Much could be said about Johns recent holiday in Abersoch, firstly it wasn’t actually in Abersoch, we haven’t ventured into in the village for years. John lost interest in the beach and the sea when he could no longer squeeze into an inflatable dingy and bob about in the waves, although we continued to stay just outside in Llanbedrog, driving miles into Caernarfon every day for John to see the bridge and the steam trains and then driving back again. This year we decided to stay as near to the bridge and trains as possible but without being in the town.
John however uses the name Abersoch as an umbrella term for anywhere in Wales other than Caernarfon, which he calls Oi Oi Ig….I have no idea why but it works for him.
This year we were staying in a little cottage up in the hills about 5 miles from Caernarfon, with a place name unencumbered by any vowel sounds whatsoever; therefore unpronounceable. I had a go, as you do, but ‘My stray phone’ was as near as I could get and didn’t provoke any help when we got lost, which we did with monotonous regularity.
‘Can you help us please?’ I would beg, pink with sweat, frustration and altitude sickness. It was always a small miracle that we were lucky enough to meet any living soul along the remote single track roads leading nowhere. ‘We appear to be lost’ I would add smiling weakly and giving a nod in the general direction of John’s dad to let the soul know it was him and not me that had got us lost.
‘ Eh! lost are you? eh!’ the soul would reply, followed by ‘Eh! where you going eh!?’
‘Erm…My Stray Phone?’ shrugging my shoulders.
‘Eh! where you say eh!?’
‘MY STRAY PHONE’ I would shout as if it would help by pronouncing it louder.
‘Eh!’ lots of head shaking.
John by know fed up with it all would lean out of the window and yell ‘Abersoch, now, please mummy’
‘Eh! Abersoch is it eh!?’ and we would then be given detailed directions to a place we didn’t actually want to go to.
I worked it out that by the time we had driven round in circles, up and down mountains and dead end farm tracks, we had traveled further than if we had stayed near Abersoch like all the other years. You couldn’t make it up.
Johns agenda was to visit the bridge every day to see Les and Derek, or ‘Bridge Man’ as John calls them and to eat fish cake and chips on the bridge at least twice.
He also wanted to watch the Welsh Highland steam train departing and returning to the little station by the Harbour several times every day. He wanted to go on the steam train but couldn’t decide when, so we knew it would be a last minute mad dash to buy tickets whenever the urge took him.
It sounded like a good plan to me, what could possibly go wrong?
First off both Les and Derek the bridge men were off sick. Les had chronic fatigue following a kidney infection, pneumonia or the black death and Derek had nearly cut one of his fingers off, cut his hand off at the wrist or lost his whole arm, depending on who was telling the story. Anyway whatever had happened John would not be seeing his two favourite men in all of Oi Oi Ig.
Instead he would have to make do with Alun, a great bear of a man with no teeth and ten chins. He was only in his forties but life had been unkind. Last time we met Alun he was recovering from TB and took great pleasure in describing in full detail the collective horrors of his sputum.
I could hardly wait…..
Alun it turned out was in mourning, his beloved wife had passed away only four months earlier and remained inconsolable even to the day. I gave him a hug only managing to get my arms to halfway around his front but nonetheless conveying my sympathy. He cried unashamedly on my shoulder, huge man tears rolling down his face and cascading from his chins like a water feature. My heart broke for him.
John was only interested in the bridge and as Alun wept John tickled and poked him shouting ‘Noise stop! Bridge swing now Derek, please, yes!’ forgetting in his excitement that it was Alun and not Derek who was being selfish, crying noisily and not swinging the bridge for him.
Over the following days John still visited the bridge but preferred watching it from a distance, all the wailing and crying from Alun was clearly distracting for John and I guess it didn’t look so good on his video. Autism is so egocentric.
John found himself a new friend, the captain of ‘The Queen of the Sea’ pleasure cruiser which takes passengers for a pootle up the Menai Straites and back every forty minutes. It sports a very large flag from the roof of the captains bridge type thingy and it would wave and dance spectacularly in the wind.
He would wave at John as he sailed past and John would yell ‘Fag’ back at him at the top of his voice startling all the passengers. He meant Flag, but by the time I yelled back to explain it was too late, the boat had sailed out of earshot and the captains character had unintentionally been called into question.
On the final voyage before we left for home John wanted to share his fishcake with his new friend so he shouted ‘Fag’ and lobbed a handful of mush and batter into the boat, it stuck to the window of the little bridge thingy that housed Captain Fag. I think he was grateful to John for sharing his tea with him but I couldn’t swear to it.
John took great delight from his daily trips to watch and video the welsh highland railway steam train and unnerved the passengers in first class by pressing his nose against the windows and licking them. The windows that is not the passengers.
He chose his trip on the train on Tuesday afternoon, three minutes before it was due to leave. His dad gave Usain Bolt a run for his money in his dash to the ticket office before the whistle blew. John bounced up and down slapping his head and shouting ‘Now daddy, now yeehaaaa’ as Usain made it back just in time for the whistle and to be covered in thick black smoke as the funnel belched and coughed.
The passengers could be seen silently praying that John would not choose to sit in their carriage and spoil their afternoon of peace and tranquility as they puffed their way through the beautiful welsh countryside. He tricked carriages number one and two by opening the carriage door, jumping on and looking up and down before shaking his head and shouting ‘No, Please’ and jumping off again. Their sighs of relief were audible.
Carriage number three was not so lucky and they were treated to an altogether different experience than they had bargained for.
John on the other hand was chuffed to bits.