Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Wales, England & Scotland (Memories of a misspent youth Part 2)

England 5 v Scotland 1.
Home International Championship. 1975
I watched this game on TV (a proper one, with a colour picture and everything) in a holiday chalet at the Glan Gwna holiday park http://www.glangwna.com/location-glan-gwna-holiday-park-caernarfon-gwynedd.aspx, that was (and worryingly enough still is) on the edge of Snowdonia, in North Wales.

The weather for our annual family 'jolly' was shocking, for the entire week.
One especially grim day, we walked up Mount Snowdon ... all the freakin' way up!
It was foggy when we reached the top and you couldn't see your hand in front of your face, let alone the endless miles of scenery that were depicted on the postcards in the overpriced gift shop that some entrepreneuring lunatic had built right up there along with a cafeteria.
A train runs up and down a major part of the mountain, but my dad said that wasn't character building enough for our happy (nee ecstatic) entourage and that the fare represented 'frivolous extortion', or something beginning with F anyway.
So in the spirit of bloody minded stubbornness (not my own I hasten to add), we ascended to the top on foot and then made the slippery downhill return journey on foot (and quite often on our arses) too.
We didn't nip into the cafe for any sustenance after our mammoth trek, my dad was a psychic you see and he knew they would be charging rip off prices without even going in there.
Ha ha, that's what you think big ears!!!

What a thrill it was (did you spot the ironic tone I'm adopting there?) to stand and stare at the balcony arch on Caernarfon Castle that Prince Charles, the original POW (Prince of Wales) had waved to the public from on the day of his Investiture there, just six years previously, an event watched by millions on TV, apparently, Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
"He'll be the King one day" my mother said to me ... she told quite a few fibs to make boring situations seem more exciting, but seldom managed to achieve even a flicker of interest from the younger manifestation of me.
Looking back, it isn't really difficult to see why.
Incidentally, Charlie boy is only 62 so he won't be a 66POW for another four years yet.
By which time this blog will have long ceased to exist, but he still won't be a reigning monarch.

Of course, we never went into the Castle itself.
As per usual, our rain drenched family route march (all the way from the free parking spaces that were quite some distance away) ended, upon arrival at yet another monument of historical interest (perm one from about 143 of them over the years), when my dad saw the sign with the admission prices on and proclaimed angrily "How much!?" and waltzed off in the opposite direction as a protest.
Alas, those dancing protests never really caught on.

A few times over the week, we risked dropping dead from hypothermia (or possibly typhoid) in the open air swimming pool at Glan Gwna, the design of which was all the rage in those days, before holiday camp designers twigged that the North Wales climate merited slightly different facilities to those it had copied from the Florida resorts. Apparently the water is heated circa 2010.
I wonder if pool attendants in Kissimee ever had to clear everybody out of the water three times per day, to remove all the leaves, twigs, debris and dubious looking floating things that a perpetually drunk party of bearded loons from Dundee had deposited in there whilst skinny dipping.

On one especially dire day we went to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch to marvel at the sign on the train station, whilst trying to pronounce the name (the party never stopped, eh!?) and have a look at the Menai Straits.
So what!?
FFS, I was an experience hungry 12 year old thrill seeker back then and these budget site seeing holidays bored me rigid.
In the event, my dad would have needed to buy platform tickets for us to go onto the station to take pictures of the sign, so we stood outside and tried taking photographs off of a nearby wall.
I'll scan you the pictures to peruse on this very blog if they ever show up, before sticking them through the shredder in an act of cathartic purging ... though one may wonder if the66pow itself represents such an exercise in psychotherapeutic release sometimes, it doesn't though. 'Tis merely me going on (and on) a bit sometimes.
My parents weren't sure in the Menai Suspension Bridge had a toll paying booth or not, so just to be on the safe side we stayed away from Anglesey anyway.

But, in spite of the copious amounts of abject misery I endured on my trip to foreign soil, I will always remember this holiday with a certain amount of fondness, because it is where I watched the football match reproduced below via YouTube, live on TV, in the days when there were only usually three live matches per year shown.

It still amuses me no end how England rehearse their routine for the fourth goal in front of the Scottish defence, before they actually execute it and score.
Stewart Kennedy had a shocking game in goal for Scotland, who had the best right back I have ever seen play in their defence that day, namely Danny McGrain.
They also had a young Kenny Dalglish in their side, note in the video footage how he takes a blatant dive early in the game to win an unjust free kick ... he was still, after all, an Old Firm player back then and will have been used to falling over/laying down* every time he was on the verge of losing possession and getting each and every referee's decision going his way.

In spite of a truly awful introduction to the Principality of Wales, I have actually been back quite a few times since and I've even learnt enough of the native tongue to watch Welsh language soap operas (well worth the effort then) and to respond to a group of Welsh hooligans who were slagging me and my mate off on a train from Bangor once ... did you know that the Welsh variant for penis enlargement, is penis enlargement?
Bear that in mind if you ever need to retaliate verbally against an angry mob on the North Wales Coastline Railway, it really does put them in their place ... give or take a few minor cuts and bruises and getting chucked off at the next station, where you can wait for over two and a half hours without seeing any other kind of train at all, even at peak times.
Ah, halcyon days indeed.
Incidentally, because I know you're all itching to know ... Glan Gwna is pronounced Glan Gooner.