After my dad had left to take my Nan down to Kent again I got a lift with my step-mum to the train station in Hereford to get down to Cardiff and see Gwen. There was a bit of a wait, so I had coffee in the standard café, which was ruled by a man with a moustache who shouted “the magazines are for buying, this isn’t a library” and scared away the other customers. On the train a group of 20-year-olds sat down next to me and I couldn’t face speaking to them so I listened to Art Brut and after 5 minutes of staring out the window it was too late and I had to ignore them for the next hour.
All was ok when I got to Cardiff, though. Gwen met me at the station and we went around indoor markets and stuff for a bit before getting some fish and chips and taking them back to her house. When it got dark we went to Clwb Ifor Bach, the famous Welsh music place. The décor and music were pretty good and you don’t have to sign a declaration that you are learning to speak Welsh to enter any more. It happened to be freshers’ week Saturday, so the ground floor was packed with paralytically drunk 18-year-old students away from home for the first time. Though there was some good letching material on display we were forced to retreat to the upper floors, which proved to be a good deal more sedate. Afterwards we walked back in the rain, to complete the Welsh experience.
On Sunday we went to a pub nearby to enter the Pop quiz. The venue was a perennial skanky old men’s pub which had recently been refitted to look like an upmarket wine bar, albeit one filled with skanky old men. A phoenix nights style singer with a casio keyboard (and, to be fair, a shamefully wasted perfect-pitch singing voice) entertained the clientele with sixties and seventies covers, then came round with the quiz sheets. The questions were a bit easy, but we couldn’t be bothered to stick around to see if we’d won and instead went off to an Indian restaurant nearby for their unbelievable value £3 buffet.
Gwen suggested we go to investigate the nearby spiritualist church while we were eating. I wasn’t too keen on spending my free time in a church but said ‘ok’ out of a spirit of Louis Theroux curiosity and found myself walking into a room with around 20 other people, most of them pensioners. An old lady got everyone to sing non-denominational hymns for a while, then a casually dressed young medium got up in the podium and gave us a reading from “Chicken Soup For The Soul.” When he was done with that he said he felt a presence wanting to communicate with the gentleman over at the side of the room and pointed at me. He asked if I knew of someone with a heart defect. I said ‘maybe’. He asked me if I’d been moving any furniture. I said ‘maybe’. He asked how I could not be sure if I’d been moving furniture. I said I’d been moving house and might have moved some furniture in the process. He said the spirit knew I was anxious and clumsy and that I’d bumped my head recently on something. I said ‘um… maybe…’ The line of questioning continued for a while before he gave up and said ‘the spirit sends its love’. It is my good fortune that nobody I’ve been close to has ever died, but I didn’t think it would be appropriate to mention it. In fact I wasn’t feeling particularly sure that it was appropriate for me to be intruding upon these people’s genuine beliefs by being there at all. No eyes were on me but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d seriously annoyed the medium and put a dampener on his night and theirs.
After a load of vague spirit communication that didn’t really convince we sat through another couple of hymns and found the event to be over, so I bent over to get my jumper and banged my head hard on the chair in front. I laughed about the prediction with Gwen for a second, then saw the medium throwing me a dirty look and stopped.
We watched Peep Show and Maid Marian for the rest of the evening, then I had a bit of kip, burned some CDs, said goodbye to Gwen and got the train back to Worcester, which took a good 4 hours due to 2 connections being cancelled. I was stuck in Hereford station for two hours, watching the staff make excuses and the passengers slowly turn rebellious.
Now I’m back at my mum’s house for a while, keeping everything tidy for the prospective buyers and sorting out what remains of my affairs. My aeroplane ticket is booked for Portugal next Wednesday.

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