Sunday, January 25, 2009

You gotta give the other fellow hell...

I’m reading Live and Let Die at the moment. I bought the first three James Bond novels over Christmas and recently sped through the marvellous Casino Royale with glee. If one excuses or ignores the hard yards of political incorrectness that permeate the paragraphs then there are plenty of soaring scrapes and thrilling japes to enjoy hungrily. Fleming’s stories are quite different from the films I’d suggest. Bond seems colder, heartless even, on the page and, without the cinematic need for explosive set-pieces to keep the movie lover interested, more room is available for really beautifully phrased descriptive passages. I particularly look forward to any Bond mealtime; each course is depicted so thoroughly that the lucky reader is almost able to taste every mouthful.

My favoured rugby club, Gloucester, has cascaded out of the European Heineken Cup after a relatively gutsy performance in a windswept and thoroughly soggy Biarritz. I’m a touch perplexed about the side’s recent form and reflect on what may have happened had the last few disappointing matches been played in drier and calmer conditions with a full squad to pick from. I was flicking through a copy of a weekly rugby paper at le supermarché this morn – I think it was called The Rugby Paper – and noted a piece lamenting a lack of investment in the Kingsholm pitch which compared to the billiard table that is Franklin’s Gardens can soon become rough and pitted in poor weather. Could this be addressed to improve our winter form? Player-wise, we do lack bulk in the front five although I am generally satisfied with the back row options when all are fit and raring to go. I’d be content if a huge and frightening lock was recruited in the summer, preferably to replace the unsatisfactory Bortolami who has sank from ebullient cult-hero to going-through-the-motions journeyman in just a couple of seasons. My main concern lies at half-back though. Gloucester, I fear, shall ne’er become a trophy winning side with any of the current crop that wear the famed nine or ten shirts. Frankly, we’ve not really replaced the livewire Peter Richards at scrum-half and I long for another player in his mould sniping and causing havoc from the base of rucks and mauls. And I’d love a outside-half with the ability to actually boss a match, put his stamp on it and play all conditions well. I was impressed with the youngster Lamb three or four years ago but I sense little progress from the fellow and regrettably consider that he may not make the grade at the highest level. I’d settle for a Jonny Wilkinson or a Glen Jackson, steady and unflappable types who week-in and week-out ‘do the business’. We’d miss the occasional snippet of Lamb genius but cameos and occasional acts of jaw-dropping brilliance don’t win trophies or dominate campaigns alas. Here’s hoping.

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