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Wednesday 28 July 2021

We cohere and we break apart

Heavier bottles on the floor

The holiday again. 

VR said several times the most important thing was that the whole close family (minus one, for explicable reasons) would be together. And so it seemed. We arrived in three cars with an enormous – almost embarrassing – amount of drink which filled all horizontal surfaces of the utility room, see pic. Well prepared, you see.

Togetherness was symbolised by an event that first evening. The English soccer team had reached the final of the European championship and even those who disdain soccer (me in particular) felt honour-bound to watch the TV coverage. We broke the house rules (“Furniture may not be moved from room to room.”) and yelled noisily at the screen from sofas. The fact that England lost – and in a belittling way – mattered less than the sense of community.

But we were three generations with different interests. Later a split-off group visited indoor climbing walls, another went to the coast for a truncated form of surfing, out of National Service nostalgia I watched training jets take off and land at RAF Valley and discovered a decommissioned nuclear power station en route. Most times we ate together but on other occasions we fragmented.

Togetherness cannot be forced. VR read enormously, others fiddled with their mobiles. Both these activities are divisive. Occasionally, even at high noon, I crept away and lay, eyes closed, on our bed meditating on various current matters. The English tend not to be chummy by nature and holidays should offer opportunities for individual self-expression.

The unexpected gets remembered. Daniel brought a very superior game of skittles called Möllki. They played and we – the ancient grandparents – watched with interest.

Both villas were comprehensively equipped but lacked a coffee-making apparatus. We bought a cafetière and all was well in the morning. A small matter but rewarding.

Sunday 25 July 2021

Nothing about the scenery

We did nothing cultural on
holiday. Although this is clearly
a church it has been modified
for other purposes. The distant
figure in red is grandson Zach.
Climbing not aspiring.

Just back from a two-week hol in Wales. One major reason: to escape England, a country I presently loathe. A temporary state of mind, I trust.

But would Wales be sufficiently foreign? After all, it’s not unfamiliar territory. The border is a mere eight miles from my house.

Holidays can be deceptive. The best way to “discover” a country is to work there, lolling tells you very little. Luckily (if not for me) an opportunity to “work” there arose on the first day. A medical condition had recently flourished and I needed help. NHS, our health service, extends to Wales but the service is embattled thanks to Covid. I desperately needed a specific drug and knew there would be delays. I had to go private, which meant paying. More particularly, Occasional Speeder, my daughter, was able to arrange this for me online.

The prescription travelled through cyberspace; to fulfil it we drove to nearby Carmarthen to a chain pharmacy. In the car park we looked for guidance. A woman, carrying a bag typical of those containing prescription drugs, stood alone addressing the world at large. Uttering the story of her life and the way it complicated her relationship with pharmaceuticals.

Yes, she knew our pharmacy. It wasn’t far. She described the route, slightly incoherently, then walked with us, continuing to tell her life story. There were complications about our prescription and while waiting we popped out to another pharmacy for palliative measures. Car-Park Lady abruptly re-appeared there too and resumed her biography.

Here was foreignness. The Welsh speak voluntarily and at length. Car-Park Lady was typical. The proprietor of our second villa was another. Almost the exact opposite of the English. We weren’t irritated, rather we were refreshed. More follows, perhaps.