Did I ever tell you about my Cardiff Period? Starting in the late eighties and for a number of years, I was responsible for the supervision of overseas trainees in training with British Steel, and this meant frequent visits to South Wales where the lads were either in Polytechnics doing HNDs, or in BS works getting otj training, from Ebbw Vale to Llanelli. My base, though, was always Cardiff.
On my first visit, I unpacked my stuff in my room in the Cardiff Crest Hotel, and then went for a walk, mainly looking for somewhere to have dinner. In a very pleasant thoroughfare called Church Street, I came upon two Italian restaurants which faced each other on either side of the road. I chose the one on my right. It was fine, good food, a bit expensive. And then, something amazing happened. The very pretty young waitress who had served me, and with whom, of course, I had got into conversation, whispered that the restaurant opposite was better. Naughty of her, but she was young and clearly sincere.
So, next time, I went to the restaurant on the other side, a place called the Positano. And, brothers and sisters, hallelujah, I never looked back. It was more fun than the eureka moment when Archimedes spilled his bathwater. Wonderful ambience, food and wine, friendly service, and a married couple running the place who were larger than life. I enjoyed chats with Waldo, a bon vivant and a womaniser, and I enjoyed even more hugs from his junoesque wife, Beverley, and her company at my table when they weren't too busy. Good times.
What reminded me of my Cardiff Period at this particular moment? Out of the blue, I had an email from the pretty young waitress who was the primum mobile of my love affair with Cardiff and the Positano. Her name is Sonia, and during my Cardiff Period, we became very good mates. She was as bright as a button, a wonderful chatty scatterbrained girl, mad as a hatter, full of life, and pretty enough to turn an old man's head.
And Sonia, now married and divorced with two grown-up daughters, saw my name on Facebook (so it does have its uses), and got in touch.
I often wonder what I have done to deserve such happiness as that provided by rediscovering old friends after many years, keeping (most, but not all, alas) of those I have made during my life, and, best of all perhaps, finding new friends occasionally.
I think I will open a bottle of something to celebrate...