Friday, 2 October 2015

How to fit in when watching the Rugby World Cup

If, like me, you are desperate to be accepted by men with more testosterone than you, then saying the right things whilst watching a game of rugby in a pub is essential. Here is a step by step guide.

1. Find a busy pub showing rugby. Walk in with your chest out and as something climactic happens on the screen shout "RUGGINGTON" at the top of your voice. Then, throughout the game, whenever anything happens that people around you react to shout "RUGGINGTON" at a volume that you feel matches the severity of the event.

2. At certain times in the game a number huge men will jump on top of each other. This is known as a pile-on and so here you must shout 'PILE-ON!". You should then turn to the man next to you with the shirt tucked into his jeans and say "It was a good pile-on. But perhaps more guys should have piled-on."

3. There are moments in a game when a ball becomes crucial to play. Sometimes a coquettish looking chap will kick the ball towards the other end of the pitch. Here shout "KICK IT TOWARDS THE GOAL IN ACCEPTABLE FASHION!" If he fails to kick it particularly successfully towards the goal you should say loudly to the man with the shirt tucked into his jeans and wearing the brown trainers that "HE KICKED IT TOWARDS THE GOAL, BUT FAILED TO KICK IT TOWARDS THE GOAL IN A WAY THAT COMPLETELY SATISFIES ME".

4. Sometimes the ball will go out of play and two lines of men will form. This is looks for all the world like the beginning of a Ceilidh, but it rarely is.

5. Halftime. Go into the toilets, find someone you don't know at the urinals and pat them on the back. If they query your behaviour a simple wink, a glance down and a guttural "ruggington" should put you in the clear.

6. "SCRUM FOUR!" This is a good thing to shout.

7. Whenever the action stops, draw the shape of a box with your fingers and announce to the pub that you should all go 'upstairs'.

8. Unlike football, in rugby it's ok to gently rib opposition supporters without hitting them with a glass. Say things like "Your number 17 hasn't had sex in weeks! Judging by his testies."

Thursday, 1 October 2015


I have just spent a week in Cognac. The town, that is, not the brandy. Actually both are accurate.

It seems to me to be an incredible coincidence that the drink 'Cognac' is made in a town of the same name, but when I pointed this out to the natives they seemed non-plussed.

My overriding memory of Cognac is trying to get served. On one day we spent 5 hours looking for somewhere that would serve us lunch. The problem wasn't that nothing was open. The problem was that in France, sitting in a café does not always lead to being served in a café. I remember sitting in one particularly frayed café for 45 minutes while the waitress periodically glowered at us from a distance of 12 metres without ever taking our order. Eventually we tried to leave but she said we couldn't because we had ordered. When I asked her what we had ordered she checked her till, realised her mistake and said "Ok, you can go" as if she had verified our papers at a military checkpoint.

We decided eventually to go to our local Flunch outlet. For those of you that don't know the French restaurant chain Flunch, it is the restaurant with the worst name in the entire galaxy. Flunch. It's the sound of somebody sitting on a matchstick model of the provincial headquarters of an insurance firm. Needless to say it was shut, which was disappointing, but I suspect not nearly as disappointing as it would have been had it been open. One day I will dine at a Flunch outlet and I will let you, my readers, know exactly how it makes me feel.