St Asaph, Patron saint of illegal parking.
Last Friday, 24/01/02020, I had an enjoyable trip over to see Paul Williams in Cardigan/Aberteifi, to talk about the forthcoming launch of the Radio Free Radnorshire podcast, and how to keep m’website moving through the water for the new book project, One Fine Day. This website is 21 years old in June. It’s one of the oldest continually updated authors websites there is, started to coincide with the release of m’first book, in 1999. It’s that rarest of creatures, a 20th century website, a colloboration between us both. It was great to talk over a fab brunch that Paul had cooked. All afternoon we plotted a new way forward, of which, more when all is updated.
I drove over from Presteigne via the A44 to Aberystwyth, then down the coast road to Cardigan, but I decided to drive home via Lampeter, (where I still have rights in the college library), because I wanted to get some out stuff about William Cobbett. I bought a kebab, and ate it sitting in my car in the carpark by the library, which I at once regretted, as I always do. I then took the mad winding road from Lampeter to Llandovery, via Pumpsaint. Very foggy all day. Got to Llandovery, to find the A483 was closed in Llanwrytd Wells. Fuck. Nothing for it, but to take the A40 to Brecon, and home from there. Half an hour extra on the journey.
I was listening to the radio all the way home. My first choice is usually Radio Four, which at that time on a Friday night means ‘Any Questions’. The show is now hosted by the affable Chris Mason, and tonights edition came from St Asaph Cathedral. St Asaph was described by Mason as a ’boutique’ city, and given that it has a population of 3500, I had to agree.
Sadly, one of the guests was Anne Widdicombe, and the sound of her voice, like a chalk blackboard being scoured by a Brillo pad, fills me with existential woe. I could only stand ten minutes or so of her self-righteous triumphalist screeching, before re-tuning.
Digital radio means you can get the BBC stations in the Great Green Desert, but nothing else. On Radio Two was ‘Friday Night is Music Night’, a show I have disliked since I was a small child. 6Music felt a bit modern, at that moment, and on 5live there was FA cup footie, and neither felt right driving through fog in the pitch blackness of a Mid-Wales winters night.
So, it was Radio Three, where the BBC Symphony Orchestra were just about to give us their take on Shostakovitch’s 8th Symphony. The announcer told us that it was epic, monumental. It started actually playing as I entered Sennybridge. Still very much going past Brecon. Through Bronllys, Three Cocks, and Glasbury South of the Wye (which was cruelly snatched from Radnorshire by the The Counties (Detached Parts) Act of 1844 ), on went Shostakovich’s 8th.
Through Clyro, up Brilley mountain, where I stopped for a piss, leaving the door open, so I could hear it still going, while I fought to overcome the strictures of my prostate gland in the damp dark foggy silence. Into Kington, over to Presteigne, on (and on) went Shostakovich. When I got home there were clues that the thing night be about to end, but it had been full of false endings, so who could say? Sadly, I really needed another ‘bio-break’, so I rushed in, gave my wife a peck on the cheek, and hurried off to the ‘restroom.’
And so I missed the end of the Shostakovich.
When I had settled down with a lovely cup of tea, my wife showed me the photo at the top of the post. It’s a clipping from my most recent diary column in the Church Times, which was on the noticeboard at St Asaph cathedral, and had been photographed and subsequently tweeted by Any Questions presenter Chris Mason before the show went out. Which is nice.