Thursday, March 17, 2005

Column, March 15, 2005

I WONDER what reception the Presbyterians of North Wales will receive when they arrive at the Pearly Gates?
This is, of course, rather assuming that you all believe in the Pearly Gates, but it’s a fairly safe bet the Presbyterians do, although they may believe in gates a mite less ostentatious than pearly.
St Peter might ask them what they have done to deserve entry to Heaven and they will tell him proudly that they stopped a craft market being held on a Sunday.
Wrote in and complained they did, to the council, stopped them selling their trinkets on a Sunday and thus Beelzebub and all his little demons were thwarted by the Godly in Pwllheli.
OK, it’s hardly the parting of the Red Sea of the feeding of the 5,000. I suspect that if they are still making stained glass windows ‘The Miracle of the Sunday Market’ will not be featuring among them any time soon.
It would seem that far from making itself more relevant to potential worshippers, some of the churches around Pwllheli are determined to show they are mired in the 19th century, never mind the 20th or 21st.
The source of their discontent is the idea of a Sunday market to be held in the town for 13 weeks this summer.
This suggestion has run into the stout opposition of the Llyn and Eifionydd Presbytery, Pwllheli Church Council and the Association of Presbyterian Churches in the Pwllheli area. Which is a lot of church associations for a little corner of Wales.
Powerful though, for they’ve given the council pause for thought as they have inexplicably deferred the application for more information.
Quite what more information they need I’m not sure – it’s a market, it’s on a Sunday, what more do you need to know?
But the God-fearing folk who are quite happy to traipse along to Tesco, or their newsagents on a Sunday are apparently of the view that to allow the market would be to give in to the forces of Evil and thus the Devil would get a foothold in the Llyn.
So your average shopper can buy an entire week’s groceries, enough booze to bathe in, a computer to indulge his internet porn fantasies and a video camera to capture it all and post it on the web for all to see – but he can’t buy some homemade jam from a craft stall.
Well that’s a relief, because without the Presbyterians of the Llyn we’d all be going to hell in a handcart. We’re so lucky to have them on watch saying “thus far but no further, get thee behind me Satan and take your wickerwork garden trugs with you.”
The Llyn is safe from the heresy of pokerwork, tapestry and little bags of lavender – if they’d opposed it on the grounds that most of these markets sell tasteless tat I’d be right behind them, but they’re all for the market, just not on a Sunday.
Of course I risk some Presbyterian form of excommunication saying all this having been christened by a Presbyterian minister (I don’t think they actually call it a christening, but I was too young to recall what they did call it)
He was on the sick the day he did it, but sneaked me in by doing it at a house, not the chapel. So while you can’t labour on the Sabbath, it’s ok to diddle the DSS
Which does make me wonder whether I’ve been officially baptised, and if not, is a special fire in Hell being stoked for me. I might not ask the Presbyterians for their opinion on that.

YOU know that somehow the world has changed when you find yourself seriously contemplating buying a new hat.
Not just any hat mind, a sequin-encrusted Welsh dragon cowboy hat.
It’s on the WRU website and a snip at £3 I’m sure you’ll agree.
But only those seriously anticipating a glorious outcome this Saturday could contemplate such a purchase. This is not the sort of hat to be caught wearing unless in the throes of headless delight having won the Gra…….. but no, even now, even after Scotland it’s too early to utter the words.
First word beginning with G, means a thousand pounds, second word begins with S, what you do to a door.
Dare we dream that 27 years of slim pickings are coming to an end?
I was 13 the last time this happened, I can hardly remember it. There are children being born this year who will have the name Gavin inflicted upon them, and anyone want to place a bet on a baby girl being christened Gavina in Henson’s honour?
The WRU shop is a delight, selling all manner of inflatable Welsh paraphernalia, though, hopefully the DVDs showing the glories of the 1970s will have to be updated after Saturday.
Of course there was the small matter of the team treating it like a cricket match and declaring once they were 38-3 up, allowing the Scots to run two tries in in the second half.
Ireland will be up for salvaging a championship from the ruins of what could have been their Grand Slam (I can mention it in relation to them, it’s just bad luck to apply it to us just yet)
But that first half against the Scots was just bliss. It’s rugby like they used to play it – fluid, breathtakingly fast, more passes than a Cardiff nightclub on a tanked-up Saturday night, and, at last, tries galore.
If Wales in reinventing their game have ended the dull percentage game where ground was won for kicker to slot forced penalties then they’ve done the whole Northern hemisphere game a big favour.
Because in relying on kickers, teams are built on one man, and you only have to look at Jonny Wilkinson being stretchered off again on Saturday to see how dangerous that can be.
I did want to write this whole column in anticipation of what joy might happen on Saturday, but to do so would have tempted fate.
But be warned, if the G***d S**m happens on Saturday, it’ll be pig in clover time.

NEW research shows that sheep can fall in love.
I know, don’t ask me why they came up with this line of research but they did. They showed the ewes pictures of rams and recorded brain activity.
From this they deduced that ewes enjoy sex, but forget their partners quicker than women. Why they felt the need to compare the two is quite beyond me.
Apparently the research has implications for the rearing and care of livestock, which is all well and good.
But did they have to do the research on a flock of sheep on a Welsh farm?

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