Jaqui's Daily Blog

The Haka, Halloween and Carving a Passable Pumpkin

We start off this morning’s Sporting Memories with a rousing chorus of “Swing low, sweet chariot” in anticipation of the Rugby World Cup Final this coming Saturday. Even our sole member from North of the Border joins in as a gesture of solidarity. Almost everybody, when asked to share their sporting highlight of the week, talks about England’s semi-final win against New Zealand. The one exception is Lizzie who scored her first ever goal for her hockey club at the weekend. We ask her to describe the action, which she does in great detail, including the fact that it would have been the team captain who scored, had she (the team captain, not Lizzie) not fallen on her bottom. Though she doesn’t use the word “bottom.” We all give her a round of applause for picking up where her captain spectacularly left off and shooting straight into goal. 


I share the thought (shamelessly purloined from Facebook) that if England were to perform the equivalent of the Kiwis’ haka, it would be Morris Dancing - which leads everyone round table to picture their favourite players wearing bells and ribbons and waving handkerchiefs. “Thank you very much for that!” someone says, and everyone joins in, saying thank you so much because they won’t be able to get the images out of their mind now. I tell them that they are very welcome...


Graham turns to his mobile and finds a YouTube video of the All Blacks performing the haka in the Seventies. I kid you not, it is pretty tame by comparison with today’s performance - why it makes Morris Dancing look positively warlike. We are all kindly disposed towards Graham whose wife has cooked us a magnificent sponge cake, filled with strawberries and cream. Apparently she cooked two but felt her first effort was a trifle overcooked so made another, which really is going above and beyond the call of love or duty.


Everybody is incensed by the news that the England side has been fined for responding to the Kiwis’ haka in the semi-final by forming a V sign on the pitch and encroaching on the opposition’s half. There is a slightly heated discussion about whether the V sign is disrespectful in itself, with some people invoking the ghost of Churchill in support of their argument. The discussion tails off as Graham slices into the cake and we all watch carefully to make sure he is dividing it into precisely twelve equal portions.


Talking about ghosts and scary things, it is Halloween tonight. Donna, who helps us out in the mornings, shows us pictures of her daughter’s quite shockingly realistic “blood and gore” makeup which her son will be sporting across his face this evening. Honestly, if a littl’un turned up on my doorstep looking like that, I would be dialling 999 and calling for an ambulance before you could say “Trick or Treat.”


Last year I spent ages carving a pumpkin, sitting it hopefully on my doorstep as dusk fell. I also invested in a tray of Halloween cookies from the local Co-op (I’m pretty sure you will find something similarly garish in many other supermarkets) for when my expected visitors came to call. Sadly, nobody came and Mr B had to demolish the cookies on his own. It was such a disappointment (though Mr B would beg to disagree...)


This year I decided to place my pumpkin on the front wall where it would be seen more clearly by passers by. Unfortunately, due to an extremely busy day, I didn’t have much time to produce a Passable Pumpkin. In fact I would go so far as to say that never has a pumpkin been carved more hastily and with less imagination. Which may be why, so far, I have once again had no callers. My pumpkin is obviously passable for all the wrong reasons...


I can only conclude that - like the All Blacks of the Seventies and our home-grown Morris Dancers - my pumpkin and I are simply Not Scary Enough...

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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