Hi, this is Gerry and this is my Diary for Friday, September 16th, 2011. A few of you were very kind and wrote some messages on the website about your holidays. Pierre-Alain was in Scotland, and it rained! That's not too surprising, but Scotland had a very wet summer this year. The south of England had a very dry summer, and they also had some warm weeks as well. Here in Wales, it was quite dry, but cool. We just had one hot week - and hot here means about 25 or 26 degrees, but the rest of the summer the temperature never really got higher than 18 or 19 degrees. It was the coldest summer for about 15 years, but also the driest for about six years.
Now it's autumn. We had a really big storm at the beginning of September and after that it felt like autumn. But before we forget about the summer, I promised you a story about a school sports day - a summer tradition here. After that, there's a story about a local scandal. It's a story about sandwiches. And to finish with, there's news from Owen the Wandering Son. He's back in China and he has a new girlfriend.
Don't forget the web address if you have a comment to make: www.podclub.ch. I love hearing from you.
My pub quiz question last time was very tricky and I'm surprised that anybody got the right answer, but Werner guessed right. The question was: In which sport have England just taken the top spot? And the answer was cricket - that strange game that we play over here. England is now the top side in the world. And this is the first time that they've been number one since the system of world rankings was introduced. For most of the time it was Australia that dominated, then India took over, but now this summer England played India here in a series of four games and beat them.
Sport has always been a very important part of school education in Britain. British schools usually have sports teams that play against other schools and this sort of competition is an important part of school life. Another thing that most British schools have is a school sports day. On this day they have a lot of athletics competitions: running, jumping, throwing and so on. The competition is just for the children at the school, but the parents are invited to come and watch. It's an important day in the school calendar. It's usually at the end of the summer term, just before the school holidays. The sports days in primary schools - the schools for young children - are usually more popular than in the secondary school. And the story that I want to tell you is about a school sports day in a primary school. I heard it on the radio. Two mothers were discussing school sports days. What should you do if your little boy or girl is not very good at sport, or doesn't like it? What should you do if your child really wants to win and doesn't like it if they lose? It's not always so easy for the parents at sports days.
Well, one mother told this story about her little boy at his first sports day, and about how embarrassed  she was by him. They had a special kind of race for the little ones. They had to run to one place and then - as quickly as possible - put on some special clothes (a pullover, or a hat or something) - and then run to the next place where they had to put on something else, and so on. So it was a running race but they had to wear more and more clothes as the race went on. Well, this little boy - let's call him Charlie - was very keen  to win the race. He listened carefully to the instructions - and that was important. About half the children don't listen, so when the race starts they're looking at something else and they don't realise they have to run now. Anyway, Charlie listened very carefully. The teacher started the race: On your marks! Get set! Go! Or perhaps she said, more simply: Ready! Steady! Go! And Charlie was off, running like the wind to the end of the first part of the race. At this point there was a row of big pullovers - one pullover for each child. So Charlie ran straight to his pullover and then it all went wrong. The other children quickly took the pullovers and started to put them on. But not Charlie. What did he do? Well, he ran straight to the pullover, stood beside it, and put both his arms straight up in the air, and waited. What for? Well, his mother of course. Where was she? She had to put the pullover on for him. Oh, dear! Poor little Charlie's race was over. He was very unhappy. And his mother was very embarrassed. Five years old , and little Charlie didn't know how to put on his own pullover!
Our part of the world is usually quite quiet. We don't have many political scandals or public demonstrations, but these last few weeks this has changed. I have a local scandal to tell you about. At the heart of the story is the WRVS. This is the Women's Royal Voluntary Service. The organisation was started in 1938 - before the Second World War. It was for women volunteers - that is women who offered to give their time to do work for other people. And during the war it helped people in the cities that were bombed, for example. It also provided food and drink for soldiers doing training and so on. In fact, my mother was a volunteer driver during the war for the WVS, as it was then called. It became "royal" in 1966. These days one thing that volunteers from the WRVS do is work in our hospitals. They run  the hospital cafés and shops to provide tea, coffee, sandwiches and so on for people who are visiting family members or friends in the hospital. The money they make is given  to the hospital. So these ladies - and some men - do a very good job.
However, the central managers in the WRVS these days are, of course, paid professionals. And they have new ideas about how to run things. In this case, they have decided to centralise the hospital sandwiches. Up until now, each local branch of the WRVS has ordered its sandwiches and so on from a local supplier . In our area, the sandwiches come from a sandwich bar in our village. But now the WRVS managers have decided to give a contract to one national fast-food company to make and deliver sandwiches to all the hospitals where the volunteers work. Well, our local volunteers don't like this, and there've been big protests. They don't like this new contract for two main reasons. Firstly it will mean that six people will lose their jobs in our local sandwich bar. It's very difficult to find work in our area and so every job is important. Secondly, the new sandwiches are going to be made in Leicester in the English Midlands and then transported all the way to us - that's 4 or 5 hours driving. This is not good for the environment. So why do the WRVS managers want this? The so-called Head of Service for Wales says that the WRVS can guarantee the quality of the sandwiches better in this way, so they won't have to do national inspections so often. Really? They have a sandwich inspector? What about the rest of the café and its products? Not important? Then, of course, they want to have the sandwiches branded . They want the logo, etc. of the WRVS on the sandwich packets. And they also suggest that the café can earn more money with the new sandwiches. I wonder!
Now a number of the volunteers here say that they will stop working for the WRVS. Other people say that somebody else should take responsibility for running the café. The local newspaper, local politicians - all sorts of people - are joining the protest. I'll let you know what happens.
Owen the Wandering Son is back in Beijing, in China. He's going to start a course next month to learn how to become an English teacher. But at the moment, he's rather more interested, I think, in his new girlfriend than in his course. This new girlfriend is Japanese, and she was in Xian to see the terracotta army - you've probably heard of this. A Chinese emperor died and was buried with more than 8,000 models of soldiers made of terracotta. So Owen took the train to join her but he could only get a standing place - no seat for an overnight 12-hour train journey. I think he must really be in love. He wrote us an email about the girlfriend. I'll read you a bit:
"Her head is perfectly shaped with small and surprisingly round eyes. A beautiful nose, full lips and perfect ears, she makes, in my eyes, a rather attractive woman. She ties her long black hair in the sumo style - a bun on top of her head - amazing. Her eyes are so small that when she laughs she can't see - whenever she watches a funny film she misses half of it!"
Owen said that he was sending us a photo of the girl, so we were very interested to see her, of course. But when we opened the file it was just a photo of the girl's perfect ear. You can see it on the website. Perhaps we'll see photos of other parts of her head when he writes again. But this girl is now going to study in another Chinese city and so we don't know what will happen next.
Now, after this love story, I haven't got a saying of the day, but a sort of love poem. It's called A Drinking Song and it was written by the poet WB Yeats (William Butler Yeats). It's perhaps a good poem for Owen because he likes both drinking and loving. Here it is:
Wine comes in at the mouth And love comes in at the eye; That's all we know for truth Before we grow old and die. I lift my glass to my mouth, I look at you, and I sigh .
And my pub quiz question this week? From which country did WB Yeats come from? What nationality was the poet WB Yeats?
And now it's time to go. Thanks for listening, and until the next time, take care.
 embarrassed: feeling a little ashamed, worried about what other people will think of you (Going red in the face can be a sign that you are embarrassed.)  keen: enthusiastic  NB Children start school in the UK in the year that they reach their fifth birthday  run: manage, operate  the money they make is given: they give the profit which they make  local supplier: a person or a company from the area (e.g. the same town) that provides or delivers (the sandwiches)  branded: marked with the name of the organisation. (A brand is a product or a range of products from one company that has its own name and clear identity.)  sigh: breathe out heavily making a soft sound (usually as a result of a sad emotion or tiredness)