Greetings again, subjects.
Any passing Irish readers please forgive me for bringing this up on your national saint’s day (I started this yesterday, ho-hum) but I’ve come back from seeing one of the best, most exciting, most brutal rugby matches I’ve ever been to see, last Saturday. As is usual this time of year I trucked off down to Cardiff to watch the mighty, mighty Wales take on Ireland at the Millennium Stadium with my dad, but also for the first time with my son too – imagine, three freakishly good-looking fellas all in a row, representing three different generations of the family, surely a model agency’s dream?
Cardiff of course was absolutely buzzing on match day, full of happy men and women dressed pretty damn outlandishly, drinking heavily and having a whale of a time together. I love it, its like an idealised version of the world the UN should take note*- give me two warring nations, take a sizable chunk of their populace to Cardiff, get the face paints, fancy dress and Brains Bitter out, have their champions bash each other about without mercy on a rugby pitch for 80 minutes and I guarantee by the end of it they’ll be clapping each other on the shoulders and making plans to meet up in the same place for next year’s fixture. True story.
Cardiff as well as being an easy city to get totally lost in, is also home to one of my fave record shops, Spillers Records, the oldest and easily one of the most friendly vinyl emporiums in the world. As I’m on a bit of a vinyl diet I didn’t actually buy anything myself but I did pressurise my dad into buying Public Service Broadcasting The Race For Space, their shiny new LP of sampledelic brilliance. I came very close to picking up about 9 albums from their excellent stock, but resisted which is just as well because I would have trampled them into smithereens in the excitement of the match anyway.
My seats were even better than the ones I got last time to see France and after the obligatory build-up and daytime pyros**, the Irish were led out by Paul O’Connell winning his 100th cap – I felt very privileged to see that and the great reception he received. As per bloody always the Welsh national anthem made me weep real man tears, no-one sings like us Welsh and no stadium I’ve ever been to for any sporting event sounds like the Millennium in full voice, its enough to wake the spirits of the long-dead bards snuffed by the Romans*^, Not that they were likely to help us underdogs beat an Irish team ranked third in the world and unbeaten in a record 10 games.
The game was as intense and tight as I thought it would be. Wales ratcheted into a great early lead and Ireland seemed rattled by both the noise and ferocity of the tackling, but then like all good sides they came roaring back into the contest themselves. There was a spell in the second half that resembled nothing more or less than Rourke’s Drift, or the battle of Helm’s Deep – wave upon wave of green-shirted Uruk Hai throwing themselves at the Welsh try line and not only being resisted, but beaten backwards. God and the Welsh physios, only know the toll it must have taken on the players but the cheer that went up when wales forced a relieving penalty was the loudest and most heartfelt I’ve ever heard. Then we scored, brilliantly, through Scott Williams and then it was all back to the barricades to see the game out at 23-16. Yowza!
The rest of Saturday was a bit blurry but I got to spend Mother’s Day with my mum for the first time in a while, at one of my favourite places on earth, Llanstephan – think perfect Enid Blyton-esque village, beach and big ruined castle^^.
I got home to find my latest instalment of the God Unknown Records, singles club, which is fast proving to be £50 very well spent indeed. Run by Mugstar’s bassist Jason Stoll there will be 10 7″ singles all limited to 300 copies featuring unreleased tracks from all manner of space/psych reprobates, the latest (#4) being Carlton Melton and Mind Mountain. The music’s great and being a member makes me feel all self-important and exclusive which, pitiable though it is, is a necessary fillip for my fragile ego. So when I say I’m on a vinyl diet, just like the real thing, I cheat a bit.
Ah well, I suppose I’d better get on with reviewing some records before you all think I’ve died, or gone soft, or something.
515 Down (still).
*when they’re not fuelling the paranoid survivalist anti-federalist God-fearing paranoid conspiracy theories of the type of Americans who tend to live bigamously in remote compounds stockpiling munitions and interfering with their livestock.
**I shit thee not.
*^not to be confused with the Ramones, who pre-dated them.
^^scene of much, umm, ‘parking’ during my sixth-form days.