Yesterday it rained. It was raining when I drew the curtains back in the morning. And it was still raining when I shut them again in the evening. It was, in short, a thoroughly unpleasant day. So I needed no excuse to sit in my arm-chair all afternoon watching, first, Ireland scrape to a narrow 13-11 victory over Italy, and then Scotland fight bravely against a classic running display from France before going down by 34 points to 21.
The start of the Six Nations rugby tournament is always a harbinger of Spring - although it is usually not until the later stages of the series in March that it is accompanied by sunny, or even warm, weather. But the two matches I watched yesterday were played in Rome and Paris, respectively, where the television pictures showed most clearly that the sun was shining out of a clear blue sky. But the third match, between Wales and England was played in the dark!
For reasons best known to the powers-that-be - but probably not unconnected with television sponsorship - this year's Six Nations tournament began on a Friday evening instead of a Saturday afternoon, as it always has in the past. Which meant that I couldn't watch it as my wife and I were otherwise engaged at the quarterly meeting of the Derbyshire Friendship Force. And even if we hadn't been I suspect that, after watching the final part of Michael Portillo's Great British Railway Journey through the West Highlands of Scotland we would have stayed with BBC2 right through until the end of Mastermind - if not later. So England's slightly scrappy victory over Wales by 26-18 will exist only in the form of a few highlights and the written report in the newspaper. At least the next four rounds of matches will all take place at the weekends!