There’s a shop on Allensbank road, in Cardiff. I pass it on my daily walk to work at Heath Hospital. I’m sure many people can relate to this, but I’m now struggling to think of the name of it. I pass it twice every work day, and have done for 4 years now, but I can’t remember what it’s called. Maybe it’s too familiar? Like a tree or a lamppost. You don’t know what the lamppost at the end of your road is named, I bet. It’s just “there”.
Some of you will point out that lampposts don’t have names, so it’s impossible to know them. Good point, well made.
Anyway, there’s definitely a shop there on Allensbank road. I think it’s a Nisa, officially. I’m not sure how the franchising of local shops works, I just know it happens. So it’s a Nisa. Let’s go with that. It’s owned and run by some very nice people who I think are Indian. Or Pakistani. Or Punjabi. Or Bangladeshi? I honestly don’t know, and I haven’t ever asked because until I sat down to write this I’ve never had a reason to care. Why would I?
And I’m guessing some people might read this as a subtly racist observation, a ‘they all look the same to me’ admission. It’s not that. I’ve genuinely never thought to ask or had a reason to want to. Plus I’m from a very small, isolated South Wales former mining valley, which is very nice but means I grew up with a mind-set that classed people as either “us” or “everyone else”. The non-UK natives manning this small shop are in the “everyone else” category, and that’s all I need really.
If it helps, they do sell tins of ‘Heera’ vegetable curry, which is orders of magnitude nicer and spicier than anything you’d get in more ‘mainstream’ tins of curry. But I digress.
One day I was in the shop buying a bag of carrots (one of my frequent and laughable attempts at ‘getting healthy’ by not buying crisps or samosas). I was queuing behind an older white haired gentleman who was, to put it kindly, muttering to himself in an unnerving manner. He didn’t sound happy.
As it’s right by a hospital, and I myself work next to a psychiatric crisis centre, I’m used to seeing people wandering about with an ‘atypical’ state of mind, so this didn’t bother me. I was a bit concerned by the possibility of him saying something grim to the shop workers though. He was buying a copy of the Daily Express. The dissonance required to buy a fervently anti-immigrant paper from an immigrant owned shop, thereby funding the very people being needlessly railed against, always fascinates me.
But no, no unpleasant things were said. Older man bought his paper, I bought my carrots, we went on our respective ways. Or so I thought.
I was just entering the alley that is a shortcut to my building when I heard a shout.
I slowed but kept on walking. Maybe whoever was shouting wasn’t shouting at me.
No, it was me. I turned slowly. It was the older gentleman, bearing down on me.
“Wennzitgonnarayne” he shouted.
I blinked, obviously having no idea what he’d said.
“Sorry?” I managed to say.
“Whennzit Gonnarayne” he shouted again.
Again, I had no idea what this meant. As calmly as possible, I told him so.
“Sorry, I don’t know what you-“ I manage to get out.
“WEN IZ IT GOING T’ RAIN?” he bellowed in my face.
This was on a Friday during a pleasant-but-bizarre 2 week period of clear skies and sun. Apparently, this man was hot, and wanted to know when it would rain again.
“Uh… Wednesday?” I said, hesitantly.
“GOOD!” he yelled, and walked off.
He wasn’t dangerous or anything, he was just a bit hot and decided that I looked like a younger version of Michael Fish, so demanded a forecast from me.
If this is what weathermen deal with on a daily basis, then whatever they’re paid is not enough.