Café Cultures: Pontio, Storiel and Structures of Feeling

From Planet 231

by Frances Williams

Frances Williams evokes contrasting atmospheres in two Bangor cafés across the road from each other, and how this kindles ideas about Welshness, womanhood, culture and resistance, drawing on Raymond Williams, Pierre Bourdieu and memories of her grandmother’s mischievousness.

Clink of saucers. S’ mae. A queue of people. Children’s legs kicking over the edge of pushchairs. Steam. Chit-chatter. The long throaty hiss of the coffee machine. The waitress arrives, all smiles, despite the chaos. Can I get you anything? Panad o de, I order, trying out my first piece of Welsh outside the classroom. It arrives, unremarked upon. I have gotten away with it. Relief. I blend in. A spoon lands on the floor. Did the toddler throw it? The waitress has got bigger things to worry about than my pronunciation, squeezing through the tightly-packed tables to plonk down steaming tatws pôb. The menu speaks two ways too. Carrot and coriander. Moron a choriander. Morons are carrots. Slow as I am even I know that. Brought up in Bridgend, I only recently moved to north Wales after decades living in England.

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