ENGLISH | THE HERITAGE OF WORDS
This story told by a boy presents the adult world as understood by a young boy. The story is the story of his uncle –Uncle Thomas – who means to go outing to Porthcawl, but never made it there.
The boy was staying with his uncle and his aunt. His uncle was big and loud and red haired; he almost filled the small house of his as an old buffalo would. His aunt, on the other hand, was small and quiet. She would move from one room to another, like a cat on its soft paws, tending (care for or look after) to various household items like the china dogs, the buffalo, and the mousetraps. She would occasionally squeak like a mouse when in the hayloft (noun a loft over a stable used for storing hay or straw).
The uncle sat like a giant steam-run dismantled ship behind the counter of the tiny shop at the front of the house breathing like a brass band; in the kitchen he ate his big meal in a noisy manner. When he ate the house appeared to grow smaller. His check waistcoat appeared to be a meadow after having dropped various food items on it. The aunt used to beat him every Saturday after he got drunk. But not before he had placed her on a chair. He was usually beaten with a china dog. On Sundays, the uncle used to sing songs after going high on alcohol.
One evening when the boy was reading an advertisement for sheepdip (medicine for lice and animal bugs) some of his uncle's friends, Mr. Benjamin Franklyn, Mr. Weazley, Noah Bowen, and Will Sentry entered the shop. The boy felt their presence inside the house like all of them being in a drawer that smelled of cheese and turps, and twist tobacco and sweet biscuits and snuff and waistcoat. They talked about their annual outing. Mr. Benjamin had accumulated the money for the charabanc and twenty cases of pale ale. Benjamin was followed after by Will Sentry, who was keeping track of the money. Franklyn is disgusted as he feels he is not as trustless as Bob, who had been a treasurer in earlier outings and had embezzled some amount of money to buy himself some drinks. Then they played cards in the shop.
On Sunday morning, Mr. Franklyn and Will Sentry entered the uncle's house as the boy and his uncle were eating sardines. They had the list of every member who had paid in full. Uncle Thomas approved of the list of the outing-goers after having checked it (read p. 50 for details). The two of them go out. No sooner had they gone than the aunt stood in front of the dresser, with a china dog threatening uncle to go over to her mother's house if he chose outing over her. The uncle after considerable contemplation (soch) chose the outing. She hit the uncle on the head with the china dog she was holding in her hand after he had lifted her on the chair. For the rest of the week she was quiet and quick.
On Saturday morning breakfast time the boy's uncle saw his wife's familiar note that she wrote every year. He wanted to take the boy with him. He knew he would be opposed to by his friends for having taken his nephew but he nevertheless takes him along. The boy stopped outside and they objected to his uncle as presumed. The boy's share of money wasn't deposited. They forgot the boy when they talked about others. The charabanc had hardly moved out of the village on the beautiful August morning when they had to return to take on Old O. Jones, a regular outing-goer. After Jones got on, Mr. Weazley wanted to go home to take his(false) teeth, but his friends didn't see its necessity.
The charabanc pulled up (stopped) outside the Mountain Sheep, where the members, who were welcomed by the landowner with pouncing eyes, rushed out bleating like young sheep into the bar. The boy was made to look after the charabanc so that nobody stole it. Under age boys were not allowed inside bars; it still is a rule in the West. The boy had nothing to do for 45 minutes, which seemed to go by like a very slow cloud, except to look at the lake-eyed cows. On the contrary, his uncle and his friends were dead drunk and were breaking glasses. A French onion-seller bicycled down the road and stopped at the charabanc door, where the boy greeted him before following him down the passage and looked in the bar. He could hardly recognize the members of the outing. They were all red with alcohol and asking questions about their fellow friends and their whereabouts. Bob the Fiddle seemed to lead the drunken session: some were arguing; some were shouting. When Mr. Weazley came to the boy, he moved out and threw stone at the cows. The uncle came out and everyone followed him. They had drunk the bar dry. Mr. Weazley had won a string of onions which the French onion man had raffled in the bar. The charabanc moved out of Mountain Sheep in the direction of other public houses: The Blue Wall, the Sour Grapes, the Shepherd's Arms, the Bells of Aberdovey: The boy had nothing to do but remember the names where the outing stopped and kept an eye on the charabanc. Every time a public house appeared, it used to be Mr. Weazley who would stop the car for a drink on the pretext (baahana) of bad air ("stop the bus, I'm dying of breathe") in the charabanc.
Closing time of public houses meant nothing to the members of the outing. Even when the bar was closed, they would drink behind the locked doors as they did at Druid's Tap. They even tempered the policeman and made him sing to their beer choral - Asleep in the Deep. Noah would whisper: "Sssh! the pub is shut."
The charabanc finally came to a river where they had a merry time. Uncle Thomas sang "Porthcawl!" and Mr. Franklyn tried the Polka dance on the slippery stones, falling twice in the process. All gathered there agreed that the river was better than Porthcawl.
It was dusk and all the thirty members of the outing were wet and drunk. They were oblivious (not aware) to what was happening around them. They cared little about reaching Porthcawl. In fact Will Sentry said "Who goes there?" to a wild duck flying. They, eventually, stop at Hermit's Nest for rum to keep out the cold. A drunken talk goes on between Enoch Davies and a stranger.
On the way home there was moonlight. Old O. Jones began to cook his supper on a primus stove in the middle of the charabanc, but Mr. Weazley, ever so much the prime instigator, (bring about or initiate) stopped the bus on the excuse that he was dying of breath. All climbed down to the moonlit field carrying out the remaining cases of ale, the primus stove of Old Jones. They sat down in the field and drank and sang while Old O. Jones cooked sausage and mash. The boy began to sleep against his uncle's large waistcoat. Will Sentry exclaimed, "Who goes there?" to the passing moon.
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