Back in the Village

Yes I know - this title is a song by Iron Maiden. So what? I like them, but thatís another story entirely. I want to tell you about coincidences. In my life.

The most recent happened yesterday. The woman who had been living in my room before I moved in came by for a visit. I had never seen her before. Sheís the same age as I am. And she likes the neighbourís cat. Has got six herself at home, she said. Catís called Felix. Nice coincidence - Iíve got one by that name as well. But, you know, never even trust a cat. You canít be sure what theyíre up to.

But she knows. That woman.
And really got me with that.
I was talking about my journey to the Village last weekend and she said, "I know about the Village. Iíve been there.
I shut up. And I nearly dropped my mug full of Darjeeling (wouldíve been a pity as we got carpet on the kitchen floor).
Was it just a coincidence that I got this room?

Maybe not. I got a number, only last week. I had to apply for one, of all things. Everyone here has got one. And they make a big fuss about it, questioning me, my motives and my way of coming to this place.

The second day here in Swansea, I went walking in the park. Singleton Park, and suddenly there was this brass band playing Village tunes, and all these old geezers sitting on benches or playing chess and stuff with blooming flowers and happy smiles. And they all wished me a jolly good morning when I walked past them. But really, I donít like playing chess. Pawns and thingies.

I went running on the Beach, but I didnít get very far. It didnít take any big white things; Iím just a lousy runner and fell down right into the sand after a hundred metres. Rover would have laughed his/her/its left leg off - provided he/she/it had one, that is. There was this commercial on the telly last night, BMW - a car driving around a beach, and, to my utter amazement, loads of big white round things bouncing about. Luckily I found out it was only some big umbrellas when I watched it the second time.

Have vou seen my new umbrella? Itís blue, green, yellow and red. Real Village style. It was the only one I could get when I was in town and it started raining old women and sticks. Sorry, thatís just a saying in Welsh. There was this big black car in front of my door last morning. You get paranoid with things like that.

I keep feeling like Iím caught in an endless virtual reality rerun of The Prisoner.You donít understand? Then donít ask. A still tongue makes a happy life. Believe me.

Thereís this funny contraption at my ceiling. It doesnít really look like a smoke alarm. Maybe I should try to wave and smile at it? Can anyone see me?

Last Saturday I was working on my first project in the Egypt Centre Iím a volunteer
Do vou know the name of the Foundation that runs the Centre? Wellcome Well come
I feel like a new Arrival here

Iím going to get a lava lamp, I think. Adds to the atmosphere. And there are loads of shops in town where you can get one. Lava lamp paradise. Except when theyíre selling larva lamps, which at least one shop is doing here at the moment. Dyslexia rules. I wonder what kind of larva is swimming around in the lamp? Probably little Rover larvae.

Have you seen the Bell Tower of the Guild Hall? A nice landmark, really Pops up now and then on my daily walk to university, always when you donít expect the blooming thing. But at least it doesnít have a clock eternally set at twenty past one.

My radio produces unintelligible gibberish in the morning. Muzak for teeth brushing.

Two months ago, I had just arrived, there was this taxi driver speaking French to me. Not that I can speak French.

They even had a Village here for a few weeks. Nomadic. perhaps. Had something to do with the Rugby World Cup - though at least thatís what they said.

Last week I was standing in a bus queue, just about to enter bus no. 83. Then, suddenly, there came this man running down the street, waving his arms and shouting at me: "Number 16?!" Blimey, I almost shouted back. "No. Iím Number Six!" But he only wanted to know about the bus. Iím so lucky.

Just try the nice cafe at the end of Mumbles Pier. Itís very Village-ish. Or Gregynog Hall, the Universitvís hideout in the middle of nowhere in Wales. used for conferences and other businesses, where it is not allowed to drink alcohol, except underground in some weird basement bar, painted blood red and white and totally out of time. But at least itís not striped. Itís got a stone floor like a cobbled street and every minute you expect a rat scuttling round the corner.

I got a postcard from myself, from the Village. In Welsh. Itís a nice picture, and they surely wouldnít have needed to do anything to keep me there. It is such a beautiful place that I wanted to stay forever. Although it gets quite spooky in the dark. Strange proportions, lights, sounds, and stuff.

What have they put into my tea? You never know. Who knows if Iím really back in Abertawe? Maybe Iím still here.

Back in the Village. Be seeing you.

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