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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘rugby

Barbara Mary Margam Reynolds. 23rd July 1935 – 29th December 2015

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Mum 80th

All Loves
Excelling

Order of Service

Chilterns Crematorium
Amersham

15th January 2016

OOS inside spread

So go and run free with the angels
Dance around the golden clouds
For the lord has chosen you to be with him
And we should feel nothing but proud
Although he has taken you from us
And our pain a lifetime will last
Your memory will never escape us
But make us glad for the time we did have
Your face will always be hidden
Deep inside our hearts
Each precious moment you gave us
Shall never, ever depart
So go and run free with the angels
As they sing so tenderly
And please be sure to tell them
To take good care of you for me

********

When I stood right here a year ago today to speak about my father, my mother sat right there.

The dignity and grace with which she conducted herself that day are the qualities that have characterised her whole life.  In an extraordinary note that she wrote to her children just a few weeks ago, which seemed prescient of her death, she instructed us not to be sad but to celebrate her life.

Thank you for coming here today to do just that.  She would want you all to come to the King’s Arms afterwards, so please make sure you do.

In the last six or seven years, as my father’s health deteriorated, I was taking him to hospitals and doctors, sometimes more than once a week.  As a result I became closer to Mum than at any time in my life, certainly since primary school age.  I am grateful that for these last few years, we shared our lives on a daily basis. I would call every evening between six-thirty and seven. Sometimes we would talk for two minutes, sometimes for half an hour, sometimes about trivia and gossip and sometimes we would set the world to rights. It was a great pleasure and a privilege, as an adult, to get to know this wonderful woman. My mum became my best friend.

And what a remarkable woman she was. It is no exaggeration to say that she was a polymath or a rennaissance woman, someone whose knowledge and experience stretches across many different subjects and is not trivial but deep and profound.

Her father, Jack, was an extraordinary man who blagged his way into the Royal College of Physiotherapy on a promise to produce his non-existent school certificate at a later date.  He cleaned buses at night to support himself and was the gold medal student of his year. He became a legend in sports medicine in Wales with Cardiff City, Glamorgan County Cricket and the national teams in football and rugby. Similarly, her mother, Milly, was a formidable woman and woe betide anyone who crossed her.  No surprise then that Mum went on to build on these qualities in her own life.

But what must have been a huge surprise to everyone was that one of her first acts as an adult was to defy her parents.

She had met and fallen in love with this rather short, ginger bloke who was going prematurely bald.  Mum was a beauty; hour glass figure, absolutely stunning.  Dad must have thought he had won the lottery – and he had.

Jack and Milly forbade the wedding.  Malcolm wasn’t good enough for Barbara. But the wedding went ahead without the parents of the bride and never, ever has one couple been proved so wrong and the other so right.  My parents’ marriage defines love and partnership.  It was a triumph.

Mum had an intellect sharper than a cut throat razor and a heart bigger than the world. I have never seen so much joy as in the eyes of my parents at a baby, their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nephews and nieces. Family mattered more than anything and any that have sought to divide our family will answer when they meet Mum and Dad at the pearly gates.

Mum collected stamps, thimbles, pill boxes, china, elephants – models, not real ones. She was interested in literature, poetry, art, cooking, embroidery, tennis, rugby, science, politics. I know the ladies of her Thursday discussion group appreciated her diligence and I teased her every week “Was it just gossip or did you do any work?”

She raised four small boys through the 1960s until the minor scandal of becoming pregnant with Vicky at what was then regarded as the grand old age of 35.  Ooh! It was a minor scandal in Chorleywood.

At one time she was secretary of the Church of England Children’s Society.  At another of the National Housewives Register, a term which the politically correct would despise but this was my mother standing up for women’s rights in a way today’s feminazis couldn’t begin even to comprehend.

Indeed, she had an open mind, transcending the generations.  No one was a bigger supporter of my campaign for medicinal cannabis, controversial though it is but of course she was a scientist, a degree in biology, another in psychology, a trained healthcare professional, a speech therapist.  She followed the evidence. She was always rational, considered and she rejected all forms of bigotry and prejudice.  She used to joke about wanting a little black baby.  I’m not sure Dad was OK about that!

Recently, she had joined the University of the Third Age and was revelling in new friends and opportunities.  The courage and determination she showed moving out of the family home after Dad died and building a new life in Chorleywood was extraordinary, a lesson to us all.

So for us, her children, her extended family and all those who loved her, the very worst has happened.

I have lost my mum and my best friend.  But I, we, could not be better prepared. We have been guided in life by a paragon, a diamond which will persist in our hearts and memories forever; untarnished, undiminished, permanent.

Thank you Mum, thank you for all you have given me, all you have given us and all you have given to the world.

Barbara with college friends, mid 1950s

Barbara with college friends, mid 1950s

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Today Would Have Been My Mother’s Very Special Day.

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Wimbledon, 2015

Wimbledon, 2015

Mum would have been thrilled.  Surely Andy Murray is to take his second Wimbledon title today. In truth, her real, crush was on Tim Henman but Wimbledon fortnight was the highlight of her year when she even took precedence over my father with the TV remote control.  For those two weeks she was glued to the telly from late morning until bad light stopped play.

Every year Mum applied for tickets in the wheelchair seats and most years she was successful.  I had the privilege to take her last year to her last Wimbledon.  We saw Roger Federer amongst other, more lowly players.

Mum would also have been made immensely proud and happy by the Wales football team’s success in the Euros. The scenes in Cardiff when our heroes rode an open top bus through the city would have delighted her. She was strange sports fan, my mother.  Not what you would have expected from this petite but fiercely intelligent woman who built her life around her husband and children. It came from her father, Jack Evans, who was a physiotherapist and perhaps the first ever sports medicine specialist in Wales.  My father, three brothers, sister and I were all keen participants in sport when we were younger and Mum put in the hours taking us to games and practice sessions. My very last memory of Mum and sport was when I returned to her in the early hours of the morning from Twickenham after Wales beat England in last year’s Rugby World Cup.  Her joy was unconfined.  It was glorious.

So it will mean great a deal to me if Andy Murray lifts the trophy today.  As far as I’m concerned, he’ll be doing it for my Mum.

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 10, 2016 at 5:25 am

Oh Glory! The Dragon Roars. Wales Triumphs. Poetry.

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Gwlad! Gwlad!

Gwlad! Gwlad!

Evan and Anxious England Supporters

Evan and Worried England Supporters

It was one of the greatest days of my life.  Since the birth of my sons, never have I been more consumed by joy and delight.  Sadly, most can only look on a Welshman’s appreciation of rugby from outside.  I am one of the fortunate few.  Since my earliest days I have known that rugby is like a religion for us – no, even more important than that, it is life – no, perhaps even more important than that.

teams line upAnd it is true, particularly when it comes to playing England, for in that final moment when we drove their maul into touch, I could have died happy. Nothing could complete me more. And we did it in such heroic, brave, glorious style!

After so many years, this time, for the first time, my mother had taught me how to sing the anthem in Welsh. I sang my heart out and the tears were streaming down my face even before kickoff. That would have almost been enough for me. I hardly dared dream what wonders would follow.

As our momentum grew in the last quarter, even though we were still behind, I began to get this strange feeling that it might be possible. A crossfield kick, a magnificent try, straight in front of me. I could not have been more perfectly placed, as if it were staged just for me. We were level and that feeling started to grow. When our pressure brought the inevitable penalty it was a long, long way but I knew Dan Biggar would not let us down – and we were in the lead! Just moments more and it was done. The unbelievable was real. We had taken England down at home, in Twickenham, as underdogs, in the most compelling, glorious, magnificent, absolute victory!

My thanks go to my son, Evan, whose enormous generosity took me and a large group of friends to this very special occasion. I doubt this day will be bettered in the rest of my life.

Zoe, Tears of Joy, Evan

Zoe, Tears of Joy and Evan

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 3, 2015 at 7:29 am

Now I Understand Why I Hate English Football

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Whinging, Whining Loser

I’ve hated football for 20 years or more now.  With the World Cup I’ve finally come to understand why.  English football is rubbish.  It’s been corrupted and destroyed by an incurable cancer of money and venality.  English football players are overpaid ponces, whores and playthings for foreign potentates.  They cannot play the game anymore.  They stand around worried that they’ll make a mistake, that they’ll bruise their poor little knees, fracture some obscure little bone in their foot or that their orange-painted slag will run off with their best mate while they’re training.   They seem much more concerned about getting their name in the newspaper than on the scoresheet.

I do remember a rare glimpse of sanity in this crazy world when a year or so ago the great Bobby Charlton apologised for the £80 million pound transfer fee for Ronaldo and described it as “vulgar”.  He had that absolutely right.  Screaming and curling into the top corner from 40 yards in the last minute of extra time right.

Talent. Honour. Pride.

I’ve just watched the most riveting, scintillating, magical game of football between Spain and Germany.  It reminds me how much I used to love the game and how much I and other British sports lovers are losing out.  It was a joy.  I saw beauty there in the poetic movement and interplay.  There is nothing beautiful about the English game.

In 1970-71, when I was 13, I was lucky enough to attend every home game at Highbury stadium.

My Hero

Arsenal won the double that year and Bob Wilson was my hero.  I played in goal too and even today I still treasure that special camaraderie between goalkeepers.  Even as I’ve lost interest in the game I’ve still retained that love hate relationship with the most important position on the pitch.  I’ve been angered and bemused once again at the inane remarks of commentators.  Only occasionally do they compliment a goalie or even understand what it involves .  Usually it’s either a “blunder” or an “easy save” or  “straight at him”.   Don’t they realise that it was “straight at him” because he was in the right place to begin with.  There’s no such thing as an easy save.  Bob Wilson used to have a reputation as an “unspectacular” goalie – because he was almost always there before the ball arrived!  There are no excuses when you’re a goalkeeper.

There isn’t any passion in the English game anymore.  I don’t think they know what it is.  Passion for that bunch of losers is what you get in a lap dancing bar – innit bruv?   There’s very little pride either.   Even at its very best football can never compete with rugby as a real sport so when the BBC had the audacity to hijack Invictus and try to apply some of it’s wonderful, uplifting qualities to the English football team – well, I was just disgusted.

The Spain Germany game was wonderful and I expect the final will be too.  The Spanish were inspired and fluent.  The wonderful Xavi is a powerful symbol of how useless the English chavs are.   The multiracial German team was a redemptive lesson for us all.  They were proud, positive and every colour of the rainbow.  Schweinsteiger, the archetypal aryan stormtrooper, strong, fearless and utterly reliable.  These players are so talented they don’t need to feign fouls or injury.   They just get on with the job – beautifully.

So the World Cup has been a very big but very pleasant surprise for me.  I’d fallen victim to the propaganda that the Premier League is the best football in the world but that’s been proven to be a great big lie.   It might be the richest league but that’s exactly what has ruined the game.

As a Welshman, for me nothing will ever come close to rugby. I’m glad I’ve found pleasure in football again but English football has finally proved itself to be the very worst football in the world.

The World Cup Beckons

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The Big Match

I despise football.   I really do.  It’s everything it stands for – the appalling, vulgar display of tasteless, oafish, dare I say “chav” behaviour.  It’s a thin, insubstantial sport populated by overpaid primadonnas who behave appallingly and set a terrible example to youth.

What a pompous old git I am!

It’s a completely different thing isn’t it when it gets infused with the spirit of international competition?

It’ll never be rugby though,  so those that want to see the original, totally uplifting South African story go to the 1995 Rugby World Cup finals.   That was a similar occasion but with a proper sport.  In fact,  go to Invictus, the absolutely fantastic movie which tells the whole story.

I have been taken up by it though.  Africa has a wonderful exuberance and I was caught by the romance of the first match, delighted that South Africa managed a draw.   Then, who could resist a chance to see the French go down?   And go down they did!  Well, they scraped a draw against a 10 man Uruguay side when they were the favourites.  Lovely to watch!

So it looks like I’m hooked in.   There’s nothing else on anyway.  It’s been a welcome relief from the tribes of harridan, conspiracy-obsessed bloggers in the US.  As a Brit, a Welshman living in England, I am grateful to live in a country which has a sense of perspective.   We are not of Europe.  We are certainly not of either the Middle or Far East.  Thank God we’ve got more history than the Americans.  This is still the land of the free.  Nowhere else comes close.

And tomorrow Barack Obama is going to find out whose arse is “gonna get kicked”.  Then maybe he’ll mind his manners and remember who his friends are.

En-ger-land!

The Yoof Of Today

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On Friday evening my son, Evan,  said “I’m going to a party tonight Dad but I’ll get on the train and come down to see you tomorrow.  I’ll be there in time for the rugby”.

On Saturday at about 2.00pm (just before kick off) he rang again, (loud music in background) “Uh, I ‘m still at the party Dad but I’m definitely coming down tonight, alright?”

At about 4.00pm he rang again, (loud music in background) “Uh, Dad, I’m still at the party.  Can you look up the train times for me please?”

At about 7.00pm, (loud music in the background) “Uh, I’m still at the party Dad”.  We agreed that he’d be best off to go home and get some sleep.  “I’ll put roast pork in for lunch if you ring in the morning and tell me what time you’re leaving.”

At about 8.30am this morning, (loud music in the background) “Uh, Dad, I’m still at the party”.

At least in my day we had the decency to hide the full extent of our debauchery from our parents.  Not any more!

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 21, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Invictus

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The Real Thing

This is the new film, directed by Clint Eastwood, about how the South African rugby team, the Springboks, won the Rugby World Cup in 1995 and helped to reunite the country on a wave of patriotism just five years after Mandela was released.  Morgan Freeman is simply mesmerising as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon is superb as Francois Pienaar, captain of the team.

I’m a complete believer in the idea that international rugby is more important than most things in life so, granted, I was almost certain to enjoy this movie.  I didn’t expect to be quite so emotionally overwhelmed though.  This film is a wonderful, triumphant experience and a lesson in life.  See here for an excerpt.

Invictus bears no resemblance to the anodyne pap that Hollywood has fed us this year.   It is a work of art, a political manifesto and an inspiration to the human soul.  The title comes from William Ernest Henry’s poem of the same name in which Mandela found comfort while in prison:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

If “Up In The Air” is up its own a*** and an insult to its audience;  “Avatar” is an adolescent technogeek’s fantasy, terribly badly realised; “The Hurt Locker” is just another good but not great war movie then “Invictus” is a wonderful, uplifting story that deserves all the praise, all the admiration and all the awards.

The Movie