Cummings’ goings: I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Bruise

Elton John

Elton John - Credit: Archant

When BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s Mark Cummings acquired tickets to see Elton John at the Kingsholm Stadium in Gloucester, the opportunity for a rugby pun or two was difficult to resist.

Every time I take my daughter to Kingsholm, Gloucester win. Every time I take my wife, we lose. The other day I told her I’d splashed out £120 on a pair of tickets for this year and it would be just us two going. “But you know Gloucester always lose when I come along,” she sighed. “Why spend so much when we will probably have a miserable time?”

“I doubt they’ll lose this time,” I replied with a rapier wit and a cunning smile. “We are off to see Elton John!” What a highlight to look forward to in 2015. I’ve never seen the great man in concert but those who have they tell me he gives the punters just what they want, hit after hit after hit. This is fantastic news for the club and the city ahead of the Rugby World Cup and I can’t wait to see the old man rocking the old stadium on Sunday, June 7.

There is a specific skill to acquiring tickets when they come on sale that I haven’t mastered yet. I counted on the help of the younger members of my team who were ready with multiple laptops, smartphones and tablets as the 9am ticket frenzy loomed. Suddenly they all seemed to develop extra arms and fingers as multiple keypads were caressed like a concert pianist on Red Bull. Within seconds they had landed the golden tickets and then the hard work started. In times like these I’m afraid a pun is called for, the juxtaposition of Elton’s hits and the world of rugby was far too much to resist. To save you the agony of some frankly pathetic efforts I’ve tried to hone it down to the five best offerings.

At number five we went for I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Bruise, a tribute to Elton’s 1983 classic from the Too Low for Zero album and dedicated to every player this season who is on the receiving end of a Richard Hibbard cruncher.

Steaming in at number four, the Disney-inspired Can You Feel The Shove Tonight? for all those cold wintery evening matches when you can see the steam rising from the scrum, floating up into the floodlights and slowly evaporating over the roof of Gloucester Cathedral.

Into the top three now, and at number three a simple play on words with Elton’s seventh studio album, the 1973 classic Good Try Yellow Brick Road. I think this should be dedicated to every wonderful try James Simpson Daniel scored in his spectacular, if injury prone, career.

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Just missing out on the top spot, in at number two a feel good classic that was released in 1979 but achieved much better sales when re-released in 2003, Are You Shedy For Love?

How wonderful would it be if on the night Elton actually made reference to the shed at the gig? We will send these gags off to his people and won’t hold our breath! So to the one you’ve all be waiting for, our number one Elton rugby-inspired chart topper, dedicated to every blood curdling, menacing beast who has played in the pack in the club’s 130 year history. For every lock, hooker, tight head, flanker, number eight who has put the fear of god into the opposition. Having a reputation over the years as a club possessing brutal forward power I’m sure there have been plenty of quivering hulks in the away dressing room praying Don’t Let The Scrum Go Down On Me.


Look and Learn.

Are you of the generation who devoured all the goodies and knowledge that the Look and Learn magazines delivered to our simple, hungry brains back in the day? I found some old copies from the early 60s and after a quick read I had learned all about the Grand Canyon, managed to launch a space rocket with a squeezy bottle and some baking soda, digested the family tree of the Prince of Wales, read Three Men in a Boat and made my very own bird fountain... all before my Mum called me in for tea. In the letters page I noticed a 1962 missive from Anne Hollingworth from Churchdown in Gloucestershire. She had written about her school and wanted to the world to know more about this special place.

“I attend Selwyn School near Gloucester, which was originally the old manor of Matson. One of the rooms in the school is called the King’s Room, and it is said that Charles I slept here during the Royalist siege of Gloucester. His two sons, James and Charles, were kept in one of the rooms upstairs, and to while away the time they carved notches on the window sill”

Little did Ann know that 52 years later that letter would be read out on the radio and the deep rich history she wanted to share would reach a whole new generation. Ann came on the show the next day to share her “look and learn” moment of fame and to emphasise her passion for the amazing history of the city of Gloucester. We tracked down one of the former teachers from the Selwyn School who also informed us about the local MP at the time who controlled the water supply for Gloucester. At election time he threatened to cut off everyone’s water if they didn’t vote for him!

We took a selection of these magazines to a school in Barnwood in Gloucester to see if they might spark the imagination of a new generation. Some of them were genuinely enchanted by this ancient learning technique although some did refer to the 60s as “the olden days”. Ann has challenged them to take a trip to her old school building to see the young princes’ etchings. So the circle of learning goes on half a century after the initial seeds were sown. We will make sure this happens as a tribute to a simple letter written all those years ago.


2015 musings

May Day, May Day... what a fascinating general election we have in a few months time. It’s hard to call what will happen in these confusing political times. Suffice to say I’m ready and relishing the twists and turns of the next few months and look forward to bringing you some informed, intelligent and entertaining coverage.

Watch out for the weather wardens... this year I have a bigger and better team of early morning risers who add a flourish of details to what the day will hold. Armed with thermometers and other gadgets you’ll get the latest info from Stow to Cinderford and all places in between. I’m glad one weather watcher from Elmbridge in Gloucester has all his kit in working order. Chris Witts got into a bit of a planning quandry with the size of his weather vane in his back garden. Thankfully his former flag pole has got a stay of execution and he can provide us with those all important stats. He did ask me if he should build a watch tower and I said “Well that’s your look out!”.

2015 aspirations... one of those surveys came out the other day purporting to tell us the top 50 things we all aspire to. I love to be above all this vanity and enjoy rubbishing all these fripperies that apparently mean we’ve ‘made it’. For example, in 2015 if I haven’t achieved the following I still think I’ll be able to sleep at night. I think I can survive without a hot tub, sending my kids to a fee-paying school, his and her matching bathrobes, owning a lazy Susan, flying first class, an annual ski trip or wearing a gilet. It does the soul good to sneer at this shallow middle class aspiration but as always with these lists there are a couple of items that nag away at me a little. Why? Because despite my self-important smugness there is always something on these lists I DO aspire to and I feel compelled to confess it.

Here goes - owning an orchard is in there, just below being on first name terms with the vicar. I have deliberately planted many different varieties of Gloucestershire fruit trees in my wild garden. Apples, pears, cherries and crab apples tower over the pond and the family is growing. The definition of an orchard is “the intentional planting of trees or shrubs that is maintained for food production”. Maybe there is no hope for me, could this be just the beginning of ticking off the other 49 aspirations? Maybe I need divine inspiration, now what is the name of the local vicar?


This article by Mark Cummings is from the January 2015 isse of Cotswold Life.

Mark can be heard on BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s morning show 6am-9am 104.7FM and 1413AM, Stroud 95FM and Cirencester 95.8FM