Sunday, 4 March 2012

Scenic Beauties of Southern Wales

Being driven west on the M4 Motorway towards Wales, I am literally titillated by the prospect of entering this curious, unknown country with its own tongue-twister language, unique customs and extortionate entry fee of £6 for crossing the 3-mile Severn Bridge.  

Shouldn't someone of my importance be let in for free?  Is it just English people that have to pay for the privilege of entering Wales?  Will I get a stamp in my passport? 

I do think the Welsh Tourist Board should have paid me to enter the country.. think of the wonderful publicity... millions of tourists decided to visit Wales after hearing I had set foot there.  My agent didn't think of that!

The National Anthem of Wales is a ditty called "The Land of My Fathers" and here is an excerpt:

Old land of the mountains, paradise of the poets,
Every valley, every cliff a beauty guards;
Through love of my country, enchanting voices will be
Her streams and rivers to me.

Certainly the approaches to Wales are very scenic - over the Severn Bridge Crossing - with endless blue skies, and panoramic views of the River Severn.

I recline in the back seat of my chauffeur-driven Bentley, sip some pink gin and wonder what the weekend holds.

Juan, the chauffer, pulls over to look at this sign, which someone has placed beside the road.  I haven't the slightest what the bottom line is supposed to mean. 

Regrettably, my personal secretary did not organise a Welsh-English translator to accompany me on the trip.  I didn't think I would need one.  I thought everyone would speak English.  You will understand my consternation one hour later when we were confronted by this sign, with no English language equivalent offered:

Not knowing what we were being warned of by this sign, Juan decided it best to turn off the motorway so I could take a spot of lunch, ask directions, and to take in some of the gentle, scenic beauties promised personally by the Land of my Fathers in their wonderful, whimsical poem. 

So, we descended from the motorway at Junction 38, into a town I had never heard of before, Port Talbot.    Here are some pictures:

As you can imagine, this landscape, looking like the surface of the Moon, had me reaching for the Prozac. 

After a 10-minute session of pill-popping, I nervously looked out of the window only to find the scenery had not changed, but only worsened: endless, unswept streets of the greyest grey I had ever seen in my life; sooty Methodist churches framed with barbed wire and CCTV; miry canals; an apocalyptic steelworks with chimneys belching out brimstone; thunderous power stations; a plethora of concrete motorway flyovers; and bare mountains, as brown as tobacco spit, rising behind.

The Land of My Fathers are surely a bunch of smooth-tongued hypocrites and liars to have lured me to such a place - "Every valley, every cliff a beauty guards" they sang - never heard such claptrap in my life! It felt like I had been transported, as if by magic, to some Siberian hell-hole, with visual atrocities lying in every direction.
I instructed the chauffeur to keep driving until we found somewhere less dire.  Two hours later, we were still in Port Talbot, helplessly lost in a riddle of backstreets.  Some say that Paris's streets are covered in dog-shit; well, you should see Port Talbot, it's everywhere.

Just as I was giving up hope, I spotted a sign outside an establishment: the Beverley Hills Caff.  Sounded wonderful, reminding me of my native lands, so I went straight in.  Surely this would be a classy joint with such a name.  Beverley Hills: glamour.. romance.. style.   

What a deadly mistake.

I have never entered such an establishment before in my life, cleraly a place of moral turpitude.  It stank to high heaven of flatulence, pie and stale beer, and I was greeted by a terrifying apparition: a spindly waitress of indeterminate age, fag permanently in mouth, with one of the worst bleached perms I have ever seen, her whole head looking like a ball of white, spun candy-floss.  

"Do you speak English?" I asked in greeting, somewhat nervously.  The chatter of customers abruptly stopped and everyone was glaring at me.  No-one moved, no-one said a word. 

"A menu in English, please!" I said loudly so as not to be misunderstood in any way, and sidled down to a table.

You could cut the tension with a knife.  The coffee-stained menu was flung at me by a pudgy fist and without a word.  It consisted of "chips with everything", Fray Bentos pies, Pukka Pies, Gut Buster All-Day breakfasts, milkshakes, burgers, etc.  Obviously, I have never heard of any of these gastronomic extravaganzas, so I opted for a nice cup of Earl Grey tea.  When it came, it was khaki-drab, strong enough to stand a spoon in, tasted like Bisto, and the only way of keeping it down was to add half the bottle of sugar.

There was a wonderful sounding selection of pies.  Notice how the name sounds like 'Puke':

Gingerly look around, I surveyed the other customers: if anyone has seen the 1980s Video Nasty, Zombie Flesh Eaters (one of my favourite movies of all time!), it is clear that they recruited a lot of extras for the film here in Port Talbot. 

The other customers consisted of heavily-tattooed men, some the size of a small house, wearing flannel shirts and mesh-back baseball caps, casting their bleary eyes over The Sun, which apparently is a comic for the Under 5s, or talking in monosyllabic phrases, or worse still, using filthy foul language. 

filmed in Port Talbot?

As the waitress waddled into view again, I decided to order a Fray Bentos pie, not knowing what it was but liking its exotic sound.  As I did, the waitress dropped a set of knives and forks onto the table from a great height and walked away.  Twenty very tense minutes later, the culinary delight arrived.

It was a distressingly brown, rubbery, indestructible piece of pie: you could end up breaking several teeth trying to eat it.

This was all getting too much.  A lady such as myself has never experienced such things like this.  I stood as gracefully as I could in my designer stilettos, and headed for the restroom to powder my nose and take stock of my situation.

Things did not improve: the toilet was disgustingly dirty, it hadn't been cleaned since the 1950s.  With bile rising in my gullet, I fled, forcing a window open,  and climbing out, jumping onto the roof of a shed and escaping to the safety of my chauffeur parked nearby. 

It was not an easy thing to do, climbing out of that window, whilst wearing these heels.

Instructing my chauffeur to drive at 120 miles per hour, Port Talbot, town of the all-day breakfast, soon disappeared on the horizon, although the bile in my mouth took longer to go away.


  1. I am not surprised. Port Talbot is a shit-hole; the arse hole of Wales.

  2. There are nice parts of sarf wales but port talbot ain't one of 'em and I agree they shot Flesh Eating Zombies in the town, the characters not needing any makeup or prosthetics.

  3. Oh dear ... I did not know of Port Talbot, and can asure you that I'll avoid it at any cost. This "pie" ...

    Manners. I came here via Mitzi.

  4. 63mago, thanks for your comment. Mitzi is very kind to share her friends with me. I do love reading her blog and would love to meet her. Fanny x

  5. It explains why my flanges were burning.

    Spleen cuisine! cooking up a three corpse dinner. Yum!

    My first and only visit to Wales took place a couple of years ago on a coach trip to Llandudno. We decided after two hours after our arrival, to go back home via the train.

  6. Port Talbot looks like a hell-hole. Worry not, we have strange people & brutally ugly places here too in Scandinavia. Take for example, my neighbouring country of Finland. Everyone's on Prozac there, it's so grim.

    Pussy Godiva x