August is normally a month off for True stories Cardiff but we had a special request from Roxy (Kemi’s right hand woman for many years) who is leaving Cardiff soon to take up a post as a teaching assistant back in her home town. Roxy usually misses all the stories because she is downstairs serving but for once she wanted to experience the show as an audience member. Hope you enjoyed it Roxy and good luck!
We began the evening searching for enough chairs to accommodate the 60 or so people who had decided to kick start their week with some live truth. We failed, so with some audience members perched on ledges Fran told us about the chaotic funeral of her ex-husband Bonga. Bonga it seems was a bit of a lad. A Grangetown legend for his hard partying and boystrous behaviour he had won Fran’s heart after ,or perhaps during, a blood soaked rumble with a Barry gang at the Penarth Sea Scout’s hut back in the 60s. Bonga’s send off included a pedantic priest who kept referring to Paul (Bonga’s real name) until the heckling forced him to relent, a friend throwing himself onto the coffin; children dangling their legs as beer was poured onto the casket, a graveside spliff and a dog running away with the sheet of astroturf used to tidy the mud pile at the graveside. It sounded like the kind of party Bonga would have loved.
Next up Lisa gave a lovely account of the heartache involved in coming to university in Cardiff from a small village in the north. The thought she was leaving home had never occurred to her and when the degree finished she went straight back. The painful realisation that going back is never really an option slowly dawned as she sat by her computer waiting for news from the big city. She was getting to know her parents as friends and spending time with her grandmother but a large part of her heart was now somewhere else. Her description of packing up and leaving home for real brought a tear to the eye of more than one audience member.
Cai brough the first half of the evening to a close with a welsh language song about cat with very definite ideas about what constituted suitable accommodation. Luckily for those non-Welsh speakers in the audience he preceded the song with a charming and funny account of the cat’s house swapping exploits.
After the break we began with Jill telling of her time in Tanzania. Her husband was stationed with the army there in the 1960s and they were unfortunate enough to be caught up in an attempted coup. Her story mixed humour with a genuine sense of peril and some images, notably the three senior officers hiding together in a tiny bathroom had the audience cracked up.
Erin took us back to the early 60s when as a fifth former she developed a crush on tall handsome Howard. He was into Maths, Physics and to her amazement (for three months at least) Erin. The end came on a cold rainy night in Bridgend when, waiting alone on a corner, she realised that Howard had shifted his attention elsewhere, but why? No explanation was sought or offered but awkward encounters in the school corridor confirmed her fears. Life progressed for all concerned and over the years Howard Marks developed an international profile which kept Erin’s question alive. Decades later, his drug millions gone and seven years of hard time under his belt, Howard was promoting a book in Cardiff and Erin got to ask her question. It turned out that he couldn’t remember why he had left her standing in the rain but one thing was for sure he twinkled, he wouldn’t do it again.
Gilly brought the evening to a close with an account of her experiences walking the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St James). As an agnostic embarking on a 500 mile pilgrimage it seemed at times to Gilly that her primary quest wasn’t for God but for an effective treatment for sore feet. She described her alter ego and constant companion as the moaning, muttering Mrs Blister whose mantra was “heat and feet don’t mix” The pain and discomfort Gilly suffered provoked much self doubt but this was alleviated by encounters with people too exhausted for small talk who shared their own true stories along the way. Nearing the end of her journey Gilly experienced what she described as a “moment of grace” in a beautifully unadorned church. It was a moment that made perfect sense of her 40 day adventure and on Monday night it felt like we were all there with her.
(by the way for anyone wondering, the verse Gilly recognised on the hostel wall was from Little Gidding by T.S.Eliot
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.)
Thanks to Gilly, Erin, Jill, Cai, Lisa and Fran for their true stories. Thanks to Kemi and her staff for the great venue and great food and thanks to our audience from listening so carefully and responding with such warmth to the performers.
We are looking at October for the next event but if we have enough people offering to tell stories then September is a possibility. We will let you know in good time. Spread the word and if you would like to tell a story either give steve a ring on 07976 312 055 or email us via the site
Steve, Andrew and Maria.