WELL done, Cardiff. Despite all the moans it has got to be said that the plan to play the first Ashes Test in the Welsh capital can be considered a big success. The first day's play, for which myself and Mrs Rippers were lucky to be in attendance, was entertaining stuff and the razzamataz which accompanied it was pure theatre. Of course, the Welsh felt the need to invite their Diva classical singer Katherine Jenkins along - she seems to perform at every sporting function these days - but it is fair to say her rendition of the national anthem went down a bomb.
Unfortunately the players had to then meet various Welsh 'dignitaries' and the likelihood is they had no idea with whom they were shaking hands. All we needed was Max Boyce (who?) to recite a stupid poem and you would be forgiven for thinking it was a Wales rugby game. Why can't they get away from these cliches? I ask myself on regular occasions.
We had arranged to meet Kempy, the former WoS news editor, and her mum Sue at 9.30 but things didn't pass too smoothly at chez Rippers in the morning. First we discovered our pet moth Mozzer had died overnight (very sad), then Mrs R couldn't decide whether sandals or flipflops should be the order of the day. Having finally managed to extricate ourselves from the house we soon had to return because of a worry - unfounded in the end - that a window had been left open.
There were then various stops at banks, the fag shop and Burger King before we finally made our way to the ground. By then it was almost 10 and Kempy was ringing me regularly demanding: "Where the hell are you?"
"Blame Mrs Rippers," I said, getting a scowl for my trouble.
Despite the hiccups, we got inside the ground fairly quickly and were delighted to find we had seats behind the bowler's arm. Not only that but my old mate Benno, former deputy editor of the Western Snail, was sitting a row in front, having returned for a couple of weeks from his new home in Melbourne.
As for the cricket it was exciting stuff with England finishing the day on 337-7 with Kevin Pietersen top scoring with 69 before getting out in trademark style - trying to play an impossible shot when there was actually no need for it.
During the afternoon the Barmy Army struck up a great deal of noise, joined by a group of schoolkids who were decked out in green having been sponsored by a supermarket chain. I am sure these kids will have improved their vocabulary no end having learnt a host of interesting new words from English cricket's famous supporters - "We all sh***ed Matilda" and "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, w***, w***, w***'' were among the most favoured songs.
During the day we enjoyed a few beers and I even indulged in what was termed a speciality sausage and chips, though the only 'speciality' I noted was the £5 price tag.
Kempy, meanwhile, had to leave early to send off a picture to one of the national newspapers.
By the time we walked away at around 6.30pm we had enjoyed a sun-fuelled, fun-filled day - excellent.