By Gerry Moran
I am in Wales visiting family. I am in Wales on Friday, November 25 in my son’s sitting-room watching the World Cup, Wales versus Iran with my grandson and granddaughter, ages three months and three years respectively, along with my daughter-in-law, a tad older!
I am waving a Welsh flag. I’m not really. I am waving a Welsh flag in my mind (my grandchildren, after all, are half Welsh). I am also shouting and roaring. Not so much for Wales but AT them. And I am shouting and roaring because, and there is no other way to put this, they are pathetic. Wales versus Iran, the team England whipped 6 – 2, the team Wales need to beat if they’re to have any chance of staying in the World Cup. And here’s Wales, land of the dragon, with as much fire in their bellies as a box of Maguire & Peterson safety matches.
And now my daughter-in-law is waving at me to calm-down as she points to my granddaughter snoozing blissfully in her basket as my grandson, oblivious to it all, immerses himself in some animated cartoon on his tablet.
And so I calm down. But soon the roaring and shouting starts again not least when Iran score again! And now my granddaughter shuffles a little in her basket and makes a teensy, weansy little snorting sound. And I feel guilty, but not as guilty as those Welsh players should feel.
Damn it I wanted this to be a day to remember. A day when my granddaughter and grandson ‘experienced’ (to a very small degree, I’ll admit) their first World Cup in the company of their granddad. A day when Wales were meant to win. And I had imagined the following exchange between my grandson and granddaughter in maybe 20 or 30 years time: “Hey, Eadie, remember your first World Cup? Where were you when Wales beat Iran in 2022?”
“I was with you in our house, Ollie, along with our mother and granddad.”
“And what age were you, Eadie?”
“Three months, Ollie, and what age were you?”
“Three years, Eadie, and, although we don’t remember it, I love looking at the photos mammy took of granddad hugging me when we won and the puzzled, bewildered look on your face as he hugged you and woke you up.”
Alas, that scenario will never materialise.
And now my thoughts turn to my son, a teacher in a 1,000 pupil-plus secondary school a few miles away where those students were allowed watch the match on laptop screens. I can only imagine the sighs of disbelief and groans of depression as Wales slump to that embarrassing defeat. And that is just the teachers! And for sure there is no singing in the valleys that Friday night, only the gnashing of teeth as Wales’s hopes of progressing in the World Cup are pretty much ignominiously dashed!
On Saturday my son and myself, and Stitch, my son’s dog, a Parson Jack Russell, head off to the pub to watch Wales play Australia in the Autumn rugby series. More in hope, I have to say, than with any optimism or conviction. Damn it if the Welsh soccer team can’t beat Iran what hope has the rugby team against the Wallabies? And, as an aside, the Welsh, I must say, love their dogs.
Dogs are pretty much welcome everywhere — in shops, cafes and pubs. And so, as my son and I enjoy a few beers, Stitch sits silently beside our table. And Stitch, I discover, has charm. Oozes charm. Not sure if you know what a Parson Jack Russell looks like but in one word – cute. So much so that every second person passing stops to give a Stitch a rub and mutter a few nice doggy compliments.
And I learn from Stitch how to be charming. So, here, free gratis, is how to be charming in three simple steps: 1. Sit still 2. Say nothing and 3.Look cute. And if you can’t look cute (and it’s not in everyone’s gift to look cute) just sit still and say nothing. Believe me, compared to some of the tedious, talkative individuals I know, being still and silent has charm in abundance.
Oh, and then there was the match. In the soccer, a game that Wales never looked like winning – they lost. In the rugby, a game that Wales never looked like losing – they lost.
Soccer. Rugby. Wales. A lost cause?
God love my grandchildren.