Sunday, 3 February 2008

Sunday at the Club

What a strange day. I usually love a Sunday in the Welsh Valleys but today is different. I have broken with tradition for the first time and not gone down the Club.

Now in the old days when the licensing laws meant the Club shut at 1400(out by 1430) there would be a queue outside the doors by 1200 and a great morning would be had, before weaving home for the magnificent Sunday Lunch with home made Yorkshire Pudding. Sometimes light. Sometimes heavy. But always great.

Nothing like sitting in the lounge with the older members who would usually get a sing song going. And everyone of them would have a song we never tired of hearing and joining in on when required.

My fathers song was "Whispering Grass" and always earned a few beer cheques for us to have a cheap morning. The Chairman at the time, always immaculate, would usually finish the morning off with reciting the poem "The Green eye of the Little Yellow God" by J. Milton Hayes. Might as well have it whilst you're here.

There's a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu,
There's a little marble cross below the town;
There's a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew,
And the Yellow God forever gazes down.

He was known as "Mad Carew" by the subs at Khatmandu,
He was hotter than they felt inclined to tell;
But for all his foolish pranks, he was worshipped in the ranks,
And the Colonel's daughter smiled on him as well.

He had loved her all along, with a passion of the strong,
The fact that she loved him was plain to all.
She was nearly twenty-one and arrangements had begun
To celebrate her birthday with a ball.

He wrote to ask what present she would like from Mad Carew;
They met next day as he dismissed a squad;
And jestingly she told him then that nothing else would do
But the green eye of the little Yellow God.

On the night before the dance, Mad Carew seemed in a trance,
And they chaffed him as they puffed at their cigars:
But for once he failed to smile, and he sat alone awhile,
Then went out into the night beneath the stars.

He returned before the dawn, with his shirt and tunic torn,
And a gash across his temple dripping red;
He was patched up right away, and he slept through all the day,
And the Colonel's daughter watched beside his bed.

He woke at last and asked if they could send his tunic through;
She brought it, and he thanked her with a nod;
He bade her search the pocket saying "That's from Mad Carew,"
And she found the little green eye of the god.

She upbraided poor Carew in the way that women do,
Though both her eyes were strangely hot and wet;
But she wouldn't take the stone and Mad Carew was left alone
With the jewel that he'd chanced his life to get.

When the ball was at its height, on that still and tropic night,
She thought of him and hurried to his room;
As she crossed the barrack square she could hear the dreamy air
Of a waltz tune softly stealing thro' the gloom.

His door was open wide, with silver moonlight shining through;
The place was wet and slipp'ry where she trod;
An ugly knife lay buried in the heart of Mad Carew,
'Twas the "Vengeance of the Little Yellow God."

There's a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu,
There's a little marble cross below the town;
There's a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew,
And the Yellow God forever gazes down.

Today the Sunday at the club is still a great day but different. Open all day, they have a tote and an artist and a Boxing Day atmosphere where most drink far too much. Myself included.

But because of this atmosphere, many no longer go home at a decent time but stay all day and pre-prepared Sunday Lunches remain uneaten or for some, arrive in the club delivered by an angry partner. The meal usually on top of the head of the drinker who should have been home two hours earlier.

Welsh women have learned that this "grand gesture" is wasted if they place the food in front of the miscreant as after she has stormed out, the boys will just eat it and carry on drinking. No fear you see. Well none at least until the effects of the alcohol as worn off. And the only song sung, might be "Sloop John B." and that is it.

But this morning whilst searching for some documents, I found an old photograph of the lounge of the club as it was. In the forefront, amoungst the singing men, sits my father next to his brother, my uncle. Both now gone. In fact most of the singers have gone. I like to think of them singing away in the Big Lounge in the sky.

But who are those two young teenagers huddled in the corner whispering, oblivious to the events around them? Why it is myself and my brother, heads together plotting God only knows what.

No. Today I shall stay in and have a few glasses of Rum and Water and read.

Wales is dead. It died when the Miners stopped singing.

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