Longing for the Welsh Seaside

I awoke in front of the television some time ago, just before 3:30, a full glass of wine sitting on the table beside me. I turned off the television, wondering how much of the series, Hinterland, I missed. And I thought of the clothes I had put in the dryer “a few minutes ago.” I took the glass of wine into the kitchen, poured it down the sink, rinsed the glass, and put it in the dishwasher. I then took the dry but wrinkled shirts out of the dryer and put them back in the washer. In all probability, there is a setting on the clothes washer for “rinse and spin only for items left in the dryer,” but I could not find it, so I picked the minimum setting I could find, hoping to gently wash the shirts so I can once again dry them. This time, I will listen intently for the buzzer and will hang them up immediately.

I did not watch much of Hinterland last night, pausing the program when the now-former-prospective-buyer of my Camry called around 8:30. She told me she spent the day in Little Rock, getting the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination in her newly-eligible arm. And she bought a car, a 2014 Lexis sedan. We were on the phone for just shy of an hour. She plans to meet me in a few hours at the mechanic’s garage, where my car awaits; there, I will request a check from the garage in payment for the old Camry. I’ll take the car’s title with me, along with a bag to collect my belongings from the glove compartment and trunk. I do hope this goes smoothly. I have no interest in wading through a lawsuit to collect payment.

After my hour-long conversation with her, I sat down to continue watching Hinterland. That lasted all of ten minutes, I think. My promises to myself that I would not allow myself to fall asleep in the recliner in front of the television, thereby doing unnecessary damage to my back, have been broken too many times. It’s time to get serious about the matter. I will relocate my television viewing spot to the mid-century modern sofa in the living room, where I must sit upright with my feet on the floor. It’s harder to go to sleep there; certainly harder to stay asleep.

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“The relationship between Christianity and sex has never been simple.” Thus begins a BBC introduction to a very short video about “what you find when you remove the fig leaf.” The video and accompanying text reveal that a fig leaf was affixed to a Roman statue to cover the genitalia originally in full view on the form. I was surprised to learn that the fig leaf was an addition to cover “that which should not be seen” on such statues. The one revealed in the video was one at Crawford’s Art Gallery in Cork, Republic of Ireland. The full documentary, Shock of the Nude, is available on BBC Select. Unfortunately, I do not get BBC Select, as far as I know. The concept of hiding nudity from innocent eyes has always seemed quaint and prudish to me, to use a phrase from the video short. Nudity on statues is not in the least titillating, in my opinion.  Hiding original nudity on statues is silly in the extreme, though. Again, my opinion.

I love BBC‘s practice of developing very short videos for its website to introduce website visitors to more in-depth explorations of various topics, whether videos or articles. The people behind the videos are excellent marketers; and they know how to pique interest in topics that otherwise might go unnoticed.

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Shortly after I wandered into the kitchen this morning, glass of wine in hand, I saw a flash of lightning to the south. Seconds later, a rumble of thunder shook the house, causing some of the pots and pans on the pot rack in the kitchen to vibrate and move enough to gently clang in response. The online weather forecast calls for thunderstorms this morning, turning to showers that will end before midday. We can expect a high of 55°F today, dropping to 46°F tonight. The next couple of days will be rainy and cool, if the prognosticators’ prognostications can be trusted. I am ready for some moderately warm, clear days with no obligations clogging my calendar. A two-hour or three-hour drive north would do me good, I think. It would help me clear my head and gently re-introduce me to the practice of taking day-trips. But I rarely took day-trips alone, so it might be emotionally jarring, too. Just thinking about it is having that effect on me. I will redirect my thoughts elsewhere.

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The latter part of yesterday’s church board meeting conflicted with another obligation, so I withdrew from the meeting early. Something happened in my absence that apparently caused a stir, but I don’t know precisely what it was. My involvement in the church board has largely seemed to be one of observation versus active participation. I listen to the conversations, but rarely have anything of substance to add, so I remain silent. On one hand, that’s just my style; I don’t feel any need to contribute unless I have something relevant to add. On the other, my style may make me appear disconnected and/or disinterested. Or just not especially bright. I suspect I decided, during all the years I managed associations and worked with their boards, that “active participation” often meant board members talked for the sake of trying to appear valuable to the group, even when their contributions were meaningless drivel. So I may have learned to keep silent unless the conversation went in a direction I found damaging to or inadequate for the issue at hand. But silence can be interpreted as ignorance. At this stage of my life, though, I’m beginning to realize I don’t, and shouldn’t, care. But not really.

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On my way back home from my blood-letting the other day, I listened to a radio interview involving two lesbian women who once operated lesbian bars (before the pandemic). One of them now operates a lesbian online “bar.” Though I haven’t given much thought (maybe none at all) to lesbian bars, my immediate reaction to the conversation was something along the lines of “what’s the point of a bar strictly for lesbians?” I further thought lesbians should feel comfortable in any bars, not just lesbian bars. The more I listened, though, the more I learned. The women said “lesbian bars” are not necessarily exclusive to lesbians. Male gays also are welcomed in many such places, they said. The one comment that stuck with me most, though, was that lesbian bars are “safe,” in that people of the same gender can be comfortable knowing they can approach others in the knowledge they, too, are gay. It never occurred to me that gays, whether male or female, would be in danger (either emotionally or physically) if they were to “hit on” someone in a straight or non-exclusive bar. While they might be rejected in a lesbian bar, they would be much less likely to be attacked. That’s what I took away from the radio interview. But it wasn’t just the relative safety of the places the two women emphasized. It was giving patrons a sense of camaraderie. Something else that occurred to me was that straight people probably would not be welcomed, at least not with open arms, because they would cause confusion; their presence would make the place no longer “safe” for gays. So it’s not a matter of pure discrimination; it’s a matter of maintaining a reliable atmosphere. Not that I have had any plans to go into a lesbian or gay bar in the past, but now I certainly won’t, simply out of respect for their maintenance of the atmosphere of safety. I also learned that the number of lesbian bars is in sharp decline and had been even before the pandemic; I think I missed the cause of the decline, but now I’m curious. It’s interesting how much one can learn just by listening.

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Before my phone conversation with the former potential purchaser of the Camry, a scene in Hinterland struck a chord with me. In the scene, a person was walking along a concrete pier, I think, on a desolate stretch of oceanside beach. Seeing that scene made me long to be in such a place. I used to love walking along the beach on Padre Island in Texas, but only in the winter. In the winter, when cold winds blew, the beaches were desolate. Other times of year, especially summer, they were clogged with people. I feel certain that’s even more true today than in my youth.

The beach on television, though, is a present-day location that’s probably just as secluded as I would like. The series was filmed in and around Aberystwyth, Wales, according to Wikipedia. Much of the filming was done in rural areas near the town. I think I would love the area, though I might have a hard time communicating with people there, even those who speak English with Welsh accents. The people who speak Welsh would be even harder for me to understand.

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Late yesterday afternoon, I visited my neighbors, Ted and Sharon. We sat and drank wine and talked about subjects ranging from the view out their back windows to airplane turbulence to wi-fi signals to COVID-19 vaccinations to ways we would be philanthropic if we won the lottery. They are extremely nice people who generally keep to themselves but who have been very outgoing in all of my interactions with them. Before I left, we agreed (which we have done before) that we should get together once a week for wine and conversation. I look forward to that.

Almost immediately upon entering their house, Ted gave me an old but very high quality adjustable camera tripod. He said he bought it for $5 at a garage sale; he said he had no use for it but he couldn’t pass it up at that price! I should have offered to pay him for it, but I didn’t; I was stunned, I think, that he greeted me with the offer of the tripod as a gift almost the moment I walked in the door. When I got home, I dredged out my rarely-used Lumix camera to see if it would work with the tripod. It does, just as Ted assured me it would.

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I’m having biscuits for breakfast. Big, fluffy, highly-caloric, fresh from a tube and baked in the oven biscuits. I smell them calling my name.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Longing for the Welsh Seaside

  1. Tara, one of these days I’d like to have a conversation with you about the degree to which straights should/can inquire about lesbian and gay experiences. I’m curious, but don’t want to offend anyone by sticking my nose it where it doesn’t belong. I am friends with several lesbians and gays, but I’ve always felt hesitant to intrude by asking about topics that may be sensitive.

  2. Tara says:

    Lesbian (and gay) bars were an important way to safely meet people back in the day when it was flat-out illegal to be LGBT. A whole culture was born in these places, and police raids were commonplace. Even today when queer people are more accepted, we’re not completely out of the dark. Trans people especially are still attacked and killed at an alarming rate. There’s a fun gay bar/gathering spot in my new town, and I went a couple of times with my daughter and her friends for drag queen shows. Of course with COVID 19 that’s all shut down for the time being. I’ll go back when it opens up, to pump some money into their economy and support all the things this business does to cultivate celebration and respect for the LGBT community.

Please talk to me about what I've written. I get lonely when I'm the only one saying anything.

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