Pork Scratchings

Masnachu

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So last weekend a few of my friends and I headed out on a series of drives that saw us briefly visit Cheltenham before high-tailing it off to Wales. It was quite a lengthy drive but it allowed me to catch up on all the sleep I had previously refused to allow my body in the evenings.  The reason for crossing into Wales (because lets face it, you need a pretty good reason), was to surprise one of my friend’s (Ted) for his birthday in the only way to surprise a lover of history…with a medieval banquet. Entering Wales you couldn’t help feel that Tolkien must’ve had a little trip down here from Birmingham to snap up some town names for his gargantuan notebook.  Other conversations in the car largely revolved around if any of the sheep still had their anal virginity.

The banquet was in a sleepy little town called Ruthin, home to a castle and a circular roundabout. A few of my lucky friends had gotten rooms in the Castle for the evening while myself and others wandered over to a quaint little B&B with the instantly recognisable title of  ‘Gorphwysfa Guest House’. One of my fellow guests strolled in with his England top on, if you followed the America blog then this was the same chap who nearly fell down the Grand Canyon with that exact top on. We all tried pronouncing the aforementioned B&B, as well as a few of the road names but our attempts sounded more as if we were having violent phlegm attacks while trying to bite off our own ears. To our shock, the room, and subsequently the actual B&B was pretty grand, so grand in fact that a old brown grand piano sat in the foyer. The room also had plenty of space to stand as far away from each other after enduring the long car journey.

Sword fighting as a close-up spectator sport unsurprisingly only attracts drunks.

In the weeks running up to our venture to Wales there had been a few whispers that the owner of the B&B was a little bit on the cuckoo side. None of these whispers were from me as I had absolutely no involvement in the booking of this place. It turned out that those whispers were true, partially. The woman who ran the joint was a dainty Welsh creature who I thought of a bit like a mysterious hotelier in horror films. She seemed to step into our vision as if she had just appeared through a wall or closet and her initial pleasantries seemed to be overshadowed by a odd tourette-like demanding attitude. Our first encounter with this was just after we had dumped our stuff and were getting ready to head out to grab some food. She had given us a great little run down of where everything was in the town (which largely consisted of a castle to the right and some pubs to the left) and we thought we would quickly take a peak at the rest of the B&B. A short inspection of the immaculate dining room soon turned peculiar as her initial pride in our compliments became an eagerness to get us out.

‘I have to clean. I’m cleaning, now shoo-shoo-shoo’

Writing this now, I feel like this could easily be one of those events that is hard to translate, as the dialogue above seems rather playful, but I can assure you, it felt more like we had walked in on her counting dope money and she didn’t want us to get a whiff of it.

Medieval A-Team

In the pub we managed to order a couple of pints before finding out that there was no food served til 5pm, which made the pints more of a hindrance really as we were starving. The whole 5pm ordeal was apparently hilarious to a pair of Welsh builders who sat exchanging one word statements about us and then laughing. One of them had jolly curly hair that bounced about as he mocked us. I felt like telling him that Ronald MacDonald is not meant to be a style icon. One by one we were met by the ‘Castle group’ who joined us for pints and food. Jess, who had organised the whole shindig, unloaded a heap of pick’n’mix fancy dress clothes in the pub, it looked as if she had just been round the 1400s collecting for Oxfam. This was largely for my benefit as I had managed to bring nothing fancy or dressy at all for the occasion apart from a plastic sword that had more of a pirate feel to it (mainly because I had originally bought it for a pirate fancy dress). Once Jess had unpacked the entire wardrobe of the Knight’s of the Round Table, Ronald MacDonald piped up asking if we were ‘invading’.

After grabbing some quick grub in a cafe served up by a lovely woman whose jolly curly hair actually suited her, we had a few cheekily extra pints and I introduced everyone to the ‘I’m In Business’, a game that a few people may be familiar with. My initial introduction of ‘I’m In Business’ garnered me some odd looks but after a few minutes people started to get into it. The basic system works like this, when you’re feeling witty you simply say, ‘I’m In Business’ to which a person replies ‘What’s your Business?’ and to which you can then say anything you please, for example sake let’s use ‘Carpentry’. The person who is enduring your attempted joke must then ask, ‘How’s business’ and then comes the clever part, for you must form a magical pun, and in this instance, I would go with ‘A bit wooden.’ It may seem pathetic, and that’s largely because it is, but keep going with it and you’re suddenly discover you’ve been playing it for seven days and the only thing you’ve drank is your friend’s accidental spit.

So anyway…yes the banquet. We all walked into the castle after deciding on our characters and their histories. I was a Spaniyard whose ship had smashed to bits on the Welsh shore (terrible luck), Gareth (who was the best dressed) was the Duke of Cambridge (but apparently also Surrey and a few other places) and Alan was a non-celibate Monk who wore a dressing gown. There were many others but you don’t care, I can tell. We were escorted in by a jovial jester who I tried to convince to use the cockney term, ‘boat race’ (face). We grabbed a quick pint in the bar and soon after we were ushered into the banquet hall with 100 others. It was this moment when we discovered that our party had an extra special status (thanks to Ted’s mother, bless) meaning Ted and Jess would be playing the roles of King and Queen for the night. This meant that they were the last to enter and we all got to sit on the high table to feel powerful. This also meant Ted had to pull off a couple of impromptu speeches. Now we’ve never been entirely confident in Ted’s ability for these kinds of things but he pulled them off with aplomb, pretty much disappointing all of us who were all stealthily ready to film his embarrassing moment.

I’m In Business. What’s Your Business? Royalty. How’s Business? It’s My Crowning Achievement.

The whole set-up was pretty funny, with an array of servers all playing their parts. Music was played, mead was drank, the jester impressed with floaty magic and the food was eaten with just a knife, which led to some comical moments of people chasing the lamb back down to their plates as it came loose. I was pulled up to dance at one point and thankfully I wasn’t drunk at this point so I avoided attempting to introduce any kind of disco move before its invention. We drank for quite some time after that before returning to our B&B.

The next morning we were treated to a fine private breakfast by our hostess, though I’d be lying if I wasn’t waiting for her to suddenly skewer us for her human-sized fireplace. After informing her that we would now all quickly take showers and be out by 11, we headed back upstairs. Whilst I was taking a shower our hostess morphed once more. Luckily, there was no movie moment from Psycho but instead she simply popped into the room and told my friends that we all had to leave, check out time was 10:30 (remember we had told her that we were leaving at 11, to which she seemed more than content) and that she had paid people to clean the room. She reiterated this a few times and from my hiding place behind the bathroom door she almost sounded possessed. So we quickly got the hell out of dodge before she began tying nooses on the staircase and headed to the castle to say our goodbyes. Jess and Ted’s room stank of farts and so we didn’t stay long.

I love abrupt endings to blogs.

Make sure you check out the new stuff for the website which is linked at the top of this post! If you are wondering what ‘Masnachu’ means then I can tell you it means ‘To Do Business’ in Welsh. I thought it fitting, plus it looked cool.