Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Vol 34 Numbers    

Numbers just aren’t sticky for me.  Devoid of colour or personality, they enter my ears and dissipate immediately like birds at gunshots.  I barely know my own age.  Fortunate that, you might add.

On this exciting day, we were to be on our way to Rochdale Ravens for our first encounter with an actual all girl rugby team.  All week, the talk had been of Zara, ever the one to try something new, who had been suspended from school having been caught with a little tab of something possibly illegal, sent home eyes allegedly like coals, as high as it gets and was grounded, thoroughly, firmly and utterly GROUNDED FOR A MONTH! Ouch, with the ‘flu season on us, we were already thin on the ground.

At the Labour club car park, our mismatched troupe of high octane teens, smelling in turn of Avon so soft, Impulse body spray, Irn bru chews and damp coats, threw their various bags of kit on to the community bus as their coach did a rapid head count and turned accusingly to me.

“There’s only twelve.”

“Yep, that’s right, you said we need twelve.” I’d done a quick ring round a day or two (it might have been three) before to determine numbers for the team.

“No, THIRTEEN!” exasperated not for the first time “the maximum number of players per team on the pitch is thirteen, we’re down to twelve,” and turned to announce flatly;

“I’m sorry.  We’ve not enough, there’s no point going.  We can’t play.”

Predictably pandemonium reigned.

“No, never,” a slightly relieved - but ever so outraged voice.

“It’s not fair!” just outraged.

“Count again!” determined.

And then.

“Can’t we get Zara?” a strategist.

“No chance.” Previously slightly relieved, now slightly nervous.

“Her Dad’s said all week she’s not coming.  She’s grounded.”

A flurry of mutterings was exchanged and finally Zara’s older and younger sisters were ejected from the bus having been coached thoroughly in the art of influence by their persuasive peers and set off round the corner, shiny heads down in collusion, to confront the fully justified jailers.

The wait was tense.

Until at last the errant father jauntily appeared followed by daughters one and three, with Zara shuffling sheepishly behind, and grinned his way down the aisle adding nonchalantly “apologies folks, minor family issue.”

As the bus driver revved the protesting engine into shuddering life, the girls jubilantly began the first of many loud, headache making chants;


“Oh God,” squeaked previously-relieved, and we set off.