There was a windy start to the day and then I remembered our visit to the Royal India Restaurant the evening before, it had been our thirty seventh wedding anniversary and I had taken the lady of the house out as a special treat. She had wanted to go to a fancy dress party and had suggested I wear my invisible man costume, but I couldn’t see myself wearing that, so we went out for an Indian instead. We had a wonderful time, the food was quite exquisite, but we had made the mistake of having a starter and neither of us could finish our main course. During the course of the meal, we had both made schoolboy errors, the lady of the house had dribbled quite a large amount of her starter onto the crisp white cloths and had to lean forward to disguise it every time the waiter attended us. I kept thinking she was looking for a sly anniversary kiss, but each time she did it, my advances were thwarted by a quick ‘Sit down Fatboy, behave yourself!’ from the great lady, who has endured thirty seven years of awful jokes and an overweight spouse. She has put up with so much…poor soul! My mistake was to eat one of the whole green chilies that were decorating my chicken kalapuri. Very bad move! It was like eating a box of England’s Glory all alight at the same time. I smiled as I reflected on a pleasant evening and hoped the wind would die down soon!
Anyway I got up and looked out of the window and saw blue sky. St Fagan’s it is then I told myself! Alfie had not slept with us overnight so I settled back into bed, waiting for his mum’s car to drive up Chapel Close. When I heard it, I nudged the snoring Sleeping Beauty beside me and she obediently ran downstairs to meet our little man. Once upon a time, someone actually did compare me and the lady of the house to Beauty and the Beast, but I thought that was most unfair, I know she’s got an almighty growl on her, but my dear one looks nothing like the Beast! How can people even think that!
Aunt Bes was in work, so after making breakfast for the dear lady and preparing her lunch I had to bundle Alfie into the car. I quickly had time to throw in the first load of washing; life is tough sometimes, before taking my beloved into work, receiving from her my orders for the day and then drive home, desperately trying to remember all I had been told!
Upon my return I gave Alfie his breakfast and we had only a little play together before the pips on the radio heralded nine of the clock and nap time.
Having been severely reprimanded last week for his lack of sleep I was determined to redeem myself.
Alfie found it hard to settle and on one of my frequent visits to his room I smelt why! A nappy change took place between putting the first load of washing on the line and the second load into the machine. Alfie’s offering reminded me of last evening’s Lamb Korma…what is his mother feeding him? Time was ticking on so I decided to give the rest of the nap a miss and head for our first port of call. I had decided to take Alfie to visit his cousins in Barry. Of all our adventures surely the best must be visiting Mia and Millie, two beautiful little people. I felt a bit off colour and then realized that in seeing to the lady of the house and Alfie, I had not had any breakfast or even a drink. What was I to do?
Suddenly the answer was staring me in the face.
I leaned back and Alfie seemed to nod in agreement. Bliss! Alfie was still full from his Weetabix and mashed banana, so he didn’t fancy one. I thought I would buy a breakfast for Mia and Millie’s dad. He’s has a rough time lately, a little problem with the Crown Jewels. They’ve been playing up a bit and still causing more than a little discomfort… but forget cocodomol, paracetamol and antibiotics, what the boy needs is an Egg and Sausage Mcmuffin Breakfast. Fix any part of your body in no time!! I ate mine and we made our way to the exit. As we did so we were nearly run down by a pair of rough looking builders in a rough looking van. The hoots and the waves though, revealed one David Brown, a distant relative of Alfie’s with his sidekick Alfie’s Uncle Pete. Dave was tucking into a breakfast wrap and at the same time trying to negotiate his way around the car park. I gave him Alfie for a cuddle but perhaps his hands were a bit rough but I am not sure Alfie enjoyed it. We exchanged pleasantries before making our way to Afal Sur.
Mia and Millie were delighted to see us and we all had such fun playing together. Mia and Millie are so lovely and I know Mia has a big responsibility of being a big sister and big cousin but I am sure she is ready for the role!
After a while we left Barry creeping along the A4050, as some time earlier the petrol gauge in my car told me 0 miles till empty. I guessed the car was quite light now with very little petrol in it so I hoped we would make Tesco and we did…just! I paid with my plastic passport to Paradise (otherwise known as a credit card!) and we made our way to Saint Fagan’s. On the way I called into Western Cemetery, I wanted to show Alfie my grandparent’s grave. They were such lovely people. I often think of my family two or three generations down the line, I wonder what they will be like? I went to where I thought the grave was and it was not there. Either the council had moved it or I had forgotten where it was. I thought the former was unlikely. I was so sad that I could not find it. It’s been over a year since I visited it. I was sad and ashamed. I made my mind up to check at home and bring Alfie back one day soon. My grandparents lived in Cowbridge Road West and their house was quite a posh house by Ely standards – no offence meant. It was called ‘The Cedars’ and they had a television long before anybody else I knew. The also had an Anderson Shelter in the back garden, left over from the war. They used it as a coalhouse and we loved playing around it and would occasionally sneak inside and pretend it was wartime, all the while being careful not to touch the coal. It had flowers growing over the top. We loved it! The old house was sold a number of years ago and every time I drive past I remember my childhood and hope the new owners have left that little piece of history in their garden, they could make a fortune by allowing school children to visit!
As we drove down St Fagan’s Road more memories of my childhood flooded back. My dad would often drive home from my Nan’s house that way and we would shout, ‘Drive slowly dad… drive slowly dad!’ as we neared the level crossing in St Fagan’s village. We were in heaven if the gates were closed and we would rush out of the car and stand on the old level crossing gates and wait as the train hurtled by and then run back to the car before we caused a traffic jam. No seat belts or children’s seats in those days.
Alfie and I arrived at the museum, parked and made our way around this beautiful place. There were adverts around the entrance hall for the Halloween celebrations coming up shortly and I am sure one of the assistants must have thought I had come too early as she asked me to remove my mask as it was frightening the kids, only to walk away rather embarrassed when she realized I wasn’t even wearing a mask. Charming! Alfie just smiled!
We stopped at the first house and were immediately told off and informed that pushchairs were not allowed – bearing in mind the place was completely empty. When I questioned why this was so, three dreaded words came back to me… Health and Safety! Somehow I bottled up my anger and parked it outside where it caused a big obstruction and carried the little man in and we settled down by the log fire. Alfie loved it, staring into the flames.
He relaxed and was kicking his legs slowly, almost like he was waiting for a story. I thought about telling him The Great Mouse Plot from Boy. I had read the story at the ladies coffee morning two days earlier and the ladies went berserk twice, once when I pulled a fake mouse out of my pocket and waved it in their faces and again when I stopped halfway through the story as I was running out of time. I have never seen them so animated.
We chatted to the lady attendant for a bit, she loved Alfie, and then made our way around various other places. Alfie particularly loved the sheep and the Gwalia Stores but it was lunchtime. We decided to dine in the café by the front door. When we got there, I asked the young chap with a trendy little piece of facial hair, if tea came in a pot or was it a teabag in the cup? I didn’t like his answer so I chose latte; tea must be brewed properly in a teapot. What a common place! It was quite empty, so we enjoyed a leisurely lunch together. Alfie smiled at every person who sat anywhere near us.
As we prepared to leave, I watched several teachers counting their little loved ones back on to the waiting buses and just out of habit I started counting mine…ONE… that’s it, all correct! Good boy Alfie!
We then made our way home and as a special treat I took Alfie to the cemetery in St Andrews Major. I let him see the little Bethesda corner where some of my friends are buried. All of these men were good men, Trevor and Bert Davies, Paul Davies, Norman Courtney, Tom and Doris French but it wasn’t until I got to Ken Lewis’s grave and Peter Reid’s grave that I felt a little tear running down my face. We owe so much to these people, who set such a good example for us to follow and helped shape Bethesda into the place it is today. When he can understand, I want Alfie to know about these people and know how important it is to leave the world a better place than it was when we found it. He will need help and I will stand with his parents and do my best to guide him that way… and I am sure the lady of the house will play her part as best she can as well.
I drove home; Alfie was quiet in the back. When I put him in for his afternoon snooze, he fell asleep between the front door and the cot. It had been a lovely day. McD’s for breakfast, a cuddle off Uncle Dave Brown, a great play with Mia and Millie, St. Fagan’s and sitting by the log fire with the old timer and now the peace and comfort of the little piece of paradise his nan created for her grandchildren.
I listened carefully…and yes the wind had died down. The lady of the house will be so pleased!