This post was updated on .
Recently we had a visit from my nephew Shaun and his delightful wife Jeannette. During their short stay, a memory was triggered and I told them how I, together with my children, Kathryn and Morgan, used to laugh affectionately at their mothers expense. If the three of us were becoming too boisterous, my wife, Jenny would enter the room and say in one of her sterner voices, "Stop it, you're going too far!' It was always the same message so one day I conspired with my children that the next time she uttered her sentence of warning, we three would all utter a tut sound at its end, therefore turning the word far into, FART. From that day forth, whenever we became too rumbustious, our softly spoken tut, uttered at just the right moment, would turn their mothers complaint into, "Stop it, you're going to fart," which the children found hilarious. The beauty of it was that it was years before Jenny cottoned on to what made everyone explode with laughter. What an innocent world we lived in and what a shock we had when we moved to a part of Wales where swearing was rife. This story tells of that culture shock and of a night of mayhem!
I recall explaining in my children's growing up years that there were over one million words in the English language, and I stated they could use almost all of them. However, I emphasised that half a dozen of that one million must never be used and I explained which words and why. I added that another hundred or so were potentially offensive and so I chose not to use them for I would never knowingly upset a nice person. I'm proud, that in the main, Kathryn and Morgan took that message on board. I believe it helped turn them into considerate adults with a wide vocabulary. I regret, however, that after my move to Wales I discovered some of the local townsfolk, both Welsh and English, had values that differed greatly from mine. This resulted in my co-writing with Chris Bushell, a tongue in cheek poem we called, 'The Land Of warmth and Sun.' Written on a depressingly cold and wet day this is the first verse.........
Where adults don't smoke and the rain doesn't soak,
where a drunk is a sight that is rare.
Where chivalry's strong and good manners live on,
there's a place where nobody swears.
Wales, Wales, land of warmth and sun,
??????????? ???, ?????????? ?????,
Wales, our wonderful home.
The poem goes on to describe a Wales that was exactly the opposite of the one I'd moved to. The truth was, in the town nearest to me, the lunatics had taken over the asylum. Their behaviour was obnoxious and I found that this vulgar minority could swear with immunity in the streets and the shops. They did so regardless of any lady or small child in their proximity and yet the decent majority ignored their antics or pretended they weren't happening. However, they were occurring, daily, and nothing was done to stop the downward slide. The conduct of some of the pubs client'al was beyond bad and I wanted nothing to do with these uncouth louts from across the river. So their pubs missed out on my custom and the thousands of pints my guests drank in the decades that followed. Their loss was my village's gain!
In comparison, the people of my village and it's pubs were like saints and although many of them did swear, they did so with good humour. Unlike the vitriolic back stabbing that took place in the town across the river, my village housed people who liked each other. Two of them, Danny Pugh and Denzil Williams, were friends whose arguments often made me laugh. I was in their local one evening when I heard Danny cussing and kicking the fruit machine, it had apparently, yet again, taken too much of his money. The whole pub saw him hand his wallet to Denzil, who he instructed to not return it until the pub had closed. So the wallet stayed safely in Denzil's pocket and was only withdrawn when Danny's glass needed refilling.
I watched Danny as he looked longingly at the hated fruit machine and I saw the temptation become too much for him. I witnessed him approach Denzil and demand his wallet's return and saw his anger when he was refused. Denzil reminded him of what he had said and the row that followed had me in stitches of laughter, for Danny accused his close friend of theft. Before we knew it, he was on the phone to the police and informing them that Denzil Williams was a thief. Thankfully, the police didn't respond, for I learned that the antics of this likeable, slot machine addict, were well known to the local boys in blue. So, for the rest of the evening, Danny Pugh's money remained unspent in his friends pocket, until the pub closed. I then watched Denzil hand the wallet back to the now grateful Danny. The two were friends once more!
However, friendship can be fickle, and I was to witness one more argument before the evening was over, and it happened thus. Danny, Denzil and I were the last to leave the pub and to ensure a comfortable walk home we all visited the pubs outside loo. This was a tin roofed building that had the smell of fifty years use and I held my breath at the urinal. Danny decided he needed to sit down in the room with a door and we went outside to wait. Five minutes passed and Denzil boomed, "Hurry up Pugh," in a voice that hadn't considered those living in the nearby houses. When no response came he repeated his shout and then went to investigate. "He's asleep on the bloody toilet," Denzil informed me and then I heard a dismayed cry of, "Oh my God, you dirty sod Pugh, YOU'VE SHIT EVERYWHERE!" An outraged Denzil appeared to explain in detail to me the state of the loo, I declined his invitation to go and see the mess.
Suddenly Danny was there, red faced, embarrassed and angrily shouting his innocence. He noisily declared that the mess must have been made earlier by someone else but Denzil wouldn't have it, "You're a dirty shitter Pugh," was what he kept on shouting. I attempted to calm the two friends with some success until Denzil told Danny that first thing the next morning they must both visit the landlord. "You must own up to it Pugh or he'll think it might have been me," he said, adding, "Gwynn will know it couldn't be Ken! With that declaration the argument was re-ignited and, as the volume of their shouts increased, I saw upstairs lights in many of the neighbouring houses come on as windows were opened and faces peered out. Taking each of their arms I gently propelled Danny and Denzil towards their homes. The normal ten minute walk took took at least half an hour for it was slowed down by the constant flow of "SHITTER" abuse shouted between the two erstwhile friends.
Denzil, whose age I'd put in the early forties, kept shouting at the top of his voice, "Danny Pugh's a shitter." Sixty year old Danny kept retorting with, "Oh no I'm not," in an equally loud voice. Realising this wasn't the most effective defence line when he next heard Denzil William's shout, "Danny Pugh's a shitter," he replied with, "DENZIL WILLIAMS A SHITTER." That's what's I had to endure all the way down that long road, two grown men shouting, at the top of their voices, that the other one was a "SHITTER!" I left them at Danny's turn off and as the two went their separate ways, I could still hear the constant cry of, "SHITTER," as it loudly reverberating between all the houses. It was one of the most bizarre evenings of my life! In the days that followed much was spoken about that night of mayhem but I never did found out the truth behind the Danny Pugh, 'POO,' mystery. I was pleased that the village all agreed with Denzil's statement that, "Gwynn will know it couldn't be Ken," so I was never a suspect.
You may like to know that at 7'am sharp, the morning after that alcohol fuelled evening, Danny Pugh was back at work. Did I mention he was a school bus driver? He was for over forty years and he never had a single accident!
So my friends, you may now understand the culture shock change that my children experienced in Wales when compared to the genteel innocence of their Surrey existence. I think they handled it amazingly well.
This post was updated on .
This is a story of a lost innocence and a newly discovered world. It also tells how a river divided a village from a town, and the swearers who were acceptable to me, from those who weren't!
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