Ten minutes in South Wales

At seven o’clock on a sunny and warm evening I am sitting on a plastic chair on a rugby pitch in South Wales. I am wearing a fascinator with a couple of coca cola cans perched on it and the man sitting next to me is wearing a fake glass of water on his head. We’re watching a brass band play. It’s all right though, I’ve got a glass of red wine in my hand, even if I have to move my veil every time I want to take a sip. Just behind the band there’s a little girl, perhaps five or six, long blond hair flying as she whirls in happy pirouettes across the grass, she’s not dancing like no one is looking, she knows fine she can be seen, she’s dancing like she doesn’t care, and that is so much better. When the band segue into 500 miles, she decides to express herself with a crawl, punctuated by what looks to me like cobra pose coming up into something like down dog.  Whatever she is doing it looks more fun than either my hat or my red wine, but I can’t really join in, I’m not wearing the right clothes, and besides this dodgy knee would prevent the crawling.

Beyond the chain link fence at the edge of the field a man in a hoody is taking his Jack Russell for a walk. The dog stops to lift its leg against the white washed building opposite, then it squats. The man stops, hands in pockets before bending down, I assume to do the poo pick, but I can’t really tell from this distance. The band is now playing Delilah (old Tom is from just up the road) and the audience is singing along to the bits they know; mainly this is ‘Oh, oh, oh Delilah’. Either side of us the hills rise sharp above the sides of the valley, trapping the low hum of the road in the background; behind me there is a mutter of conversation amongst people meeting and greeting and generally milling about.

Occasionally there is longer between pieces, muttered debates between the band leader and the players, but mostly it is a slick and virtuoso performance, this is a band that wins serious competitions, even though they don’t really go in for them. This evening though, they all seem to be wearing funny hats. I’m puzzled, I shouldn’t feel relaxed, calm and peaceful, but I am. I’ve known this area quite a while though I don’t come here often, I don’t know most of the people at this event but nevertheless I can feel muscles in my neck and shoulders slowly and gently unspinning knots, detangling themselves from their obsessive connection with my unconscious mind. In short, despite the noise of the band and the activity around me, I am winding down like an exhausted clockwork toy. I don’t know what’s going to happen for the next few hours, someone has already decided that for me, I let my busy mind float off, it’ll find me again soon enough.

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