The little lad and his dad are leaving Marks & Spencer's just as I am entering. We pass each other in the sliding doors, you might say. Except that the doors are of the ordinary swing variety rather than sliding but
let's not be pedantic.
"Let's head to the pub and I'll buy you a drink," says the father, adding tentatively: "We could watch the rugby?"
Now, I'm sorry but
I know a thing or two about Mood and Motivation and this poor Dad has it all wrong. Mr B would never have made such an obvious mistake in the far-off days when Our Boy was knee-high to a grasshopper. The inducement would be the rugby. As in: "Let's go and
watch the rugby, Son! It's on at the pub..." If necessary, the thought of a bottle of Coca Cola could then be dangled. Even, possibly, a bag of crisps. But the vital emphasis must - it really must - be on the game if the little lad is to grow up to be a sporting
fanatic worthy of a sports-mad father.
I always promised myself that I would never force my own interests on my children; they would watch my participation and my enjoyment therein and decide for themselves
if they wished to follow in my footsteps. Their father harboured no such scruples. Sport was all-important to him and, if the spirit were willing, it would be to our off-spring too. That is why Our Boy was a season ticket holder at Gillingham Football Club
at the tender age of four - and why this afternoon he is in a pub in Cardiff to watch the (literally) crunch match between England and Wales. He is wearing an English rose badge despite being the only obvious England supporter in the vicinity. I am proud of
his loyalty and admire his quite startling lack of concern for self-preservation.
Mr B and I know from experience that when England play Wales it is better not to be visiting Our Boy and his family. The Darling
Daughter in Law will, understandably, be supporting the red shirts of Wales. I would expect nothing less. The (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys will be seriously conflicted, not sure whether to support their father or their mother. Passions will run high. The
Duracell Bunny, who (like his father) always has the Courage Of His Convictions, will almost certainly be sporting his red shirt and cheering for Wales but the older two may well be perched uncomfortably on the rugby fence.
I tell Mr B that I need to go into town to pick up the recording of the recent interview with my Old Soldier from the library. I was supposed to do this on Tuesday but the day ran away with me. I don't know why but this is happening to me more and more
these days. Suddenly I check my watch and it is time to cook dinner. I have to think hard to remember what exactly I have achieved during my Runaway Day. This wouldn't matter quite so much if the previous day, the next day and the day after that didn't also
run away with me. If anybody can come up with a solution, I would love to hear it.
However, I digress. I am not apologising for this because, as you know, the Daily Blog is prone to digression and that's just
the way it is. It wouldn't feel right, somehow, if just occasionally - oh, okay then, more often than not - the Daily Blog didn't take off at a tangent.
Anyway I explain that I should be back before the start
of second half. Mr B doesn't put it in so many words but I can tell he feels that I am lacking in commitment. He would, I know, like me to be by his side, armchair to armchair, in cosy solidarity to watch the Big Match. He would prefer it if I refrained from
making comments about Matters Other Than Rugby. Like the different colours of the players' boots, the tightness of the English team's shirts or the fetching style of certain protective headgear. Such strictures take all the fun out of the game as far as I
In the event, I arrive home even before Land of My Fathers and God Save the Queen. The match starts later than I expected. I make us a cup of coffee and we settle down. My lips are buttoned
I wonder if the little lad was persuaded to watch the rugby with his dad. I do hope he was. Never underestimate the lasting power of watching a match - be it rugby, football or whatever - with your father.
It's the reason why Our Boy, all these years on, is in a pub surrounded by Welsh supporters, cheering on his team to victory.
It's only what his Dad expects of him.