Bitches’ Brew

In which The Author is in seasonal mood

Depending on your particular reality tunnel, it’s either Hallowe’en, or Samhain, or Nos Cyn Gaeaf, as we say in Wales. This last one is particularly interesting, as it translates as ‘the night before winter.’ It tells you a lot about the old Celtic calendar, doesn’t it? In spite of that, it’s been unexpectedly mild for the last couple of days – and dry, for the most part. In fact, today is set to be the warmest 31 October in the UK records. Go figure…
I had to go to the Jokecentre earlier (see The Return of the Circumlocution Office) as I’d managed to confuse myself after last week’s shenanigans. I was called almost immediately, and I apologised for missing yesterday’s appointment. As it turned out, it had been rescheduled again without my being notified, and I was actually due there today. Apparently they’ll be changing everyone’s schedule soon. I can’t wait.
I returned to the Library and did a bit more work on the Street Names Project. I emailed Geoff E. this week, with an idea for a title that had come to me while I was having a bath. He liked it, so I’m using it as a working title at the moment. It also gave us a convenient shorthand – BBC – to save us typing it out in full. I really like the title of Geoff’s forthcoming book, The Men Who Marched Away, but TMWMA is a bit of a mouthful to say out loud and an awkward bugger to type.
As I told you in A Little Economy, I went through the Aberdare Urban District Council 1945 housing condition survey a couple of weeks ago. It occurred to me afterwards that there might have been a similar survey undertaking by the old Mountain Ash Urban District Council. I asked Denise in Aberdare Library, but there was nothing stashed away behind the scenes. Bearing in mind that the two authorities were separate entities until 1974, I wondered whether a similar report might be stored in the library there.
At lunchtime today I jumped on the train and headed for Mountain Ash itself. My first port of call was a grid of large houses behind St Margaret’s Church. As well as a housing condition survey, I’d been hoping to find an original street nameplate attached to one of the houses there.
In Trecynon, where I live, you can still see a number of cast-iron street signs which were originally put up by the Aberdare Local Board of Health. They’re very distinctive, with an interesting shape and rather old-fashioned lettering.

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I already knew that there are still a few old signs dotted around Mountain Ash, like this one which I found on a previous exploration. I’d been hoping to find one in particular, which would be perfect for the ongoing project.

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However, in Caegarw I drew a blank. I photographed the modern RCTCBC street sign all the same, as I’ll need it later on.
I made my way back into the town centre and headed to the library. Unfortunately, I’d somehow managed to leave myself a ten-minute window before they closed for lunch (seriously!) I explained what I was looking for, and the librarian looked rather lost. She hunted through a filing cabinet for a while, pulling out old MAUDC documents which probably haven’t seen the light of day in my lifetime, but we drew another blank there. She suggested that I tried the Glamorgan Archives. I’ll probably email them first, as I don’t fancy another wasted journey.
I caught the next train up, jumped off at Cwmbach, walked as far as the ASDA roundabout, crossed the footbridge over the A4059, and headed along Gasworks Road into Aberaman. There’s a street which I had a feeling might be marked by one of the old signs. Rather to my frustration, I found a couple of the ALBH signs in the side streets, but not the one I particularly wanted. I walked the whole length of the street, so I would have found it if it was there.
On the other hand, I did pass up one photo-opportunity for reasons of taste and decency. Halfway down one block of terraced houses, I found a house which had been decorated in grand style for today. The front door and window were painted with fake blood in a scene reminiscent of The Shining. A couple of doors away, I found a leaflet which was headed, ‘See what the Blood of Christ can do for you.’ It was very tempting to photograph them together; then I realised that I’d probably offend a good many friends by posting it online, so I changed my mind.
This particular leaflet was presumably part of the religious onslaught which has been a feature of the Aberdare scene today. On my way from the library to the station, I bumped into my pal Adrian T. He told me that he’d just ‘run the gauntlet’ of a couple of young Mormons, who were accosting people outside the bike shop. When I say ‘young’, I mean really young. I think it must be a condition of the Latter-Day Saints that you qualify as an ‘Elder’ as soon as you start shaving.
Further along the street, there were a couple of women handing out copies of The Watchtower as well. I spotted a gang of them on the Gadlys yesterday, too. I suppose they must have all girded up their loins in time for today’s pagan festivities. It would probably have been quite interesting to stick around and watch the God-off between the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
And, of course, in time for tonight, the witches have emerged as well. Not only did I have a close encounter with Clare the other day, as I told you in Meanwhile, at the Bus Station. Yesterday, I was walking through town and bumped into a friend of mine with his current squeeze – Jenny. I said ‘hello’ to him, but as it was raining, we both hurried on. I only caught a glimpse of Jenny as she walked past, but she was looking fairly rough. I realised that I’d probably had a lucky escape when I deleted her last text unread, early in January 2010. I spotted Clare again earlier, hanging around on Junkie Corner with a few prime specimens of Aberdare lowlife.
So far, though, Gema has yet to turn up to complete the unholy trinity of Fucked-up Almost Ex-Girlfriends. She actually unfriended me on Facebook after I posted the photos of my day out with Rhian in London. Personally, I thought that was taking stupid arguments to the next level. Maybe I shouldn’t fuck my luck by mentioning her. To increase the chance of her making an appearance today, Rhian and I have just booked our next day out in London.
Then again, I’m probably fairly safe for the time being. Apparently the Bi-Psycho has been banned from another pub recently. It must be only a question of time before she ends up on Pubwatch, and everyone can rest easily for a while.
Just in case, though, I’ll be heading home before the fun really gets underway. I’ll be locking the door as soon as I get home, closing the curtains, and displaying my South Wales Police ‘No callers, please’ sign in the front window. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when the forces of evil – and assorted crazy female near-misses – are out and about, after all.
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