Pubpaper 849 – Food, Drink and Friendship

Posted: 29th March 2016 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

I’m sure we all agree good beer is important in life, I certainly do!  But sometimes other things are more important.   We’ll all at times think that life isn’t all it could be, or be at a low point, but there is always someone else worse off than you.

My situation would be classed as “being worse” by a good number of people, having had cancer in two places, going through some intensive, physically rough treatment and still having a more than 50% chance that the cancer has survived and further treatment will be needed.  I went through the low when I realised this last week.  It didn’t help when my face had been squeezed, injected, poked and vibrated, leaving it feel like it’d been 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.  This simply exasperated the way my mouth felt after an internal inspection under general anaesthetic two days earlier.

All of this was immediately put into perspective when the friend of mine who started off with the same two cancer locations got far worse news than me.   For me a painful operation will probably remove the affected tissue in my mouth, however for my friend, a cure is not possible, it’s about extended life and making that time as comfortable as possible.  I’ll admit that it hit me far harder when I heard my friends news than when I found out I didn’t have the all clear.  To be honest it was that proverbial ton of bricks that hit me.  Having time to reflect all I can do is what friends are all about and be around as much as possible for him, helping out however I can.

At the point I heard the news, my situation became trivial in comparison.  I should be around for my family and children for another 40 years at least bar being hit by that proverbial passing bus.  For my friend, the inevitable will happen a lot sooner, leaving behind family and friends.   There is always someone else worse off than you, but you don’t always want to know them personally.   There is an important lesson to learn from all this as the proverbial bus, in whatever form it takes for us, will eventually hit us.  We really have to enjoy life as much as we can.  When I was going through treatment and in recovery I went to the pub as much as I could, even if I was drinking water and could only last an hour on a Sunday afternoon with the Cross Keys, Siddal being my lifeline in late 2015.

P1000238After this rather rough week, I was away for Easter on a pre planned trip to Mid Wales to see a friend for a few days followed by Leicester for a few days for my dad’s 65th birthday, I’ll be covering the Welsh leg here. One of my longest known best friend lives in the middle of nowhere in a tiny Welsh village called Tal-y-wern, a sort of one chapel, 5 house place.   The nearest town with any amenities is 4 miles away on single track roads for long periods.  The isolation is really quite nice, you can do nothing but relax, the only downside being there is no pub for literally miles.  I’ve known this friend since I was 15 or 16, so we go back 25 years and I try to get over to see him and his family about twice a year.  I’ve been with him through some pretty serious lows, some long term and in return he has been a rock for me in the last 9 months.

P1000210We had no real plans for my two days there, just wanting a relaxing few days, there was one disappointment we didn’t get to eat at Aberdiner, a proper American diner on the Aberystwyth promenade.  I’ve tried to eat there 3 times now, but either been in town too early or on it’s closed day.   So I’ve ended up eating and drinking at Wiff Waff, preceded by a nice pint of a Salopian beer at the Wetherspoons, sitting at the end of the lines watching life go by being rather relaxing.  This is my third visit and it has never disappointed on the food, it’s not great for real ale with only one house beer, but it’s a good session ale and sometimes the bigger picture is more important than the details.

P1000251The second day we did a 300m ascent up to just below the summit of Plynlimon, reaching 720m, 35m below the peak. We then visited the town of Llandloes for a drink.  This is a strange feeling town, with the atmosphere reminding us of Children of the Corn and Wickerman.  Very quiet, but the feeling something will happen to you at night.  A bit like the vampire town where it looks normal by day.  We went into the Royal Head and had a couple of nice session ales on some very comfy sofas, myself having the Wye Valley Hereford pale ale.  At night we chilled over a couple of bottles of Mahou we got from the Italian / Spanish deli the previous day in Aberystwyth over a delicious teriyaki chicken, from a kitchen which never disappoints.

Saturday saw me head early to Leicester, but these few days were exactly what I needed, relaxation, no pressure, good food and drink and good company.  This is the lesson to be learnt, if we have at least a few of these at any one time we can enjoy life all the time, let’s try to aim for that!