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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘Wales

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

Why I’d Be Voting Yes If I Lived In Scotland.

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Yes-PA

I think it will be a tragedy of immeasurable proportions if Scotland becomes an independent nation.  As a proud Briton, I am first and foremost a Welshman but Britain is a great nation and I would not argue for independence for Wales.

The Scottish referendum though offers an opportunity which must not be missed.  The corrupt, out of touch Westminster elite must be brought down. This is a chance that we may not have again. The alternative of guillotines in Parliament Square is tempting but unlikely.

Cameron, Miliband and the exclusive tribe of privately educated, independently wealthy politicians have seized this country for themselves.  They have conspired with bankers and the Fleet Street Mafia to create an oligarchy which deprives the people of any real or effective say in our nation.  Together they set the news agenda and control what we say, do and think.

They enact policies that suit them irrespective of public opinion.  They deny science and evidence at a whim.  They deceive and misinform as a matter of course.  When it suits them they use the modest threat of international terrorism to terrorise and subjugate us.  They are traitors to Britain.  The United Kingdom has become their vehicle for repression, oppression and an ever expanding state that keeps the proletariat under control.

So, it would be with great regret that I would vote ‘Yes’ to Scottish independence.  Not that I want to split Britain up but I see no other way of rolling back the self-serving, authoritarian enemy that has destroyed our democracy and taken control of both Parliament and Whitehall.

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 10, 2014 at 12:34 pm

I Weep For Jamaica

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Ocho Rios

The events unfolding in Jamaica are disastrous for the country, its reputation, tourist industry and economy.   They give an impression that is completely false.  In reality it is a wonderful place, full of kind, warm, generous people.  I was astonished on my first visit to find the countryside lush and green, rather like Cornwall or Wales and the people more friendly than anywhere else I have ever been.

I was very privileged to be introduced to Jamaica by a Jamaican.  It was no all-inclusive tourist resort for me.  There the poor Brits hunker down and never move anywhere.  They seem to believe that right outside the gates are a bunch of Uzi-toting crack dealers but it’s simply not true.  I’ve been back several times and I love the place.  I recommend Ocho Rios on the north coast of the island.

True, the murder rate is one of the highest in the world but it all happens in a very small area of Kingston.  The rest of the island is peaceful and probably safer than London.  I have been through the Tivoli Gardens and Trench Town districts where all the trouble is.  It’s not a good place.  You lock the car doors and windows and you don’t stop but it is tiny.  According to my memory it’s not much bigger than, say, Regent’s Park so it’s easy to avoid.

My Local

Undoubtedly at the root of these problems is high level corruption and I wouldn’t be surprised if that extended to US officials as well as Jamaican.  The cocaine trade is a huge curse on the country but while the world continues with its ludicrous, discredited policy of prohibition it will never solve the problem.  Drug laws support and encourage organised crime and corruption.   If we stay on our present course things will only get worse.

I weep for Jamaica and its wonderful people.  Without radical international action, I have no idea how this problem can be solved.

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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