I wandered into the beautiful village of Conwy on the north coast of Wales a couple of hours before tonight’s hosts, Jess and Emma were to return from work.
Having no will of my own, I followed the guidance of a number of folk on the interweb, and wandered into the Liverpool Arms.
The greeting was extraordinary – Ffion, the barmaid called out,’Hiya,’ in such a way that made me turn round to see her long lost friend who’d come in behind me.
There was no long lost friend – it was me being Hiya’d.
I couldn’t help but grin as I parked Hubert somewhere out the way, and myself at the bar.
Ffion heard my story and enthusiastically told me that she intended to become a psychiatric nurse.
She demonstrated her aptitude for her future career by administering a nutritious mixture of hops, barley, and lemon infused in an effervescent solution, delivered, on the house, in an easy to manage pint glass.
Her vitality and appetite for life clearly washed over the other punters – the atmosphere was great.
I spent much of the er, early evening (some might call it afternoon) chatting to Nick who carried on the pub tradition of being interested and interesting.
He works on a yacht for 9 weeks with 4 weeks off.
The first thing he did when he hit land was to go fell running.
My mind went back to the time when me and Derek were climbing Scafell Pike – England’s highest mountain, picking our way gingerly to ensure we didn’t trip or stumble, when 100’s if fell runners bounded past us like gazelles with seemingly no regard for the treacherous terrain.
I felt myself age 30 years as they vanished into the distance.
‘How do you stop yourself from falling?’ I asked.
Nick clearly had no idea what I was talking about, ‘I just run,’ he smiled.
He loves the way that this exposure to the elements makes him feel alive – he talks about how he supports his kids, 9 and 10 with a whole range of outdoor pursuits ranging from rugby to gorge walking; how he’s going to the rugby at Millennium stadium with 3, 21 year old women, including Ffion.
I suggested he’d benefit from a white fur coat, some manner of jaunty hat and a spangly cane to complete the image.
He repaid my rapier wit by furnishing me with lager shandies for the rest of my time in this fine pub – at the same time accusing me of being a serial con man who preys on vulnerable pub goers with made up tales of derring do and lunacy.
Ffion, who’s doing an access course, told me she had a 3 thousand word essay, entitled ‘Social Psychology’ to complete in the next few days – I was happy to point her in the direction of Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo and Solomon Asch just to give her an idea of what a duplicitous bunch social psychologists are.
If you’re not familiar with these guys, look them up, their experiments are an absolute hoot.
Time was up all too soon – and I was off on my way to see Jess and Emma for more gratuitous hospitality.
I was immediately welcomed in – by these friends of friends, demonstrating that kindness and generosity, just like prejudice, are infectious.
Emma works with the RSPCA and, as part of putting her money where her mouth is, she and Jess foster dogs as part of the assessment process to establish where they’d be best placed.
Their current visitor was Shadow, a Staffie.
I’ve always believed myself as a bit of a dog whisperer…only to find out I’m not really…more of a hoarse whisperer…
Emma explained how dogs, often seen as aggressive, regularly try to communicate their feelings in a number of ways before resorting to their last means of defence, the growl, the nip and the bite.
A dog may show anxiety by licking it’s nose, lifting one of its front paws, even rolling on it’s back as an appeasement gesture.
At times of anxiety, confrontation by way of eye contact is best avoided….
And a whole bunch of other stuff – including the fact that dogs, when placed in stressful situations, may suppress some of their behaviours.
Dogs are often abandoned, taken to the RSPCA, labelled as aggressive, a problem due to a lack of knowledge, misinterpretation of behaviour, ignorance, provocation and general scapegoating.
Mental health Parallels anyone?
And that was just one flake of our evening – Jess does body piercing as a job – which led to chats from body dysmorphia to tongue splitting…and we talked about deejaying…psychology…homophobia and what to do about it…prejudice…mental health…
It was hospitality that just kept on giving – I didn’t want to go to bed – I didn’t want to leave in the morning…
It was fabulous.
I asked what made them invite me into their home…
It was a pretty much ‘Any friend of Emily’s is a friend of ours’ sort of answer.
Look, I know I called this blog ‘Parallel Lives’, but I got a bit carried away with the great night I had…
In my defence, I did write a bit about parallelity, but if you’ve got a problem, go and write your own blog…I mean, I’m doing my best…I’ve given you the best years of my life and this is the thanks I get…hello? Is there anyone there?
Anyway, go to Conwy, it and the people residing therein are most fine.
Walk a mile