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Stephen Morris (South Wales)

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My Life as a Hooker: When a Middle-Aged Bloke Discovered Rugby
My Life as a Hooker: When a Middle-Aged Bloke Discovered Rugby
by Steven Gauge
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep calm and play rugby!, 27 Feb. 2013
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Be very careful where you read this had me laughing out loud at times as I followed the fortunes of Warlingham's Fourth XV.....!
What does a man do when in sight of middle age and with a successful career, things start to get harder? The answer seems to try something different, some more sensible than others......It can be a radical career change, taking up a completely new hobby, becoming an Open University student, or going in for tattoing and wearing leather...
Thus it was with Steven Gauge who at the not so tender age of 35 took up......playing rugby
In the professional game you are hanging up your rugby boots at this age, such are its demands and I have to admit I wince at times when I watch a game and see them go right into each other or ferociously engage in the scrums.....It really is a game for the fit
Things are however quite different it seems in the lower leagues of the amateur game where you have some seriously unfit men playing rugby.......a game for 'all sorts and conditions of men' of all ages, and sizes and getting fitter into the bargain, and making good friends on the way. So you're well into your 50s, 3 stone overweight, and amble from scrum to scrum? Not a problem! somewhere a team will have a place for you
Even at this level though, rugby demands a certain amount of commitment, with two training sessions a week and a Saturday game
On the way Steven has such a lot of fun... and pain. He gets hurt,he has to leave the field on account of injury, someone takes a punch at him, but then again he finds he has made friends for life and revels in the camaraderie that this sport is famous for
It is very funny but with some serious undercurrents. As with one of the other reviewers I started caring about Steven and the motley group that make up Warlingham's fourth team, for them to make a good go at things.I was laughing with them and not at them.Their game improves, our hero becomes captain, and his ability to inspire loyalty in his team-mates becomes very clear and beyond doubt
I could not but empathise with Steven's experience on the committee - and having been on committees I can assure him that it's not only sports teams that have this problem. I was on a committee myself when I was his age (I'm now in my 60s) for many years but I was glad when I was able to step down. Unfortunately they're a necessary evil....!
Steven communicates the sheer joy and exuberance of rugby in his book and I for one couldn't put it down....I won't even try to pick out bits I really enjoyed it would be a shame to waste the others. He obviously loves his rugby and I hope he doesn't hang up his rugby boots quite yet......

The Carmarthen Underground
The Carmarthen Underground
by Gaynor Madoc Leonard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark doings in the Tywi valley!, 31 Oct. 2011
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Carmarthen seems a very pleasant town, with its attractive shops and plentiful restaurants and coffee shops but underneath an alternative Carmarthen exists.Carmarthen Intelligence with their friends in Swansea, the WBI Welsh Bureau of Investigation) ensure that Carmarthen and indeed Wales remain free from their enemies. Indeed this is not just an alternative Carmarthen but an alternative Wales and even Britain. It is now 43 years after the Battle for Wales and the country now is governed by its Senate, the Cymanfa, and the Welsh language is now enjoying something of a renaissance.... Climate change also seems to have moved on,what with green tea plantations in Beddgelert, Welsh vineyards and olives from the Teifi valley......Carmarthen also enjoys a secret Underground was designed by Sir Clough Williams Ellis and as one might expect is somewhat Italianate. It reaches Swansea in 20 minutes - Arriva Trains Wales had better watch out!
Spies tend to live in a world of casinos, expensive 10 star hotels that nobody can afford and super-posh and rich resorts in the French Riviera.So how do welcoming but unpretentious country inns,attractive and welcoming market towns grab you?
The story involves a spy, Wyndham,who is sent on a top secret and highly dangerous mission to the Tywi valley where there have been some dark doings and is based in Myddfai where Betti Williams makes the best breakfast this side of Llangollen.His allies include the farmer Llew Jones, the vicar's daughter who watches over the village by means of a camera obscura in the church tower.Wyndham is aided and abetted by friends who were former team-mates in the rugby team, and the vicarage cat Hannibal.But why does Myddfai have a sheriff, what is Mr.Brynaman really up even the vicar all that he seems.....? There is a twist at the end - to me somewhat unexpected - as the novel reaches its startling climax
Gaynor Madoc Leonard certainly brings out the cadences of West Wales in the book very well without it becoming stereotypical, but I'm not sure how well it would travel outside Wales.I'm thinking of a few of the plays on words for instance which perhaps the outsider wouldn't necessarily get.However I think that people outside Wales would enjoy it - it's not badly written and as someone who knows Carmarthen fairly well I think she describes the area very well. It's not as dark as the Malcolm Pryce books set in Aberystwyth - this seems to me to resemble Agatha Christie more. If you feel like exploring the area then you might enjoy Beloved Tywi: A Visual Journey and if you want to know more about the towns in the area you could do worse than try Market Towns Wales
I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait for future novels which I understand are in the pipeline........

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