No, this isn't a post about horticulture, or a new selection of sweets for Christmas. It's about rugby and national pride. Yes, rugby and national pride. Not normally subjects which motivate me to write, but there you go.
Let me explain. Firstly, you need to know two facts about me:
1. I live in a very male house. Apart from me and the cat, home is an all male environment. This is, of course, the result of producing two sons - a fact of which I am very proud and extremely happy and am definitely not complaining about (except when they are a bit smelly).
2. I live in a very Irish house. This is, of course, the result of moving here ten years ago, marrying an Irishman and having two children here. I'm very happy living here and the fact that I no longer live in the country of my birth doesn't usually bother me.
Except this year, it did.
2012 has been a (rarely) wonderful year to be English / British. There seemed to be an endless number of parades in London and fantastic fly pasts by The Red Arrows. The Queen's Jubilee event was quite magical (except the bit when it lashed rain for eight hours when all those boats went down the Thames) and then, of course, we moved onto the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics which, by any standards you care to measure such things by, were simply outstanding sporting events. I could go on and mention other momentous English/British events of 2012 such as The Great British Bake Off and Gary Barlow getting an OBE, but I won't. Suffice to say that I proudly displayed my red, white and blue bunting throughout it all, didn't give a hoot what the neighbours thought, and enjoyed being a 'Brit' abroad.
And now, we get to the rugby/national pride part.
You see, my boys recently starting playing rugby (I say 'playing' but what I actually mean is running around a water-logged pitch on a Saturday morning and falling over quite a lot). They've always been very active, sporty kids and have played a lot of football and gaelic football, but their current interest in rugby happens to come at a time when the autumn series of internationals are taking place. We've always watched sport and my husband tries his best to take an impartial stance when it comes to encouraging the boys to support the English team as much as the Irish team - after all, I point out, the boys are half English and half Irish...
Because, of course, the boys consider themselves to be Irish - they were born here and they live here, so that makes them Irish. It makes perfect sense when you are 5 and 7 and the issue of being 'half' something is extraordinarily tricky to grasp at such a tender age. Still, they do enjoy a bit of flag waving in support of 'Mummy's team' when England play.
So, when I was invited recently to see the new Canterbury England team kit for kids, I stalled. Would the boys want to wear it? Would people throw rotten vegetables at them if they wore it 'in public'? Would a rose be an acceptable piece of flora to display in place of a shamrock? In the end, my own national pride won out. Why the heck shouldn't they wear the England kit? Does it really matter when we're sitting in front of the TV anyway?
So, their new rugby tops arrived, my husband was surprisingly rational about it and the boys are looking forward to wearing their red roses this weekend when England play their next international. They'll definitely look the part, even if it means that their father disowns them for 80 minutes.
And just to make sure it is all balanced out, they've asked for the Ireland kit for Christmas, which may cause a problem when England and Ireland meet in the 6 nations next year and country allegiances are challenged once again. Maybe they can swap kits at half time? Maybe me and the cat will retreat to the coffee shop.
As they say .. it's complicated.
If you have any young rugby fans in the house, team kits would make excellent Christmas gifts. For loads of gift ideas for sportswear, including the England - and Ireland - team kits (!) visit www.alexandalexa.com and for the England rugby kit visit www.canterbury.com