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Torfaen Tales

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Ivor had never particularly liked the mutt. It had been Gladys’s idea to get a dog, and it didn’t seem fair that he was lumbered with the task of walking the stupid thing. Morning and night.

“Oh Ivor, I’d do it myself if it wasn’t for my arthritis,” Gladys said. Funny, he thought, how her arthritis managed to get her conveniently out of a variety of tasks like walking the dog and mowing the lawn. Yet she managed to walk miles around the shopping mall, in and out of the dress shops, without so much as a word of complaint.

And so, early on a wet February morning Ivor was out walking the mutt. Jacky. Stupid name for a dog, he muttered to himself as he closed yet another farm gate. With an excited bark, Jacky was off, probably after a rabbit. At least he couldn’t get out onto the road. The country path followed the road along the bottom of the field for about half a mile, but the hedgerow acted as a barrier.

Ivor could see something on the side of the path. It looked like a cardboard box. When he got closer he saw it was not one but two boxes. Closer still, he got a strong whiff of whisky. On closer inspection, and to his amazement, the boxes each contained a dozen bottles of whisky, and three of the bottles had broken, hence the strong smell.

Ivor looked around. There was no-one about, nothing to indicate where the whisky had come from. Perhaps it had fallen from heaven?

Jacky loped back, tongue lolling, to see what had detained his master.

“Heel!” shouted Ivor. He didn’t want the dog cutting its paws on the broken glass. The last thing he needed was expensive vet’s bills.

Ivor pulled the boxes into the bushes and covered them over as much as possible. He hurried home with Jacky firmly on the lead, and got Gladys’s shopping trolley out of the shed. Quietly, in order to avoid detection by She Who Must Be Obeyed.

Minus the dog, he made rapid progress back to where he had stashed the whisky bottles. Within minutes he’d loaded up the trolley and was on his way back home.

Gladys was waiting for him in the kitchen.

“I wondered where you’d got to,” she said, buttering Ivor’s toast.

“Had a bit of a find, Glad. Take a look at these.”

Gladys’s eyes grew wide as Ivor explained how he’d found the two boxes of whisky bottles.

“I don’t know where they came from, but they’re mine now,” he said firmly. On his pension a bottle of whisky was a rare treat for Ivor, and to come by twenty-one bottles without having to part with so much as a pound was a miracle indeed.

By mid-morning the origin of the whisky was known. While getting her milk and bread in the mini-market in the village, Gladys overheard Mr Patel, the owner, telling Mr Jenkins about an accident the night before.

“A delivery van skidded into the hedge down on Copse Lane, about a mile before the canal bridge. Made quite a mess. Broken glass everywhere, as the van was carrying a load of beer, wine and spirits. The police had to close the road for most of the night.”

Ivor Morgan rubbed his hands with glee at his wife’s news. “The company will have made an insurance claim for the entire load. No need for me to say anything about my find. But don’t you go telling anyone, Glad. This is strictly between you and me,” he said, tapping the side of his nose.

Gladys pursed her lips. It wasn’t exactly thieving, but to her mind it wasn’t far off. Still, like Ivor said, a big company wouldn’t miss a few bottles of whisky, so what harm could it do?

The following morning, the state of her husband showed just how much harm one bottle of whisky could do. He had a terrible hangover. Gladys was all in favour of pouring the rest down the drain. She’d heard enough on TV about the youth of today binge-drinking, and she didn’t want her Ivor to follow suit. Another 20 bottles of that stuff could kill him.

“Now just wait a minute, Glad. I know Jones the Handyman likes a drop or two. You wanted him to re-do the bathroom. I may be able to do a deal.”

Sure enough, Jones the Handyman knew a good deal when he saw it, and was happy enough to renovate the Morgans’ bathroom in exchange for a quantity of whisky, no questions asked. And a few weeks later Gladys was proudly polishing her new tiles.

Ivor had not had the heart to hand over all the whisky, though. He kept two bottles for himself, hidden in the shed behind some tins of paint. And often when he took Jacky for his evening walk he topped up his hip flask, making sure he had a packet of mints in his pocket to disguise the tell-tale smell on his breath when he returned home. The promise of a drop of pure gold made the chore of walking the dog more bearable.

By Karenne Griffin

Forthcoming Events

DOTTY - Art Exhibition

Date:
09/09/2016 - 29/10/2017
Description:
Exhibition of work by Hilda Smith - Dotty - mixed media work of scenes and still life in the style of dots.

Family of Blaenafon and Family of Miners

Date:
29/08/2017 - 28/01/2018
Description:
Two photographic exhibitions by Walter Waygood documenting the landscape, home life, society, work, religion, mining and youth in Blaenafon from the 1970s onwards.

Go Gym with Valleys Gymnastics at Pontypool ALC

Date:
19/10/2017
Description:
Recreational gym classes for pre-school children at Pontypool Active Living Centre

Parent & Toddler Group at Richmond Road Baptist Church

Date:
19/10/2017
Description:
Every Thursday morning 9.30 till 11.30. All pre school children, mothers, fathers, grandparents or carers welcome.
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