, with friendliness and promises of a call and "personal handling" of the case on the Sunday, to ignorance, non-contact and then a standardised email saying the dog had already been homed 48 hours later on the Tuesday.

It has left us with a very bad experience of Four Paws Animal Rescue.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Don't You Love That Personal Touch?

The email sent to me
When you get an email from a business, you tend to know that you are one of many thousands receiving it.

The same is true of mail shots, pop-up windows etc. etc.

The addition of your name may make the immature or gullible feel that they are being specially targeted for the special offer or services being promoted.

But the truth is a million miles away.

How refreshing therefore that Thomson Local sent me an email that deviated from the norm.

Just call me [Firstname] Hurley!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Happy Birthday Uncle Maynard - Darn Tootin'

Back in the day... touring his land
Very important birthday in the family this week... yes, of course today is Maynard's birthday! I wondered if he can get 92 candles on a cake, moreover how can he blow them out in one go? No jokes about being a blowhard, or being full of hot air.

Having the right to bear arms means means being able to blast those bad boy candles, not wearing a sleeveless dress.

But serously, sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch, cussing at passers by and carressing a blunderbuss is no way for a nonagenrian to pass the time, especially in a gravy-stained Dukes of Hazzard shirt. And getting your chewing tobaccy-stained inky shots of spittle in the spittoon just once, would be a Godsend for all concerned.

So happy birthday you old varmint! I know, you're "one day younger than me." Here's to another, and a year of non-pc behaviour and speaking your mind to all and sundry (not to mention offending liberals) in the meantime.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Billy Connolly the Cannibal Tours America?

I turned to our youngest and said "That looks good, Billy Connolly's new series is about travelling across America."

She asked "what does he do?" (I don't think the question was meant in a metaphysical or existentialist way).

"Oh," says I, "he meets people."

Perhaps it was the shock of just watching Wales lose their first match in the rugby World Cup, to South Africa by a single point, but her startled reply was "He eats people?"


Now, I know he swears a lot and I think he has dabbled with Buddhism and he has turned his back on Catholicism.... but I don't think he's quite that bad! Is he?

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Dolphins Are Gay Sharks

Political Correctness is alive and well.

When I saw the t-shirt DOLPHINS ARE GAY SHARKS for sale I just had to buy it, in preparation for our visit to a U.S. themed water park.

Lo! verily I doth hand over the readies (shock!) and purchase said shirt, then I wore it to the animal-containing water park.

Cue lots of shocked faces from liberals and the easily offended. Cue lots of grins, thumbs up and comments - specifically "great/cool shirt" - from those who haven't had a sense of humour by-pass.

The staff at said water park seemed especially pleased by the shirt. Strangely enough African-Americans seemed to like it most. Is that cultural? I don't know.

Just an after thought. On seeing a show of performing animals, we were treated to a fanfare of salutes to American servicemen who, we were told, were delivering freedom around the world, then lots of saccharine footage and music to inform us we live in "one world" etc. whilst imprisoned animals performed stunts for food as tourists looked on sipping Coca-Cola.

Hmmmm. Lots of socio-political un-pc thoughts crossed my mind as those two facts clashed in my sun-dazzled brain. Luckily I could just look down at my 'gay dolphins' shirt, smile and plan the next roller-coaster to go on.

Cardiff City Fan Mikey Dye RIP - No Football Rivalry

I'm so glad to hear that the Cardiff City fan, Mikey Dye, who tragically died at the England V Wales match on Tuesday was not murdered as the result of a Swansea-Cardiff rivalry. It seems some UK tabloids were too quick to jump the gun and suggest that is what happened. In all honesty I feared the worst too.

I enjoy football and have supported Cardiff since I was knee high to a grasshopper, I think I was 10 years old when I first went to see them play Leyton Orient, and I think that must have been in the old Division Four! Ah those halcyon days in the limelight.

I also have friends who are Swansea fans and we have good fun ribbing each other, winding each other up and delighting in each other's misfortunes. But there are, sadly, too many people who cross the line and for whom this rivalry boils over into terrible and merciless violence, at the drop of a hat.

The death of anyone is always a tragedy for the family involved, but I am relieved that it appears there was no Cardiff-Swansea violence at its core. It will be interesting to find out just what did happen, but in the meantime let's all take a moment to say a prayer for the repose of the soul of Mikey Dye.

None of us knows when our moment will come and its an awful (in its real sense) thought that at the drop of a hat we'll have to meet our Maker. At least being a Cardiff City fan must buy you some time off purgatory - we seem to have suffered enough in this veil of tears.

Friday, 26 August 2011

The Damage Caused - not by Hurricane Irene

Currently in the US of A, watching the advent of Hurricane Irene towards Wall Street (seems apt somehow). Yesterday we passed a huge auction house which had a couple of football (that's "soccer") fields worth of JCBs and general assorted diggers, cranes and other large industrial vehicles. It looked like a retirement home for transformers.

It's clear that the US economy is still suffering. One "shopping mall" we visited, which was beautiful (well, moreso than any other I've been in) with its own internal and external lake, had just 3 shops left in it. It was like walking through a really well upkept post-apocalyptic scenario (with air conditioning). We didn't spot too many zombies though -- apart from the "missing you already" type ;-)