Sunday, 4 August 2013

Ystradfellte - Story Telling Sunday, My Precious

Today is Story Telling Sunday, a meme started by Sian at Fromhighinthesky. This year the connecting theme is "My Precious" and on the first Sunday of every month we all tell our story about something we have that doesn't necessarily have a monetary value but is very precious to us for some reason. When you have read my story why not pop over to Sian's Place and see what wonderful delights await you.

Ystradfellte is a tiny village in the Brecon Beacons. The only reason it is known by anyone other than the people who live there - the landlord of the pub, the Postmaster and the three men and a dog you might see in the lane - is because just up the road about a mile away there are caves, Porth-y-Rogof caves and they are, so I am reliably informed spectacular and difficult. Not being a mole or a hobbit I cannot confirm this.

Thirty-three years ago I met Mr M. I have told that tale before so I'll skip that part. We spent two months getting to know each other and by the time of my birthday, at the end of September, Mr M said he wanted to show me some of his favourite places. My children were doing other stuff - the boys with their father and my daughter off with Rangers so on the Friday afternoon we drove off in Edie, my ambulance. I had no idea where we were going.

We went to the Car park that is just above the caves and took a slow stroll down the river to the first waterfall. If ever you are in that area I highly recommend a visit to the falls they are so beautiful. We came back to Edie and drove down into the village. We went into the pub and this is where I totally fell in love with Mr M all over again. Let me describe the pub first.

The floor was huge slabs of welsh slate, the edges rounded and smoothed with years of wear. The walls were whitewashed with wooden plank panelling up to about half way - I was going to say tongue and groove but that would be far too up market. The wood was blackened by years of smokey fires and pipe smoke and where the clientel had leaned back against the walls the patina was a much lighter colour. There were two benches with high backs either side of the fire and one of these was occupied by an odd young couple. He was wearing a cowboy hat and jeans that had argued with his cowboy boots so they stopped half way below his knees. She had bib and brace overalls, a check shirt and the biggest trainers I had ever seen.  A huge fireplace dominated the wall opposite where you came in but what took your eye immediately you entered was the bar.
It was a hole in the wall. Now this wall was five feet thick. So when you went to the bar and ordered your drinks you stretched across and gave the lady your money and then she pushed the drinks as far across as she could reach. Then you stood.... I stood on tiptoe and stretched as far as I could to reach them. Wonderful!
Next to the bar were three old gentlemen. Two sitting on the bench against the wall the third on a chair facing them across their table. When we came in we had the sudden silence as everyone turned to look at us, followed by the expressions of disappointment when they realised that we were strangers and would not add information to their conversation. And what a conversation. We learned a lot when a local couple came in and were greeted happily by Cowboy and Girl. "Did you see the fire engine?"
"Yes, what happened? We didn't see any smoke"
As they got their drinks we made ourselves small and tried not to cruch our crisps to loudly so that we could listen
It seemed that during the day a prize bull belonging to a local farmer had fallen in the river and the Fire Brigade had been called to the rescue. The Gent on the chair was doing the talking with little asides from Cowboy.
Oh I should say that Cowboy and Girl were playing darts and every time he walked to the dartboard to remove his darts his cowboy boots made a loud hollow clumping sound across that wonderful slate floor. He would throw his darts, dunk, dunk, dunk. Then walk the three steps to collect them, clump, clump, clump. Then girl would throw hers, dunk, dunk, dunk, but her trainers had soft soles so she squeaked across, squeeeak, squeak, squeeeak. This was the accompaniment to the story.
The rescue equipment had been brought from Brecon but it wasn't enough because of where the bull had gone in. "They should have driven him down into the shallows" said Cowboy and that's when it happened.
A high pitched squeaky voice from the corner where the three men were sitting said "I would have shot him, skinned him and ate him by now, he'd be in my freezer!" But the mouths on the three men didn't move!
This was when we realised that what we had assumed were a pile of coats in the corner with them was really a fourth man, a tiny little man whose head only just came above the table top and when he leaned back he disappeared!
The discussion continued about the rescue truck from Merthyr having to be called too and again the conversation stopper "I would have shot him, skinned him and ate him by now, he'd be in my freezer"
Each time this tiny man spoke the rest of the bar would fall silent and wait to make sure he had finished even Cowboy and Girl paused in their game of Darts although as the evening progressed we learned that they were brother and sister and the children of the tiny man.
As new people arrived the tale would be re-told and the silence would follow after the fatal words "I would have shot him, skinned him and ate him by now, he'd be in my freezer.
We were reluctant to leave but eventually we went back to the car

park above the caves and snuggled into our sleeping bag still chuckling. The following day we went into the post office and on the shelf was this tiny souvenir mug. Mr M bought it for me and every time I look at it I can hear the boots and the darts and that voice from the corner
"I would have shot him, skinned him and ate him by now."

We went back last week and the bar has gone. The room has been opened up and made into a boring-could-be-anywhere restaurant bar. The Carpark where we slept now costs four pounds a day to park there and the post office has moved and has a tea room attached. And yet... and yet it still has that feel to it. I am sure that Cowboy and Girl are still around even though they are now in their fifties and life still goes on just the same but with the advantage of mobile phones and... oh wait, no there's no reception there at least not for our two providers so as I said life goes on


JO SOWERBY said...

that was hilarious but poor bull,
Jo xxx

Missus Wookie said...

Do love your story telling - and the acoustic accompaniment made me smile. Shame it has been 'improved' Sounded like a great place to visit.

Irene said...

So descriptive, I could smell the smoky bar. Shame it has changed but you at least have the wonderfully precious memory of that trip.

Eleanor said...

A fabulous read and a very funny story to boot, thank you for brightening my afternoon.
(I remember my first job, age 16, taking a packed lunch to eat at my desk, as did everyone, and trying to eat my crisps quietly because I was embarrassed to make a noise. It can be done, but it's not easy, as you will remember!)

Miriam said...

Brilliant! I love it. You are such a wonderful story teller. I will be saying 'I would have shot him...' sentence for the rest of the afternoon. Thank you.

Roxanne said...

As always - love your stories

Sian said...

This is so beautifully rendered that I went back and read it all over again, just for the sheer pleasure of it :) I laughed, I cried, I went on my way much cheered on a dull Monday morning. Thank you

Sinead said...

You are a fabulous storyteller! Very funny and I do some descriptive writing :) Thanks for brightening up my Monday!

Jo said...

Brilliant! I really enjoyed your story x

Lisa-Jane said...

I love how an ornament to the naked eye has so many memories attached for the people who know. Thank you for sharing your cup of love!

Jane said...

great story, sounds like a good place to visit.

Cheri said...

what a fabulous evocative story. Sounds like a page out of an old romance novel!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderfully detailed story--I especially appreciated the description of the shoe sounds as the Cowboy and the Girl retrieved their darts.

Maria Ontiveros said...

You are such a gifted storyteller! Thanks so much for bringing us all into that pub with you and causing me to chuckle.

Barbara Eads said...

I cannot even begin to try to pronounce that!! But what a perfect precious for this month---and a perfect story to go with it!

Sabrina DS said...

Great story! Thanks for sharing. Thanks for your comment on my blog. As usual, your story is so well-written, we feel like we're in it with you. xoxo from Bordeaux

Unknown said...

That bar sounds wonderful! I have been in a bar that was just a hole in the wall too. It was a magical experience but eavesdropping on conversations in country pubs is always most fun!

Becky said...

I love your stories and really enjoyed reading this onw, felt as if I was in the pub with you!

Anonymous said...

What a great story. You made me feel like I was right there. So bad that the bar has been changed.