A Horrible Tea Tale for Sheona.
It happened when I had the heritage place in upper Carmarthenshire.
There was a strange face in the bar one night, but with a bunch of farmers , I was busy and never got to speak to him except a quick hello. He looked pretty unkempt, but then they all do if they come straight from work so thought nothing of it. When they had all gone I noticed a wallet under the table, on examination belonging to none of my regulars and assumed it belonged to the new face. I decided to return it myself as I had friends that way, or so I thought.
I drove that way the next afternoon, past the village where friends lived and up onto the moor above where the address purported to be. I drove and drove for miles and miles into the middle of bloody nowhere, I was nigh on half way to Aberystwyth. Finally there it was, no neighbours for miles, a big yard, lots of buildings no doubt with common grazing rights over square miles of the high moorland. I drove in and could see a shabby house, parked up and then noticed the door was open and their was straw on the floor. OOh er! Then realised I was face to face with a cow that was as surprised as I was coming out of the kitchen. Peered in and decided that just perhaps humans didn’t live there anymore. I was beginning to think that perhaps returning the wallet wasn’t quite such a grand idea. But at that point I saw someone across the yard, who then promptly disappeared, I followed round the corner and there was another house, a bit of an improvement on the first, but not much, just bigger. The door was firmly closed, seriously peculiar when he had seen me coming, so rapped on it smartly and a giant opened the door silently and retreated. I went in, there was this little old lady who looked more like a bunch of rags tied in the middle, with the giant standing next to her and two hobgoblins lurking behind her peeping and leaping out from behind her and then dodging behind her again. Unutterably bizarre scene. Not failing in my equanimity but wondering what the hell kind of place this was I announced myself as Tina Cwmdu as I am known in that neck of the woods.
Oooh, she was a real Welsh mam, positively bristled, a woman in her house and her with three such wonderful sons. My first thought was, this one was teetotal and hastily amended my tale to announce that the wallet had been left in my Post Office, (to which the giant’s furrowed brow cleared marginally.) Proffered the wallet, said good afternoon in Welsh and turned to go. Damn, I never made the door. She remembered her manners and asked me to stay for a cup of tea, well you can’t say no round there it would cause a blood feud for three generations or something like.
Up till then I had been transfixed by the silent giant and leaping hobgoblins and hadn’t really taken into account the surroundings. The place was absolutely filthy! The chairs in front of the range were upholstered in what looked to be grease alone, black, slick sheep grease from at least 50 years. What the floor was like originally God alone knows! What the hell I was washable! The usual big old brown teapot on the back of the range, was charged up with more tea and hot water and then the ‘piece de resistance’ A dirty cup was hauled out of the sink, swilled under the tap and refilled for me. Oh God, that cup, I can still see it today, positively green inside (like mine!) There was only one comforting thought as I sipped it genteelly from the cleanest quarter, that these guys were unlikely to have any disease except orfe as I had my doubts that they could find their way to the nearest brothel in Swansea and wouldn’t want to spend £25, as they would have to steal it from their mam first. (Welsh mams are notoriously tight fisted and tend to give their sons a tenner for an 80 hour week and think that is more than generous!)
There followed the most bizarre tea party ever with the most laboured conversation ever until in desperation I started on the sheep prices in Llanybydder. That always gets them going. The two hobgoblins were silent, one stood and the other hid behind a door. Half an hour later, one poisoned chalice and honour satisfied on all sides I rose, the hobgoblins flew to their mam’s skirts to hide and the giant saw me to my car. So nice to meet you, with total mendacity and let me get out of here whilst I still can!
When I mentioned to a few people that I had returned a wallet to that place it caused gales of laughter, I never actually revealed quite how awful it was, but it was evidently well known that the place hadn’t been cleaned since their father died 25 years before and that they were all virtually certifiably mad and the only thing that kept the lot of them out of the funny farm was their millions! Evidently the moor that I had taken to be common land was owned by them by the square mile and that there were various other farmhouses all inhabited by cows not people.
Needless to say I did not return, but to be fair, I never caught any loathsome disease from that cup either.