Thicker than Water
“I got back to the Bridge one night I still had two shoes on but one sock missing. How the fuck does that happen. Me and Dai had been drinking in the Smiths all day, then about eight o’clock we walked back through the fields to the Bridge.
When we got there I said to Dai, “I’ve got a fucking sock missing here”. I’d had about thirty Pints of Guinness mind, but I was tidy you know. And these were boots, with laces right to the top, so I couldn’t take them off without a fuss, and no one else had taken them off. They were on my feet when I left for work early that morning, the pair of them. So where did it go? It’s a fucking mystery.
I went back the same way the following day, Dai came back with me too to see if we could find it but, there was no fucking sock there. Funny enough, though, we found the Smiths”. Prince.
A session widely known in the Valley of the Great Mountain as ‘The Sesh’ commonly involves a social gathering and copious amounts of alcohol, known also as the ‘lash’, the ‘clack’, the ‘cwrw’, or as Prince would call it the ‘Bol-Cont’ (now classified “binge drinking”), and until recent times was a compulsory requirement of social conformity. Those who are practitioners of this tradition are also dabblers in the customaries of ‘occasional drinking’, ‘social drinking’, and more often than not, the odd spot of ‘speed drinking’, and Prince it can be assured has been a master of all.
Of course, for those who raise an eyebrow to the exercise of said customaries these are events that are few and far between, to some they are simply peculiar and inconceivable. However, for Prince and a coterie akin, in a culture that shares the common understanding that drink is a need much in the same as air, here booze is like blood, thicker than water but runs farther and deeper still. Eating is cheating and beer is food, breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, and supper too. Working to live and working hard, but live to drink and drink they shall, and often all at the same time.
We were working in Llanpumsaint for a spell. We found this pub, ‘The Railway’. Oh that was it. The landlord was an alcoholic, see. Well there’s enjoyment then. Twelve till four… Dinnertime. We drove in on a dumper, we were going home in the back of a van. Prince
Anyone who likes a pint or two knows full well that money doesn’t grow on trees and a thirst for ale is an expensive one to quench, but as an old proverb would have us believe, wherever there is a will there must too be a way. Although as my father puts it, “where there’s a Will, there is a Dai”, and sometimes quite literally too. There was always money on the table for the family, but the rest of it as Prince says was “arian cwrw” (drinking money). And if there were none of that, although most in this circumstance would have to go dry, Prince however, compelled by nature would be obliged to find another way.
“We had competitions me and the boys, fuck I won many a pint on it. I only had to lift the bucket on my machine and I could track through anything. I remember one boy, from the council he was, betting that I couldn’t do anything with the machine I had. I told him, “put five pints behind the bar, and you’ll see me fucking doing it”.
The following day he was back. He’d put five pints in the ‘Lock and Fountain’ and he bet that I couldn’t track all the way across the river without losing my machine, “if you get that across the river, I’ll eat my fucking hat… In fact, I’ll put an extra five pints behind the bar on top” he said. Leave it to me and stand there, I told him.
I jumped in the cab, pulled the Bucket right back… and ploosh, I was in the river straight through and out the other side. His face hit the floor. “For fuck sake, that’s a pound I owe you now then” he said. That was a lot of money back then see. He’s the one who wanted to bet, the silly fucker. That’s ten pints… thank you very much.
He made his money back though. Every time there was a new boy on site, he would bet them all two pounds that I could track through the river and back, no one would believe it. So we had ten pints each every time. They wised up to it in the end though, but we made about twenty-thirty quid on that game mind”. Prince
Richer or poorer, the grog for an age has been shared by many at whatever cost, and few it would seem could resist its spoils. As long as the ale kept flowing its punter would keep on calling, and its here amongst the drinker the grandest tales were spawned.
However in the vast and radically changing landscape of an increasingly aware society, anything that once made everything good, is more and more considered bad, and that especially includes the odd old drink. Anyone alluding to a life of the tippler tradition, branded and labelled by a health conscious generation, might now be considered bi-products of a barbaric age; heathens of debauchery with little to offer.
But if I have witnessed a tad to know enough, it is here amongst this kind I both belong and have learned the most, or at least enough to make my way. However for those who wish to walk in their fathers shoes must pay heed, for the prerogative they seek may be burdened or flawed and riddled by foe, and might just lead to the loss of a sock before you knew it was taken from your boot.
“We had the honours of drinking with all sorts in the White Heart see, back in the seventies that road was the main road to West Wales so everyone stopped in for a pint on their way through. Plus Trevor (the owner) was well connected so it was nothing to see some of the worlds biggest names sat at the bar. I have had a drink or two on occasion with Wynford Vaughan Thomas, Richard Burton, Roger Moore, or Simon Templar as we knew him back then; I’ve even been on rounds with Mr. Harrods, Mohamed Al-Fayed who was big mates with Trevor.
We had some fun in that place I can tell you. I remember once, Dai Scotch buying a ticket to win a Car. “How much is it” he asked the boy. A pound I think it was. “Its not much of a fucking car for a pound is it” he said. But he bought one any way. Well low and behold, he only went and fucking won the thing. He scratched the card and there it was, he had won a brand new Mini Cooper.
He turned to Trevor and says, “What’s that say?” he couldn’t believe it see. “You have won a car Dai” Trevor told him. Dai just looks at him stupid. “Fuck off” he said, “Prince what’s that say?” so I told him its true, but he still didn’t believe it. Trevor was straight on the phone, to see what was what. He was there for ages, but when he came back it was true enough, he had won a car.
The first thing Trevor told me was, make sure that idiot is here Friday night at six o’clock, because some man was coming out to present the car. But where was Dai and I at half past five on Friday? We were in Carmarthen up to our fucking eyeballs. By the time we got back to the White Heart the presentation had long finished, but the Car was sat ready and waiting in the car park. Trevor was livid.
Dai protested that he was fit to drive, but Trevor was having none of it. “Come back tomorrow morning about Eleven o’clock and I’ll give you the keys then” he said. So that’s what we did, or at least that’s what we tried. The following morning on our way back to the White Heart, we did the mistake of stopping to tell my Uncle that Dai had won a car. “Well” he said, “we should have a drink to celebrate”. By the time we left my Uncles house we could hardly walk, let alone drive. So we said fuck the car, we’ll pick it up tomorrow.
Sunday morning no-fail, we were going to pick it up and drop it off, end of. No chance. By eleven o’clock we were sleeping in the fucker, up to the clack. We had Trevor knocking on the window at one point waking us up, threatening that if we weren’t out of his car-park soon he was going to start charging us rent. It was still there Monday morning… fuck the Mini”. Prince
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