Thursday, 29 March 2012

Another Hurley Hero

Can I just say this has nothing to do with me:

Mass Cancelled as Fr Hurley is Away

But Hoorah and Huzzah that another Hurley is on the side of the saints and general goodness.

Go go Fr Hurley! Sock it to the heretics.

And after your time away to recharge your batteries get back to the pulpit and let's have some sermons that resonate with fire and brimstone! Old Pa Hurley expects nothing less.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Royal Mail: More Expensive for a Worse Service

This poster is quite famous to connoisseurs of wartime and propaganda posters. It encourages people to post their letters in the morning.

It seems today we need a new poster: encouraging the Post Office to deliver our mail in the morning.

In the last few years mail to Hurley Towers has gone from being delivered circa 8am to being delivered at any time between 1pm and 2pm.

With this worsening service the PO is now putting up its rates by an inflation busting 14p to 50p (2nd class). What they don't tell us is that the heavier items and overseas items will go up by a comparatively more expensive amount.

It seems we are expected to pay more for a worse service!

This seems a fitting lesson on the modern world. Everything seems to get more expensive and the item/service seems to get worse. And perhaps worse of all, when working people are feeling the pinch, the government just seems to sit by and do nothing!

The increase in post will effect small businesses, OAPs (some of whom don't do emails etc.) and those who can least afford it. It will bring about additional costs which will impact on firms' wage bills or on the price of items, impacting ether on inflation or the wage packet of those fighting to pay the bills (all of which seem to go up).

All the while, we (the poor plebs) are left twiddling our thumbs, unable to have a say, just having to fork out more money, for a poor service. Just so the Royal Mail can be "pimped up" prior to privatisation. And what after that? Will buying a stamp be like buying a train ticket? I shudder to think...

Sadly I don't have 250K so can't get a sit-down meal with David and Samantha Cameron to air my woes. C'est la vie.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Tip of the Week: Water for Drought-Hit England

In those areas of England hit by drought (NB: certainly not Wales, Scotland or Ireland!) they have to conserve their water resources. What a great way for the Celtic nations to make money from the rich South East! Sell them water. Not least as it's only 100 odd miles from the Welsh border to the South East.

One big canal scheme would get lots of people in to work and would provide an income for Wales from the rich South East of England.

So come on Mr. Cameron! Put down your cutlery and get off your horse. We have three problems to solve: unemployment, the wobbling economy and a drought.

Meanwhile for those in the South East of England worried about water usage, here's a poem to help when doing your daily ablutions:

If It's Yellow: Let it Mellow.
If it's Brown: Flush it Down.
If it's Black: See the Quack.
If it's Pink: See a Shrink.

Thank you.

My services as an adviser to government on the environment are available. Ministers and Whitehall hirelings need only drop me a line for my very reasonable rates. Pip pip.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

How Debauched! How Decadent!

I am blogging from bed. It doesn't seem right. Perhaps I'm getting more liberal and bohemian (instinct tells me to give that a capital B - sleepiness is no excuse for slacking one's standards) as I approach my 40th birthday (another one for the Confessional).

Patch the Dog (PTD) gave me a sideways glance of real disdain as I climbed into bed (am I getting shorter so's I need to climb?) as if to say "yes? What do you want... Disturbing me thus?"

And there we have it. That's my lot in life. I am lower in the pecking order in this house than PTD who looks at me with such disdain when I interrupt his dreams of catching the biggest ever bone (yes in doggy dreams bones run away).

Today I found out the battery hen place we bought our last hens from has closed down, so my job this week is to locate a new place to get some new hens (if only to improve my standing in the pecking order...).

One last issue to get off my Cardiff City t-shirt (doubling as pyjim-jam top) clad-chest. Do goldfish in captivity breed? I ask because there is a revolutionary situation in our garden pond.

The water snails (yes they are above me in household importance) which we got for free from a local wild pond (just in case Old Pa Hurley is looking in) have had children. There are baby water snails in the pond. That's not debatable nor revolutionary. The government need not change the definition of marriage for our water snails!

No, the issue is our goldfish. Two tiny black fish have appeared, circa one inch long. There is debate as to whether they are the offspring of the goldfish (and will change colour) or got into the pond with plants, snails or tadpoles we've (ahem) borrowed from municipal ponds in our locale.

So if you know, or have an idea that will help our goldfish know they haven't fallen foul of inter-racial adoption rules of local councils, and help me settle down and get the sleep of the righteous (like PTD) which I might well deserve, contrary to what everyone above me in the social strata in this house (and garden) might have you believe, do tell.

Don't listen to the water snails (now there's a life lesson I'm happy to share for a small fee).

Let me know when you can. You can mark it in your diary as part of your Lenten almsgiving to the (intellectually) poor.

Good night, God bless.

Nos Da.

Friday, 23 March 2012

What's That Big Yellow Thing in the Sky?

It's been sunny today. They say it'll be sunny tomorrow.

That'll be our Summer then! Better make the most of it.

If Welsh Water try and pass off a hosepipe ban in these parts after a few hot days they'll have an insurrection on their hands. A couple of times this Winter just gone I've seen Noah over the local park laying out planks and measuring up.

In all seriousness though, we have to look at the big questions, the important issues that a change in the weather like this means.

Dare I don shorts tomorrow and frighten the animals? Decisions decisions...

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Remembering T Hurley of Crumlin, One More Soldier...

The Crumlin War Memorial
On BBC Wales News tonight (Wales Today) there was a story about a war memorial in Crumlin, north of Cardiff. The metal plaque on the memorial was stolen, but luckily an elderly gent in the town had written down all the names and so the plaques could be recreated.

On showing the new plaque there right near the top (1914-18) was a T. Hurley (see pic at right, T Hurley is second from top, middle column).

How very sad that some low life thinks so little of the dead, of our history and of the sacrifices men made - to nick metal war plaques just for a few quid.

And so we can remember T. Hurley from Crumlin who died so many years ago.

I like to think as my famous rugby-playing great grandad Henry Huzzey came from Pontypool, just five miles from Crumlin, that maybe the Hurleys from Crumlin and the Huzzeys from Pontypool may have bumped into each other in the street once or twice... who knows?

Crumlin War Memorial Re-Dedicated

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Laws of Nature and Our Bathroom

The universe has many laws. They are facts of life. The good Lord made them and we complain about their actualité at our peril.

  • We can rage against the law of gravity (and come down to earth with a bump). 
  • We can fool ourselves that we can stop or reverse the effects of ageing (and end up looking like a clown - or Joan Rivers).  
  • We can swear to break the Ten Commandments (and just become nasty, evil, twisted -- and often tediously boring).
The laws of nature are there for a reason. They stop us getting too big for our boots. They remind us that we are not godlike.

But there's one law in particular that we gents in particular can moan about, try and buck, but it will ultimately win through:
  • Ladies like to buy things. Oh yes they do.

Yes. While men tend to complain about the price of things, women like to buy things. Mrs H tends to leave me at home, at work, walking Patch or wherever when she goes shopping, because she knows that I will either moan and groan until she gives up, or I will keep looking over her shoulder saying things like:
  • We've got one (or two, three, four etc.) of those already.
  • What do you want one of those for?
  • How much?
  • It's not worth that much.
  • They make those for pennies.
Well, the other day Mrs H brought home some signs for the bathroom. All four-letters designed to place near the appropriate bathroom furniture where one does the appropriate ablutions.

Thankfully they couldn't thing of a four-letter verb linked with the toilet. Small mercies.

P.S. A Happy St Joseph's Day to Old Pa Hurley

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Happy Mother's Day... to Old Ma Hurley

For bringing me and my siblings into this world and putting up with us all.

There is an old Hurley called Ma,
Who to us is a bit of a star.
A long time ago
She married her Joe.
Can you imagine the mental scars?
And now she's a Nan many times.
The children form orderly lines.
They know she's a winner
And cooks a mean dinner
(And Ron's there Saturday bang on 9).
So a hip hip hooray for Mum (and Nan).
She's been around since the world began.
At knitting she's quick,
But gold at the Olympics?
If anyone can do it -- she sure can!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Grand Slam Fever: The Welsh Grow By a Few Million

It was all for the Hoff- like so many who have converted to Welshness
Oh to be Welsh on such a glorious day!

Hang on a minute. I am!


Mmmmmmmm. Taste that Grand Slam goodness.

Today everyone who is anyone is Welsh.

  • The Pope (of course) is Welsh.
  • The entire Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham squads are Welsh.
  • Everyone in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Cheshire, and Merseyside are Welsh.
  • The Cumbrians and inhabitants of Strathclyde are returning to their Welsh roots.
  • Wolverhampton says it is still in Powys.
  • Our cousins in Cornwall are officially Welsh.
  • Everyone married to a Welsh person or with a Welsh brother, sister, son or daughter-in-law is Welsh.
  • Everyone who's been across the Severn Bridge is Welsh.
  • Everyone who's eaten a Welsh cake, a Peter's Pie or Clark's Pie, had cheese on toast (Welsh rarebit), drunk Brains, Felinfoel or Buckley's Beer is Welsh.
  • Anyone who's eaten a leek or grown (or seen) a daffodil is Welsh.
  • Anyone with an Atlas, map or Google earth (which includes Wales) is Welsh.
  • Anyone who sings quite well is Welsh.
  • Anyone Irish (cos of St Patrick) is Welsh.
  • Anyone called Williams, Davies, Parry, Price, Bowen, Wallace, Walsh or Jones is Welsh.
  • Anyone wearing red is Welsh.
  • Anyone who's watched Dr Who, Hi De Hi, Being Human, Gavin & Stacey or Casualty is Welsh.
  • Anyone who can do a terrible Welsh accent (that sounds like a Pakistani) is Welsh.
  • Anyone who lives in a valley or on a mountain is Welsh.
  • Anyone who lives around the Irish Sea (now known as the Welsh Ocean) is Welsh.
  • Anyone who's caught a ferry (to Swansea, Pembroke, Holyhead preferably - but not essential) is Welsh.
  • Anyone with a castle (henceforth to be called a castell) within 100 miles of their home or workplace is Welsh.
  • Anyone who's used coal or slate is Welsh.
  • Anyone in Catalonia (where castell also means castle) or anyone in Italy or France (where ffenestr, the word for window is almost the same) is Welsh.
  • Anyone called Gareth (hurrah!), David, Lloyd, Bethan, Blodwyn, Rhiannon or similar is Welsh.
  • Anyone whose flag is red, white and green (e.g. Belarus, Bulgaria, Basque, Italy, Hungary, Algeria and Iran) is Welsh.

Probably the person today with the weakest claim to be Welsh is the Germano-Greek "Prince of Wales" aka Charles Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

So raise your glass of Brains beer or Penderyn Whiskey! Hold high your Clark's or Peter's Pie! (substitutes are acceptable at short notice) and with me, raise your voices so that St Peter himself (obviously Welsh) hears you and drops his keys in shock, as you sing: Gwlad! Gwlad! Pleidiol Wyf I'm Gwlad!*

*("Nation! Nation! True am I to my nation" – from the chorus of the Welsh National Anthem).

Friday, 16 March 2012

Mervyn Davies RIP, Rowan Williams Adios, Hello Grand Slam

Merv the Swerve. RIP
Sad news today.

No, not the resignation of Rowan Williams, the Welsh (Anglican) "Archbishop" of Canterbury.

Mervyn Davies - aka Merv the Swerve - the commanding force of the great Welsh rugby team of the 1970s has passed away.

Already folks are talking about wearing white headbands tomorrow as Wales take on France in a potentially Grand Slam winning match. What a fantastic sight that would be.

I was still in shorts when Merv the Swerve, JPR Williams, Gareth Edwards and all the 70s heroes brought glory to Wales. Yes I too wore a Grand Slam t-shirt in the late 70s (bought at Bessemer Road market if I remember right). Ah! 1970s Welsh rugby. Halcyon days. I wore it ragged, until the lettering and the three feathers peeled off and the red of the shirt faded. Happy, innocent times.

So if the Welsh team win tomorrow (if???) let it be in memory of Merv the Swerve, and we can all remember the days when side burns, flares and Welsh rugby reigned supreme.

As for the Archbishop (sic) of Canterbury, well as we share a mutual friend (honest!) I should make it clear at this stage that I'm not throwing my hat into the ring. I don't think I could put up with the queen's strops. Sorry I know that sounds disrespectful. But those queer bishops can't half scram ;-)

As for Rowan Williams the man, you have to feel a bit sorry for him really as the Anglicans are on a hiding to nothing. They still pretend they are somehow linked to the Apostles, when they are held over a barrel (if you'll excuse the awful visual imagery) by homosexual activists in their own church and amongst their own vicars. The fudge that Anglicanism always was (founded to permit a king to divorce his legally wed wife) has just got worse and worse and its religious boss cannot please all its many factions.

Just as well Welsh rugby is fighting fit with a triple Crown under its belt, and we Catholics have a leadership that (at least!) won't fudge when it comes to homosexuals' rights. We've had the statements against gay marriage from the Cardinal and Archbishops, now all we need is a  Grand Slam victory (topped up with a St Patrick's Day victory for the Irish) and it'll be as if everything in the garden is just tickedy boo.

Let's have this weekend to bask in the glory, then we can worry about picking apart the government's lies over "gay marriage" and its campaign to undo thousands of years of marriage, to the detriment of society, from next week onwards.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Tip of the Week: if in Doubt Report it!

My Tip of the Week is to take reports with a pinch of salt.

This week I've heard that red meat will bring you an early death; and that pensions are in crisis because we are all living longer than ever before (ask Old Pa Hurley, he's 105).

This week I've heard that primary school children are uneducated, can't sufficiently read etc. yet almost annually we hear how exam results at secondary schools are getting better than ever before (whilst we still hear how children think Hitler played in goals for Germany or Churchill led the troops at Waterloo).

I've also heard how wine can shorten and elongate your life.

If you took all government, NGO, pressure group and other reports at face value you'd be a gibbering wreck!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Stop Telling Porky Pies!

If you see me wearing a black armband in the next few days, don't worry. No-one's died. I am mourning the news that pork pies are within the category of "red meat" that should be avoided to have a longer life.

What terrible, terrible news.

Still I suppose if it all gets a bit much... I needn't jump in the car and pop the co-ordinates for Beachy Head into the sat nav I haven't got, I can simply open the fridge and reach for a pork pie!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Pagan Prisoners to Pray in the Nude? It's No Oil Painting

I am not a number: and I'm keeping my kit on! 
It's in the news today that a pagan prisoner wants the "right" to pray in the nude. Presumably he's allowed his own altar, tree to hug (watch those splinters!) or cat to sacrifice? One assumes these would be his "rights" also.

Can I state here and now I wish to press my own right never to have to pray in the nude, or to witness others do so?

Some hedonists or pagans or even atheists may worship the human body (though in my humble opinion the non air-brushed variety or those not touched-up in paintings are no... erm... oil paintings, on average) yet it always strikes me as weird in the extreme that these Heinz 57 varieties of weirdies would prefer to worship the human body, rather than the God who created it. It's also a wonder that the most hedonistic and narcissistic of all are the ones who seek out the surgeon's knife to alter their body the most. Whilst denying God they would seek to play at being God, seeking to defy time, age and gravity, which God in His wisdom made laws of nature.

I'm happier to leave my ageing, sagging body as it is - as long as I don't have to see it too often! Even wearing shorts in the Summer is enough to make cats screech and passers-by run for cover. I am reminded of Old Pa Hurley in his football playing days. Many said he was sponsored by Unigate, given the resemblance between his legs and two pints of milk!

As for the pagan prisoners, I would say they can have their "rights" to pray in the nude, alone in a cold cell, surrounded by mirrors. This may at first appeal to their narcissistic nature, but would soon make them realise that whilst scientifically the human body is a wonder in its intricacy thanks to its Creator, its reality in the cold light of day is all too often a sobering sight that'd frighten the horses.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

A Birthday Limerick for Old Pa Hurley

There is an old man called Joe
Who wreaks havoc wherever he goes
He was it at again
In the club at half ten
'Tis whenever the Brains doth flow.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Defend Marriage: Sign the Petition

Sign the C4M petition if you believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Click here.


Because some things (marriage, pork pies and rugby) should be above politics.

Alba or Erin? Let Battle Commence

Well Wales beat Italy, fairly comfortably. Yet it wasn't the steamroller game we were kind of hoping for. I congratulated some Italian friends because I thought Italy played very well, especially defensively.

I needed a bit of an uplift as I am currently chair bound, having woken this morning with terrible sciatic pains. There could be no pottering in the garden this morning and a long planned night out with chums has had to be cancelled. I am the sitting wounded, Deep Heat and ibuprofen doing not very much to remedy things to be honest.

You know you feel bad when you don't cheer (let along leap out of the chair) when Wales score a try.

So now I am sitting, immobile, waiting to see who will win between Ireland and Scotland. My usual loyalty to Ireland (the land of my Hurley ancestors) is countered by the support given to Scotland by our youngest who was born there, besides which (unless Wales or England are playing) I naturally side with the underdog.

But we shall see...

Will it be Alba gu Brath? Or Erin go Bragh? 

William Wallace? Or Brian Boru?

Carfin? Or Knock?

St Andrew? Or St Patrick?

Friday, 9 March 2012

International Women's Day and Old Paint Tins

They may come in handy... one day.
Can you smell that? Is it burnt fibres?

Today is International Womens' Day*. Ah! So that'll be the smell of burning bras in the air as the sisters march against all forms of patriarchal oppression.

I should have known that something was in the air (and not just immolated Playtex) when Mrs H committed what is surely a mortal sin in the world of blokey blokes. The other day (I have already began repressing dates as a means to bury the bad memories) Mrs H went into my Holy of Holies, she marched right into my Sanctuary and defiled what is blokey holy ground. She went deep into 'me shed.'

I can sense men gasping audibly across the interweb! Old Pa Hurley has had to hold onto the furniture to avoid falling to the floor in an onset of male pattern dizziness.

The first I knew was when the back door opened and she pronounced "we need to have a sort out."

I put down Hilaire Belloc (in ceramic form) on the table as I paused mid cuppa. What could she mean? I knew Rhys Priestland had had a bad game against England, but was she proposing bringing Mike Phillips back into the starting 15? I wouldn't be adverse to that, loving a bit of the Phillips righteous anger in his play.

Or was she referring to the way Cardiff City have slipped down the league somewhat after blazing a trail in the League Cup?

Or was she thinking we should drive up to Scotland to visit Cardinal O'Brien, to clap the Prince of the Church on the back with a resounding "well done boyo" for speaking out against the oxymoronic insidious idea of 'gay marriage'?

All three were certainly worthy of an in-depth debate and concrete action. I'd have to polish my shoes (especially if visiting the Cardinal), but then it's always a good thing to have an excuse to dress-up, have a shave and splash on some smellies, like a latter day Henry Cooper.

But this was different. I could see the fire in her eyes that neither rugby, football nor even the hot socio-political topics of the day could induce.

It was then that she dropped the bombshell. She had been into the inner sanctum of blokeyness and had (sit down or hold onto some sturdy furniture!) emptied out the paint pots. And sure enough, looking up the garden I could see a plethora of paint tins, big and small, metal and plastic, sat outside the door of my little piece of paradise.

Oh the ignominy! Old Ma Hurley had once told me that she had made Old Pa Hurley empty out some of his old paint tins from his garage (rumour was that there was original old grey paint used by Robert E Lee back in the day) but even though you laugh and chuckle, you never really think you'll see the day yourself when you are... erm... emasculated via the removal of paint tins.

Oh the shame. The ignominy.

Every man knows this day will surely come, but when it arrives.... oh boy oh boy.

And there we are. I am now a man in name only. My old, rusty, almost empty, years old pots of paint. I suppose like old flames when you meet your true love, or the comfy smelly old trainers under the stairs that give the cupboard a cheesy, musty smell all of their own - you know you have to do this, to move on, to embrace the future. But I must admit seeing my old rusty, dusty, paint encrusted friends go, the large and the small, the matt and the gloss, the emulsion and the undercoat...

I had to try hard not to be like Lot's wife, looking back at Sodom (if the goodly Scottish Cardinal is looking in - that one's for you Your Eminence) as I put the paint tins into the car to go down to the municipal tip - though not looking at my old loves as I loaded them in wasn't easy!

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child.
Corinthians 1:13

When I was a young bloke I saved my pots of paint like Old Pa Hurley, but now I am a middle aged married man I have to let Mrs H have a clear-out once in a blue moon.
Me. 8/3/12

So as I said at the beginning, it is International Womens Day. And I have done my bit! I have acquiesced in, nay -- I have facilitated in the removal of an icon of blokeyness. I am akin to the fifth column working for the feminists. Will I have to go in disguise the next time I cross a pub threshold? Will I get a medal from Harriet Harperson the Harpie, the Haranguers of He-Males everywhere?

I may just deserve one.

* This was written before midnight!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Brian Sewell's Alter-Ego on Trains and Sunderland

This is one of the funniest comedy sketches ever! It captures Brian Sewell's fantastic pomposity and "uber culture" in all its glory.

As my in-laws (on the maternal side) originate from Sunderland, listen out for its mention.

Listen and enjoy:

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Biscuit, The Prop We Need in this Vale of Tears

biscuit (n.)
respelled early 19c. from bisket (16c.), ultimately (besquite, early 14c.) from O.Fr. bescuit (12c.), lit. "twice cooked;"
The word biscuit is from an Old French term derived from Latin. So the biscuit is itself very Catholic in its heritage.

If you are cultured, like what I am, you'll enjoy nothing more than a biscuit with your cup of (Glengettie) tea. I know it's Lent so I won't tempt you too much with flowery language and voluptuous descriptions of biccies, but let it be said that I enjoy a biscuit or two (OK, or three) with my tea, preferably in one of my GK Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Pope Benedict or Bonnie Prince Charlie mugs. You can ask Mrs. H., if a cuppa is served up in some other receptacle I will frown so that the person delivering the tea knows of my displeasure. Never let it be said I don't know how to convey my feelings.

So yes, a biscuit is a fine thing to enjoy. If the good Lord had not meant us to enjoy biscuits he would not have made a goodly number of people into bakers -- surely a matter of Providence, whereas estate agents show how badly free will can rebound on us all. Besides which, I am sure many monasteries must have made biscuits. I have no proof of this, but the idea pleases me, so let's just agree on that, OK?

So, now we come to the important part. What is the ideal biscuit for a Welsh Catholic dude (OK, I made that last bit up) like what I am. Let me lay my cards on the table. I tend to go for the double-bubble biscuits, where you have two biscuits conjoined by a yummy centre. The most traditional of these is of course the Custard Cream or the Bourbon. The beauty of both of these is that cheaper varieties usually taste exactly the same as the slightly more expensive.

But should you get a curve-ball, in the shape of the BOGOF (buy one get one free) you can't get much better than the Fox's biscuits with the creamy centres. They taste very good both pre-dunk and post-dunk; and that is never to be sneezed at! Of course one can always overstep the mark and find yourself dunking a Jammy Dodger, and that is a step too far (it's how Michael Barrymore started!)

On the other hand I am not a fan of the Rich Tea biscuit. For me they are far too protestant, being a bit too plain and very limp and floppy (post dunk). They may not have openly(!) gay "bishops" in England but you can bet the Rich Tea is very well used in protestant circles. In fact I'd wager a McVities van makes a bulk delivery on account once a month to Lambeth Palace, wherein the staff are careful to ensure no cases of Jaffa Cakes (let's not discuss the cake v. biscuit debate here, enough blood has been shed and I think the Council of Trent dealt with that succinctly enough, drawing on the clear delineations of St Thomas Aquinas) are smuggled in to upset the upper echelons of Anglicanism.

So let me throw the floor open to you dear reader. Perhaps you are Welsh. Perhaps you are Catholic. If you're really lucky you're both. If Providence has dictated that you must battle against the odds you may be neither, but nil desperandum my friend. You should start off slowly. Attend Mass, sit at the back quietly and take it in. Start supporting Wales, you can begin quietly just enjoy the sensation. Salvation is available to all! Ask and you shall receive...

But whatever you are, wherever you are, I'd be happy to hear your suggestions for the perfect biscuit. An explanation of your decision would be appreciated (the whys and wherefores matter almost as much as the final decision). Only atheists and militant secularists/homosexuals need not apply. Hey - you had our adoption agencies shut down, so you can zip it! The boot is on the other foot now and your choice of biscuit means nothing to me! Besides which, homosexualists must surely be drawn to the ginger biscuit?

Perhaps a priest might like to make a suggestion too? After all, the imbibing of tea served by parishioners, coupled with the offering of biscuits must surely make them highly qualified to make a suggestion. Will a shepherd come forward to lead his flock?

I like to think writing a blog is not about navel gazing. No! This is where the matters of great importance are discussed, before the truth is laid bare for people to take comfort from. In a world of tumult and worry, what better guidance can we give than to state what the best biscuits are? When false religions, atheists and nutters are assaulting us on all fronts, we surely need a 'nice cup of tea' to calm ruffled feathers. With the correct biscuit we can start to take the fight back at our adversaries and win hearts,minds and souls for Catholicism and Wales.

Oh yes. Now I'm feeling all heroic, with a crusading zeal. I may even go off and rewrite Faith of Our Fathers with a few subtle references to biscuits.

Faith of our fathers, living still
In spite of dungeon, fire and rich tea biscuits...

P.S. Writing this blog has helped to expunge today's news that Cardiff City lost 0-2 to West Ham. Oh woe! The good news is that Ireland held France to a draw in rugby and so Wales are the only team who can now win the Grand Slam.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Guantanamo Bay Style Singing Torture by Old Ma and Pa Hurley

Did the neighbours hear?
I was in the shed today, and just to break the habit of a lifetime I was pottering. The sun was shining (that'll be it until May or June) so there were jobs to do in the garden. Gloves, loppers and a pick axe were the order of the day. PTD* was with me and after tethering him, I got to work.

Mrs H and the youngest (Naughty Nel) were off to the first round of the Youth Eisteddfod, the local stage. As it always runs very late - we learnt this through bitter experience over numerous years - I had the day to do the chores (Mrs H wants another raised bed to grow more veg, she is nothing if not a stern taskmaster).

Anyhow, as I went back into the shed (any excuse) I heard a song on the radio that brought back some vivid memories. I had suppressed these memories for many years, like the survivor of some horrific crime. OK, it may not be as awful as the Armenian genocide (look it up!), but this is only a matter of degrees surely?

You see, dear reader, when I was little more than a tiny tot, my parents would often sing songs from the 1950s (and some from the 60s) around the house. Such cruelty. I shudder now as I bare my soul to you. Luckily for them Esther Rantzen's Childline wasn't in existence back then or it would have glowed red like Commissioner Gordon's Batline in the 60s TV series on a daily basis.

Imagine being woken up as someone waltzed around your room, allowing the sunlight to stream in whilst singing:

"Good morning, good morning, you slept the whole night through, good morning, good morning to you..."


"It's nice to get to up in the morning, but it's better to stay in bed," (often adding a cheery "poop poop" for good measure).

This was infringement of my "human rights" at a very basic level. Where was the European Court of Human Rights or the Equalities Commission** to fight my case through the courts of the land at huge expense to the tax-payer?

"Holy Itsy Bitsy Batman!"
If all this wasn't bad enough there were lots of other songs sung jauntily or cheerfully throughout the day. "She wore an Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini..." was one that is seared in my memory, despite my best efforts to bury it away.

Yet this song on a Radio Wales show earlier today was one that was sooo very bad, I had repressed this memory successfully, only for it to be regurgitated on hearing the song for the first time in many years. I was fixed to the spot. It was only because I am just so very brave that I didn't burst into tears at the thought of the innate cruelty of my parents who made me listen (well, I lived in the same house) to them as they sang snippets of these songs as they went about their daily tasks.

So what is this song that could evoke such memories of terror and dread? I had never previously known who sang it (apart from Old Pa Hurley, very badly) nor even its title and so there I was, a grown man, with muddy boots and gloves on, waiting through every harrowing syllable of the song just so I could know the name of the song that had pained me so much as a child.

My forehead was beaded with sweat. I shifted weight from one foot to the next. I could feel myself breathing. Each second lasted forever.*** The song went on. The terror continued. The repressed memories flooded my mind. I wanted to run and scream like a big girl's blouse**** but I had to stay. I had to know. My very sanity hung in the balance (what do you mean "too late?").

Then all of sudden the song was over. The feeling of terror mixed with nausea subsided. The silence hung in the air like a big hangy thing. I licked my dry and cracked lips, like Captain Oates deciding whether or not to have an after dinner stroll, with the weight of destiny on my shoulders just as much as it was on that fateful day in the Antarctic. I hope I'm not being too melodramatic, but as a reality TV show contestant might say, "it was pretty intense."

Then the words I had been half-longing to hear, half-dreading to hear filled my auditory canal. The song in question was...

This is that really annoying bit.

With tense music.

That they put on TV shows.

Like Master Chef.

And all those Simon Cowell ones.

With the awful self-obsessed people.

Who probably have blogs (um... er... oh.)

Where they think it adds tension and excitement.

But in reality is just really annoying.

And the winner is.....

Slim Whitman singing Indian Love Call.

And, back in the room. Can you imagine the sheer terror of hearing a parent singing/yodelling "When I'm calling You...oooooeeeeoooo....oooooooooeeeeeeeoooooooooooooo" quite often whilst coming through the front door?

Dear. Lord. In. Heaven. And people wonder why I grew up to be the strange, weird, and twisted individual that they so very often accuse me of being.

These are just a few snippets of the awful singing of 50s and 60s songs my siblings and I had to endure. People file reports to the NSPCC for less. And worse still, they also (especially Old Pa Hurley) had the habit of singing more "modern" songs by 'popular beat combos' and getting the words wrong. I think the CIA did something similar to internees at Guantanamo Bay.

Perhaps you too grew up in a house where the "grown ups" used music (and I use the term lightly) as a form of torture? If so get in touch. Perhaps we could launch a campaign. Posters for schools for those currently suffering. A helpline. A medal for survivors. A ribbon (colour to be decided) to be worn on November 22nd (Feast Day of St Cecilia, patron of music). A "funky" fund-raising t-shirt to be worn on our annual 'put your feet up and have a nice cup of tea' day***** (as an antidote to fun runs because in my experience running is rarely fun, especially if public transport is involved******).

There is so much to do, and so little time. Carpe Diem (trans: god's fish).So if someone can do all that for me, I'll swing the entire weight of this blog behind it. Can't say fairer than that.

And when the phone helpline opens, if my children phone up, I'll sing Boney M's "Brown Girl in the Ring (Tra La La La La)" even louder! After all, if I suffered so should they.... (cue evil cackle) Mwah ha ha! ;-)

P.S. Naughty Nel and her compadres won first place in their Welsh recital, so now we go to the regional finals. The world is at our feet!

*Patch the Dog
**I know I'm clutching at straws.
***Not literally, but you know full well what I mean Mr. Picky!
****"That's so gay."
*****Sponsored by Glengettie
******Anecdote time: Another infamous blogger, who shall remain nameless, if egged on to run for a bus or tube with the words "that's our bus/tube" would always replay "no - ours is the next one" as an antidote to running. He later shocked everyone by walking on pilgrimage to Rome.

Friday, 2 March 2012

What's Wrong With This Country?

Yes - uphill gardeners really do give these cards out to children!
A provocative headline - but read on  itinerant wanderer through the blogosphere.

Last night there was a "trade unionist" for professional footballers on Newsnight (such an oppressed minority dontcha know!) giving forth about sexism, racism, homophobia and prejudice against baked beans. OK, I made that last bit up, but the rest is true.

At one stage Mr. Who-He (OK, I made that bit up too) said that a key aspect to making this a better country to live in (copyright Miss World circa 1974) was to stop children in playgrounds saying "that's so gay" as a means of calling things pathetic.

I thought to myself, do professional footballers really have nothing they could "make better" to improve society other than children saying "that's so gay?" How about greed, corruption, foul language, dissent, cheating, drugs, rape, infidelity... just for a start!

Picking up SAS Eddie today from the train station I told him of this (probably extremely over-paid) footballer's angst about the (allegedly) offensive language of schoolchildren. No, not foul language which they copy off footballers who should know better, but supposedly "homophobic" language.

SAS Eddie simply replied: "Now, that is gay."

I couldn't have put it better myself.

P.S. As far as I know there is only one piece of law which openly discriminates as a matter of fact - actually preventing anyone in this land from entering the upper echelons of power, and that is the Act of Settlement which has seen members of the Royal Family and their spouses removed from the line of succession for becoming or marrying Catholics (despite the English/British monarchy being rooted in Catholicism). It does not apply to any protestant, Jew, Muslim, Sikh, homosexual or Jedi/Sith. Now that's so gay.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Congratulations! Baby Josef Daniel Carter is Born

To have a birthday on St David's Day?

Josef Daniel Carter arrived today to Rhys and Kate (Nee Hurley).

As if one Joe in the family wasn't enough? Still, the crying, tantrums, incontinence, regurgitated food, sleepless nights and endless dribbling are a small price to pay for that lovely smile, or so Old Ma Hurley tells us.

No doubt baby Josef will be almost as much of a handful!

Congratulations to all concerned.

St David's Day, Sospan Fach and an Heroic Cat

To the more culturally aware of you it will come as no surprise when I say it's St David's Day today. I hope you are wearing your leek with humility. Apparently it was a favourite of Dewi Sant himself, who ate very frugally.

Today I sat through a Saint David's Day concert in which our youngest featured. You know the kind, where the parents are more annoying that the little monkeys on the stage, as they chat through parts, their phones ring and bleep and even (and I was mildly shocked) got up to leave once their offspring had done their part. Honest.

As they sang and performed surrounded by Welsh flags and even an Owain Glyndwr banner I got to thinking of past concerts I've sat through and then way further back (could this be circa the Boer War?) to St David's Day concerts I took part in.

Then the assembled chilblains in front of me started singing Sospan Fach, and like some nutty professor I was winging my way back into the 1970s. Not only had we sung Sospan Fach for St David's Day, but a few of us had acted out the song.

To my knowledge there weren't any Hollywood scouts around on the day, and if there were they missed my masterpiece as "the cat."

Yes, even at that early age (I guess I was 7 or 8?) my potential for playing domiciled felines was seen. Who knows, perhaps if hand held video cameras were invented I may have been a You Tube hit and whisked off to star in some blockbuster? Probably a good job then that they weren't. As Galadriel said when offered the ring by Frodo, 'I shall remain Galadriel, go into the West and fade' (or words to that effect).

Still, the fact that this was a small school affair in Marlborough Road Junior School, did not stop me playing the part. Like someone in the modern media world of wanna-be pop stars might say: I was 'on a journey.' Indeed, 'I gave it 110%.' I might even go so far as to say 'I gave it my heart and my soul.'

So much so that Graham Newton, who played little Johnny (surely an inferior role?) complained bitterly when I actually scratched his face as I played the role of the cat. I believe some actors are paid millions to do their 'method acting' and yet here I was, on the mean streets of 70s Cardiff (well, in school anyway), giving it my all, immersing myself in the role, actually being the cat and Graham Newton complained! Such ingratitude.

Clearly his muse had not moved him to be little Johnny. Then he could have celebrated the scratch! Worn it as a badge of honour. He was little Johnny, this was his scratch. He had faced up to the cat and come away with his life. Oh how rich would his life be then? Having played the part to such a degree and now... now he was a survivor! The Titanic in 1912, the Blitz of 1940, and Sospan Fach of 1977 or 78. He would have been part of a proud tradition, feted to this day and a regular in the Sunday supplements.

But no. Perhaps he didn't have the foresight. He gave up his thespian future and the glories of the world, when he cried and complained. Imagine. We had brought Sospan Fach to life in that school hall (OK, there were no flames and indeed no actual baby), but we had done the unimaginable! We had brought the reality to the assembled masses. Perhaps his tears were tears of joy for what we had achieved? Perhaps his complaint was really that the other effects were two dimensional by comparison? And yet at the time I thought I clearly heard him complain that 'Gareth scratched me.'

Perhaps I misheard in all the emotion of the moment, as the adrenaline flowed with all those sospans about, or like Hillary Clinton he had "misspoke" and meant to ask why the others weren't fully in character like the fabulous cat who has truly scratched him?

Maybe we will never know. Maybe we don't deserve to know.

Then suddenly I was back in the present clapping the tiny terrors who had finished their rendition of Sospan Fach. And sad to say, not a single face had been scratched.

Kids today! They just don't seem to care.

Happy St David's Day!

P.S. I always thought it was Sospan Fach, not Sosban Fach, and have seen it spelt both ways. Intriguing...

Sospan Fach (scroll down to see English translation):

Mae bys Meri-Ann wedi brifo,
A Dafydd y gwas ddim yn iach.
Mae'r baban yn y crud yn crio,
A'r gath wedi sgramo Joni bach.
Sosban fach yn berwi ar y tân,
Sosban fawr yn berwi ar y llawr,
A'r gath wedi sgramo Joni bach.
Dai bach y sowldiwr,
Dai bach y sowldiwr,
Dai bach y sowldiwr,
A gwt ei grys e mas.
Mae bys Meri-Ann wedi gwella,
A Dafydd y gwas yn ei fedd;
Mae'r baban yn y crud wedi tyfu,
A'r gath wedi huno mewn hedd.
Sosban fach yn berwi ar y tân
Sosban fawr yn berwi ar y llawr
A'r gath wedi huno mewn hedd.
Dai bach y sowldiwr,
Dai bach y sowldiwr,
Dai bach y sowldiwr,
A gwt ei grys e mas.
Aeth hen Fari Jones i Ffair y Caerau
I brynu set o lestri de;
Ond mynd i'r ffos aeth Mari gyda'i llestri
Trwy yfed gormod lawer iawn o 'de'
Sosban fach yn berwi ar y tân
Sosban fawr yn berwi ar y llawr
A'r gath wedi huno mewn hedd.

English (literal translation)
Mary-Ann has hurt her finger,
And David the servant is not well.
The baby in the cradle is crying,
And the cat has scratched little Johnny.
A little saucepan is boiling on the fire,
A big saucepan is boiling on the floor,
And the cat has scratched little Johnny.
Little Dai the soldier,
Little Dai the soldier,
Little Dai the soldier,
And his shirt tail is hanging out.
Mary-Ann's finger has got better,
And David the servant is in his grave;
The baby in the cradle has grown up,
And the cat is 'asleep in peace'.
A little saucepan is boiling on the fire,
A big saucepan is boiling on the floor,
And the cat is 'asleep in peace'.
Little Dai the soldier,
Little Dai the soldier,
Little Dai the soldier,
And his shirt tail is hanging out.
Old Mary Jones went to the fair in Caerau,
To buy a tea set;
But Mary and her teacups ended up in a ditch,
Through the consumption of rather too much "tea".
A little saucepan is boiling on the fire,
A big saucepan is boiling on the floor,
And the cat is 'asleep in peace'.