As the singinhg died down, my daughter stepped into the centre of the circle, a small paper-wrapped package in her not much bigger hands. This was her moment. She’d been wearing that self-same smirk for weeks. It was evident that this was going to be a special moment.
Not used to speeches, she just handed the package over, adding, “This is from your writing friends.”
I took it from her and felt it over, trying to guess what might be inside. This was the culmination of weeks of cryptic questions and whisperings. All eyes were on me, some belonging to faces wracked with contorsion in a hopeless bid to repress a smile. I decided to put these people out of their misery. Besides, I wanted to know myself what was inside. As the package began to shed its skin, a jersey began to appear, a red jersey, a rugby jersey, with the number 1 written on the front and back… A personalised, Welsh, rugby jersey – just for me.
I hope, dear reader, this is not an anti-climax for you. Although I couln’t blame you if it were. You see, you’re not Welsh, and you’re not a Welshman living in exile, and most of you may have nothing mote than a vague idea about what rugby is. But to me…; well I think I’ve already said enough to make my feelings clear.
I’ve worn this jersey for every Wales match since my 50th birthday. I’ve worn it to concerts I’ve sung in together with my two musician friends as we’ve sought to infuse others with the joy and enthusiasm only Celtic music can bring. On one very special occasion, I wore it as, with my son beside, we sang our way through the centre of Paris and on upto the Stade de France, our impromptu choir swelling by the minute whilst onlooking Frenchmen cheered enthusiastically. And I’ll be donning it again in just under an hour’s time as Wales seek to win their way into yhe quarter finals of the Rugby World Cup.
This is my present, a constant witness of the creativity and care of some very special friends.