Monday, December 03, 2007

the cardiff maze

I'm in Cardiff for a few days and, sick of pounding the streets of Britain's university towns looking for decent pubs, I decide that instead of hunting for hours, I will call in at the first pub I see, buy a drink, sit down, and read my book. I am prepared for it to be dank and dark, or louty and lousy. I don't mind at all. I pick a pub at random and stroll to the bar.

"Hurray", a gang of middle aged man shout, as I approach. "Hurray".

One of the men is dressed like Richard O'Brien in The Crystal Maze. He rushes forward and shakes my hand. "Welcome", he cries.

Actually, I don't know what he cries. For nearly a minute my linguistic adaptability, in the face of this heavily accented Welsh tirade, absents me entirely. My genial host babbles incoherently. Slowly, I begin to pick up the rhythm.

He turns me around and presents me to his friends, six or seven men at the bar. "Hurray", they shout. I go red, probably. "Have a drink with us", one of them, cries. I kind of shake my head in terror, trying to be polite. Rattled, I order a pint of something called Reverend James Best Bitter, smiling in a slightly insane fashion.

My hosts want to know my name. I stammer an introduction. Where are you from, they ask. Brighton, I tell them. At this point they all pretend to have never heard of Brighton, which throws me for a bit, then inform me that it's "an awful long way to have come for a bit of shopping".

"I'm here on business", I tell them, sounding like a prat. "I'm a publisher".

"Oh, a publisher", Richard O'Brien nods, pointing to his friend. "He's a publisher, too, you know".

The friend comes over, nodding, and tells me he works in a distillery.

"You're Geoff", one of them cries. "Yes, Geoff!!", the others chorus. I start to wonder where my pint is. To my immense relief, it arrives, and I retreat nervously to a table and begin to read. When the party leaves ten minutes or so later each comes past my table and shakes my hand, telling me I'm "a good lad".

I end up smiling, squirming, and wondering if I have just been heartily welcomed to Cardiff or just been royally taken the piss out of. I'm glad they've gone, and glad I met them.


Dave said...

...or you just wandered into a gay bar.


jonathan said...

oh god. That is what happened, isn't it?

Dan said...

I went on a Geography Field Trip once to the Gower Peninsula and one day we went north to Abereron I think. The locals in the pub did a similar thing to us.

As I remember they circled our table and sang Welsh songs at us. We didn't know any English ones. They enjoyed making a point about their national identity.

Those men in the bar sounded like Rugby fans. Thats how they behaive in packs.

Wheres the Industrial Zone on that Pic of the Crystal Maze? Or was that replaced by Ocean zone? Answers please!