Monday: Carmarthen in Colour

From the dining room table, Carmarthen, River Towy, Carmarthenshire, Wales


By the time four years of plague had finished with Carmarthen, the cemetery, which is just across the road, had increased in size by a third. Nearby houses were knocked down to make room. This little cottage and the two on either side are the only original houses left.

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Today started out with misty rain which made me wonder how smart it was going to be to visit the laundromat then walk home with newly dried clothing in my backpack. The risk-taker in me won out. Some people bungee jump; I wash my socks.

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The thing about Carmarthen folk is that they may lapse back and forth between English and Welsh three and four times during a sentence, possibly even a word. This leaves some other people on the cusp of making appointments for hearing tests when they haven’t been able to understand what on earth the waitress said to that elderly customer even though they eavesdropped with full concentration but were totally misled by hearing the words “tea” and “scones” at the beginning.

The driver of the enormous truck who took a wrong turn and ended up with his gigantic blue rig squeezed onto a cobbled pedestrian area did a magnificent job of not looking embarrassed while people stopped to look and the police officer strode away shaking his head, trying to work out whether creeping forward between banks and tearooms and women’s clothing shops and around the town statue held more promise than trying to back out again past real estate agents, tea shops and women’s clothing shops.

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I casually hand over coins to pay for lunch and for laundrette and for a woolly hat, just like a pro, exactly as if I know which coin is which. The only thing giving me away is then feebly asking the waitress/ laundress/ checkout chick to count it for me. I resist the thought but know I’m getting a preview...I remember my grandmother doing the same thing, but because of failing eyesight and powers of addition rather than unfamiliar currency. It’s amusing when we begin to understand our parents, sobering when it’s our grandparents.

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