Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Column, March 25, 2008

SOME of you may be reading this in the haze of a near-diabetic coma brought on by Easter egg indulgence.
Others may be ruing that where Easter tumbleweed used to blow down the high street shutting every shop in sight; now it’s an annual festival of DIY, funded by what’s left of the limit of our overstretched credit cards.
One thing is reasonably certain, and that is that very few of us spend the holiday as it was meant to be – a holy festival marking the death and resurrection of Jesus. Easier to think about planking in B&Q isn’t it?
Not that I’m getting all holier than thou about this, you understand, although given the fact that I did attend an Easter service – albeit one organised by my son’s school – I do have dibs on casting the first stone, if I might be allowed a little Biblical imagery there.
A couple of things struck me as odd this weekend. Firstly the fanfare given to the fact that bookies were allowed to open on Good Friday for the first time. Hurrah, yet another day to go in and get fleeced betting money you can’t afford on sporting events you have no idea about the outcome of.
No, no-one is forcing them in there at gunpoint, but that’s not really the point. It’s another small step in making what were national holidays, just another day like any other.
The other was the fuss that was being made about Easter being early this year, and how inconvenient it was that it was on a different date every year.
Acres of newsprint and hours of airtime were devoted to debating this and the constant refrain was that wouldn’t it be better to do away with this tying of Easter to the phases of the Moon and let’s have a nice convenient set date every year.
Convenient for who exactly? Some mad education authorities have decided to separate the childrens’ two-week break from the actual Easter weekend, for what reason I know not.
But I cannot for the life of me see the reason for doing away with the moveable feast of Easter, although you have to go to the incredible difficulty of looking at a calendar to find out when it falls each year.
Of course, you detect the undercurrent behind these calls for Easter to be regularised, is that it would be more convenient for business to have it one the same date every year.
And these presumably would be the same businesses benefiting from the Easter being treated less and less like a holiday and more like an opportunity to make money.
I’m not saying we should be trooping to church in the numbers we used to, but we seem to have lost sight of the fact that holidays were one just that – holy days, and surely we can find something better to do with them than go shopping.
Christmas Day and Easter Sunday are just about the only days of the year now when you can find a bit of peace, when everyone isn’t on one headlong rush to get to work or the shops.
But as Good Friday is eroded, Easter Sunday will be next, and Christmas Day will surely follow. All to the consternation of the church that will be powerless to do anything about it because it long lost its ability to dictate to us our behaviour when it stopped getting us through its doors in the numbers it once did.
We go to different churches now, where the only bells that ring are on the tills.

IT was we apparently ‘have to admit’ a substandard Six Nations.
England and Ireland were ‘teams in transition’ – which means, not as good as they used to be but their selectos haven’t worked out what to do about it.
France were just mad, Scotland are a shadow of their former selves and Italy still find form elusive.
So, we should just pipe down a bit over here in Wales because no-one else is making too big a fuss about it all. Just put the trophy in the cabinet and thank your lucky stars you’ve got it.
Thus was the theme of the London-based press when they condescended to talk about the Welsh Grand Slam, which was often sidelined to make way for coverage of Danny Cipriani, the new golden boy of English rugby.
Fine. Except I don’t remember, in years gone by, a lacklustre Wales being a reason for downplaying English victories in the Six Nations.
Jeremy Clarkson summed it up thus: “I truly enjoy a seeing a downtrodden people being given a crumb of something that makes them happy.”
The sour grapes are being harvested across the border and it promises to be a vintage year.

SPEAKING of which. Gavin ‘Show Pony’ Henson was on again at the weekend, this time for the Ospreys, blowing through the Saracens defence like it wasn’t there.
At some point his, mainly English, critics will have to accept that for a show pony, he puts on some show.

TRAVELLING home to North Wales on Good Friday seemed like a ticket to hours in a traffic jam with a festival of roadworks welcoming all those approaching the A55.
But we slipped through the chicane of barriers with barely a pause, which pleasantly surprising as it was, should also be worrying.
It might be the fear of wintry weather that caused people to stay away, but on the evidence of Friday afternoon they were not heading our way in the droves we would have been hoping for on a Bank Holiday weekend.
A couple of hours earlier we had been leaving the opposite coast in England, where the world and his wife, despite the weather, was hitting the beach.
If I were working in Welsh tourism that apparent discrepancy would worry me.
If it is the weather that is keeping people away then we can just hope for a better summer. If it’s more than that though, then we have a big problem.

No comments: