Rhys’s Reflections – Back Home with my Mam


Hello everyone! My Mam suggested I write a short article for you. She thinks my musings would add a more gentle tone to the usual verbal bludgeoning as dispatched by proven rugby giants like Mr Haskell, or “Ah James Oh James” as my Mam likes to whisper when she is leafing through the rugby calendars she keeps at her bedside.

I don’t want to show off or anything, but some of you may have noticed I play rugby for the Scarlets and for Wales. Unfortunately I hurt my foot very badly recently so I am back at home resting in my old bed at my Mam’s house. My feet stick out the bottom a bit now but otherwise it’s just the same as it always was, all warm and soft and safe.

As I write this my Mam is busy downstairs baking cakes while softly singing ‘Bread of Heaven’ – except she changes the words to ‘Cakes of Heaven’ when she puts them in the oven because she knows it makes me laugh a little bit. My Mam kept my old bedroom just as it used to be. Even Happy Ianto, my old friend and the happiest teddy on earth is still here, snuggled up with me right now as I write this.

It is so lovely being home again I even wrote a little poem about it:

No expectations

Nothing to prove

No-one watching

My every move

From here I can look out across the street and see the rooftops and disused aerials of Penwynyrrdd Terrace. Today they are all etched into a lovely blue sky so even the mountains in the distance seem less dark and glowering than usual. My Mam always makes sure the curtains and nets are pulled back from the sash windows so I can see out – or as my Mam says, “So the angels can see in” – when she kisses my forehead before leaving for chapel on Sundays.

I don’t wonder that many of you are surprised that I am an international rugby player, and to be honest I am a bit surprised too sometimes! I had very mixed feelings about playing rugby, but in Wales everybody is on the look out for “the new Barry John” from the very moment you are born. Once I flopped over onto my side while trying to reach a rusk and Dai the Couch leapt to his feet and shouted, “Look how he’s laying that back for the forwards!” Another time I came home from school and there was a commotion at the front door. It was Bryn the Lash telling my Mam he’d seen me up at LLyddyfrydd’s Tump chasing butterflies. “Just like Phil Bennett”, he said in his excitement, “but prettier!”

In some ways it’s true of course. Like most Welsh boys it was easy for me to catch and pass a rugby ball. However, I especially wanted to be number 10 so I could spend hours on my own practising my kicking. I’m a bit of a daydreamer though and spent far too much time lying on my back in the grass watching the clouds drift by. To this day I still have problems concentrating when taking place kicks, especially if the sky is blue and the rugby posts are reaching up to the heavens like Jacob’s ladder!

Tackling was more of a problem for me because it is quite rough and can hurt a bit but my old sports teacher at Ysgol Gyfun, Bro Myrddin, knew all the secrets of motivation. He said if I didn’t tackle properly he would tell my Mam I was there when Uncas Morris was showing off that magazine he found in his Dad’s shed. I would have died if my Mam ever found out, so all I could do was close my eyes and tackle my heart out!

So I developed through the age groups and professional ranks and before I knew it I was in the Welsh squad, but not in the team of course. Then one day I was warming up with the reserves thinking about playing marbles after the game when “The Count” went and injured himself!

“The Count” is Stephen Jones’ nickname, after The Count from Sesame Street. It’s because Stephen was always counting his Welsh caps while laughing in delighted astonishment as the numbers just get higher and higher. “Three! Four! Five! Six! SIX!? Hahahaha!”

"The Count" got so excited playing his 50th Test that he forgot to kick the ball and tried to eat it instead

“The Count” got so excited playing his 50th Test that he forgot to kick the ball and tried to eat it instead

I was so surprised that the day just flew by. People say the English boys didn’t even notice “The Count” was injured and I was playing instead. No one really tackled me that day and I seemed to be blessed with elusive anonymity for many months to come – right up to the RWC in fact!

People often ask me what the Cryo-Chambers were like in Poland, thinking that it must have been awful. It wasn’t that bad really. Besides, my Mam used to take me to stay at my Nan’s old house on the hillside overlooking Gwyryf’s Leap. Once you’ve experienced visiting the outside toilet there on a mid-winter’s evening the Cryo-Chamber seems like an evening in the snug at the Three Arrows! Nothing grew on that bleak hillside – it was so blackened and barren it became known as “The Devil’s Welshcake”.

Darker clouds eventually gathered on my rugby horizon, but that is a story for another day. The light is fading now and I’m starting to feel a bit sleepy, so if you don’t mind I will stop here. My Mam will soon be up with my bedtime cocoa, and, to be honest, I’m also a bit nervous about tomorrow because my old girlfriend from school, Gladys Moping-Pew, is coming over for a visit. We haven’t seen each other since our misunderstanding on the banks of the river Gryddu, so keep your fingers crossed that everything goes well!

In the meantime it’s goodbye for now and a very happy wave to you all from Happy Ianto!


As told to the greatpoochini undercover as MisterIlks.

About sagmog

Just the facts, man.
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750 Responses to Rhys’s Reflections – Back Home with my Mam

  1. @ meadesian

    Well,meadesian.What to make of that ….as enigmatic as ever-unique and gobsmackingly befuddling.Really hit his stride,I felt in the last 20 minutes but God knows we’d need an interpreter such as your good self next time to guide us through some of those gloriously triple hyphenated exclamations.I half expected him to start reciting The Waste Land (in Serbo-Croat) at the conclusion.
    Surely,no one who saw that could ever think about Essex in the same way again. !

  2. meadesian says:

    Woodcutters – magnifique no? Meadesianisms, I call them. Think tonight’s highlight was “accessibility means nothing more than being comprehensible to morons”. Always watch with subtitles to get the most out of him!

    That really was wonderful stuff. As you say, really flying in the last 20 minutes or so. That excoriation of planning and petty-minded determinism was burning a hole in my screen.

  3. tichtheid says:

    Bugger, I forgot Meades was on tv, I’ll watch it on the iplayer tomorrow.

    Here’s SE England commuters for you, my wife was delayed coming home from Victoria as it was announced that some poor sod had been hit by a train. She says every fucker was moaning about how late home they’d be.

    Mrs Tichtheid is still travelling, but at least she will get here.

  4. MisterIks says:


    You do make it sound idyllic – and I’m pretty jealous of the environment you live in. I have to use the in-car navigator to find local fresh meat and veggies here.

    Regarding fields turning into housing developments, a few years back I was travelling back to my home village in Wales, taking my children with me, doing one of those ‘this is where I grew up’ tours.

    Entering the high street I gestured for them to look left to see my old school – small but a thing of beauty built from the kind of grey granite you might find in Aberdeen.

    Sadly it was gone, but behind where it stood, where the play yard used to be, was a shiny new Lidl supermarket.

    The only consolation was that that local pensioners were apparently boycotting the place because they could not bring themselves to buy German chickens for the Sunday roast.

  5. tichtheid says:

    Part of the woods and fields I used to play in as a kid are now a housing estate, but at least in another part the town rugby club have also been furnished with new pitches and a new clubhouse.

  6. meadesian says:

    Woodcutters – a little treat for you if you weren’t already aware:



  7. Underdog says:

    Ticht – can’t stand people like that. In a recent job, a colleague’s grandma died, and he had to take a day off to help his mum. Our boss cornered me, and moaned about how it had ruined his day, and stuff like that made his job harder. Tool.

    What channel was Meades on?

  8. laraxwell says:

    I just remembered that there’s a curious aul estate on Coldharbour Lane that looks, from the road, like it was designed as a Dark Ages fortification, with the windows more suited to providing cover for archers than letting in light and enjoying the view.

    Austere but strangely impressive I thought…you haven’t given that housing a fair hearing.
    I find the arangement of small windows pleasing, -it follows through on an intention to ‘bulwark’ a building from an impending motorway. The motorway never happened so the ‘front facade as citadel’ has to follow through in a different context…but the rear does open up to larger windows and balconies, all exploiting a south aspect.
    That all seems correct to me.
    I think the layering of the front is confused though…why soften athe brutalist approach with a bit of Art Deco?
    Worked on my daughter’s Birthday cake mind

  9. laraxwell says:

    I saw a bit of Meades tonight
    Love the hands down by the sides schoolboy pose
    I’d like to schnozzle a few beers with him

  10. meadesian says:

    Underdog, BBC4

    Lara, hmm, I like the layering at the front, think it’s playful – too angular to be art deco? Not dissimilar to the way the Barbican purports to be brutalist but is in fact peppered with ornamental touches.

    I can think of some architects who could probably learn a thing or two from your daughter’s birthday cake.

  11. MisterIks says:

    On a rugby point, I do like how Scotland are preparing for Saturday. ‘Scot’ Johnson is being nicely provocative but at the same time seems to have a good idea about picking the best team available to him – while sending them out with realistic expectations.

    If I was English I would not have THE FEAR just yet, but I would have the HANG ON A MINUTE’s as the weekend approaches.

    In a related tangent, during our search for a capable lock forward it has been drawn to the Welsh selectors attention that Talbot Shilling,the man who maintains the streetlights in Merthyr using only a stool and an insulated glove is actually free at the weekend because his salsa class has been cancelled. A statement is expected soon…

  12. meadesian says:

    Sorry, I’m mixing up my decos and nouveaus.

    @Lara again, Meades has a very distinct and direct presentational style which I like. He was followed on BBC4 by some dreadful enthusiast, flapping about and gurning wildly about medieval illuminated manuscripts. Heaven preserve us.

    I’d love to schnozzle a few beers with him too. Next BTL gathering, we should invite him. Or better still, hold it somewhere near his gaffe – L’Unité d’Habitation.

  13. avsfan says:

    Just watched one of those Meades videos. Classic. I’ll have to watch more. That man could take a tangent and run with it.

  14. avsfan says:

    There are similarities between Saturday and the most recent test match at Twickers. One team expected to sweep all before it, the other expected to lie back and think of, well, England, while they receive a good rogering.

    Despite my promise not to let my heart rule my head with my picks, I might let my heart rule my head with my picks.

  15. Underdog says:

    I’m pretty sure Scotland are heavy favourites. Let’s all stop pretending otherwise, it’s nonsense.

  16. laraxwell says:

    Almost stayed a couple of nights there (at L’Unite) in 1996..We aborted and went to see Corb’s Chapel at Ronchamp, stayed in a 1 star hotel at the foot and went back up to the chapel again next day.
    But Marseille is on the bucket list
    Is Meades in permanent residence there?

  17. laraxwell says:

    Bookies have England 16 point favourites.
    One year ago I couldn’t separate these sides
    Scotland just need a break
    England just need to go back to being shit
    and all will be well with the world again

  18. laraxwell says:

    I’m doing an Ireland and Ravens double this weekend
    Am I wrong?
    what they be saying Stateside?

  19. laraxwell says:

    I wonder will people be left talking to themselves over a pint on the 16th
    Pint = man’s best friend

  20. meadesian says:

    As I understand it Lara, yes. Moved in a couple of years ago I think.

    We need a northern/abroad BTL meet-up so you and I can talk architecture.

  21. laraxwell says:

    yes we could talk about my box
    nothing as simple as the humble box

    Bet you’re going for Ravens Meades?

  22. laraxwell says:

    anyhow..off to bed now
    night Meades
    night all

  23. david_puddy says:

    Seems like there’s been an outbreak of “La Tourette’s Syndrome”…..

    *Exits stage left*

  24. avsfan says:

    I haven’t been paying much attention to who the pundits are picking for the SB. I think both teams are pretty evenly matched. I’m going for San Fran – wife’s alma mater, plus I can’t stand Ray Lewis. Amazing player on the field, jerk off it, and like OJ, got away with murder, apparently.

  25. meadesian says:

    49ers for me. The romantic in me is mainly responsible for that pick, although I do think they’re the more potent side.

    That said, if their secondary plays like they did in the 1st half of the championship game, I think the Ravens will be beyond catching.

  26. Karl1976 says:

    Ticht, UDL

    can’t stand people like that. In a recent job, a colleague’s grandma died, and he had to take a day off to help his mum. Our boss cornered me, and moaned about how it had ruined his day, and stuff like that made his job harder. Tool.

    Therein lies the difference I think, it’s put one person out, and one person who has actual knowledge or once-removed knowledge of the person dealing with the bereavement. That manager is a tool.

    Contrast when someone puts themselves under a train. It’s someone you don’t know, and in your head you know you should be thinking ‘there but for the grace of god go I that circumstance or disposition doesn’t lead me to do that’. But when you get to the station and all you see is thousands of people milling about and running for the first train that comes up on the board and you are travelling home as everyone is squashed in like sardines because half or all the line is closed off and being cleaned up, the well of human empathy might run a little dry.

  27. Underdog says:

    Just watching a bit of Meades before bed – ‘utopians are eternal Miss World contestants’ was particularly fantastic.

    SB shaping up to be a good one this year; Ravens will edge it IMO. Unfortunately I have an extremely early start on monday morning, and won’t be able to watch it. Boo.

  28. Underdog says:

    Karl – perhaps, but whilst the well of human sympathy running entirely dry is one thing, loudly whingeing about such a minor inconvenience in public is quite another, and worthy of scorn in my book. Those moaners could quite as easily have kept it to themselves, or vented with a traditional British tut.

    Besides, Ticht didn’t say that someone put themselves under a train, he said someone was hit by one.

    Rewatched that bit of Meades that I mentioned above; he goes on to describe conscientious objection as a ‘head in sand form of cowardice.’ Not sure I agree with that – I think I’d have objected to being a WWI conscript on the grounds that I wouldn’t want to snuff it crawling through the mud of a Belgian riverbank because of some old posh git’s 60 year old signature. JM does have a brilliant delivery though, and I’ll be on the lookout for more by him.

  29. canaryatthewharf says:

    Ticht, UDL & co.

    I have some sympathy for the moaning commuters. The incident was not their fault and it’s a bugger being subject to long delays on the way home. And there is a natural feeling that IF it was suicide then the person has been inconsiderate and if not, well carelessness is generally the cause. One should feel sympathy for the victim and their family in the second case but it’s muted by probably not knowing them. And being tired, annoyed and maybe hungry.

    I was on a train a few years ago passing through Harlow (as it happened) when the brakes came on very hard and there was a thump underneath the carriage. Train had gone over two people, who’d fallen from the platform. I’m not sure now what the inquest said was the cause. Train stopped between the two stations in Harlow, became a crime scene and we were stuck for over 3 hours. Then the line was closed for clean up and had to get buses onward. Never did get into work that day.

    So I guess it’s easy to criticise how people react to these incidents but not fun if you’re caught up in them. Worse for the emergency services and bystanders though, a friend of ours was on the scene when 2 teenage girls were hit by a train as they dashed across a level crossing thinking the warning lights were for a train that had pulled into the station. He was quite shaken by the mess.

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