Mrs Boylans World Famous Soup

So that was Christmas. Another year over. And before we go a step further – never mind the next part of the John Lennon song – an admission: it is not my time of year. In fact, negotiation of same becomes more difficult with every year that passes. Partly due to what was meant as a throw-away comment by an individual some years ago to the effect that “Christmas is only for kids and people with kids or grandkids”. Also, mind you, due to some deeper more personal reasons which aren’t about to be divulged here.

Against that, though, there are redeeming features. One is not a grinch by any means. There are things which not only make the festive period bearable but which, quite simply, it wouldn’t even feel the same without. Anyone who has been aware of circumstances close to home for the last couple of years will know the big deal it remains that my dear mother is still able to – and insistent upon – doing nearly all the pre-season cooking herself.

Claiming total bias, if I may, the stuffing, in particular, is beyond compare. However, the real saving grace, in terms of a highlight of this (and every) Christmas has to be the boiled turkey-bone soup. Yes, it’s exactly what it says on the pot – the carcase of the bird boiled for the best part of two days until you’re left with a truly unique and utterly delicious broth. Often with little flecks of meat therein, but if not, think nothing of it.

To a very large extent – for me at least – Christmas is about tradition. Everyone probably has their own. Here, whether it’s the soup, or the visits to particular people on the Eve or a trip to the cemetery after the Christmas dinner, they always happen. And hopefully always will.

As time has gone by, mind you, this corner has taken to (in jest) opining that the special season actually begins on the 26th – when a manic sporting schedule kicks off! There are those who would contend that things actually get going about ten days before the big occasion itself, when the World Championship of Darts commences!

Thence begins an annual debate as to whether affairs of the arrows are a sport at all or a game. Define the difference – a topic for another day. Yours truly would always side very much in the affirmative. Not only as it’s one of the more inclusive codes in terms of folk like myself – nearly anyone can have a crack at darts – but also, surely the hand-eye co-ordination that’s so paramount to matters must be regarded as a skill. One which requires considerable dedication and practice too.

Now, in some quarters, or more pointedly pertaining to particular disciplines, Sky coverage has become a very divisive topic. Again, I suspect my views on same would go against the grain, but, those opposed to the purveyors of additional coverage should realise that things are going to move in a certain direction and until that’s accepted our games remain at risk of continued player drain.

Anyway, that was a digression. Whatever about Sky coverage having a negative impact on some sports, in darts it has certainly worked the oracle. Converting me for one. So, as far as this wordsmith is concerned, Christmas did start on the 14th!

Plenty of things in life are matters of opinion. Here’s something that may be beyond reproach though – Fairytale Of New York is the greatest Christmas song of them all. Yet, even here I’d differ slightly from the accepted norm. In that Christy Moore’s cover of the iconic seasonal classic is preferred to the original version.

Mention of fairytales takes the tale back to the goings on at the Alexandra Palace in London. As has often been stated previously, even people without the foggiest notion about darts will have heard of Phil Taylor. Thus, for large parts of the most recent incarnation of the showpiece event it appeared matters were about to get the romantic conclusion that keeps sport intriguing – a Taylor victory during has last dance around the Palace!

For evidence was manifest throughout the tournament that large swathes of the guile and craft which saw him garner so much success over nigh on thirty years was there right to the end. Remember, he was only inches away from a nine-dart-finish in one of his matches. So too, of course, was 62-year-old Paul Lim, who recorded the first maximum in the competition some 26 years ago.

Evidence in other sporting arenas may, very blessedly, have, to some extent at least, disproved the following (more of that anon) but, it may, after all be the case that time and tide wait for no man or woman or beast. For, efficient and all is the most decorated darting warrior of them all undoubtedly was during a sometimes swashbuckling swansong, he eventually had to cede the limelight to the whirlwind that has been Rob Cross in recent times.

The newly crowned kingpin uses the moniker Voltage and the manner in which he has supercharged from obscurity in his chosen arena to being the standard bearer almost seems fitting. In fact, Cross’s odyssey to the top gong his craft has to offer mirrored that of a certain Mr Taylor all those years before when the man from stoke usurped and replaced Eric Bristow at the pinnacle.

Cross will have quite the journey to travel if he is to get anywhere near the heights of the aforementioned duo, but, watching his efforts thus is sure going to be enjoyable!

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