Saturday, January 10, 2009

I'd call this post "penblwydd hapus" but she's not actually Welsh

It's a rare thing that a young man should find himself with occasion to spend any length of time in Wales. Rarer still that he should have two reasons to be there. But such was my lot last week.

I set off with most of my immediate family for the ferry to Holyhead, early on New Year's day. This was preceded by rather tame New Year's celebrations, consisting of two bottles of Duff beer (curiosity and branding pulled me in but seriously, don't bother) and a few funny chaps on the telly. We were headed for my great aunt's birthday party in north Wales. Now, I am not such a dutiful grand-nephew that I would normally attend such events, but this lady was turning 100 and they tell me you only do that once a century. There is a Chinese curse that says may you live in interesting times. My Aunty Kay has certainly done that, but I doubt she saw it as a curse. You don't need me to provide a potted history of the last 100 years, but I'll do so anyway.

Deep breath.

Scat music, the birth of Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, continued advances in the field of corduroy trousers, the liberation of St. Kitts' and Nevis from the tyranny of a pack of less than benevolent werewolves, the deflowering of Maggie Thatcher, 'text' becoming a verb, George Michael, global contrariness, monkey tennis, the rise of synonyms, Betamax, Hank Marvin, Alvin and the Chipmunks, belly-button fluff, Nebuchadnezzars of champagne, the startling progress of smut, germ warfare, Jade fucking Goody and all that she represents, a man who would have been lucky to have a house (let alone a White one) a hundred years ago about to have a go at ruling the planet.

A mixed bag, the shamelessly clich├ęd might say.

Still, I don't see any of that when I greet her later that afternoon. I see cards from the Queen and the Welsh First Minister, and a lady with a ticking mind that made her Scrabble Queen of Anywhere She Pleased until about the age of 98. Still clasping hands gently and radiating the kind of warmth that will give our polar ice caps further cause for concern. Saying, "Do come and visit again. Soon."

6 comment(s):

Lindsey said...

Auntie Kay is marvellous, isn't she? When we visited, Dad asked if she was looking forward to the big day and her reply? "I suppose so but it's all memories now." Horribly profound but I guess you get to be profound when you're a hundred.

She still talks about coming over to Ireland, apparently.

Sarah Gostrangely said...

I would love that title, Scrabble Queen of Anywhere She Pleases.

Though I'm more of a Boggle Gal.

Monkey tennis, though. Is it real?

Andrew said...

Linds - The most marvellous.
She seemed to enjoy her day a lot. A huge amount of smiling and contented humming. At one stage both she and I were asleep in our armchairs, the eldest and youngest adults in the room respectively.

Sarah - it's Jenga all the way for me. Or fake Jenga, we weren't that rich.

Monkey tennis, I think sadly not. I stole it from a line in Alan Partridge where he desperately tries to pitch every idea for a Tv show that comes into his head to an unmoved TV producer. So, in that way, it's real, cos someone mentioned it before me.

Annie said...

I bought the North Wales Weekly News today in case she's in it. I will let you know when I've read it tomorrow.

Andrew said...

Was she? I was fully expecting the place to be thronged with paparazzi but apparently there were more exciting things going on that day.

Darragh said...

What does penblwydd hapus mean? Something like happy day of birth?

Oh wait. Right.