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The other night I walked to the Traveller’s Rest pub and a biting night it was too. Frost glistened upon rooftops and the roofs of cars sparkled, it was quite magical. All in all I was glad to be within the warmth nestling behind the old oak doors and to be asking for my usual brew, a golden real ale with a packet of salted nuts. And luck was with me as I gained a fireside seat: upon entering the lounge a couple on seeing me swiftly vacated their place which I put down to the damp dog smell of my scraggly mutt. So I made myself comfortable and the mutt sniffed around for old crisps on the floral carpet and I glanced across to the window seat and espied a couple of blokes chatting. They were in fact conversing upon the subject of how to better themselves as they both worked down the local 24 hour supermarket, one in the warehouse unloading lorries and the other on tills. They debated a move to Spain to work in better climes abroad in the bars of the Costas.


I thus engaged them upon the subject and this story unfolded as told by the one with stubble and a mobile which regularly shivered and lit up beside his half drunk pint. They said a mate of theirs worked for a while on a farm in Glamorganshire for a couple called Rowli Pugh and Catti Jones who were known to have bad luck. Their wheat was always patchy, their lambs sickly, their Landrover kept breaking down and their tractor had permaently unresolved hydraulic problems. On top of this Catti was depressed and rendered incapable of doing a moment's work. One day Rowli was sat upon the wall of his yard contemplating the drastic step of selling up in order to improve their lot by emigrating to Spain wherre property was cheaper and they could find some work, surely. And all that sunshine!


While he was mullingover his woes an old man turned up, shepherd's crook in hand, and asked why it was Rowli had such a gloomy countenance. Rowli was about to pour out all his problems when the old bloke piped up, “Don’t worry mate, hold yer tongue for I know more about you than you know and you’re going nowhere. "I’ll make sure that your life becomes one of contentment right here. "Tell the missus to leave a candle burning tonight when she goes to bed and every night henceforth.”


With that the old man or Ellyll as he in fact was, that is to say Fairy in more modern parlance, upped and offed. Rowli turned the conversation over in his mind and concluded that yes, he would tell his wife Catti Jones that an old man had said she must light a candle each night before bedtime and their luck’d change. And Catti would probably laugh her head off at such an idea. But what had they to lose? So that’s the angle he took and that’s the angle that got Catti to dig out the candles and light one having put the cat out and brushed her teeth.


And it’s a fact that from the next day onwards their life did change. When they went down in the morning to put the kettle on for a cuppa the previous day’s washing up was washed and put away. There was a freshly baked loaf on the table, croissants and a fat chocolate cake. The dirty washing was drying on the line clean and crease free and the bathroom was immaculate. And their home brew was bottled and ready to be enjoyed.


Each night Catti would light a candle before bedtime and by morning the baking, brewing and washing was all done. Rowli now always had clean clothes and bed sheets, tasty bread and well brewed beer and it made him feel like a new man, and he worked like one. For Catti it was the make-over she’d always needed and she set up a business from home selling scented candles. Their farm prospered, the grain grew thick and strong, the pigs were the fattest at the market and the lambs too. They had a conservatory built and a gravel drive snaked up to the farmhouse where an eight grand Aga sat in the kitchen and double glazing kept the Welsh weather out.


Thus their life continued thus for a full three years until Catti could contain her curiosity no more. When Rowli was snoring one night she sneaked down the stairs and opened the kitchen door a crack. There she saw the Fairy Folk busily making bread and beer and dancing and laughing as they did so. Catti was so bemused by the sight she burst out laughing and in an instant they scattered in a whirl of fairy dust and the kitchen was silent. Rowli and Catti’s luck stayed with them however which is often not the case when the Fairy Folk are spied upon.


The blokes in The Traveller’s Rest confided to me they were hoping for a similar chain of events by sitting on the car park wall by their block of flats that night looking miserable as hell in the hope an Ellyll would appear. Slurring his words the stubbled one said they were off down the supermarket right now for some candles to light each night they were so desperate to escape their dead end jobs, overdrafts and singledom. Though the thought did cross my mind that hanging around a car park late at night was asking for trouble, not from Otherworldly Folk but from the police. But I kept my mouth shut. Anyway, all said, good luck to ye lads, I hope the magic works.



Tale At The Traveller's Rest