Well this season’s junior rugby matches commenced today in typical fashion – wet, windy and we couldn’t find the Budding Bod’s (?) team in amongst all the other events taking place at our local playing fields – who would have thought there were so many ways to chase a ball round a sodden field!

Needless to say we were running late and I had only had the one coffee – though thankfully clear-headed due to a lack of fixture at Ravenhill. There is a God!

We had had a long and perilous quest to get to this stage; having left the kitting-out to the day before training started, we had to embark on the ‘Search for the Elusive Gum Shield’. Never before in human endurance have so many sports shops been sought to so little effect – I was starting to feel like JRR Hartley (and I didn’t even have a Yellow Pages as a guide) – there wasn’t a gum shield to be had for love nor money!

‘Wouldn’t last year’s do?’ I pleaded, ‘just for one day, I’ll get you one on Monday morning—promise!’

‘Noooo,’ he disdainfully informed me, ‘it’s far too small and anyway the cat peed on it and it tastes funny.’

Now I don’t know what was more disturbing about this statement – the fact that the cat had relieved itself in his room (I took small comfort from this as I thought the smell was coming from his feet) or the possibility that he had tried it for size without washing it? I momentarily toyed with the idea of letting this one go, rationalising that it had obviously done him no harm, but my well suppressed maternal instinct made a rare stand and I found myself having one of those conversations that you wish you’d never started.

‘What do you mean it tasted funny? You didn’t try it without washing it, did you?’ I tentatively asked.

‘Don’t be silly, mummy.’ I was loftily informed.

‘Then how did you know it tasted funny?’

‘Well you know how Katie [the evil one who is disguising itself as his younger sister]wants to play rugby. Well, she sort of asked me if she could try my gum shield to see if it fitted and I didn’t know if the cat had peed on it or not and I didn’t want to try it and I sort of thought that…’

‘No stop there, enough. I don’t want to know.’ And with that the maternal instinct was put firmly back in her box – along with the gum shield!

P.S. A word of advice for next year! Apparently the hockey players had been in early and snaffled up all the gum shields. Far be it from me to pour scorn on another man’s sport of choice, but if you must play a girly game at least leave some kit for the real athletes.