Jez's Blog

The Strange Story of How I Found a New Band

A Salute to My Influences

Celebrating Our Differences

Daring to Use the Four-Letter Word

What Is The Real Olympian Spirit?

Watching The Olympics Opening Ceremony

How Good Service Turned into a Speed Trip

Blurring the Line Between Fact and Fiction

How Creativity Keeps Moving On

How an Artist in the Kitchen Revealed my Inner 'Foody'

Synchronicity - an Everyday Sort of Magic

Does This Make You Laugh?

The Magic of Storytelling

How Good Design Serves the User

Learning to Love Creative Blocks

Creating The CLUB

How a Kiss Missed Its Target at a Posh Do

How Bob Dylan refused the Box labelled ‘Protest Singer’

The ‘Get Back in Your Box’ Syndrome

What’s all the fuss about?

Reflections on Learning and Teaching

The Third in my Triptych of Entries about Thought

Happily disconnected in Cornwall

The Best Way to Sell is to Do Something Well

Life is Good

Zen & the Art of Birdwatching

How Good Service Turned into a Speed Trip


I’m visiting the beautiful valleys of Wales to appear at a literary festival in the grounds of a stately home in Carmarthenshire.  If there’s one thing I appreciate when I’m travelling it’s good service. ( see my ealier blog on the subject). You can’t really ‘do’ good service – if people are being ‘nice’ to you because they are required to be by the nature of their jobs that just feels false and horrible – it’s like being lied to. I’ve found that everywhere I’ve been on this trip, in restaurants, the hotel or at the festival the Welsh people are warm and genuine. (The beautiful lilting Welsh accent these exchanges come with only adds to the pleasure).


After an evening meal in a local pub with the author Philip Ardagh, the pub’s manager takes good servic to a whole new level. Unable to get through to any cab companies in this sleepy village, this helpful young man, to our great surprise, offers to give us a lift back to our hotel! This is so far beyond the call of duty that, at first, we both think we have misheard him (imagine this happening in London or New York!). But no, he actually means it and soon we find ourselves folding our limbs into his small hatchback. As I am over six foot tall and Philip is well on the way to seven feet (technically a giant) this is quite an operation.


Is it the modern world in which we live thats makes both of us think there must be some catch to this act of kindness? Is this like the start of a thriller movie in which two travellers, a long way from home and in need of help, accept the kindness of an apparently friendly local? After the first two gear changes we realise that there is indeed a price to pay for accepting this offer of unexpected generosity. For some reason, the genial young manager drives like he’s in a scene from Jurassic Park and we are being chased through the Welsh valleys by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. At first I try to rationalise his driving, ‘Oh it’s because we are going down a hill; maybe his foot slipped on the accelerator’ but no, the suicidal driving just gets more and more dangerous. The weird thing is that, because our chauffeur has been so kind, neither of us feel we are in a position to make a judgement on his driving skills and so we just sit back, grip the edge of our seats with white knuckles and try to make normal, polite conversation through gritted teeth. I have that feeling I remember from childhood rollercoaster rides when you are scared witless and the only thing you can do is let go and hope that you’ll still be alive by the end of the ride. Things become more worrying when, even with our lack of local knowledge, Philip and I notice that our crazed driver is taking a very strange, circuitous route to our destination (which was only about three miles from the pub when we had made the outward trip). By now I have the soundtrack of The Door’s ‘Riders on the Storm’ (one of my Desert Island Discs selections) in my head: ‘There’s a killer on the run…’ 


Ten minutes later we skid to a stop on the shiny wet tarmac outside our hotel. As we unfold our wobbly limbs from the car Philip and I manage a few words of thanks before the mysterious pub manager screeches off into the Welsh mist. As we stand safely back on terra firma a sense of relief, boosted by the adrenaline pumping through our bodies, combine to make us feel somewhat elated but our open mouthed expressions both betray the same sentiment: ‘What the . . .  was that all about?’’ We run through a list of possibilites:

          a - He was drunk?

          b - He trying to put the southern tourists in their place and is already back at his bar regaling his regulars with the story of the terrified southern softies he had in his car.

          c - All young Welshmen drive like that?

 We will never know the real reason but I like the idea that Philip and I are just the latest in a long line of visitors to his remote Welsh pub to experience the thrill of his white knuckle Welsh valley rollercoaster ride. 

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