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Good things about being Welsh: No. 6 – beating Germany at football, meeting Ian Rush (and becoming a father).

22 Sep

Ian Rush and Blanco

 

Blanco, not renowned as a great footballing fan, more of a rugby man, must confess to having had a little thrill last night meeting and having a drink with Ian Rush, Liverpool and Wales footballing legend. We were introduced by mutual friend, owner of The Promised Land and general good chap Nick Davidson at the Park Plaza Hotel in Cardiff. (Rushy’s hand is actually on my left shoulder, which means we are kind of mates, no?)

Among his many achievements, Rushy scored the winner in Wales’ 1991 defeat of reigning World Champions Germany in a European Championship qualifying match played at Cardiff Arms Park on the evening of 5 June, the only occasion, as far as I know, on which Wales have beaten Germany at anything. I happen to remember the date particularly well as it was the night our first child, Sioned Maria, was born. In fact – as I let Mr Rush know last night – it was because of his goal that the obstetrician was late arriving on the ward, coming into the room in which Mrs Blanco was at the closing stages of a difficult 10-hour labour. The doctor burst in proclaiming ‘Rush has scored’. ‘What’s he on about? mumbled Mrs Blanco, in a slightly medicated drawl, ‘and who the hell is Rush?’ Well, his spectacular goal, shown below, provides the answer to that one.

 

 

We won, Sioned was borned (yes, borned) and Cardiff went bonkers. Dazed, I wandered into the hospital car park at 2.00 a.m. and could not remember where I’d put the car. A security guard approached me, and when I said I couldn’t remember where the car was, for some reason assumed I was inebriated, and asked whether I was sure I should be driving. I wasn’t drunk, but driving through the city centre – very carefully, due to the inconsiderate presence of so many citizens – to get back home, most of the rest of the city was in a state of great exuberance. Truly, amigos, a night to remember, and one to bore the grandchildren with when I start repeating myself incessantly. When I start repeating myself, incessantly.

 

 

 

 

Fiction Fiesta

29 Mar

 

We met up in Nick’s bar, The Promised Land, to discuss literature in translation with some friends, editors, writers and such luminaries from the field of literary translation as Christopher MacLehose and Boyd Tonkin, chaired by the erudite and perennially entertaining Charles Boyle. By the end of the day I had the impression that we had achieved what we set out to do: we had talked about interesting stuff in good company; we had provided a forum for our guests to listen to and discuss literature in translation, and we had introduced to a Cardiff audience – for the first time but definitely not for the last – the prodigiously talented Argentinian novelist and poet, Andrés Neuman. More than that, most of us seemed to have enjoyed ourselves.

The day began with a reading and discussion with Andrés, who led us on a merry dance through Russian Jewish migration of the early 20th century, German Romanticism, the music of Franz Schubert, European identity in the 21st Century, an hilarious impersonation of Jorge Luis Borges, and an account of a chess game with Roberto Bolaño, in which the Chilean author plied his young admirer with whisky while playing Mexican heavy metal at full volume as a way of gaining tactical advantage.

There followed a delightful reading by the poets Jorge Fondebrider and Tiffany Atkinson, their lines bouncing off the walls with a playful (and sometimes darker) exchange of ironies.

The Fiesta was made by its participants, especially our Argentinian guests, and the fine writers who made the afternoon come alive: Des Barry, Zoe Skoulding, Tristan Hughes and the superb Philip Gross.

In the end it all went swimmingly, although  afterwards I wondered – rather like a medieval adventurer returning from the Forest of Enchantments – whether it had all been a mysterious dream. But that was probably just the lack of sleep.

 

Andrés Neuman

 

 

. . . in conversation with Blanco

 

 

Jorge Fondebrider and Tiffany Atkinson

 

 

Tiffany Atkinson

 

 

Tess and Charles take a break

 

 

Jorge explains a crucial point

 

 

Los tres amigos

 

 

The whole sick crew? - Barry, Boyle, Neuman, Fondebrider, Blanco, Mulcahy, Hughes.

 

 

 

 

 

Zorba and friends

8 Mar

A joyful retort to the Greek debt crisis. Watch out for the Ottawa Zorba Sweepers at the end. What professionals!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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