Monday, September 24, 2012

Llandegfedd and Plebs and a Flanker

Llandegfedd Sailing Club is my kind of place.

It's a dinghy sailing club based in a rural environment on a reservoir.

It's entirely run by volunteers and has no paid staff.

They have Lasers and Solos and a bunch of asymmetric spinnaker boats including RS100s and RS Vareos.

Exactly my kind of place.

Llandegfedd Reservoir is in South Wales, not far from the mystery location in Saturday's quiz post. In fact, Llandegfedd Sailing Club would have been a good answer to question #3 in the quiz.

Over 40 years ago I used to live and work quite close to Lllandegfedd. In fact, if the sailing bug had bit me about 10 years earlier than it did, I would probably have joined Llandegfedd Sailing Club. And if my career had not pulled me away from this beautiful corner of the world, I might be quite happily sailing there still.

Today, being in the area, I decided to check out Llandegfedd Sailing Club and also visit the places I lived and worked all those years ago.

But first a diversion...

One of the pleasures of traveling back to my home country, the UK, from where I live now in the US, is to catch up on the local news, and especially to marvel at the differences between the political systems in the two countries, the political issues that are important, the political news...

The hot issue in political news this week in the UK is what some guy on a bicycle said to two police officers. The guy on the bike was the Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell, a senior member of the British government. The police officers were guarding the gates to Downing Street, where the Prime Minister lives and works. Their duty is to protect people like Mr. Mitchell and his boss. Apparently Mr. Mitchell asked the police officers to open the main gates to Downing Street so he could cycle through them, but the officers declined and politely asked him to walk his bike through the smaller pedestrian gate. At which point Mr Mitchell apparently was very rude to the police officers (one of whom was a woman) and used some very naughty words and called the officers some very bad names and generally tried to impress the officers with what a very, very, important person Mr. Mitchell was, and what very, very, insignificant people the police officers were.

This would never happen in America.

First of all, I don't think Timothy Geithner or Hillary Clinton or even Nancy Pelosi jump on their bikes and pedal over to the White House when Barack invites them for a little chat.

Secondly, all police officers in America carry guns and probably have other devices secreted about their persons like tasers and stuff which are quite capable of causing you extreme pain or even death.  Personally I am always very polite to American policemen.

In any case, the British police officers did not shoot Mr. Mitchell or even give him a few well-deserved zaps with a taser, but simply wrote down in their notebooks what he had said and reported it to their superiors. Mr. Mitchell has been denying and spinning and non-apologizing and half-non-apologizing ever since.

Anyway, back to the main story. (You will see the point of the diversion shortly.) 

This morning Tillerwoman and I set off down the back lanes of Monmouthshire to find Llandegfedd Sailing Club. Eventually we found the reservoir and the entrance to the sailing club, but before we could drive very far down the drive to the club we were waved down by a man in a uniform which said he was a Chief Ranger for Welsh Water.

I explained that we were exploring the area and that we would like to see the sailing club, but he said it was closed and the road to it was private anyway.

At this point, if I were a self-important entitled prat like Andrew Mitchell I would have said something like, "Best you learn your fucking place. You don't run this fucking reservoir. Don't you know who I am? I am the best sailing blogger on the planet and you're a fucking pleb!" or words to that effect.

Instead I politely thanked him and went on my way.

Tillerwoman and I then spent a pleasant hour or two exploring the places where I lived and worked BT (Before Tillerwoman.) Sadly everywhere looks older and smaller than I remember it. Older I can understand. But why are buildings smaller than I remember them? Have I been living in America too long?

Then it was off for lunch at a pub I remember from the old days. (Although of course it's smaller now.)

Tillerwoman had potato and leek soup to show some respect for the Welsh.

I had a ploughman's lunch which thankfully came with Branston Pickle and three different kinds of cheese and no sign of that bloody strip of crispy pancetta that seems to be thrown into any kind of British cooking these days.

All washed down with a pint of Rite Flanker.

Apparently Rite Flanker is the "unofficial beer of rugby" which seemed appropriate as Tillerwoman and I were both wearing rugby shirts and we were quite close to the home of Pontypool Rugby Football Club.

I think Rite Flanker might also be rhyming slang.

Perhaps a name appropriate for Mr Andrew Mitchell?

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