Cummings’ goings: Gloucester rugby, repair cafes and more 2014 musings

Gloucester Rugby Club's Kingsholm ground

Gloucester Rugby Club's Kingsholm ground - Credit: © Thousand Word Media

BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s Mark Cummings took his daughter to the rugby, walked his dog for charity and watched some Nailsworth ‘fixers’ work their magic...

Try, try and try again

In the space of few exhilarating minutes, Nick Wood, Jonny May and Charlie Sharples all dived over the white line right in front of us. Bang, bang , bang - three explosions of utter joy and Leicester were done for.

An experience like this at Kingsholm is to be treasured and shared and this season my companion in the stands is my daughter, Ali. Her love of rugby was nurtured early, but not by me. She was squeezed into a snug red Welsh rugby shirt by her mother before the cord was cut and taken to an international in Cardiff on the way home from the hospital.

My weekend ‘dad taxi’ duties are now on the wane so this is the first season I’ve had the freedom to go to lots of games. Sharing all the dynamics of watching live sport with your child is an immense pleasure. It all starts with the car journey over and listening to the build up to the game on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. We then park at work and walk around the corner, down Alvin Street and feel a rush of adrenalin as we turn onto Kingsholm Road. From there we merge into a sea of red and white shirts which appear to accommodate every shape and size imaginable.

I’m really jealous of those fans with the simple classic vintage red and white hoops. They’ve been through thick and thin and that shirt says so much. The reason I don’t go for a beer before a game will become clear very soon. The next stage involves the dextrous challenge of buying hot dogs, securing a programme, finding the tickets, eating hot dogs, losing the tickets, trip to the club shop, finding the tickets again and finally gaining entry to the stadium.

If we are watching from the world-famous Shed for maximum enjoyment, we need the sort of timing, positional sense and execution of a Jonny May try. You need to be there an hour before kick-off, get as close to the front and as near to middle as possible, then don’t move for the next two-and-half hours. Now you know why I don’t go for a beer before the game.

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If we are treating ourselves to a seat in the stand then a more relaxed and leisurely approach is allowed. Rugby seems to shred the nerves like no other sport. For the 80 minutes of action you share a seat on a great big, thundering, emotional rollercoaster and hope to get off at the end in one piece. We stood in horror in The Shed for the first-half mauling against Sale then went crazy during the second-half recovery as Gloucester fought back to win. I was worried about some of the language my 15 year-old might be subjected to but she informed me she hears much worse at home.

The post-match debrief in the Queens or the Jockey is always a civilised and therapeutic end to the shared experience before we both drift back into our normal worlds.

The crunch came on Ali’s birthday when we were to play one of our biggest rivals. If they lost it would have ruined her big day and, to add to the stress, we had to leave the ground early as she was performing in a dance show in Cirencester. A defeat would have meant a ruined birthday and getting stuck in traffic would have meant a ruined marriage. So thank you, thank you Messieurs Wood, May, and Sharples for the perfect birthday present and for wrapping the game up so I could leave early knowing a win was in the bag.

Forgotten skills

Last month I told you about the impending visit of a very talented bunch of ‘fixers’. I was salivating at the thought of meeting a group of people who can actually mend the items most us of throw away. The Nailsworth Repair Cafe is a place you can take a meddlesome microwave, a record player that appears to have spun its last disc and a toaster that you thought wouldn’t rise to the occasion ever again. They arrived one morning at my studio to be greeted by an array of listeners’ sad and neglected gadgets and gizmos.

Over the course of the next two hours I witnessed more miracles than you could find in the Old Testament. It was as if Gloucester’s London Road had been transported to Lourdes. Hi-fi systems sprang back into life, my beard trimmer buzzed liked a trapped wasp, clocks started ticking, and I’m sure at one stage a metal detector just stood up on its own and wandered out of the building.

This fine array of talented technicians are simply people who are happy to help. They would love some new members so if you are handy then search for Nailsworth Repair Cafe and all the links will be there.

My admiration for anyone with these skills is huge because my brain just doesn’t work on this level. I have often tried to find out why. I’ve pondered the notion that I’m more artistic than practical. It has crossed my mind that I’m simply very thick, but I reckon the best explanation is down to genes. My dad once tried to fix my mum’s precious cuckoo clock. This 21st birthday present had great sentimental value and had sadly stopped chirping. Like me, he is not gifted in life’s practical tasks but bravely had a tinker. Suffice it to say he was pretty confident he had rectified the problem. As the family gathered around, the clock ticked to the top of the hour and we were greeted with the little bird popping out and proudly announcing the time with an “ooh cook” “ooh cook”. True story.

It’s a dog’s world

My dog is getting asked to more public appearances than I am. The latest was for the Gloucester-based charity Pet Savers who specialise in research into certain types of diseases common to specific breeds. They have just launched their first en masse dog walk to help raise their profile so they turned to Countess Bathhurst and my scruffy hound for help. She allowed 100 dogs and their owners onto the Bathurst Estate for an exclusive dog walk around the polo fields and other areas previously banned for dogs. There was a great turnout and hopefully it’ll become an annual event. If anyone would like to book my pooch for an event then I am now his registered agent, simply email

2014 musings...

My... how you’ve grown! - So who has had a growth spurt this year? Westonbirt Arboretum has a shiny new welcome centre and car park facility. The Walls and C&G roundabout in Gloucester have added a useful extra lane. Gloucester’s pack seem to have added a little muscle since September and after eventually getting the go ahead to broadcast on DAB, lots of new listeners have joined us on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. Select ‘Full Rescan’ on your digital radio and I’ll promise that if you make my voice the first sound you hear in the morning, I won’t let you down.

Most idiotic moment of 2014...

I saw this sign at our camp site where I’d gone for a long weekend to a beautiful spot near Lyme Regis. This was a warning about the impact hurricane Bertha was about to have on the south coast. I went to sleep in my camper van that night and really should have checked I’d shut the sun roof properly. I’m still not sure it’s dried out properly.

Most painful moment of 2014...

The sheer agony of the final leg on day one of the Tour de Gloucestershire bike ride in July. For some crazy reason the route we chose from Chipping Campden to Moreton included three vicious hills. Our final stop of the day was Chipping where we guzzled fizzy energy drinks and devouring industrial slabs of flapjack in the belief we were nearly home. That last hour still haunts me.

Scariest moment of 2014...

I felt slightly out of my comfort zone doing my first ever motivational speech! I wasn’t playing to my usual home crowd on this occasion and I had 300 people waiting to be inspired. Luckily I was talking from the heart about the city of Gloucester and I think I just about got away with it.

And so on to 2015...

Nothing much happening next year. Apart from a general election, the Rugby World Cup and according to my wife, apparently I hit 50.