In which The Author slips briefly into the 51st Century
On a very wet and thundery Thursday night, I found myself in the Lighthouse in Aberdare. I’m fairly sure I’ve mentioned this particular venue before, and I admit that I might have adopted a fairly disparaging tone. After all, I remember when it was Smugglers, a slightly ropey nightspot-cum-disco which used to be amazingly popular at the weekends.
I say ‘amazingly popular’ because during the period I’m talking about (late 1980s to mid 1990s), Smugglers was only one of several boozers in Aberdare which offered a change from the ‘Pub Of Two Halves With Darts In The Bar And Women In The Lounge’ business model which had been in place since the Industrial Revolution. It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when Aberdare was known as ‘The Las Vegas of the Valleys.’ Now you can see the tumbleweed in Cardiff Street on a Saturday night instead.
Since the place stopped being Smugglers I’ve been in there a couple of dozen times – maybe fifty times at the most. The most recent visit was on Xmas Day. I’d met up with Rowland for a drink and crossword session in The Glosters in the afternoon; from there we’d proceeded to Thereisnospoon, and gone our separate ways when that place closed. We were lucky to find two reasonably accommodating pubs open in the afternoon. Rowland headed back to his mother’s house for Xmas dinner. I was kind of in limbo. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to watch the Doctor Who Xmas special anywhere with a bar. I’d resigned myself to a quiet night in with Radio 4 Extra and a book.
While I was passing the Lighthouse, George and Angela were outside. Angela and I had only recently got back in contact, thanks to George, who’d decided he couldn’t put up with any more crap from either of us. I walked to the cashpoint, where the computer said no, but they stood me a few pints and we had a good laugh until stop tap, about 9pm. Then we all went our separate ways. Suddenly Xmas Day had turned out to be fairly decent, for the first time in years.
Last night, I found myself in the Lighthouse again. Over the weekend the idea wasn’t anywhere near the agenda. Then Joseph S. announced that he’d be there for karaoke. His cousin Rebecca, the aforementioned Goth barmaid, decided that she’d like to come along as well. They invited me to join them, mainly because they know I’ve got an interest in music, and I can at least attempt to carry a tune in a bucket. Attempt…
I texted Rebecca yesterday afternoon, and she’d cried off. Considering that we were expecting heavy snow, I didn’t blame her at all. However, Joseph had promised to be there. I roped Rhian and Steff in, and we made our way there in various levels of sobriety.
As soon as I walked in, I spotted a girl from the earliest days of this blog: Sam E. She’s the Sam who features in Skirting the Issue
, the beautiful short slim girl with black spiky hair and the extremely seductive smile. She spotted me too. She’s been living in London for years, so I haven’t seen her for ages, although we’re friends on Facebook. I think it’s fair to say that she looks amazing (as always), and is still as trim and sexy as she was when we first met in the Carpenters, some time in the mid-1980s. We gave each other a huge cwtch before she called Chris (her brother) and Kath (her mother) over to say hello.
Sam took me to one side and told me that the guys she was with – her brother’s mates, mostly – had decided that I was gay. Sam (and Chris and Kath, come to that) had tried to disabuse them of this idea. I was quite amused when a few of the guys from the old Carpenters days (who wouldn’t have given me the time of day back then) came up and shook my hand. I told them I didn’t care about what they’d thought back in the old days. There are only a few people in Aberdare whom I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire.
A little while later, Sam and I took the karaoke stage and duetted ‘Comfortably Numb’ by Pink Floyd. There was a minor hiccup when the DJ racked up the piss-poor version by The Scissor Sisters, but I pointed out the mistake and soon we were in business. I ended up singing Rick Wright’s part, because shortness of stature and a thirty-year smoking habit have taken Sam’s voice down to her very nice leather boots. We must have made a fairly decent fist of it, as she asked me to join her again in a version of the Amy Winehouse/Mark Ronson hit ‘Valerie’.
Chris is flying back to Australia this weekend, which is why the family were out last night. It was great to see him, and even better to see Sam – the girl to whom I could quite easily have given my heart back in the day. We’ve exchanged numbers, and next time I’m in London we’re going to try and meet up for a quick pint.
Meanwhile, all around us, the traditional Aberdare Thursday night shenanigans were going on. Rhian and Steff were doing their bet to snog without everyone taking offence. Michael L. (see Three Strikes
) was out (in both senses of the word) with some of his friends. Joseph, the Dancing Queen, had buggered off to Beluga by the time most of us had had a decent drink. Michael bent my ear for ages about Gema the Bi-Psycho, before broadening the discussion to Iceland in Aberdare. Apparently, most of the girls he works with decided long ago that I’m gay. Oddly enough, when Michael climbs onto his camp stool and tells them they’re wrong, that just reinforces their beliefs. It was only when we reached the topic of the Bi-Psycho that we found any common ground.
For now,I’m thinking about how amazing Sam looked last night. She always looked amazing, in fairness. We always knew she’d be a model and/or dancer when she used to glide into the Carpenters and steal everyone’s breath away. I gave her one of my business cards, because she and her husband – Larry Love of The Alabama 3 – are involved with all sorts of media people in London. I might get some work out of their network of friends.
For now, though, I got to sing my all-time favourite sing with my all-time favourite Aberdare woman, and that’s good enough for me.
I’ve promised Sam a mention in my blog this weekend, so I hope she’s not too upset by what I’ve written. Her mother has known for years how I used to feel about Sam. So has her brother. So did just about everyone else who drank in the Carpenters between the late 80s and the early 90s. I expect Sam always knew, and was too kind-hearted to hurt my feelings.
As for the rest of the gang in the pub last night – well, not for the first time I’ve had a quick glimpse of the 51st Century. Girls who like girls, boys who like boys, boys who like girls who like boys who love girls… Rhian and Steff were snogging, and I warned them to keep an eye on the rest of the people there. It might have been too much for some of them. In the meantime, Sam’s friends were snogging everyone who moved. I got a peck on the cheek. As for me, you can call me The Doctor – I never actually get involved with any of my companions, but a surprising number of people convince themselves there’s something going on.
Isn’t it ironic how the only 51st Century Boy in this little town ends up single – all the time?