Humor Magazine

Train Travel Tales #43 – If Music Be the Food of Love…….Part 3

By Gingerfightback @Gingerfightback


Hello – here is a longer train travel tale.

You will need to read Part 1 here and Part 2 here to make sense of the story!

Hope you like it.

If Music Be The Food Of Love…..Part 3.

December 16th – 1996 On a train to the North

She took a sip of water, her excitement about the audition now an exhausted memory. She absent mindedly tore strips off the bottle’s label.

“I take it you were unsuccessful in your audition?” Bryn asked.

“Yes. I will not be joining the Contemporary Dance Company.”  She tore another strip. Rejected once more. Years of putting up with dull, shitty jobs,  fending off drunken magicians and stage hands, so that perhaps one day, one day her gifts would be recognised by her peers and that Andrew’s ambition for them to live the “happy to get by as long as we have each other,” life would not be acceded to.

Bryn spoke, “The purity of a dream fulfilled is something we all aspire to. Failure is something everyone is so good at that we all love to repeat it. Like an addiction. But to this old, tired man who has experienced pain, heartache, failure and rejection there remains something noble about the pursuit of dreams. We must have the courage to manipulate our  fears. Never give up my dear.”

“Thank you, I won’t.”

These lines always stood him in good stead. The speech was from the play “Trouble At Home”. He had appeared in whilst a member of a touring Repertory Company in the late 1950′s, playing several roles, a drunk, a limbless ex-soldier, a bricklayer and a man at a bus stop. In all he had said three lines, the longest of which was, “Bless you,” to the leading lady played by the elegant Lavinia Wythenshawe when she sneezed at the bus stop.

As always with this recital his thoughts turned to Annie, Lavinia’s understudy. She  fell for his alchemy of dreaminess, dapper  japery and tall tales. The first of many to be charmed by his roguish wit and turn of phrase.  He wondered if Annie was still alive and rolled through each nuance and crag of recollection.  Thoughts that had stayed with him for forty years. In their months together she was the air that he breathed; the beat of his heart; the blink of his eye. For those months she was the love his life. He wondered what became of the daughter they had. He wondered if Annie had forgiven him.

He felt uncomfortable. He focused on Elizabeth once again.

“My Father was my inspiration. I hail from a small pit village in the South Wales valleys. Pontybuchan. Mining was the foundation of our society. So deep were the mines that Tolkien based The Mines Of  Mordor on them. Father owned the hosiery shop, but his passion was for magic. He used the name Rhodri The Welsh Wizard,  performing amazing feats of magic and illusion throughout our glorious land. He also discovered a gift for chicken sexing but we do not need to pursue that.”

“I’ve worked with Magicians.”  Her skin crawled.

“I can assure you his sexual peccadilloes were kept to the marriage bedchamber. My Father’s act often attracted the chagrin of religious folk who considered his mystical feats occultist. He had a pig who could recite Shakespeare, and a polecat who could do bird impressions and by common consent was very impressive, for a polecat that is. The only problem was that Depression era Wales could frown upon with a fervently creased Methodist brow.”

He whispered, “Inappropriate use of animals in a depraved manner and consorting with the English in daylight hours.”

“Sorry?” Elizabeth asked.

“That was the charge brought against him in September 1937 after a performance in the small fishing town of Hywlth in North Wales. Lovely natural harbour. Well worth a visit. Sadly the whelks have been over fished and are no longer available. Lovely with vinegar they were too.” He drifted away into the salty underworld of molluscs.

“What did he do?”

“The pig cursed in a manner most unbecoming a pig, or human for that matter. Nothing that would shock today’s audience with their culture free pretensions for sex and violence, their elastic morality. Excuse my French, but “Fuck!” carries far less weight to offend these days.  But the high dudgeon back then!  Such was the outcry that my Father was arrested and imprisoned for two years by the intemperate Sanhedrin in the Magistrates Court. Father never gave up though, once sawing a Prison Officer in half, sadly with disastrous consequences. He he died in prison and my own talents had to be suspended to support my Mother and twelve siblings.  But  I’m sure he  found peace in Conjurer’s Valhalla. He never gave up Elizabeth. Right to the end.”

“Never give up.” Sound advice Elizabeth thought, although she wasn’t sure why this aged Welshman had felt the need to embellish his tale. Perhaps he was lonely. Or a liar. Probably a lonely liar.

She looked at her watch. An hour to home and the inquisition. Her reflection stared at her.

The trolley attendant, clearly an advocate of substance abuse, appeared at the Carriage entrance.  Like Charon crossing the Styx in a poorly fitted cotton rich uniform, he trundled through the carriage at a funereal pace and into the adjoining vestibule ignoring the request of passengers in need of sustenance.

“I would have loved a cup of tea,” muttered Bryn, “Tea! Who would have thought the slopes of Ceylon would be such a steadfast companion to the nation’s yeomanry. I can honestly say the finest tea I have ever tasted was in Australia, home of the marsupial, dust and these creatures we call Australians.  I was there in 1956 with a travelling show.  I was second on the bill to The Tumbling Timmins - I have particularly fond memories of Betty Timmins. Broad of beam but kind of heart was Betty, such wrist strength -  how the Antipodeans welcomed us from the Mother country. The crowds, adulation and excitement of it all. I never felt so loved, adored and indeed Elizabeth, may I say needed…………”

He had an audience. However small, Bryn had an audience………..

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