Ahh, be assured, dear readers (yes, all 12 of you) that spring is on the way. How do I know this?
Is it the odd mild afternoon? Is it the fact that the mud has returned after a few weeks of frozen ground? Is it that the odd glimpse of a pale, though still low, sun has prompted the birds to start idly chirping in the trees instead of silently scuttling to and from the bird table in an act of pure survival?
Nope, none of these. The snowdrops are well out and the crocuses are starting, with the green shoots of the daffodils and tulips growing through well. But that isn’t the reason I know spring is coming, although seeing the flora reappearing is a sight which always makes me smile after the looooong, grey days of winter.
No, the reason I know that spring is just around the corner is because the Six Nations has started.
It seems that the Six Nations starts at just the right time – we’ve had the excitement of Christmas and New Year and then you get that really grim, grey boring stretch up to Easter when the countryside (finally) literally bursts into technicolor and new life of all descriptions bounces about.
It’s a long auld haul to that Easter springy-ness and I always think that the Six Nations breaks it up nicely into more manageable chunks.
It seems to go on for months and involves lots of telly coverage with plenty of pre and post-match banter, as well as the matches, which allows rugby fans a break from having to do those nippy but essential outside jobs in the bitter cold that they really don’t want to do – washing the car for the umpteenth time to get rid of the endless winter road mank, for example, or ‘going shopping’ up in Embra Toon, or visiting rellies/in-laws, and other unpleasant winter-time tasks.
And doesn’t that bionic grass at Murrayfield look spring-like, so lush and green? And who could be glum with all those happy, brightly-painted faces in the crowd, with the obligatory fancy-dress daffodil here, a cockerel there and those jocular stove-pipe Guinness foam hats ... and the flags of the six countries giving a bright splash of colour. An uplifting sight indeed, and light years away from the grey winter days.
Talking of grey, while many other female minds (sorry to generalise, as there are women – myself included – who haven’t read the book) are on 50 Shades of Grey, the Young Mistress has just two shades of grey on her mind ... actually, she has chosen between the brothers, and only has the one shade of Gray on her mind – Richie, to be precise.
I am not sure how well this bodes for the future, as having a penchant for very tall, blonde, handsome young chaps at the YM’s tender age of seven only spells trouble, I reckon, for her teenage years and beyond.
I am sure that Mr E’s gentle jokes about him eyeballing any of her potential boyfriends on the doorstep in years to come are not totally without some factual basis. Many a true word spoken in jest, indeed.