Rental Car Tragedies. No Time for Tales of Such Lacking INfluence.
Life’s marvelous inconsistent way of sending mini quakes of trembling vibrations into the “PATTERNS” of what one’s day should/might/could consist of is one of the MANY mysteries, to which I have no answer.
It was November 18th, the boys and I had settled into the traveling; the singing, the vagabonding and we were getting better at it. The grey clouds, that often accompany the various towns/cities, swirled in the atmosphere and we made the drive from London-Town in a reasonable 3 and half hours, arriving safely to Cardiff, Wales. A pizza shop on the corner, a café that served “holiday haggis” around the corner, and a Tesco supermarket adjacent to it were what our eyes were given before playing that night at the early hour of 8pm. As with most shows on the tour through Europe, this one was great. Those in attendance allowed us to push and pull songs through the loudspeakers of the club, making our way through most of “From The Top Of Willamette Mountain” and dipping into other “these’s and those’s” from past and future releases. The crowd was rowdier than shows in the past, but respectful. Fiery with a strong reverence.
Grateful for them.
Grateful for it.
As the Temperance Movement boys were playing their second to last song a short, sweaty, and obviously intoxicated man approached the counter where Tom (the wonderful boy/man from York, UK, that sold merchandise for The Temperance Movement) and I were pedaling our appropriate music’s. “Give me that shirt,” the man abruptly shouted. “That’ll be fifteen quid, mate.” Tom respectfully responded. “FIFTEEN FU*&#N QUID? Who’s gonna fu&*#n’ pay fifteen quid for a T shirt?” Now, I could tell that things were getting a bit strange when the man asked to try on a shirt and removed his sweaty, well worn white T-shirt to put on the Temperance Movement one. Immediately after putting it on, he gave himself a smug look of approval and threw a bill for 10 pounds on the table, turned, and walked away. Tom did not find this amusing or acceptable. He informed the security of the club about the missing 5 quid from the purchase, which resulted in quite the tussle between the security guards and the short, smug man. He was tossed onto a small plastic table that, underneath his weight, immediately gave way and was crushed underneath the man’s body. He was then torn out of the club by what I would call a “choke hold”, and that was that…UNTIL, while loading out after the show the man came at Tom in a belligerent and uncoordinated manner, claiming that Tom had “FU@#ED HIM OVER!” As his friends held his body from getting any closer to Tom and the rest of the boys we (Tim, Ike, Evan and I) hopped into our Ford S-Max and zoomed off to our site of couchsurfing for the night.
Our host for Cardiff, Wales had, two days prior, let us know that she would not be able to be there when we arrived because of work in Germany. She left a key, hidden underneath of a brick in front of her old cottage house. We arrived and on the front door it read:
“Dear boys, I am sorry that I am not here with you all to usher you into my home. Please help yourself to any food in the cupboards, and there is plenty of wine next to the fireplace. I will see you all tomorrow. Welcome. –Jenny.”
We wandered around the house, getting an overview of what was included in the spirit and décor of the place. Upon a bit of running around we noticed something quite unique to other places we have stayed. One, being the room filled with everything that a child could imagine to play with (dolls, tea sets, fake foods, veggies, cookies, etc) all HAND KNIT, it was SUCH a sight to see. Second, underneath a couple of floor boards we noticed small dolls living their lives “underground”, something that you would see in the film “The Borrowers”, and third, a house rabbit that we promptly named Lucinda Williams after discovering her existence, pouncing around from one corner of the room to the next.
LUCINDA AND ME. (HOUSE RABBITS)
FLOOR BOARD CRITTERS 1
FLOOR BOARD CRITTERS 2
We decided to keep ourselves inside of the kitchen, drinking Spanish wine and discussing the incredibly unique situation that we were currently in. The night ended around two and we headed out in the morning to get a better view of Cardiff. Not much happened apart from a small jaunt through the forest, and a quick stop at the “American Diner” (see picture below),
where American cuisine is obviously heralded as a bucket of greasy fries, a hamburger and a giant thermos of coffee, and with reason, that IS, unfortunately, a common culinary practice around our country. Shame shame. We returned to Jenny’s house around 4pm. We knocked on the door and Alex, her pseudo-husband/partner, greets us. His bright smile and mild manner was comforting and he welcomed us into the home. We wandered downstairs where Jenny was quickly putting her grocery purchases away and had already started cutting and chopping vegetables that would be part of one of the greatest meals my buds have had the pleasure of tasting.
A Table of Tales
JENNY. A TRUE SAINT
Jenny is a 64 year young Child, Mother, Grandmother, Adventurer, World Traveler, Cook, Wine Enthusiastic, Conversational zing, SWEETHEART. Upon meeting her I was instantly taken aback at how much I felt at home with her around. She was the country mother/sister that I had pictured during some of the fantastical, beautiful fables that I read as a boy. She welcomed us to help at the chopping counter to help cut green peppers, leeks, and potatoes which would make their way into the boiler to form a delicious Potato and Leek soup (a very common dish found in Wales). As we chopped, the suggestion to open a bottle of red wine was tossed into the realm of possibilities and was quickly embraced with Jenny’s approval. After some more preparation we were asked to be seated at the dinner table, Jenny at one end, and Alex at the other. The conversation and wine pouring ran wild. Jenny shared with us of her travels around the United States, as a girl of 19 years, she would hitchhike via aero plane, asking pilots to give her a lift to San Francisco, or New York, Chicago, Tallahassee, and all around the massive North American continent. Dinner lasted a good 2-3 hours, with multiple different dishes being brought to and fro and many bottles of good Spanish wine opened.
Queen of The Kitchen
Feasting Eyes. Table of Trouble.
After dinner we moved a couple feet into the room adjacent to the kitchen, where there was a wood-burning fireplace that kept us warm as we continued the conversation. We discussed things about life that I have been afraid to talk about with even my closest of friends/family, with ease. Jenny gave us the grand tour of the house, stopping in the room where all of the knit toys were. She pulled one doll down from the cupboard. “Bob The Builder” was his name, all hand knit, every shirt, pant, tool on his person was knit by Jenny. She turned to me and offered him as a gift to my son, my heart leapt, this wonderful woman that I had met a mere 8 hours prior was giving me something that had taken her MUCH MUCH time to create, all out of the desire to help and better someone else’s existence. There was a lightness of weight in the air. As the 7th bottle of wine was opened the time read 3am and it felt as if the day had been 3 years long, fading in and out of the realm of reality and dipping into a state of sub-consciousness that I have rarely had the opportunity to experience. As I lay in bed that night I couldn’t help but think about the wildness of human diversity. The millions of different experiences that one human has from another, the mother, the father, the child, the weather, the routines, traditions, foods, drinks, interactions, et CETERA. And YET!!! I was in Wales with this amazingly kind woman and man, experiencing something I had NEVER before, and I think the thing that caught me MOST off guard was the fact that two days prior we were COMPLETE strangers. None of us having known each other. They opened their home to us, the shared secrets, experiences, stories, food, wine, love, all without even being ASKED TO, or PAID, or BRIBED, merely out of the GOODNESS of their hearts. If I had tears to cry that night, I would have.
OLIVER with BOB THE BUILDER. A Reunion of Soul.
The next morning arrived with a slight spin of my head cage; Jenny had gotten up early to make Danish cakes and coffee. We were thankful and made sure she knew. We were to drive to Birmingham that day and had a few short hours to spend before continuing on our vagabonding/singing crusade. We joined her as she walked to the market to get groceries for a lunch we did not know was being made in our behalf. As we were walking back to the house I felt a small twinge in the back of my brain, knowing that we would have to be leaving shortly. When we got back Jenny made us sandwiches and packaged up other foods for our drive to the next city. She walked us to the door and with a hug and a kiss we lamented to have to go. All the boys felt it, the slight discomfort to know that MAYBE, just MAYBE we would never see this amazing woman ever again. The time that she shared with us was one of the most beautiful days I have had in my life. Her kindness has changed me, her willingness to be a REAL person…INSPIRATIONAL.
I wish I had the time to mention every single person that has shown us kindness during our travels around Europe. There are too many to count. The human being is GOOD. We are GOOD, we just must CHOOSE IT. And we can. By GOD, WE MUST!
Thank you Jenny, thank you all for the time we spent together.
I am home now and the travels seem as distant as a fairy tale story.
Joshua Fred James
FIVE ON THE FLOOR. ANGEL #3
Falkenberg, Sweden. Head Spin.