Saturday, 16 March 2013

Edward Hurley - Uncle Eddie - RIP

Three years ago today my Uncle Eddie passed away.

He was a "typical Hurley man" and that's the finest thing I can say, the greatest epithet that any of us could hope for.

I was greatly upset at the time, because I had been rushed into hospital and so was unable to get to his funeral and pay my respects to him.

I suppose my main memories of Uncle Eddie were at my Nanna Hurley's house in Fairwater on Boxing Day. Every year the Hurleys would all gather there to continue our Christmas celebrations, and exchange presents between the extended family. We'd all be there crammed into my nan's little house.

Many years I'd come away loaded down with gifts, both ridiculous and coveted. I recall a Jaws gift set in which the socks fitted me like stockings. Another was a gift set of soaps (red, yellow and blue) in the shape of speed boats - and they smelt "lush." I kept them for many years, always smelling them, never daring to use them for fear they'd wear away. It was years before I even dared to take them out of the packaging!

When we were up our nan's all the Hurley cousins would be there of course, and like any children at Christmas we would tear around the house (inside and out) and I'm sure we all drove our parents crazy being all hyped up on the excitement of Christmas. Many's the time a parent would hiss those words that all parents have hissed to their children down the ages at clan gatherings: "behave!" -- as they try not to be overheard, yet at the same time load the words with enough of a threat to stop their child running about like a mini tornado.

And many's the time Uncle Eddie would overhear and say "leave him alone - he's only having fun." He always seemed to have a twinkle in his eye that told you he was still a kid at heart. Perhaps because he never had children of his own he enjoyed the chaos and the company of all of us who brought our manic ways to Nanna Hurley's.

I recall him being generous too, pressing a secret fiver into a hand when mum and dad weren't looking, which could be secreted away in a pocket. You'd tell mum and dad later when they couldn't say "give it back" as in those days it was a small fortune (still is to me - just in case my children are looking in).

My dad often told us of the time Uncle Eddie went out to work. As the first of the Hurley boys to get a job (Uncle Roddy must have been older, but died in WW2) one of the things he bought was lemonade. As he drunk it, he would mark the bottle and warn his siblings not to touch it (you can imagine, can't you?). Anyway, my dad would laugh as he told us they'd swig at his bottle and then top it up with water.

Just a little while ago we had our wedding video converted over to DVD. It brought the memories flooding back. When asked if anyone wanted to say any other words by the MC only one person from all those tables of guests stood up - and it was Uncle Eddie. In his thick Cardiff accent (which you don't notice growing up as we all had them), he thanked us for a great occasion and then announced that he was too "het up" to say much more. He was clearly quite emotional.

People often say we don't appreciate what we have until it's gone and I think that is true. Some of our extended families we don't see now from year to year, especially as more move away, have families etc. Perhaps now it's just the occasional wedding, Christening etc.

The South Wales Echo
I just wish I could have seen my Uncle Eddie one last time, even if it were not to speak to as such, but to say goodbye at his funeral. Maybe one day, God willing, I'll see him again and he'll clip me round the ear and say "gercha" whilst pulling a mean face like he did when we were kids.

I know Auntie Evelyn was distraught to lose Eddie as he took care of everything. I can't imagine what she went through, but I do know that all of us miss Uncle Eddie for his wicked sense of humour, his generosity and for being a "typical Hurley man."

Rest in Peace Uncle Eddie. We all miss you.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Pope Francis is Welsh. The Proof is Here.

In the Vatican they ask all Welshmen to raise a hand.
And so we have a new Pope: Pope Francis from Argentina.

Now we all (should) know a region of Argentina, in the south, is called Patagonia. And we all (should) know that many of the people there speak Welsh.

I have previously proved, beyond reasonable doubt m'lud, that Pope Benedict was Welsh (see here). Now we know, very early on in his pontificate (trans: PontyFicate) that Pope Francis is Welsh.

I often wondered why Argentinian flags, shirts etc. were/are popular amongst Welsh fans whenever England make it to the World Cup: I think we now know the answer to that.

So well done Pope Francis. We all know (or should) that Welsh comes from the Germanic for 'foreignor' and was used for many peoples at the edge of the Roman Empire (the Welsh, the Walloons, the Wallachians etc.) so here's to our Welsh Pope!

It all bodes well for Saturday doesn't it?

Oh, and his first public Mass is to be on St Joseph's Day as a special nod to my dad who I can reveal is indeed Welsh.

I rest my case. I think that's all the proof we need. All I'm saying is don't be shocked if Pope Francis is hoping the Bluebirds go up this year.

Now we need a special edition Francis pint from Brains Beers and a Pieus Pie from Clarks Pies. They can send me free samples to get this blog's official thumbs-up.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Cardiff City & Mother's Day

The poem I sent to my mum for Mother's Day, 2013:

Roses are Red
Cardiff are too,
You're the best mum
(They used to be blue)

Now that is love!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Shaking the Tins for SPUC with a Flat Top!

I came across this little gem the other week when clearing out some old keepsake boxes in the loft. Dated 1988 it comes from the SPUC's famous White Rose flag day when they collect at churches and the like to raise funds.

Well in 1988 a few of us thought we'd shake the SPUC tins outside Woolworths in Roath, Cardiff and make it a bit more "public." It must have been a sight to behold because a few people came running over to accuse us of raising funds for this, that and the other. Either that or they were so used to the usual 'student-rent-a-cause' crowd bothering the shoppers so didn't know what to make of us.

One chap who waved on jovially was my Italian barber who had just given me my first ever "flat top" haircut (hey, it was the 80s) and was thrilled to see me wearing it in public. After so many years of crew cuts and shorter, it was quite an audacious move to go for the flat top. I think the barber was secretly thrilled to be doing something more worthy of his skills.

As a youngster (I would have been 17) my friends and I used to have have such fun promoting the Pro-Life cause in Cardiff. Once a few of us went to a SPUC meeting in St Patrick's in Grangetown only to sit directly behind a mum of a friend (she and my mum were good friends) and her chums who were pleased to see us there.

On another occasion we went fly-posting with SPUC posters supporting the (parliamentary) Alton Bill around Cardiff. I think it was the first ever time SPUC posters appeared in the city, and on popping them on the metal boxes near the lights at the big junction between Albany Road and Newport Road, by Summers Funeral Home, I turned around to see a police car queueing at the lights. I gave the WPC a cheeky wink and a smile and pottered on to join my chums. She either agreed with the message or wasn't too concerned as we carried on our merry way, unmolested by the long arm of the law.

On another occasion me and my friend Paul went to the LIFE headquarters, which was then in one of the many arcades in Cardiff town centre. We wanted to give them a donation and pick up any leaflets or similar they might have. On seeing two young men with short hair etc. they were all flustered. It seems they thought we were the aggrieved boyfriends of pregnant young ladies out to give them some stick. We all had a good chuckle once they realised we were there to show support.

Perhaps best of all was when we organised a noisy counter-demo to a pro-death march led by Ann Clwyd MP... That was a noisy and fun event!

Ah they were innocent and fun times. Paul died a few years later in a tragic accident, just before I left Cardiff - for good it would transpire - so when I came across this little piece of paper (signed by the inspirational Paul Botto, who still organises SPUC in Cardiff) it brought all the memories flooding back.