David Flatman: Dives, dogs and dodgy tunes round off an extraordinary season at Bath

View from the front row with Bath & England prop

Returning home from training used to mean walking into an immaculate bachelor pad, flicking on the flatscreen TV and watching Top Gear repeats until it was time to go out for dinner with the lads. Not any more. After a few very tough days' training at Twickenham, Olly Barkley and I hit the M4 and headed west but while our destination was mutual, the lives awaiting us were very different.

Olly spent most of the journey being unforgivably rude about the music on my "embarrassing" iPod and, predictably, wondering which local restaurant he should pay to feed him that evening.

I, however, walked in to a beaming baby daughter being held by an exhausted wife who was doing her very best to look pleased to see me. Much as I wanted to seek refuge on my sofa and flick on yet another car-repair programme, I knew I had duties to perform.

"You go to bed, darling. I can handle this little creature for a few hours," I said, unknowingly. An hour later I was knackered and suddenly the thought of endurance sessions at HQ did not seem quite so difficult. With no end in sight, I knew I needed a boost; it was time to fire up the espresso machine and get myself through it. If the SAS could survive weeks in the Sierra Leone jungle, another half an hour of child's play ought to be just that.

It was at this juncture that it all went very wrong. I heard my name being shrieked – unabbreviated – with a volume and intensity that took me back to the day my dad caught me jumping a red light on my mountain bike. As it turned out, my wife, who had decided to get up in complete silence (presumably to check I was indeed "parenting", and not just rocking the baby chair with my foot while watching TV), arrived downstairs to find our six-month-old daughter having residual organic spinach removed gently from her cheeks by our English Bull Terrier, Gus.

Part of being a rugby player is having the ability to raise one's hand and take responsibility for one's errors. This was unavoidably one of those times. Ultimately, Gus is a nice dog (if you know him, otherwise you are lunch) so all was well, but the baby was swiftly removed from daddy and whisked away to be wiped and sterilised. Note to self: failure to babysit responsibly results in extra sofa time.

No, this is not the attitude. But one thing my ensuing spell in the real doghouse did give me was time to reflect on what has been a quite wonderful season in the Guinness Premiership. Being a Bath player, I am pretending the first few months of the season did not happen. After all, it is where you finish, not how quickly you start, that is important. I will keep telling myself this, as it makes me feel better.

Along the way, plenty of memories have been made and these will, for all except the eventual title-winners, last longer in our minds than any one match ever could. Seeing the colossal Duncan Bell go down like Jürgen Klinsmann in a casual game of football before training, after someone half his size went in on him like Vinnie Jones, was hilarious. It was like seeing a hippopotamus topple on the spot. His two days in hospital having the resulting infected wound flushed out ought to have stopped our giggling, but no.

Then there was the day that our captain, Michael Claassens, got his timings wrong and left his pre-match team talk too late. "It's time, lads," called our team manager, much to Michael's shock. "Don't worry, mate," I said. "We can't understand a bloody word you say anyway."

The most embarrassing moment, sadly, involved me. On hearing the final whistle against Saracens at Vicarage Road, I strode like a stroppy child towards the referee, David Rose. Thinking I knew it all, I said something along the lines of, "Please, sir, might you explain your last decision? I only ask as it appears to have cost us the match." (Or something similarly polite.) "Flats," he said, "what are you on about? You've won the bloody thing."

An awkward realisation followed – with my eyes flicking between Mr Rose and the scoreboard – before I made for the changing rooms to formulate my apology. When I delivered it he was still laughing.

It is not the New Year, but this time of year has a similar feel. Most players will be tucking into all the carbohydrate their bodies can handle and enjoying that fabled luxury, a beer over dinner, before announcing their end-of-season resolutions. I will be fitter next year. I won't drink a drop. I will score a try before I'm 35. Or is that just me?

My resolutions are simple: steal Olly Barkley's iPod in a bid to become cool again and stop feeding the kid spinach. That or just clean her face properly. Mind you, that's what dogs are for, isn't it?

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game