Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Machno Witch.





Before I tell this story I just want to say that no matter how outlandish or ridiculous some of the things I put in these posts are, I am not a creative writer and lying to you would be of no benefit to me.
Everything I tell you is true.

Here we go.

In the early ‘90s my friends and I rented a cottage in the small Welsh village of Penmachno in the Snowdonia Mountains. The cottage was on the outskirts of the village and had a coal burning stove, a coal fire in the living room, there was no TV and the electricity ran on a coin operated meter.

The village was at the foot of a mountain that contained a disused slate quarry. There were two pubs and four or five churches, all made from slate, in fact the whole place was slate.

On our first night there we walked down the unlit dirt track leading from the cottage and went to the nearest pub, called The Eagles.
We walked through the door into the heat from an open fireplace and din of voices, all speaking the Welsh language. The place was full of huge quarrymen, all of whom turned to look at us.

The pub fell silent as me and my four mates stood in the doorway being stared at. Now anyone who has seen American Werewolf in London will know this to be a Slaughtered Lamb moment. If you haven’t seen that film then you must do so immediately as it is a classic.

I looked around the pub and over at the roaring log fire place, made from slate of course. Above the fire was a large stone lintel with the words ‘Fear Knocked at the Door, Faith answered and No-one Was There’ carved into it.

Great, we’re going to end up in a fucking Wicker Man, I thought.
There was no going back now so we walked to the bar through the heavy silence.

‘What can I get you’? said the barman, who also looked like he was made of slate. As I looked at the row of hand pumps along the bar a huge bloke standing next to me held out his pint and said “Here, try a bit of that”. It was a deep, dark brown, almost black and I took a sip. It tasted as strong and dark as it looked

“Blimey, that’ll put hairs on my chest. What is it”? I asked, grimacing.

This was apparently hilarious as the big feller burst out laughing.

“John Smith’s Bitter and Beamish Stout mixed”, said the man.

“Looks like we’ll be having four pints of that then” I said.

“You lads sound English, whereabouts are you from”? asked the barman.

When we told them we were from Yorkshire the atmosphere suddenly relaxed and conversation started up again.
The Welsh are like the Scots and Irish in that they hate the English because of the nasty habit we had of invading them all the time. Fortunately for my friends and I Yorkshire shares a mining heritage with Wales so our presence in the pub was tolerated.
If we had been from Liverpool or London things wouldn’t have ended as amicably.

So we sat at a table and necked our bitter/stout pints while outside the mountains became enveloped in a night so black it was like outer space..

To be concluded in next weeks post: The Witch!!!!




55 comments:

Padded Cell Princess said...

You say you don't make stuff up...but your "Welsh village" seems to be lacking a few ll's and w's to make me think it's real (and I could pronounce it!)... ;)
My husband really likes Beamish Stout but sadly, I don't really like beer. I do love the local pubs around here since they are so much better than our American versions of town taverns (filled with people you do NOT want to be chatting to!).

SkippyMom said...

Aw Tony. A cliffhanger? That's not fair. I really like the tale so far tho'. I can really picture it.

Quick, write the next part. Please? :D

Belle said...

Great story so far. Looking forward to the rest.

Joshua said...

I love the Wicker Man reference. Nicely told.

Stephanie D said...

Nice post! Can't wait for the second part. Please tell me you break out in song!? ;)

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

Mmm that beer sounds really tasty.

YeamieWaffles said...

Nice story as usual man. Pretty pumped to read the rest of it when you get around to posting it very soon hopefully.

Intredasting Bolg said...

Cool story, my friend.

Pat Hatt said...

I would have wanted to turn and run, especailly with that American Werewolf in London look staring back at me.

Baiba1205 said...

oh i've been in a similar situation :D but thankfully everything worked out for me too ;D

cool story :)

Tony Van Helsing said...

Princess: I think we only chose this village because we could pronounce it.

Skippy: Already started but I like to post just once a week. I know people have plenty to do.

Belle: Cheers.

Joshua: Like to throw in a classic.

Stephanie: Sorry, it's not a musical.

Mike: It was more like a meal than a beer.

Waffles: Thanks, mate.

Bolg: Cool as a fool.

Pat: Once through the door we were committed. To walk back out would be to lose face.

Baiba: Did it end in a fist fight?

Al Penwasser said...

What a cool beginning to the story. I'm looking forward to the next chapter.
Not for nothin', can you just IMAGINE if I had walked in there with my friends (yes, I have a couple) and asked (in what has to be a New York type of accent-despite being from Connecticut): "Hey, how all you guys doin'? Ya gotta any burgers, fries, or something?"
Probably would have been worse if I was French, though.

LOLA said...

Can't wait for next week!

Love,
Lola

Mynx said...

Terrific. Can't wait for the next bit

dirtycowgirl said...

I bet it ends up with you all sharing some leeks, morris dancing, drinking far too much and waking up to find a sheep in your bed.

D4 said...

You avoided slaughter--badass.

JoshuaTangent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miranda Hardy said...

You're leaving us on the edge. I can't wait till next week now.

Bart said...

is she hot?

Vapid Vixen said...

Well that was just mean. Where's the rest??

Creepy Query Girl said...

Felt like I was there! can't wait to hear the rest!

Britta said...

So I have been warned when next year I go to Wales :-)
I found the most amicable friends though in Scotland - who only corrected me lovingly when I called them "English" - "Scottish, luv, Scottish". Humming: "Can't you see the witch by my side, witch by my side..", I'm waiting for the next instalment.

Tony Van Helsing said...

Al: Being American you would have had no problem mate.

Lola: make sure you tune in.

Mynx: Neither can I.

Dirty: The sheep is another story.

D4: It was touch and go.

Joshua: Thanks.

Miranda: I like to keep you in suspense.

Bart: Not in the way you mean.

Vapid: You'll have to wait and see.

Creepy: You should have been, you'd have lovved it.

Britta: They really don't like being called English.

The Dainty Doll's House said...

Really enjoyed this..look forward to the next..and no Scots don't like being called English at all (although, I'm American & don't like to be called Canadian). xx

Love Sushi and Fashion said...

Very interesting story! You very right about the Welsh, English and Scots. We have a similar thing in Spain! <3<3

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

I can't wait to read more.

Oh and I laughed out loud at this part: "the barman, who also looked like he was made of slate"
So very witty--as always!

My 2 Pesos said...

Nice post. :D

Juliette said...

So did you rate it or slate it? I know lame. Fell off chair laughing at you ending up in a wicker man!

Tony Van Helsing said...

Dainty: And New Zealanders don't like being called Australian.

It's the same in every country I think.

Elisabeth: There is always more.

Pesos: Thanks.

Juliette: Rated not slated.

Al Penwasser said...

Really? Man....all you guys are great!

Padded Cell Princess said...

Good rule for choosing a place in Wales to move to. When we had to move from Edinburgh, our only options were Cork or Cardiff...despite being able to pronounce Cardiff, I still had no desire to move there! Cork is fabulous and we are so glad we didn't have to go to Cardiff! (no offense to anyone from Cardiff and if you wish to complain, please leave me a voice message so then I can't understand you or your complaint) :)

Tony Van Helsing said...

Princess: I've been out on the beer a few times in Cardiff and every time it's nearly ended in a fight. Rough night out.

Bart said...

lmfao so what kind of hot is it? and no i wasnt in afghan, my cousin went out ther for work as some sort of contractor and just got back not to long ago.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Yep, the English do have a nasty habit of invading.

I think I used to live in Liverpool at one time (I was a preschooler). Fortunately I don't have the accent. Now I have an aussie one, even though I've never lived there. ;)

I loved American Werewolf in London.

Gareth Thomas said...

Eurgh, Bitter is gross. Can't wait to see if you got wicker-manned though.

Makkura970 said...

Good story! followed

Kid Shuffle said...

lol, good to know that your mining history is good for something?

Colin Whelan said...

I can't wait for the next bit...and I was there.

my day in a sentence said...

Ok, now I want the rest!

level85nerd said...

I have to admit that I'm afraid of witches.

Tony Van Helsing said...

Bart: You'll see.

Stina: We invade because we are hard.

Gareth: You have a very Welsh name.

Makkura: Also followed.

Kid: It saved our arses.

Colin: Fucking hell Col, nice to see you on here. He isn't kidding either, he was there.

My day: You will.

Level: That's what they want.

Megan said...

Ah, nothing like shared mining history to save an awkward moment!

altadenahiker said...

Oh, I doubt we'll go gentle into this good night.

Tony Van Helsing said...

Megan: I knew it would come in handy one day.

Alta: We went fairly drunk into this good night.

Adam said...

ah I got the wickerman feeling reading it too

Craziness abounds said...

Tony you naughty devil. Why do you leave us hanging in the middle of a good story? You better let me know when you post again. It's almost Halloween you know and I'm sure I can find a "witch" that will curse you if you fail to inform me of the next part. Till then my friend...

Nicki Elson said...

Ooh, a delicious (if a touch bitter) beginning.

It's been too long since I've seen American Werewolf, but I have a bit of trivia. My sister lives in the square in Earl's Court where a piece of the movie was filmed (when he hooks up w/ the British trollop).

Orang3 said...

waiting for the next!

Ixy said...

Best intro ever! I sometimes suspect people think I'm making stuff too...seriously, if it's not tagged fiction, it really happened to me. One of the best things about blogging has been discovering that I'm not the only one who ends up in bizarre situations.

Damon said...

nice post D:

Kelly Polark said...

So far an interesting story...how many pints did you have that night? :)

Lindsay N. Currie said...

I hate cliffhangers Tony!

Tony Van Helsing said...

Adam: 'Oh God no, oh Jesus Christ'!

Craziness: Tonight I will finish this.

Nicki: You can't call Jenny Agutter a trollop!

Orang3: Tonight.

Ixy: Best comment ever.

Damon: thanks.

Kelly: So long ago, so many pints.

Lindsay: People are too impatient these days.

Elle Strauss said...

Great story telling, Tony! you really took me there. Loved this line, ‘What can I get you’? said the barman, who also looked like he was made of slate.

Gizmo said...

Nice story! Bit long but I enjoyed it!