Sheila, whose eightieth it was, has four children, about a dozen grandchildren, and a good smattering of great-grandchildren. As far as I could tell, they were all there, including the two youngest great-grands, five and seven weeks old. Then there were cousins, nieces and nephews, friends from all over the globe, and hangers-on like me. I’d guess about forty humans in all, plus the dogs.
Being almost all Welsh, they almost all talked almost all the time (all right, not the two babies, though I think they’re working on it), not too bothered about whether anyone was listening, which makes for a great party. I talked to quite a few of them, I think, but don’t ask me what about – it’s called ‘craic’ in Ireland, ‘liming’ in Tobago, I don’t know what in Welsh or English. The fun point is that the performance outweighs the content.
The drive down the M4 on Friday was one of the worst in my living memory. Driving through pelting rain and the resulting road spray and road blindness is mentally and physically exhausting, especially as most motorway users don’t know how to do it. The journey back today was, if anything, even worse. The M4 powers-that-maybe had decided to switch on all the ‘50’ signs, put up a message saying ‘POOR DRIVING CONDITIONS’, and (in my unfair estimation) pootle off down the pub. The result, of course, is that Sunday drivers react to the signs rather than the actual conditions. I have proved this theory over and over again. As soon as the warnings of a problem disappear, so does the problem.
But miraculously, the 24 hours in between delivered the best weather Pembrokeshire is capable of. The heavens shone on Sheila’s party. I’m sure she noticed, but she didn’t remark on it, at least not in my hearing. Most of the time she was too busy laughing.