If you’ve woken up today in a strangely chipper mood despite crying yourself to sleep last night and having horrific dreams about Dylan Hartley, you are not alone. Once again, the nation has been visited in the night by the Optimism Gnome, squeezing through your catflap, climbing up your stairs, hoisting himself onto your bed and panting with excitement, whispering the Bill McLaren commentary to Gareth Edwards’ 1972 try against Scotland in your ear, and even laying out your lucky pants for the morning. The Optimism Gnome loves us, and we love him.
Some say he’s from a fairy land and passes between worlds via a bus shelter on the A48 outside Cowbridge. Some say that the Brynteg miners dug too deep and released the grateful little chap from a prison of anthracite in 1954. Some say he’s the love child of Father Christmas and Ruth Madoc. Some say the things he does to your cat on the way out can’t be helped. All we know is that the jingling bell on his hat on the eve of every international results in a nation waking up on match-day wanting to strip to its birthday suit, cover itself in woad and run into the street shouting “I’ll take you all on!”
Okay, maybe we haven’t won in ages – so we’re due a win. Fair enough, we’re missing two lions from the front row – but you can’t scrum on the millennium mud anyway. Good point that ‘give it Jamie Roberts’ is the only plan – but hey, some of us remember the 90s when we didn’t even have a plan.
So this is it, boys and girls – Six Nations time again. Time to hoist the flag, set phasers to ‘baritone’, slip on your best drinking trousers and leave nothing on the training paddock! Thank you, Optimism Gnome. You’re the best!