Hi, this is Gerry and this is my Diary for Friday, July 2nd, 2010. The time between the last podcast and this one seems very short. For you it's been two weeks but for me it's actually shorter. That's because I recorded my last podcast later than usual and I'm recording this one nearly a week earlier than usual. And the reason is holidays. First of all, Peter in the studio went on holiday, and now I'm going on holiday. I'm going to tell you a bit more about that in a minute. It'll be nice to go away for a few days because we have builders in our house for the next three months. After two years of thinking about it and planning it, we are now starting the work on our house to make it a bit more modern and comfortable. So I'm going to talk about us and our builders.
I notice that nearly all my podcasting colleagues are talking about the football World Cup: El Mundial, La Coupe du Monde du foot - that's another lovely French word isn't it: le foot - the Fussballweltmeisterschaft, usually known as the WM - the German language likes these abbreviations, these short forms like WM,. doesn't it? I think it's because the German words are so long. Only Emma, my Italian-speaking colleague has said nothing about it yet. And me, of course, so this time I'll join my female fellow-podcasters  and talk a little about the festival in South Africa. There's a message from Owen as well, and that's about football, too.
Both Peter, the man behind the recording desk here - my sound engineer - and I planned holidays this year for June and the beginning of July. Perhaps you remember the story of Peter's holiday last year. He wanted to take his motorbike to Switzerland but in the end he only got to Belgium and then he had to come home. This year's holiday was to the Isle of Man. This is an island in the Irish Sea between the North of England and Ireland. If the weather's very good and the sky's very clear, you can see the Isle of Man from my island. The Isle of Man is famous for a number of things. It has its own Celtic language, Manx, and they are now trying to bring it back to life. They have opened a primary school where the children speak Manx. The Isle of Man also has a special kind of cat that has no tail. It has one of the oldest parliaments in the world. And every year it has some very famous motorcycle races.
And what did Peter go there for? The language? The cats? The parliament? No, of course, it was for the racing. The races on the Isle of Man are road races: the bikes race on the narrow roads of the island. Most of the roads on the Isle of Man are like the roads here: they have stone walls on both sides, so this makes the racing very dangerous, because if a rider  makes a mistake, he hits a stone wall. Anyway, Peter had a good time there. No accidents to him this time. The only problem was he and his friend got lost in Liverpool on their way home.
I'm leaving Wales for my holiday, too. My wife and I are crossing the border to England and then we're going on to Scotland. We're going to a wedding in Glasgow. That should be fun, because the people of Glasgow are very good at organising parties. And then we're going to visit an old friend of ours in Edinburgh.
We're meeting a lot of new people these days: there's Nick, Tom, Gwyn, Evan, Dyfnallt (yes, that's a strange Welsh name), Owen (not our Owen but another one), Carwyn and so on. These are all some of the men who are working on our house. Our house was built in the 1960s and it's still more or less the same as when it was built. So it's time to make some changes. The first thing was to get a new central heating system. We needed a new gas boiler to heat the water, and then new pipes and new radiators for the whole house. Tom's the young plumber who's doing this work for us. He often comes with his dog, Seren, who sits in Tom's van while he works and watches the chickens. It's lucky for the chickens that the dog can't get out of the van. Seren's very quiet and friendly with people, but chickens look like food to her. Tom has also had help from electricians, a joiner (that's a man who works with wood) and roofers (men who build and repair the roof of a house). I say men because here it seems that all the workers are men. We haven't seen any women yet.
And this week, the builders are starting. Our house is a bungalow - that means it has no stairs. But we want to change that, so we're going to have stairs to a new upstairs bedroom and two new bathrooms. For the next three months it's going to be very busy in our house with all these builders coming and going. And we're going to have to have lots of tea and biscuits for them all. All our builders and electricians and so on are really Welsh and they all speak Welsh together, so it'll be a good chance for me to practise my Welsh with them this summer!
It's usually me on a train and my train stories that I tell you, but this time I have a story from my wife who was on a train this week. She went by train to meet some very old girlfriends of hers for the day. On the way home, the train was very quiet, but then it stopped at a station and a huge crowd of very noisy and very drunk people got in. The new people were mainly men but also some women. They were all different ages, some young, some older. My wife was sitting at a table, and three men, two young men and an older one, came and sat with her. They were quite drunk as I said and they immediately started talking to her. And they sang songs. All the group sang songs and the women got up and danced. One of the men put his arm round my wife and sang "You're sixteen, you're beautiful and you're mine".  My wife was amazed how many songs they knew. They seemed to know all the words to all these pop songs from the 1950s and the 1960s till today.
Who were these people? Well, they were from Liverpool and they were going back to Liverpool after a day out. They were all members of a football club and it was the club's day out. They were on the train for about twenty minutes and they sang all the time. Then they had to get out and change trains. "Come with us." they said to my wife. "We're going to a pub here. Come and sing!" But my wife said: "No, thank you." They all got off the train and suddenly it was quiet again. The three people left in the carriage smiled at each other and went back to their books and papers.
Drinking and singing is a traditional way of having a good time. In cities like Liverpool there are pubs and clubs where traditionally people went to drink and have a good sing-a-long, as we say. At football and rugby clubs singing's also traditionally important. That's why a lot of people are very unhappy about the World Cup in South Africa, because the sound of this World Cup is not singing but the sound of the vuvuzela. This is the plastic trumpet that people blow all through every game.
I'm recording this before the final match in the first round so I don't know if the English team will still be there when you hear this, but they have been playing so badly that the English fans probably didn't feel like singing anyway. But I miss the sound of human voices. An English writer once wrote "My idea of heaven is eating foie gras  to the sound of trumpets". But I don't think he meant the vuvuzela trumpet.
The latest bulletin from Owen the Wandering Son tells us that he, too, has been watching football in the Philippines. Hefound himself in a bar  with a whole lot of German tourists to watch the Germany-Australia game. Now, Owen likes to makes a bit of trouble sometimes - just for a laugh, he says. He, a Canadian and a Norwegian were the only non-Germans there. So Owen decides to do a chant  now and again for Australia: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie - oy, oy, oy! After the second chant, an old woman turned round - well, Owen says she was old - and said something very rude  to him in German. She didn't realise that he spoke German, of course. Owen said something, back, and after the game the old lady's husband came to apologise. Owen's main point is that he doesn't like how people get so patriotic, as he says, or nationalistic perhaps, when they watch football. Some people say, of course, that sport is better than war, and people enjoy the chance to be nationalistic in a peaceful way. But every time there's a world cup we hear all the old prejudices  and things from history about the other countries. Is this good? In football, I just think that the England players today play better for their clubs than for their country. The club teams are international with players from lots of different countries. So the national spirit doesn't seem to work as well as the club spirit. Right, that's definitely enough about football for this time.
My saying of the day is a bit of a political saying. I'm sure Owen will like it. It's from a famous English writer from the 18th century. His name was Samuel Johnson. He wrote a lot of things, but his most famous book was the first dictionary of English. He was politically conservative but he said "Patriotism is the last refuge  of the scoundrel." A scoundrel is a bad person, an immoral person. When Johnson says that patriotism is his last refuge, he means that immoral people, and he means immoral politicians, use patriotism when they don't have any other argument. They know they can get public support if they wave the national flag and say bad things about other countries. I think that's what Owen thinks.
Well, that's the end of the show. I liked the comments about neighbours after the last show. Thanks for listening and until the next time, this is Gerry saying "Take care!"
 female fellow-podcasters: women who do podcasts like me (my co-podcasters)  rider: here: somebody who rides (drives) a motorbike  a famous American pop song from 1960 (Ringo Starr had a hit with it in 1974)  foie gras: the French speciality (liver from a duck or goose)  he found himself in a bar: he was in a bar by chance  chant: here: a rhythmic way of shouting (halfway between speaking and singing)  rude: impolite, not nice  prejudices: opinions that people have without any reason (for example racial prejudice is ideas that people have about somebody of a different race before they actually meet them and get to know them)  refuge: a safe place to go or to escape to (NB a refugee is someone who's looking for a refuge)