Category Archives: Journeys

50 Not Out

In which The Author has a rather disappointing birthday

I expect you’ve been expecting an exciting entry centred on the Celts: Art and Identity exhibition, which I missed by two days last time I was at the British Museum. (It started on the Thursday – I was there on the Tuesday.)
This isn’t an exciting entry centred on the Celts: Art and Identity exhibition. There aren’t even any photos of this latest trip to London. What a waste of forty quid!
My schoolboy error in reading the poster should have taught me to double-check the dates of anything I’m planning to visit in the future. But I was confident that a major exhibition like that would have been in place for at least six months, or maybe longer.
I also had a milestone birthday looming, so I booked my coach ticket to London with a dual object in mind. I could take in the exhibition, and (more importantly) not be in Aberdare on the day I turned fifty.
I was dreading the prospect of walking into the pub and finding the whole place festooned with balloons and banners. There was also the ominous prospect of having to spend the day with my ‘family’ – in other words, Mother (not so bad) and my brother (definitely not good). It was easier to take the path of least resistance and get the fuck out of Dodge for the day.
It was just a good thing I didn’t pay for Rhian to come with me as well. She’s starting her new job today, and had her induction day on Friday. It’s a full-time permanent job, too. (Don’t tell everyone – they’ll all want one!)
Neither of us had slept on Thursday night, because we were too excited about the day ahead. At least I had some company on the second train out of Aberdare. It was quite cloudy when we walked to the station, but the forecast was for clear skies and sunshine later on.
I left Rhian at Cardiff Queen Street, where she was getting a connection into the suburbs, and headed into Queen Street to buy a paper. I walked as far as W. H. Smith, but they hadn’t opened. I doubled back to the bottom end and called into Sainsbury’s instead. Armed with i and the Western Mail, I walked through Dumfries Place into Park Place, and then to the coach stop opposite the Students’ Union. I like Cardiff at that time of the morning, before the traffic builds up and the crowds pour in. Not surprisingly, I was the first person at the stop. I read the paper for a while until the coach arrived, a few minutes later than scheduled.
The driver was a friendly guy named Colin, and we had a bit of a chuckle over my ticket. For reasons best known to National Express, you can’t book online a return journey which sets down at Earls Court and departs from Victoria. He said he’d have to stop at Earls Court anyway, so I was good to go. I found a seat halfway along and settled down to do the i crossword.
With Punk dispatched in twenty minutes or so, I took advantage of the 230 V outlet between the seats. I plugged in my Netbook and did some more work on a project I’ve been potching with for a while. I was so engrossed that I only knew we were passing Newport when we went through the Brynglas Tunnel. I also didn’t pay a lot of attention to the shenanigans going on at the front of the coach a little while later.
We were in Chepstow, and two people who’d booked tickets online weren’t on the driver’s manifest. Colin managed to find them room on board (although not together), and we left the little border town about twenty minutes late. I was immersed in my project again, and didn’t even notice we’d crossed the estuary and were in England.
I glanced up a few times while we were heading east. The promised sunny skies had failed to materialise. There’s not a lot to see when you’re on the motorway, unless you’re an Eddie Stobart spotter, so I was glad I had something to occupy the journey. I noticed the time passing on my screen, and at about 11.00 I looked up to see where we were. We were passing Heathrow Airport. Somehow we’d managed to claw back the twenty minutes and were back on track. I put the Netbook away and settled down to enjoy the journey into the city.
I jumped off at Earls Court, and I remarked to Colin that we’d made good time after all. He seemed quite surprised as well. We wished each other a pleasant day, and I set off on foot to Earls Court Tube station, about five minutes’ walk away. And this is where things started to go wrong.
I’d already put £5.00 on my Oyster card on Wednesday via the TfL website. The payment still needs to be ‘activated’ at your nominated station (in my case, Earls Court) by touching the card on one of the yellow readers. In theory I could have just breezed through the barrier and onto the train. In the Real World, my card didn’t want to play. I was definitely at the right station, but after a few attempts to scan it I gave up and went to the machines instead. I had to pay another fiver to top my card up, which seemed rather pointless.
I know I’ll get my original payment back when it’s not ‘activated’ within seven days, but that’s not the point. Next time I won’t bother with the time-consuming online procedure, and just do it on the day. It put me in a bit of a bad mood, though. Things were about to get worse.
I jumped on a District Line train towards Tower Hill, changed at Embankment, and headed to Goodge Street. I don’t think I’ve ever used that station before. I was surprised that, instead of escalators, it still has lifts between the booking hall and the platform level. My Oyster card was behaving itself by this stage, and I emerged onto the street only to realise that I didn’t actually know where I was. I think I walked in a circle through narrow side streets for a few moments before finding something I recognised.
The BT Tower dominates the skyline in this part of town (Fitzrovia, in case you’re wondering), and soon gave me a fix on my location. I headed across to Gower Street, walked past the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and approached the British Museum from the rear, opposite Senate House. There were posters outside advertising the current special exhibitions, and my heart sank. There was no mention of the Celts. At all.
I went inside, found my way to the atrium, and went right around it looking for any posters about the Celts. There was nothing.
I spent about forty minutes wandering around, making mental notes of things to revisit when I’m more in the mood. You’re really spoiled for choice in places like that, as Rhian discovered when we went to the V&A about eighteen months ago.
The trick is to list the things you really want to see (in my case, the Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Romano-British collections); then the things you wouldn’t mind seeing (the Sutton Hoo hoard, some of the Mediterranean stuff, parts of the Indian and Chinese collections); then the stuff which would be nice, but not vitally important (African and North American items); and then the also-rans, like eighteenth-century busts and modern ceramics.
(There doesn’t seem to be any logic to the layout, either, so you just walk from room to room with no obvious underlying pattern. Maybe that’s all part of the plan – I don’t know.)
Eventually I found the British Celtic exhibits. Actually, I found some of them. Signs on the display cases advised visitors that many of the items are currently at the National Museum of Scotland, as part of … Yes, you’ve guessed it!
I gave up and headed for Waterstones. I’d read a review in the paper about the new film adaptation of J. G. Ballard’s High-Rise, so I thought I’d pick up a copy of the book. It seemed that everyone else had had the same idea, though, as there wasn’t one to be had. I found Gavin G. Smith’s first two novels, which was a considerable improvement on Cardiff’s no-show a month or so ago. I wondered about buying the first one, and then remembered I’d have to pay p&p on the second one anyway. I didn’t bother.
I walked as far as Warren Street and caught a train to Camden Town. If Bloomsbury had been a let-down, surely Camden would be a bit more exciting.
My birthday present was obviously the anti-gift that just kept on taking.
Camden Market was already becoming a notorious tourist trap last time I was there, about five years ago.
Now it’s ten times worse.
There’s a scene in a Doctor Who episode called ‘Turn Left’, when the Doctor takes Donna to a bustling Chinese market (maybe on Earth, maybe not), and they have a great time looking around, browsing the stalls and trying the food, before the whole story turns incredibly dark and disturbing. In my mind, Camden Market should be like that. It isn’t.
Instead, it was full of foreign tourists, bearded hipsters, ‘trendy’ types, buskers, hawkers, chuggers, living bloody statues, rough sleepers, beggars, Big Issue sellers, and other assorted wankers.
The market boasts, among other things, a food stall offering ‘genuine Peruvian cuisine’. Call me cynical, but probably only one person in ten thousand in London would know ‘genuine Peruvian cuisine’ if they tasted it – and they’re the sort of gap year tossers who’ve done the Inca Trail, funded by the bank of Mum and Dad.
There were plenty of attractive women there, of course, so the day wasn’t entirely wasted. But I was getting more and more depressed as the afternoon proceeded.
I wasn’t even in the mood for taking photos, which is unusual for me. Normally I snap away happily whenever I’m in London, and then spend a couple of hours going through them the following day. But when every idiot and his mother is taking selfies on their smartphones, you wonder if there’s any point.
I walked from one end of the market to the other, and didn’t find anything especially interesting. There’s a nice little statue of Amy Winehouse in the former stables, but so many people were having their photos taken with it that I didn’t bother trying to snap it myself.
Instead, I decided to have a pint in the World’s End, on the corner opposite the Tube station, which bills itself as ‘Possibly the biggest pub in the world.’ It’s certainly huge, and seems to have grown since my last visit.
I’ve been in there a few times, but usually on a Saturday afternoon, when there are more people about. On a Friday afternoon it was relatively quiet. I wasn’t the oldest person in there, but it was a close-run thing. I paid £4.75 for a pint of lager, found a quiet table, and made a few notes about the day so far.
Picture the scene. I was sitting on my own, with a pint in front of me, in a room of complete strangers, on my fiftieth birthday. I’d failed to visit the exhibition which had been the main objective for my visit. Waterstones had let me down yet again. I’d spent a fiver on top of the fiver I’d already spent topping up my Oyster card.
I’d also (apparently) missed a phone call while I was in the museum.
There was no number logged, so it could have been anybody, but I’ve got a feeling it was Mother. I wouldn’t have picked it up anyway, the way the day was panning out.
What would I have said?
‘I’m having an absolutely shitty time, thanks for asking.’
It was marginally better than the same old scene, I suppose – but not much. At least I hadn’t had to make polite conversation with the pub bores, or listen to the Debating Society and the Ancient Mariner droning on in the library. Being out of Aberdare was a two-edged sword, though. I wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone who approached me, in fact, even if said person had been the most amazing girl ever.
We couldn’t have had much of a conversation anyway. The music on the sound system was exactly what I was talking about in ‘Static Shock‘. Underneath the World’s End is Underworld, a famous rock/Goth/alternative nightclub. I think I’m right in saying that it was the venue of the Legendary Pink Dots’ last known UK appearance, about ten years ago. It was probably the last time there was anyone there doing anything slightly different from the mainstream.
I drank my pint rather slowly and then moved on to the Camden Eye, on the opposite corner. It was a new one on me, but a board outside described it as ‘Camden’s most awesome pub.’ That sounded intriguing, at least. I decided to have a pint and see what awesomeness they had on offer.
£4.50 for a pint was a little bit more like it, but still nothing to shout about. There was a printed menu on the table, so I had a glance at it. The menu prices were certainly jaw-dropping, if not completely awesome. The barbints were quite cute, but there was nothing particularly special about the place. Plenty of people were coming and going, but nobody was ordering food. There’s a big Thereisnospoon beside the Regent’s Canal, only a couple of minutes’ walk away. Eleven quid for fish and chips in the Camden Eye can’t really compete with their national Friday offer. (I expect the service is rather quicker, though.) There are also plenty of takeaways lining the streets, in addition to the dozens of food stalls in the market. You can’t go hungry in Camden Town, that’s for sure (unless you’re one of the area’s many unfortunate rough sleepers, of course).
I decided to explore the side streets, just to look at the architecture of the surrounding area. The proposed HS2 railway route threatens to demolish many of the historic buildings, and there’s an active campaign to save Camden Lock and Camden Market from redevelopment. (There are no prizes for predicting the outcome of that particular battle, by the way.) I wandered aimlessly as far as Chalk Farm station, then headed back towards Camden and returned to the market.
On the way I passed the Hawley Arms. Ten years ago it was a trendy place, with notable regulars including Ms Winehouse herself and ex-members of Oasis. I wondered about having a pint, just to say I’d been there, but when I passed the window it seemed to be full of ordinary-looking people. It didn’t seem worth the bother.
I jumped on the 29 bus and made my way back into the city centre. On the way we passed the Hope and Anchor, which was a famous music venue in the 1980s. It’s closed, and all the windows are boarded up. According to a piece published in the Camden New Journal about eighteen months ago, it’s going to be converted into flats. It was one of many pubs I spotted which have died, or which have been turned into flats, or which simply aren’t pubs any more.
We ploughed our way through the early evening traffic, back through Bloomsbury, down Tottenham Court Road, crawled along Denmark Street (for some unknown reason), and then went stop-start down Charing Cross Road before terminating outside St Martin-in-the-Fields Church. I jumped off and realised I still had an hour before the coach left.
I didn’t fancy another pint. I couldn’t be bothered with another wasted visit to Waterstones. Instead I decided to walk to Victoria Coach Station. I knew from my previous visits that it isn’t as far as it looks on the map. I set off down Whitehall, heading for the Houses of Parliament.
There was quite a scrum of tourists at Horse Guards Parade, as always, taking photos of the immaculate soldiers on duty. There was a smaller scrum outside the gates to Downing Street, and about half a dozen armed officers were keeping a fatherly eye on them. I’d forgotten how big the gates are, to be honest. The Cenotaph is much bigger than it looks on the TV, too.
I reached Parliament Square and turned down past Westminster Abbey. I was in one of the most photographed parts of the city, but I still wasn’t in the mood to get my camera out. I made my way along Victoria Street, which is an odd mixture of government offices, large shops, and a new block of luxury ‘New York style apartments’, the cheapest of which will set you back over £3.5 million.
There’s extensive redevelopment at Victoria Station, to improve the interchange between the underground and mainline train services. It seems to have been going on for ages, so I skirted the station entirely and headed straight into Buckingham Palace Road. The first time I tried it I got slightly lost. I know the area well enough now that I can get from one side to the other without having to cut through the station concourse.
I was at the coach station just before 6.00, and for once I was able to get a seat in the waiting area. The coach doesn’t leave until 1830, but to my surprise the gates opened at about 6.10, and a driver called ‘anyone for Cardiff only’ to come through. I don’t know why they were running two departures, and I don’t really care. If it meant we didn’t have to stop at Newport on the way home, I was game.
It was Friday evening. The traffic was nose to tail until we were past the airport, and then we picked up a bit of speed. It had taken us nearly an hour to get as far as Slough. I’d been dozing during the first part of the journey, so I checked the time and realised we’d be lucky to get to Cardiff on time. It would only take a small delay on the M4 to throw us off schedule again. Even so we crossed the Severn Bridge at about the usual time and headed straight into Cardiff. Things were looking good – with any luck I’d be able to catch the 2141 train from Cardiff Central at Cathays, and be home by eleven.
My luck definitely wasn’t with me. I jumped off the coach outside the Students’ Union, ran to the station entrance, and was faced with a couple of dozen students milling aimlessly around like sheep waiting to be dipped. The Aberdare train was already there. I charged through the sheep, but it was too late. As I reached the platform the train powered up and pulled away. I pushed my way back through the wankers and made my way into Park Place.
I could have walked into town and had a pint in the Golden Cross, but it hardly seemed worth the effort. It would take about quarter of an hour to walk across town, and a further ten minutes or so to get to the station afterwards, leaving me barely half an hour for a drink. I could have called in the Central Bar, but the chances of getting served in a city centre Thereisnospoon on a Friday night (especially on a Six Nations weekend) are vanishingly small. It would have to be the Pen and Wig again.
Rowland had already warned me that it was another pub which – like the Cambrian Tap (formerly Kitty Flynn’s) – has shifted its focus to so-called ‘craft beers’. He’s a CAMRA member, and views these trendy products with justified suspicion. Hand in hand with craft beers come the inevitable bearded wankers hipsters. The Pen was full of them. There weren’t even any cute women for me to look at while I drank my pint.
I don’t know what exactly happened when the guy at the next table stood up. I just knew that suddenly the table (and a fair bit of the floor) was covered in broken glass. He might have knocked his glass over when he was putting his coat on, or he and his girlfriend might have had an argument. Whatever the story was, it took one of the barbints a few minutes to clear up the mess. I was glad I wasn’t staying.
I walked back to the station, where my friends Nick and Hilary were waiting for the train. They’d been to the Sherman Theatre to see another of Simon Callow’s one-man shows, this time about Orson Welles. It suddenly dawned on me that they’d had a far more enjoyable day than I had. I wondered why I’ve fallen off the Sherman/New Theatre mailing list. Mr Callow’s show would have been better than walking aimlessly around London and looking for somewhere interesting to have a pint.
I got home at a minute to midnight, and went straight to bed. I’ve had far better birthdays, and I’ve had one or two which almost came close to Friday’s débâcle. Better luck next time, eh?
PS I’ve just checked my Oyster card balance online. It seems that my original £5.00 was credited when I went through the barrier at Earls Court, so I’ve now got £5.15 to use next time I’m in town. Let’s hope my next trip has something worth reporting on, eh?

Go East, Young Man

In which The Author makes some new friends and a plan

As I’ve said before, I used to spend a lot of time in Bristol when I was in my twenties and early thirties. It was within easy reach of Aberdare by bus (until deregulation) and, later, by train. Even though I had to be back in Cardiff by 8.00 p.m. to catch the last train home, it still gave me plenty of time to explore the nooks and crannies of the city.
There was a thriving alternative subculture, too. The Green Leaf café at the top of Christmas Steps provided a nice relaxing space to have a vegetarian lunch and browse the magazines and books for sale. There were green groups, feminist groups, anti-nuclear groups, anarchist gatherings, gigs, talks, and all sorts of meetings and activities. (Cardiff might have had a similar scene, but if it did, I never got to hear about it.) For a while I started applying for jobs in the city centre, thinking that relocation might be a good idea. There was a bit more life than there was in Aberdare, that was for sure.
I can’t really remember why Bristol fell off my radar: maybe because the train fares kept going up; maybe because Cardiff itself was starting to offer interesting ways to spend my time. Maybe because it was starting to resemble every other city – the small record shops and bookshops were closing down, and the centre was increasingly becoming a victim of the Clone Town phenomenon (see ‘Location, Location, Location‘). Whatever the reason was, my visits gradually dwindled to nothing.
It came as a bit of a surprise a couple of weeks ago to learn of a forthcoming event via the Cardiff Anarchists Facebook page. The Bristol Radical History Group was going to host a talk entitled ‘The Spanish Anarchists of Merthyr Tydfil in the Early Twentieth Century.’ The Spanish anarchists of Merthyr Tydfil? What the actual …?
I clicked ‘Interested’ and checked out the venue details. It was the Hydra Bookshop, which I’d never heard of. I had a quick look on Google Maps and learned that it was in Old Market Street, a stone’s throw from Temple Meads station, but not a part of the city I was familiar with. I know the areas around the Broadmead shopping centre, Colston Hall, and Corn Street and St Nicholas Market, pretty well. I still don’t know why I’d never gone the other way whenever I left the station.
When I got home I dug out my old A-Z street map. It would be a ten minute walk from the station, at most. I decided that a break away from Aberdare would make up for missing out on London before Xmas. I booked my train ticket, as I related in my other blog ‘Online booking? Not worth the trouble‘ on Friday. On picking them up from the machine at Aberdare Station, I decided to check the normal fare. I’d wasted twenty minutes of my life and hadn’t saved a single penny. On the other hand, £14.90 puts a day trip to Bristol in the same price bracket as a coach trip to London, more or less.
One of the strange things about living in South Wales is that in order to get to the ‘West Country’ you actually have to go east. I set off from Aberdare just after 1000 on Saturday, got an immediate connection at Cardiff Central, and arrived in Bristol at around midday. That’s a decent day trip by anyone’s standards.
It was raining there, too, so I jumped on a bus and headed for the Broadmead. I wanted to have a look in Waterstones, and they’ve got a branch in the Galleries shopping centre. Unfortunately, their ‘range’ is just about as limited and predictable as the range in every other Waterstones these days. I left empty-handed and went for a walk through the Broadmead instead.
I said it was an old street map, didn’t I? In fact, it’s so old that it doesn’t include Cabot Circus (which is just more shops, rather like the Grand Arcade in Cardiff). However, one of my original observations about the West Country still holds true – the women there seem to be far more attractive than they are in Wales. I wandered around for a while, killing time, falling in lust occasionally, and hoping the rain would ease off before I headed out to the bookshop. (There aren’t any photos for this entry, I’m afraid. It was too wet to use the camera while I was out and about, and by the time the rain did stop it was dark.)
I made my way towards the bookshop between showers, and quickly found out how outdated my map was. (It was either that, or the city fathers had got wind that the Welsh were coming, and had removed the street signs to confuse the enemy.) I walked a fair distance before realising I was heading the wrong way. I cut across a busy road, plunged into a maze of side streets, took another wrong turn, was set on the correct course by a couple of friendly coppers, and eventually made it to Hydra with about ten minutes to spare.
I’ve often commented about what a small world it is. Even though I might not remember exactly where or how I’ve met a particular person, the chances are that I’ll bump into someone I know on my travels. Last time I was in Bristol, I met a friend from Aberdare, who was doing some market research in the Broadmead. On Saturday afternoon I opened the door of Hydra and ran straight into Darryl, a history postdoc and Plaid Cymru member from Ynysybwl who writes an interesting blog called ‘History on the Dole‘. He was standing just inside the door, holding a very large cup of tea, and seemed as surprised to see me as I was to see him. Darryl told me that he’d done quite a bit of research into the subject of the talk, so he’d come down to compare notes with the speaker. I decided to get a cup of hot chocolate and grab a seat before kick-off.
Hydra is the sort of place which first attracted me to Bristol back in the day. It’s a bookshop and coffee shop, run as a co-operative by a group of youngish politically savvy people. The shelves were subdivided into sections on Politics, Economics, Environment, Culture, and so forth. The bulletin board was full of posters and flyers for events, talks, meetings, campaigns, demos and advice lines. I don’t know how long it’s been around, but I’ll make a point of going there again next time I’m in town. The shop was already quite full, and people kept coming in behind me, so I didn’t have chance for a good look through the shelves. I took my mini-bucket of hot chocolate and settled at the end of a comfy settee to enjoy the talk.
A very pleasant chap named Roger kicked things off, explaining the background to the event. He’d been to an annual conference called ‘Unofficial Histories’, where academics and researchers can exchange ideas away from the scrutiny of university authorities. That was where he’d met the guest speaker, James Yeoman. James is doing his PhD at Sheffield University, and has a particular interest in the Spanish anarchist movement. They’d exchanged contact details, and James had been invited to give his talk as a result. After Roger’s introduction, James cranked up his laptop and unveiled the fruits of his research.
I won’t steal his thunder, as he’s obviously hoping to publish his work. Suffice it to say that it’s an aspect of semi-local history which I had no idea about. He’s been back and forth to Wales to rummage in the archives, and was in Merthyr last week, in fact. It was fascinating to see some light being shed on an overlooked episode in the political life of the South Wales coalfield.
The talk was followed by a lively and good-natured discussion, with Darryl adding a fair bit of information from his own research. I’ve got a feeling he and James will be exchanging notes in the near future. I added an observation about the political atmosphere of the Valleys in the twenty-first century, and contrasted it with the situation of a hundred years ago. That sparked off a bit of a debate with a Welsh ex-pat named Hannah and a chap named Stuart, which was nice. It was almost like being back in university, with a range of opinions and perspectives flying around.
The chap I was sitting next to turned out to be from the Forest of Dean. We chatted for a little while about the shared heritage of our neighbouring coalfields. I got up to go and spotted Tom F., one of my anarchist pals from Cardiff, standing near the back of the room. He knew Hannah, of course, and introduced me to a few more people before suggesting, ‘Pub?’ That seemed like a plan, so everyone made their way out in dribs and drabs. I wanted to have a word with Darryl, though, and by the time I got outside everyone had vanished.
Today’s Top Tip: When you’re in a large city and someone says the word ‘pub’, remember to ask which bloody pub? It’s not like being in Aberdare, where there are only three decent pubs and Thereisnospoon to choose from. There were at least five pubs on Old Market Street alone. I popped my head into each one in turn, but there was no sign of the others. Slightly dejected I headed back towards the station, where there’s a large Thereisnospoon at Temple Quay. I didn’t want a pint, but I knew I could access the wifi and send Tom a quick message to see where they’d all gone.
It turned out that they were in the Volunteer Tavern, only a short walk from the bookshop, but tucked away in a side street. I’d never have found it without consulting my trusty old map. Roger, James, and the chap from the Forest (whose name I can’t remember, alas) welcomed me into their group and we chatted for a good while about all manner of things. They’re very knowledgeable about aspects of history of which I’ve only explored the outlines. The chap from the Forest even knew about C. B. Stanton, Aberdare’s MP during the Great War. They were extraordinarily well-informed, and I felt like a bit of a dilettante, to be honest. My interest in history was almost killed off entirely in school. I’ve only recently managed to rekindle it, largely thanks to books by Simon Garfield and Prof. David Kynaston drawing on the Mass Observation archives. It was fascinating to listen to the discussion about the nature of academia in the present era, when the focus of acceptable ‘research’ seems to be getting narrower and more prescriptive.
I headed back to the station in time for a train back to Cardiff, and missed my connection by five minutes. Between Newport and Cardiff it seemed as though the driver was attempting a historical re-enactment of his own – trying to outdo Trevithick’s grindingly slow first ever train journey in 1804.
I had a quick pint in the Golden Cross before heading back to Aberdare. At Pontypridd a gang of lads in their late teens and early twenties boarded, and engaged in loosely antisocial behaviour for the next half an hour. Needless to say, the conductor didn’t emerge from his cubbyhole, so all the other passengers had to put up with their crap. As always, my return to the Valleys after an interesting day out was accompanied by a plunge in my mood. I was back in the land where nothing ever happens, except gangs of rowdy kids roaming around the streets (and pubs) of dying little towns.
I’ve offered to put some feelers out locally, to see if James can give his talk a bit closer to the centre of the Spanish anarchist action. I also had a confirmation email from the BRHG yesterday, so I’m on their mailing list for future events. All in all it was a very enjoyable and worthwhile way to spend a wet January Saturday.
Most importantly, though, it’s replanted the idea of relocating to Bristol in my mind. As I’ve said before, there’s nothing to keep me in Aberdare. As long as I have access to the Internet I can work from anywhere in the UK. If I sell my house I can clear a few debts and have a safety net while I get settled in somewhere else. I think I’ll definitely look into the situation next time I’m in Bristol – and for only fifteen quid it’s well and truly back on my radar.