Monday, 21 July 2008

Things I learned this week

The guitar shop in Bangor is called Bron-yr-Aur, which is also the name of a Led Zepplin song (Bron-y-Aur Stomp), although the song is misspelled. It also means "Breast of Gold" in Welsh. I have all this information reliably from my mate Lee from Rhyl, although he did contest my opinion that this means the Welsh are obsessed with breasts (he seems to think it refers to golden hills. I have my doubts).

Bangor was bombed once during the war. Only one person died. Due to the fact that no one really wanted to bomb North Wales (go figure!), the BBC moved all its operations up here for the duration of the war. I learned this from Phoebe, who is cool. She is one of the women that comes to my friend Jo's coffee morning she runs in conjunction with a charity called Contact the Elderly. I'd been meaning to go for months but never quite managed it, and now I'm so glad I finally did. The guy who died in the bomb was a taxi driver, and a friend of Phoebe's.

Jo's coffee morning runs once a month on a Sunday, and it's a great idea. Contact the Elderly pays for a taxi to get the women there, and then they hold a raffle (a pound each to get in on it) that generally covers the cost of tea and cakes for the next month's event, plus raffle prizes. The prizes this week were: two china cats*, a packet of biscuits, a packet of chocolate biscuits, a bag of potpourri, and a can of soup. All the ladies who won were thrilled to win, and quite happily carried home their cans of soup saying things like, "Wow, I usually never win anything!" It was really sweet actually. I get the impression some of them are REALLY bored, especially Phoebe, who lives five miles out of Bangor by herself, can't afford a taxi in, and spends all day watching TV. Jo and I are trying to scheme a way to either go visit (if Contact the Elderly thinks it's ethical) or get her out more. Imagine being stuck inside all day by yourself - EVERY DAY! yuck. Everyone else in the village works elsewhere (there's only about 12 houses) so she is really stuck for companionship.

I think next month I might try to convince Old John from fencing to come be a guest lecturer. He is our 78-year-old fencer, but he is also an expert in archeology and classics. I have had some fascinating conversations with him at the pub after fencing and am dying to hear him give a talk, so if he agrees to do it for free this might be an ideal opportunity. Plus the ladies would probably be interested. Plus he speaks Welsh, and as about half of them are Welsh speakers and the volunteers are all English, it might be nice for them to have someone else to converse with in Welsh.

Have to say I really admire Jo for starting this group. It seems like a really positive thing! And a great way to get a cup of tea, a biscuit and some interesting stories.

And finally, I've learned that fencing TOOK UP A BIG PART OF MY LIFE! Are you surprised? But I have to say, I feel kind of adrift without somewhere I'm supposed to be three evenings a week. And my fitness level has really shown the difference. So I've decided I need to try something else. Aonghus says there's karate and they teach beginners... as long as it's not expensive I might give it a go. Besides, Kevanne the fencing women's captain is a black belt in karate (at the age of 21, sigh) and you can really see how it helps her fencing. Couldn't hurt, anyway!

Had a post somewhere about the trip back from Canada. If I can find it I'll post it (out of order, but at the rate I post nothing is news anyway!) Think it's on my laptop. Anyway, the trip was amazing and I'm so glad I went. The houseboat was glorious, of course, and I got to see all my family and a good portion of my friends. Also (in the less fun category) got a lot of admin done: sorted out my RRSPs, did my taxes, sold Mabel. Nothing in Bangor had changed when I got back, and mom said my visit was like a dream. At least she didn't say nightmare...

My supervisor has wandered off to France for two weeks, but before she left she dumped a project in my lap. Luckily it's not mine alone (a postdoc called Madge is actually in charge of it). I should get a couple hours pay a week out of it - I hope - and Madge is a down-to-earth Scot who I immediately got on with and who seems very with it. So while the project may or may not go well, at least I get to work with someone cool! all good...

* The most hilarious moment of the coffee event was when a blind lady called Ruby won the raffle prize of the china cat. She obviously couldn't see her prize, so she was sitting there saying, "Oh, let me touch the pussy! I need to have a feel of the pussy!" while Jo and I stared at the ground so as not to catch each others' eye and burst into hysterical laughter.

No comments: