Monday 21 February 2011

Pickled Egg

A game of two halves this weekend. On Saturday after an intense session at the gym your intrepid reporter heads for the location of the second highest crime rate in the UK, that is Wind Street, Swansea, which achieved this dubious accolade when the "citizen-friendly" on-line crime map was published (take a look at your own neighbourhood here).

If this is the worst that the criminal fraternity can throw at us then we should feel reasonably secure. I have an early lunch at the north end of this infamous thoroughfare (Yates' wine bar - bacon sandwich and cup of tea, £1.49) and my fellow customers seem sedate, middle-aged, and rather timid. It dawns on me that I am the scariest person around and that's not saying much, I hope. Of course I am aware that the trouble can start in the evening but Stacey, 22, who works in Wind Street most weekends, is "surprised" that it ranked so high - "It's like any other street really," she says. "You do get fights, but when a lot of intoxicated people are around that kind of thing will happen." Wise beyond her years.

But I have not so long ago enjoyed the atmosphere in the giant mega-pubs of the street on weekend nights and, though it is not surprising that there are occasional affrays and even broken heads (not funny of course) I would recommend the happy party atmosphere which offers a contrast to the daily grind of this struggling community. The two main features of interest in the city centre this afternoon were a caravan buying jewellery from sad-looking local citizens trying to make ends meet and the ever-optimistic sellers of Socialist Worker (headline "Jobs for All" - amen to that). Little wonder people look for a bit of fun at the weekend and the vast majority do so without annoying anybody else.

On Sunday down to Pembrokeshire (almost the lowest crime rate in the UK) for a blow on the beach at Newport Sands and Sunday lunch as guest of an old friend of my mum's. Sadly the afternoon takes a turn for the worse when this kind lady gets her finger jammed in my car door necessitating a 5 hour marathon at A&E in Withybush Hospital (all well at the end).

I take time out from the waiting game to walk all around Haverfordwest noting that the guest house I lived in thirty years ago has gone along with the Rifleman public house which served as my local in those days. I recollect that in this frankly squalid establishment the pub meal of choice (actually the only thing available) was a packet of crisps - potato flavour - with a pickled egg crumbled into it, washed down with Whitbread Trophy bitter (advertised optimistically as "The Pint That Thinks It's a Quart!"). It was also more dangerous in my estimation than Wind Street today.