I met Judith in September 2011 when I started doing an evening class in Welsh at Swansea University. Everyone was very quiet and frightened – week one of a language class is always hard. Except for Jude, who took it all in her stride and launched straight in. She speaks Welsh fearlessly, with no regard for making a mistake or looking a fool. But then she lives her life like that too – she skis whenever she can and smokes all the time, neither are recommended for a long life. But then as she herself would no doubt say, you’re a long time dead.
Judith used to be a headteacher and as such is always good for off-loading how awful my day has been and what my kids have been subjected to at the hands of the state education system. We managed to get through that quite quickly and moved on to birthday celebrations – Jude also has a big one coming up but is considering a parachute jump on the day itself followed by a boozy weekend for ‘the girls’. She mentioned that she planned to spend her birthday “strapped to a handsome young man” but I wasn’t clear whether this was still the parachute jump or some other outrageous idea. I’m not sure parachute jumping is all that wise at my age, but safe to say that Judith is a little older. I certainly wasn’t going to mention it to her though, and I suspect that she is in no danger of breaking her hip, gravity wouldn’t dare.
Lunch done and thoroughly enjoyed by us both, we headed off in search of a glass of wine and a cigarette. I laughed a lot at Jude’s indignation at being forced to use a plastic glass (we were outside the pub with the smokers and other reprobates). “Do we look like the the kind of people who cause trouble”? She asked just after I had taken this photo. The barmaid was far too polite to reply but I think the answer is pretty obvious – hell yes.
3 October 2014
Kardomah Cafe, Swansea
I chose The Kardomah because I knew that as a relative newcomer to Swansea, Judith might not have been there but would undoubtedly love it. The decor is straight out of the fifties, the waitresses wear black dresses and white aprons. They are friendly, fast, efficient and never get your order wrong. The food is also from another time: roast dinners like home made, lemon merengue pie, plaice and chips. What is not like the old days is the coffee – no chicory enhanced, watery crap for the Kardomah, the coffee is excellent – their own blend and it’s strong, smooth and rich.