Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘South Africa

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!

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

Walking The Dog 11

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The lights on Portland are warming up orange in the distance. Everywhere there’s a gunmetal grey murk with a few billowing black threats. It is cold, chilling cold and the wind is biting and penetrating.  This is the very nub of dusk and here we are back on the beach after a break of over a week.

It’s been a tough week, travelling everywhere, bad news about my Dad, a disastrous episode with my car.  Saturday morning in the valley was a welcome relief.  The ground was very very wet but the sun shone strong and as we hit the toughest part of the trek up the mountain a ginger blur up the near-vertical slope, the dogs in pursuit, the healthiest, most muscly fox I’ve ever seen.  And on top, two bobbing, weaving white backsides of deer escaping towards Dorchester.

I’m in the little red Citroen loan car from The Cartshed, generously offered as “you’re welcome to put your dogs in there” and I knew I had an appropriate stick stored in the garden.  Now I’m slipping and sliding down the grass bank to the beach while Capone and Carla tumble, fight and slither through the shingle to the water.

At high tide a three foot windblown chop is breaking 20 yards out but the undertow is ready to pull Capone capwav2right back under the next one.  Once, twice, three times he is wiped out, thumped in the face and chest with icy white water.  He ploughs on like a Chieftan tank, shaken but not stirred and reaches the stick at the very crest.

Around he comes, half drowned, half propelled by another wave, he disappears underneath a crashing cauldron of surf and then he’s back, Carla already grabbing the stick from him.  His fierce but playful growl penetrates all of nature’s noise.  They scamper away up the beach carrying the stick together and turn to the most satisfying tussle and chew while I give them a few moments to rest.

Carla is no fool and although I throw her a little twig while Capone is busy she frolicks into the shallowest surf but thinks better of it and turns back.  It’s much more fun to wait for Capone to go in, do the work and intercept him on the way back.

Man Of The Match - Andy Powell

Man Of The Match - Andy Powell

What more perfect end to a day when Wales have almost beaten the South Africans in Cardiff and shown enormous promise, invention and the usual courage.

In these conditions I have to be careful how much I push him because he would try and try, keep going back, ignoring the cold and the shortness of breath and the sucking, churning, remorseless waves.  He tackles the surf like a second row forward and nothing stands in his way.capwav11

He wants nothing more than another chance.  He would die for me in that seething, heaving water.

This connection with my animals, my countryside, my sea, my sky, my wind is my salvation.  When we understand what matters, who matters, whatever happens, then contentment comes a little easier.

Life makes a little more sense.

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