Life goes on in North Herefordshire. What did you do this Summer?

Lockdown, Luctonians and Leintwardine

By Geoffers

Hi Everyone, hope you are all well and safe from this near year-long flu virus thing. Especially now, again in light of all the problems surrounding the club and its various contingency plans suffering various degrees of difficulty due to the second lockdown.

I have to apologise, but I haven’t been down the club at all, in the main as I am one of the minions who are a CEVP [Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Person], and therefore have found it to be more prudent to stay well away from my fellow man. It’s been a very strange and weird experience with very little contact with others apart from family, a few close friends and bumping into dog walkers on hikes around the trails and dales around the Herefordshire, Shropshire and the Welsh Borders.

I often say I enjoy writing some rubbish for the Website and Lucsline, but somehow I haven’t felt the urge to pick up my pen, or keyboard and send in an article, anything or something of some nonsensical nature these past 9 Months. But, with the weather on the change, I have found a few hours this dark, dingy Saturday afternoon and I thought I might just come up with something for you which is totally irrelevant. It’s a bit based around me as I haven’t seen anyone else, and my lack of rugby experiences these past months.

Did you know it was 29th February when I and any serious rugby last graced the hallowed grounds of Mortimer Park? The Firsts’ home game v Sedgley Park it were. It was a win, lest you forget, played in atrocious conditions. Knocker was the embodiment of the mud that was everywhere following weeks of rain, Smithy was not far behind him and Norm I gather was that well camouflaged in it he hadn’t been seen since the Wednesday. All three guys, had along with others worked a miracle to get a game on, and things were looking good for an end of season flourish.

There’s marvellous like. Then what happened?

I’ll tell you what happened, some chap back last winter time in China made stew from some bat meat he bought from a dodgy butcher. From its infected hind legs, he caught a virus and with it a cough, which he exhaled around his family, who also coughed and spread it around their families families. They happened to have families in Italy, France, Mongolia and everywhere else in the World. And then everywhere we had lots of people with coughs, and worst still, it was and still is bloody dangerous.

And it didn’t matter how much LemSip you could drink either, nothing was and still isn’t enough to curb the cough. This one is a killer. And, because of this virus’s very dangerous nature, we were all told to STAY AT HOME by our leader Boris Johnson. The JAB is coming for us all it appears, but when and if it works still remains to be seen: Cross everything and hope it’s here soon.

So where have I been since March? Last home game I put the microphone in its box, pen and paper in the draw and shut the door.

Well there’s not a lot to tell, well not really. It’s not quite as boring as all that, but I know you are all keen to know what I have been up to. My fellow Pétanquers oft enquired as to my existence, as they once again managed to grace the open spaces at Mortimer Park, less my presence. I do feel slightly ashamed to say I didn’t manage to toss a boule in anger all summer.

But as a CEVP I have received letters, not after my name, but posted to me from the DHS and the Government no less. Not one but two of them have now come through the letterbox, all wiped down with antiseptic wipes and left untouched for three days. Both signed by that Matt Hancock fellow, the Head Honcho Minister for Her Majesty’s Government Health Department, Both inviting me to stay in me garden.

So I didded as they asked me too. It was best part of 12 weeks afore I ventured outside of our garden gate.

So what do you do for 12 weeks when not working and slaving away over a hot laptop and phone while squirreled away in a converted coal shed? Well, for exercise I created an all new walking route around the house, I found that the views are different if you walk anti-clockwise to clockwise. Ooh the excitement. And I did more laps than that brilliant Captain Tom fellow, but I never got interviewed by the BBC or a fly past or knighted for my endeavours, although I don’t deny him his rewards. Bloody Marvellous effort Sir!

So, with time on my hands at weekends I gave in to an art I have never much been any good at, gardening. I created the next best garden to Monty Don’s in North Herefordshire, but still didn’t get a call from those BBC telly people. Potatoes, beans, carrots, onions,  flowers, shrubs, borders and plants all took on a new life, and I never killed anything which I usually do. It could of course just be an age thing as my neighbours of similar years appear also to taken to the fork and spade as well. But its not the same when you cant share it with anyone except the family.

The commute to work was taking its toll however, as the 3 yard walk (that’s 2.75metres in new money) to me office was stretching my will to do anything on arrival. It was all getting to be a bit tedious, and what with no Rugby, no Pétanque and without being able to share a beer or two with cronies I was in danger of going doolally tap.

Then one day in June I think it was, the missus decided I needed to see the world again as I was on the verge of becoming and looking like a hermit in my own bat cave. A car drive out into the glorious summer sunshine to take in the views off the Clee Hill Bonk, this was the starting point, this to save my sanity. Marvellous it was and whilst looking through my binoculars at the Four White Domes atop the Titterstone, it dawned on me that I perhaps had an eyesight problem…

There is only ONE White Dome!

So, advised by wife and my knowledgeable brother I was told to “get that eye looked at”. And you know how it is, you don’t phone the busy doctors with something trivial. But I was under orders and I was TOLD – get it sorted. 10.30am I phoned one morning in the midst of shielding, the Doc phoned me back as they do nowadays, and he told to get to A&E ASAP – Couple of hours later I was there, fully masked up for a full examination.

“Christ”, as Jethro would say, “they weren’t half bloody efficient”. Temperature logged, hands bathed in gel I was whisked into a side room where I was eye dropped and tested for basic symptoms for what I knew not. After numerous scans, drops and lots of Docs and specialists looking into me eye balls, I was given the lowdown,  “get yourself up to Birminingingham Eye Hospital for 9 0’clock tomorrow morning”. “Why eye?” said I – “Thy’s eye” said the clever man, as you have a nastily detached retina and you could lose your sight in it if we don’t get it fixed pronto!

Phew, that’s one to set you back a few yards (that’s not quite as far in metres), but I didded again as I was told.

Wifey and I, with my eye, went to Brum, and 10 hours later I was being driven back down the M5 with a patch over me ‘gas filled’ eye and enough drops in bottles to float a ship on. No work for 6-7 weeks, no bending, lifting, stretching and keep screen use to a minimum were the orders, but I could still have a beer, or two, or three. Joy!

I can’t fault the NHS, the experience while shielding was daunting to say the least, but in the midst of all that’s going on I was sorted, sort of. I be fixed, albeit with blurry vision from the scar tissue, and now once again I can still see more than I can have, and there, once again, is only one white dome on the Bonk.

So what did you do in the summer ? Anyone venture abroad and couldn’t get back ? Or when you did get back did you have to stay at home for a fortnight? Doesn’t matter as long as you had a good one. Weather was lovely at home and I had a tan to die for which usually costs me thousands to get while on a Mediterranean cruise. I went to Wales once and they let me back no problem, and without border controls or having to hibernate. We went to see the sea, and I am happy to report its still there.

I was reading and following all sorts of various Twitter, BookFace and emails saying how far rugby was in terms of being played again at Lucs level. Of course the posh boys at the higher echelons of all sport and with a bit of money, have regular Covid tests and it’s a damned good thing they do as the testing has allowed some modicum of sport.

Back at the club I know the rounders ladies didn’t run around, but did the croqueters croquet? Did the bicycyclists manage to bicycle? Did the runners run? Did the Archers arch?

I did hear the cricketers managed to turn their arm over at least and had wonderful weather for most of what was a limited season. Some Pétanquers managed a few socially distanced boules as well with much frivolity as per normal, and what’s more remain undefeated. Yes, still undefeated.

And The Sundogs couldn’t come out to play either. Let’s hope they are back, barking, boisterous, bigger and the best ever for 2021.

And, just as we all thought we might be going to see some rugby back at the club, the damned ‘cough’ is back with a vengeance, and here we are again, back in lockdown. November’s Lucs fund raisers cancelled and Christmas looking all the more likely to be a solemn affair with no partying allowed.

I blame Trump for everything. Who doesn’t?

However when not shouting off about the Chinese, or how not serious Covid is, he has single handed kept those TV people busy, with hundreds of UK reporters over in the States reporting on his dose of the flu. Bet they are all having to be put up in one his hotels – money, money , money, he knows how to make his trillions.

And then their bleeding Presidential Election, IF I HEAR ONE MORE WORD……AGGGHHHHHHH !!!

It looks like he is gone, well not quite…and we have a 78 year old in charge across the pond- lets hope he brings some normality to the USA.  He looks pretty sprightly for his age, hope he can last the distance.

Of course we still got Boris and Brexit to look forward too – are we in or out? Queues from Dover to the M4? Shortages of bacon? No loo rolls? Oversize turkeys? Who knows.

Oh for a taste of normality.

The Rugby’s been OK on the telly vision but doesn’t beat the real thing. Was hoping we might have something New Year but looks like it might be a version of tag. Nice to see the Chiefs win in Europe and Premiership, England win the Six Nations and to have our Luctonian on debut get a yellow card. He’s grown a bit since he was last seen playing for the black and whites youth I believe. Good on you Jonny Hill, I have to admit he learnt nothing off me.

Highlights of my weeks recently have been waking up at 6 o’clock on Saturday mornings to watch Manawatu versus Taranaki or Bay of Plenty on the old Skybox. Now we got the Autumn Nations Cup to look forward too, all the usual sides but now including those ever dangerous Georgians, Fijians and Italy! At least its sport and something to view on these early dark nights while nothing else to do.

Finally, I want to pay tribute here to the amazing team who have managed and run the Luctonians Club, in what must have been extremely difficult times they have managed to keep it alive under almost impossible conditions.

From the food, to the beer, to the BookFace posts, twitter posts, proper training for those allowed, maintenance on pitch and facilities, fund raising, walking up mountains and much much more. No one could have foreseen what has happened this year. To front up in the face of adversity and keep some semblance of normality and keep this great club going must have been a serious challenge.

It is hoped we can all help in some way from afar and help by keeping the balance sheet ticking over before we can see income back from its normal streams.

I take my hat off to every single one of you. It’s a big fat THANK YOU from me.

Hoping to be able to do my bit once again soon.

Take care everyone and please stay safe and well.