Saturday, 29 August 2015

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Professionals in our own premier partying league

We were a visibly happy little bunch as we gathered at Carlisle Rugby Club for a couple of sherbets and a sausage roll apiece.

Quite a sizeable bunch, we were actually. And – since I’m on an honesty kick – maybe more than two sherbets each would be closer to the truth. But cheery, certainly. Relaxed, untroubled. And to a man and a woman, a bit giddy too.

Our gang knows how to live well – sausage rolls, dinky pies, crisps, beer and banter.

Nobody beats us in the good time department.

Dear me yes, we’re very well practised in the art of partying. Practically professional, now I think on it.

And we’re always at our best in Carlisle Rugby Club where nonsense chatter, verging on gibberish, is perfectly acceptable... on party nights.

Grins were as cheesy as the cheddar sarnies on the buffet table and it was soon abundantly clear, as widespread giddiness swept the room like a hurricane, a good time was being had by all... and heads would hurt in the morning.

The main purpose was to say fond farewells to a departing colleague who – for reasons best-known to himself – was departing Cumbria for a new life in Hull.

I know, I know... there are many who still wonder about the notion of life in Hull. But seemingly he’d found some, so it fell to us to send him away with beer and dinky pie memories of Carlisle.

Funny things parties. Funny in a good way, of course.

Parties of close colleagues and friends are particularly special. All gloves of stiff propriety come off on such occasions.

Not that any of us were falling-over tipsy or anything. Perish the thought. We know how to handle our halves of ale. We’ve done it before.

But best behaviour wasn’t necessarily on anyone’s agenda and all those iffy remarks that could – in more sombre circumstances – have landed any one of us in some hot soup of disgrace, in the hands of the politically-correct police, or even in an employment tribunal, were suddenly simply amusing.

“Are you a rugby fan, Anne?”

It’s not a question I’m asked every day. But I’m always happy to share my limited experiences – beyond the social, that is.

“Oh yes. Big fan. I used to go to Dewsbury’s games with my dad and I once asked a very well-known player in Leeds to strip for a charity photo-shoot. Very accommodating, he was. Great guy, and what a body!”

“Ah yes. I know who you mean. But he’s League.”

“You’re not wrong... he’s way out of my league.”

Of course it’s mercifully true that where people gather as friends, sporting divisions lose all significance. Most of the time, anyway.

We counted among our number fans of football; Carlisle United naturally, a Liverpool fan, an Everton supporter and a Manchester United devotee – he being the one who was bound for Hull.

There were lovers of Rugby Union, Rugby League, squash, hockey, athletics, cricket, golf, racing. And me.

No animosity anywhere. Not even much evidence of any towards yours truly, who was quickly and unfairly gaining an undeserved reputation as a woman anxious to persuade sporty men to strip for her.

That I have to stress, was patently untrue. Only for very specific, professional reasons have I ever asked high-profile sportsmen to take off their clothes. And that was so long ago that – well, I now wish I’d never mentioned it.

If only sporting matters could always be that way. You, know – fun.

Don’t you get sick of seeing rival fans squaring up for a set-to? Aren’t we all heartily fed-up of watching football managers sparring and sparking from each other on TV?

Surely we’re all awfully weary now of being expected to be fascinated by the tawdry details of Premiership players’ away-game lives. Why play matches at all? Just set one striker’s sex life against another’s hotel-room antics and award points for ingenuity.

And whatever happened to the idea of the taking part being the important thing – as opposed to the always winning business? These days, it only seems to apply to poets writing and rhyming on walls of culture at next year’s London Olympics.

No, the fierce rivalry’s not for me. Give me a group of giddy friends in a rugby club and I’ll happily accept my most enjoyable limits of sporting expertise – which, these days, have more to do with a pie and a pint than a stripping sportsman.



Should organ donation opt-in be automatic?



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