20120901

A Chilly Summer day

View from Chepstow



In the summer of 2008, the company I worked for sent me to Bristol, on the west coast of England, to open a new office and initiate business operations there, because we were THIS CLOSE to obtaining funding. Three months later, I closed the office. Such is the fickleness of start-ups and venture capitalists.

Workaholic that I was, I put in 10 to 12-hour workdays, and often worked 7 days a week. Other than lounging in the lavender steam room and various pools at the Thermae Bath Spa, and a couple of side trips over extended weekends, I didn't get out much. So it came to pass, that the CEO took it upon himself to make me get out for at least one sightseeing trip before I headed back home. We were heading across the bridge to watch whales.

"I love whales, they're so pretty!"
"Not whales, Wales!"
"Yes, exactly."

That's the thing about homophones, isn't it? When you're speaking, you can't tell the difference without context.
View from Caerphilli, low tide

Early one Saturday morning, the CEO, two interns and I squeezed into a car, crossed the bridge and ended up in Yugoslavia. Or so you'd think, because there were suddenly fewer vowels on the street signs. A few miles on was a huge, stone fortress perched high atop a cliff over a river that met the one we'd just crossed, Cas-gwent (Chepstow in English). Several miles south, we ran into another fortification of Norman design, this one with concentric walls. Caerfilli (Caerphilly in English, the only Welsh word I saw that seemed similar to its English translation).
Toodling through the ruins of both fortresses, reading about the military history of the Normans and their conquests and defeats, I couldn't help but think that in this day and age, these massive stone walls in a cool and slightly humid climate would make fantastic wine caves. And they'd be easy to defend!

Just as I was dreaming of my wine cave, some crazy little yellow guy ran into me full force, knocking me down! When my boss tried to pull him off me, the guy hauled off and punched him. Then he knocked down the interns, too, for good measure, before running off and screaming something about lousy 'Murcans. 

"Whoah, was that a banana?"
"Don't be silly, bananas are inanimate, and they wouln't grow in Wales, anyway." 
"Hey, my wallet's missing!"
"Mine, too!"

And that, my friends, is how I, my boss and the two interns, were robbed by an angry little Welsh banana. Pokey Banana has denied all culpability, claiming that area is too far south of his home territory, but he has no alibi for that day...

N.B.: for those who don't know Pokey, he is one of my blogging friends from another site who masquerades as an angry banana.