Writing a last great chapter

I'm a believer in positive re-inforcement. Early morning I visualise the day ahead, in slow-motion, to a steady beat, as the recorded highlights of the day that went well. Then I go out and make it happen.

Today, that storyboard went: Wake up refreshed. Go to local pub for breakfast and watch the rugby. England win rugby. I stay in pub for beer festival. My wife joins me. We get drunk. We make up the rest of the day as it goes. I keep babbling on about how Chris Ashton slipped the line and swan-dived over for a try that took England to within a point of victory. And how every bloodied yard won by the props once the clock had turned red put Wilko in the pocket for the drop goal that sent us to Auckland.

Sometimes, you find the world isn't quite in sync with your mind-track.

It started promising for me, if not England. Pull on the shirt (blue, circa 2003). Go to pub. When you see an Own Taylor's van turn up in the car park, you know that breakfast will be full of the best piggy nom. Several pints of Moonstone Black Five Mild were slaked. And then... England forgot to turn up. Outplayed by the French is bad enough; to be out-thought by them is unforgivable.

So me and my blue funk decided that we could do without sitting around a beerfest for the rest of the day.

What better for a catatonic rugger fan, still slightly hungover by the application of fresh mild to last night's Scotch, than a trip to Tesco?

Slivers of meats, some superbly nutty Ossau Iraty, walnut bread, spag bol constituents, shit-kicklingly good wine by Tim Adams and a basket of beer. In reverse order: Brewdog Punk IPA, still alcoholic Um Bongo; Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, great but still strangely muted, Goose Island IPA: revelatory. Chock full of mango, no lingering bitterness.

And as I wandered up and down the aisles, the comments.

"Where were we in the first half?"

"Ready to drown your sorrows?".

And then:

"Bet you can't wait to take that shirt off".

Actually, no. And now please go and fuck yourself into a cocked hat.

How very dare you!

I'm a quarter Scots and strangely proud of it. Oor Wullie, The Broons, whisky, deep-fried Mars Bars - love it.

But I'm more Lionheart than Braveheart.

I wear the rose and I'm damn proud to do so. Always and forever.

Always and forever. Never ashamed. Never embarrassed.

An afternoon kip, an epic spag bol and several glasses of Tim Adams' finest later, all I can think of is this.

I've just finished reading "Setting The Table" by Danny Meyer. The über-entrepreneurial New York restaurateur. And two quotes from the book resonate, in relation to mistakes:

As told to him by retail magnate Stanley Marcus: "the road to success is paved with mistakes well handled".

As he says himself, on his mission when hearing of a mistake: "write a last great chapter that allows us to end up in a better place".

All I can hope for is that the RFU and Martin Johnson take a long, hard, passionate look at how the leadership dynamic of England rugby has failed the team and the fans' expectations. And handle those mistakes better in the future.

And how do I write my last great chapter? How do I draw a line underneath a day envisioned poorly?  How do I turn a day of hurt into one that I will look back on with fonder memory?

I open a bottle of extremely great beer. Possibly the best tart Belgian beer that isn't Belgian.

Because it's brewed in France.

From Brassiere Thirez, Vielle Brune.

To end the evening with some sour French.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

* cheers to Phil Lowry for the heads-up on Danny Meyer's book

* before you start, I am aware that Richard the Lionheart spent most of his time pricking around in Southern France. Let me introduce to the concept of irony...


  1. I can't think of anything worse than drinking a French sour beer right now (sour grapes). Especially when I can claim to still have of bottle of it (and you haven't) ;-)

  2. You should stick to the England football team. You can't be hurt, knowing they'll turn up likely to stink the place out. 8-)