Wednesday, 26 February 2020

The Abandoned Armchair and the Homeless Of Penarth

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Penarth town centre is relatively small and for the most part it has shops best described as @fashionable@. So for example it has coffee shops, a bookshop, a sweet shop and a number of gift shops. It is, as I've said before the urban version of a comfy pair of slippers.

So as I went there this morning imagine my surprise to see something completely out of place against the public toilets (Bridgend council please note)

Well that was unexpected

Now to be honest my first thought was how people were able to fly tip in so public a place. My second thought was that the homeless had a place to rest their weary legs for a while.

For homeless,or at very least people begging for trivial pennies from disinterested people, is something that even quiet Penarth town centre is not immune from. There was in fact three. One by the little Tesco, one by the little Sainsbury and one by the local Greggs. The last one was a guy seemingly ravaged by both life and the elements.

He was just sitting on the floor with a travel bag for comfort He didn't ask for money. Just stared at the clothed knees of the people passing by.

And yes I bought him a sausage roll to warm him up. Only later did I realise I did not get him a drink to wash it down (something essential with a sausage roll). to be honest it didn't occur to me given that I didn't buy a drink for myself either as I was having my sauage rolls at home with a cup of tea I'd make there.

So what does this all mean? Even in a comfotable place like Penarth town centre the poor are with us.

And it's getting worse.

Until the next time.

So Walking Crash Helmeted Guy In Bridgend Was Right

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

So the Corona virus is spreading rapidly across the globe with the speed as fast as I can type this sentence. Here in Wales it is at this moment one step away from frightening in a direct way. Indirectly however we are now in the situation of watching the situation and wondering when, rather than if, it will come here.

The great irony of all of this is that the best thing about the storms and floods that have ravaged this country in the past few months is that it has drawn our attention from the virus, being the most direct problem to deal with. However though the weather is still an issue the virus is beginning to make an effect.

Work has given me and the wife instructions about it. So have daughter's school. No doubt soon we will be covering our faces with something as presumably face masks will be sold out. The Crash helmeted guy strolling around Bridgend may have been premature, but no longer is he considered stupid.

The virus has spread to such an extent that it won't be long before everybody will know of an area affected. I'm there already. The government has said anybody returning to Britain from anywhere north of Pisa in Italy should self isolate themselves.

North of Pisa.....where my Italian relatives live.

The wife also has a cousin living in Thailand. So again we know people directly affected.

One thing I do wonder is that whether in this post- Brexit Britain the fact that I have an Italian name will mean I'll be the subject of abuse even though I've never visited there in twelve years (we were actually considering taking a holiday there this year. Do you want to know what our first option was going to be? Vietnam. Timing is everything). It's not improbable. People with an Asian face even if they are not of Chinese extraction have been abused. In circumstances as in the world and Britain we live in now people are bound to turn a trifle primitive.

Oh for the age of innocence where when people of my generation heard the word Corona they instantly thought of a soft drink of the same name.Now no longer with us.

First a virus...who knows what's next.  But as things are developing so far we are all about to walk with a crash helmet on.

Until the next time.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Random Thoughts On South Walian Storms and Floods

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

I have thankfully been lucky when it comes to flooding. The closest I've ever been to it was in 1997 when I had only recently moved to Wales. The wife and I were watching pictures of flooding near Epping Forest in Essex and she turned to me and asked for

"Doesn't your cousin live near there?"

And indeed she did. I rang up and her husband responded. It was in that sort of tone where things were not alright with the world. For they were indeed flooded. Not to the extent that water invaded their house, but they were trapped from going out.
Last Sunday in the second of two storms to have hit South Wales in a fortnight the River Taff burst it's banks and flooded the town of Pontypridd in the South Wales Valleys. Other towns and villages  in that area were also affected but Ponty was probably the one that received the most attention.

Things were so bad we rang friends living in a village in the area just to make sure they were OK. Thankfully they weren't directly affected.

One of the reasons was that it was so unexpected. A month's rain threw itself onto he town in a single night. It was cliche biblical. Overnight residents and businesses have found themselves realising that their whole perception of Pontypridd has changed. The river Taff is no longer something to look at. It's become something to fear.

Secondly I know the town and have written about it from time to time. I like the place and know it will bounce back. Still it is a shock to see places you have physically walked through on TV covered waist high in water and assorted waste.

Welsh First minister Mark Drakeford has pledged money for the affected areas. Yet presumably this money could have been used to prevent some of the damage happening in the first place. Shutting the flood doors after the waters have bolted if you ask me.

Since last Sunday there have been assorted weather warnings in South Wales. I cannot recall a more persistent strain of winds and rain in South Wales since I moved here.

And it has affected me in the decisions I've been making. I know and realise that it's not the same as actually being flooded but your mindset does change. On my route home after work I have been taking the M4 and not the one I'd normally prefer for fear of flooding. I've stopped temporarily listening to podcasts adjust stick to local radio.Also there are no diversions to go to a particular shop for example. You go where you have go and that's it. Fear of wind and rain has created a self imposed quarantine. Not a corona virus level but not far off it.

And even now writing this the Saturday after Storm Dennis (and what bright mind thought up  Dennis to describe a storm that was more destructive than the suburban sitcom the name suggested?) l  find myself looking up at the skies, down at the puddles and all manner of things swaying in between reminds me with more of the bad stuff still to come with a weather warning in place for tomorrow morning.

I don't think people round here will forget the past few weeks in a long while. Climate change has in some unfortunate cases literally hit home. Perhaps these past weeks have (leaving aside the lives lost) been a good thing if it makes people right for a planet and a way of life that's in danger of radically changing for the worse.

Until the next time.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

The Battle For The Future Of The BBC. Who Cares? For Welsh Nationalism The Battle Is For S4C/Radio Cymru

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Before I begin properly I will be repeating in this post a few things I have mentioned before about S4C. I make no apologies for this as it would appear that whilst the battle still continues the battleground has shifted.

Also for those who will say "Typical nationalist. Only thinking about the Welsh language and not English language programming in Wales" just remember that come independence the BBC as an organisation will not exist anyway. What the Welsh media picture as a whole should be post independence  is a discussion for another day.

So back to the BBC, whose current funding model is under threat from this Conservative Westminster administration. Many options have been put in it's place, the most talked about is a subscription service.

Now to be honest I'm not certain whether I would be interested in subscribing. Taken as a whole the BBC seems to be rather like Welsh Labour. An organisation with a glorius past that hides a reltively inglorius present. Leaving aside S4C/Radio Cymru for a moment I cannot say I watch/listen to a lot of BBC content anymore. Of course partly that's because the choice is a lot wider than when I was a child. But still there are less and less programmes now where I say to myself "I must watch that".

Nationalists of whatever celtic part of the country are no friends of the BBC believing it to have an anti independence agenda taking things as a whole.

Yet it's important that S4C and Radio Cymru (part financed by the BBC and advertising in S4C's case) is taken out of any subscription model that the BBC might eventually find itself in. It is a unique service providing information and entertainment in the Welsh language. It's also important to the cultural wellbeing of the nation.

Ah you say but S4C has low ratings. True. But as I've written about before the biggest problem S4C faces is not the langiage but the fact that it's just one channel. It has to be BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, BBC Parliament, BBC News Channel, Ceebies and CBBC in just one stream. As a consequence it cannot offer the same options as other media outlets can. It's why S4C needs, even if crammed full of repeats, a second TV channel so it can offer choice.

How can it be funded? Well why should decisions on the financing of a Welsh language channel be controlled by Westminster? Why can't it control be in the Senedd? Proper devolution of what is clearly a Welsh resource is not an unreasonable aim. A Welsh government would understand the dangers to the language of these channels going subscription.

So whatever the future holds for the BBC let it fight it's own battles. Let us just fight to protect what is clearly Welsh.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Why Mamma Mia (and it's sequel) Are Dangerous Films

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

This train of thought first came up yesterday when daughter asked me whether I'd blocked Mamma Mia songs on Spotify.
"If only" was my response.

My first thought was to congratulate myself on such a droll remark (I'm like that). Later on though I wondered why it was so popular.

Two thirds of this household have seen the stage play and the movie several times. One third (obviously me) hates it. Now this was a slow burn hate. When forced to watch it the first time I was neutral. The second time it began to grate. The third time I hated it so much I pretended to nod off in front of the TV.

So why? The fact that it's a musical is not the reason why it inspires hatred in me. No it's because it's too bright, too sunny, too happy,people getting along,Perhaps I'm just a misery guts?
It is escapism. Sometimes though escapism is a bad thing. After all since the original film was released in 2008 there has been the financial crash (including please note the Greek crisis), Brexit, the rise of the far right, Trump. Viewed in that regard Mamma Mia and it's sequel represents a world that does not exist any more even if it truly existed in the first place.

People should not want escapism if it hides a reality of worrying reality. Truly reality does bite. The rise of foodbanks and an underclass in Britain is testament to that.

So perhaps if we smelled the coffee we might ignore an escapist fantasy and start making it reality instead.

Until the next time.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Why Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price Need To Be More Populist

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

It's been a while since I've chatted about Welsh politics on this blog yet things almost appear to have reached my prediction that things are moving towards a battle between the right wing and Plaid Cymru for the future of Wales.

Certainly the Conservative party has never been stronger in Wales. Leading in the latest polls and in the last election gaining seats in places like Bridgend.

At the same time  support for Welsh independence is on the rise (up 5% in the latest poll). And when the consequences of Brexit truly hit then it will I'm sure be even greater.

Yet despite of all there has been no great increase in Plaid Cymru's position. Polls whether actual or opinion suggests that there is no great momentum for it either.

So why is this? I would suggest that one of the reasons, not the only one but the one I'm focusing on today, is the Plaid leader Adam Price. After all when he was elected a few years back starting from what I would argue was a whispering campaign against the previous leader Leanne Wood, one of the arguments used against her was Plaid's supposed lack of progress (which I've discussed previously in this blog). But nothing really has appeared to have changed and especially in terms of Adam Price's contribution.

He is I think popular with the party membership but as Jeremy Corbyn has shown popularity in your party does not equate to electoral success.

So what does he need to do? Well as I've suggested previously Adam Price is too much of an ideas man. That's fine for internal Plaid planning but what the man or woman in the street wants to hear is the stirring broad strokes of a plan to lead them away from the misery of their current situation. That there is an alternative to the arrogant incomptence of Welsh Labour and it's Mr Magoo leader Mark Drakeford. Leaders lead from the front. they need to explain issues invited clear strokes. They may be involved in the detail but that's for others to explain to the media. In Plaid's case basically it's the creation of a fair and just society through independence for Wales. That is the message it should banging again and again. That may be populism, but when used correctly it's not the quasi fascist populism of other nations. It does not mean either though that Plaid and indeed Adam Price should not use it's methods.The

Donald Trump and Nigel Farage were succesful against the odds. They appealed to the electorate and so could Plaid. Adam Price needs to be less beuratratic and more bloody when dealing with his opponents. He needs to show that not only does he believe in an independent Wales, he would be a streetfighter for the cause too.

And therein lies his second problem. He is just too polite. In this regard he reminds me of the worst Plaid leader in my lifetime and the one who is the reason why it's progress always seems miles away from other nationalist movements like Sein Fein or the SNP, Iuean Wynne Jones. He too was too polite with dealing with opponents. Why be respectful to these people? They are helping to destroy Wales and yet meaphorically he is opening the door to them when he should be slamming it in their faces.

He has over a year until the elections to the Welsh Parliament the Senedd to sort it out. Specifically he needs to target the Welsh Labour voter who I would argue is hungry for change and would be willing to listen to Plaid. But should Plaid not be succesful then either a return to Leanne Wood or the other clear Plaid politician Rhun Ap Iowerth would need to be swiftly implemented.

Until the next time

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

The Helmet and The Tie. Two Tales About Clothing

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today

So yesterday I'm working in Bridgend. A man suddenly enters and asks us whether we've just seen another guy walking along the street outside.

Well as it happens I did. He was dressed in casual clothes (rather less than he should have been wearing in this cold February afternoon). He wasn't really walking. He was strutting. Peacock fashion. Or perhaps reminiscent of the John Travolta stride along the pavement in Saturday Night Fever.

But that was not the odd thing about him. What was odd was that the walker had a motorcycle helmet on his head. The impression he gave was of a Star Wars stormtrooper on his day off.

There was we assumed only one reason why he was doing this. Despite the fact that it's Bridgend Wales and not Beijing China  fear of contracting the cornavirus brought him to this "avoid the plague" response.

The conversation moved towards stories that people have heard. Of British Chinese nationals being shunned. Of someone who was only paying for most of her goods through contactless payment so that as far as possible she wouldn't have to press the numbered buttons on a card machine to avoid catching germs. I don't know whether these stories were true but in one sense that didn't matter. They were not beyond the bounds of possibility.

And that I suspect is actually the frightening thing. For though this is Bridgend and not Beijing the calm is actually quite fragile. The helmeted  man and the  local tales suggest that If there was an outbreak closer to home then society might collapse quicker than the supposed British stuff upper lip would have you believe.

And so to the next story. And to lighten the mood it's about a funeral.

Nowadays the most Conservative thing about me is my taste in clothes. I'm not the sort of person who goes towards bright colours, or something that "makes a statement" . The duller,and preferably the darker the better.

That's why for me the best thing about funerals is what you need to wear as a man. Black suit,black shoes, black socks,black tie. The only thing that's not black is the white shirt.

Last Friday we went to a funeral  and unexpectedly for me (though the wife is telling me it's becoming more common -  regularly attending funerals is not a hobby of mine) it was  sartorially an issue. Because the person whose life we were remembering did not like black and wanted people to wear at least one item of bright clothing. Ties were specifically mentioned.

Now I have few ties. None of which fall in the "bright" section of life. Indeed I have a particular hatred of loud ties or those with cartoon characters in them. As if to say " I may work in IT but I have a sense of humour " ( trust me you don't).

Eventually I settled on one that had three shades of purple on it. Not exactly the tie equivalent of neon lighting but as bright as I was prepared to go.

And you know what? At the funeral I noticed that most men went for variations on a purpley theme as well. I was delighted and relieved. I would suspect their thought patterns were the same as mine. Pick a colour the was different.......but not that different.
So in probably the only piece of fashion advice I will ever give in this blog I will declare that when it comes to ties for a funeral...

Purple is the new black.

Until the next time.
Until the next time.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

The Near Midnight Meanderings On A Movie With A Microwave Meal Part 23: Short Circuit (1986)

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today

Short Circuit is the sort of movie that whilst popular at the time of first screening (1986) almost begins to have it's credibility fragmented soon afterwards. Watching it with 2020 vision the first thing that strikes you is how dated it is' From the title sequence onwards to the tech, the music to the presence of Steve Guttenberg and Ally Sheedy.

And then there's Fisher Stevens playing an Indian scientist. An American actor deliberately darkening his face. Again with year 2020 vision I think we can agree that it's very rare that such an action can be justified now. Especially when it used for comic effect and even more especially given that he not only gets his face darkened but uses "comedy ethnic" voice as well.

And what remarks comes out of his mouth? He mentions his family is from Pittsburgh.

(To Ally Sheedy) " I enjoyed repeatedly throwing you on the ground"

And yes "Goodness gracious"

Arguably the worse kind of racist and sexist attitudes comes from something supposedly liberal. And yes sexist as well. The Ally Sheedy character supposedly tough just eventually goes girlie as the film goes on. And when No 5 sees her in the bath he describes her as having "Nice software".

The plot then is of a Robot Number 5 which whilst being promoted as a new style military machine gets struck by lightening. Now lightening is something used by lazy writers as an excuse for many things to be created whereas as we all know it does nothing more than create damage. In this case it gives the robot the ability to think and feel like a human being. It wants information about all aspects of life (and one of it's means of information? Encyclopedias. Wonder if kids today know what these books did). Lightening then with a degree in electronics. Even an audience of young kids today, being more tech savvy nowadays, would find too incredible to be believed.

A freakish character then is chased by the company's security because it escaped it's headquarters. In essence then it's ET with metal. Tough metal at that. Bashed around yet rarely affected.

So we have a movie that's dated with a laughable premise and questionable attitudes. Promoted let's not forget as a family film.

Steve Guttenberg gives his stock eighties performance as your regular average good guy. He might be a scientist with the company but he wanted the robot (which he invented) to be used for peaceful purposes. Yet don't forget he stayed in the company so not as principled as the film would have us believe.

Ally Sheedy has animals roaming her house yet runs a snack van. Really wouldn't want to buy any merchandise from her.

Also let's mention the robot design. Nowadays robots are portrayed to look like humans. Here they have cartoon faces and tank tracks.

Number 5 can defend itself being designed also for military use. Cue the use of lasers (big thing then) followed by "funny" remarks it learnt from watching television.

So as I've said this is ET with metal. And really there is nothing to commend this film. Racist,sexist,predictable,dated but also popular. It had a sequel which I suspect was even worse. That fact alone fills me with dread.

Until the next time.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

I Have Become A Slow Veggie

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Yesterday I was in Penarth for the specific purpose of having my hair cut in what seems to me to be the only barbers in the town centre where an appointment to cut the fighting silver spiders that pass for my hair these days.I

It was the right time to go given that there was a hailstorm just a few minutes previously meaning that the place in Glebe street was empty. Not only that the lady actually doing my hair, the owner, lived in the Cardiff area of Danescourt, not far away from Pentrebane. Pentrebane is only second in my experience to Ely as the place with "the reputation" in the city. I lived there with the wife since 1997 before we moved to Bridgend and whilst it's not Paris or Milan I had no problems living there.

Anyway I digress. The cut (needed anyway but made pressing as I'm going to a funeral on Friday) was done and efficient. Exactly how I want my hair to be. Not hippy but not US marine either. It was about one pm. Lunchtime. And I was hungry.

I have I must admit toyed with the idea of becoming a vegetarian for a while now. And whilst the demarcation lines between the veggie and the veganie are still new to me the way the environment is going it seemed like the right thing to do.


And there really are buts for a 56 year old man contemplating to become a non-meat eater. Let's go through them.

1) I am not a regular cook outside of a microwave. OK of course I should learn but if you look at most vegetarian cookbooks it's noticeable that it includes a vegetable that I've never heard of before or is not easily obtainable. So my lack of knowledge of the culinary arts plus the seeming need to become the Indiana Jones of plant based food just to get that extra ingredient is daunting.
2) Being a shift worker when I return to the house at around 22:45 I'm not going to cook anything from scratch oh no. My cooking abilities consist making holes in the seal and heating up a microwave meal. And I tell you vegetable lasagne aside I've yet to try a non meat microwave meal I've truly liked.

3) And I truly cannot express this strongly enough. Meat is tasty. The sizzle of a bacon sandwich, the glories of a sausage, the roast beef to make that Sunday meal complete. These are taste bud memories to be treasured,

So back we are then to lunchtime in Penarth. I fancy a sausage roll. A Sausage roll is one of life's quiet little pleasures. It warms you up. It fills you up. You wash it down with something and you're ready for the rest of the day.

I enter Greggs knowing that they are now selling a Vegan sausage roll for the same price as the meat version. I buy both.

Now this was obviously not a blind tasting but I tell you whilst there was a difference it was slight. Genuinely it could pass itself as the meatier package.

The doubts in my mind have gone away. I will become a non meat eater....but slowly.

For the reasons I gave earlier I will need time to adjust and plan. So my 2020 new year resolution is to become a slow veggie. By the end of this year I intend to have at least one day meat free, by the end of 2021 that will increase to four and by the end of 2022 I plan to have completely changed my diet.

Will it work? We shall see. I intend to chat about my progress as I go along.

Until the next time.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Bridgend Town : The Misery Continues

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

As regular readers of this blog will know I've chatted about Bridgend town many times Appalled as I've been by it's decline which as I've argued before is mainly due to the decisions made by the local Labour council.

It has been a while since I've last visited and as always when I do these talks I stress that it's not scientific in any way. Just one old guy wandering around for about two hours.

I saw a new coffee shop. a vape shop and a charity shop. But they are not places that would revitalised an urban landscape. Also as is always the case with Bridgend Town when a shops open other places seem to close. Now some of them  (such as Bonne Marche - on it's final days) are linked to nationwide issues. But with others local factors also apply.

So let's start with how you see Bridgend Town when walking into it from the local ASDA  You see this. Now the building was the local public toilets. Shamefully closed down by the council last year. However if you look at it now not has the council closed it down but they've allowed it to rot. So not only do visitors notice the lack of public conveniences but also the first proper structure they would see would be this.

Welcome to Bridgend

Regular readers will know the story of the now closed Nolton Arcade a group of small shops which remained empty for years before the council literally closed the entrance. The only two shops remaining were the two that were adjacent to Nolton Street.

However now....

And then there was one

I've mentioned it before but this was a Friday morning in a Welsh town and yet it was comparatively quiet.look at this picture. I've mentioned the bunting before. Nothing has changed. Nothing has been touched and it's been over a year.

And speaking of nothing changing brings us to the indoor market. No new stalls as I could see it though there was something under construction in the centre. No idea what. However being late January what still remains are...

Christmas late January

Again image is everything. No one is helping Bridgend Town.

Things are looking bleak.

Until the next time.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

I Prefer Chatty Carrie Fisher

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

So what leads me to buying a book from an author I've never read about a film I've never seen? Well for a start it's The Princess Diaries by Carrie Fisher about her experience before,during and after filming Star Wars.

So back to the question. Why did I buy it? Well for a start it was just for 99p in an Amazon Daily Deal. So price was a factor.
I also have an ebook of hers on my epic epile of eunread at the moment
Also Star Wars is that sort of film that 's so famous you think you've seen it all piecemail already.

But finally when I've seen Carrie Fisher in interviews she always seemed entertaining and likeable.

So I bought it.

Let's say first that for the most part the title is misleading. It's not really a diary, neither is it a reel by reel account of her time with the franchise. What it is. And what works is that its like she's having a coffee somewhere with you and chatting away with tales of a time that whether she liked it or not probably shared her life forever. Including a fling with co-star Harrison Ford.

And as long as you're not upset that the title is misleading you will enjoy this book. What you won't enjoy are the bits which are actually taken from her diaries at the time which really are just a load of teenage twaddle (including - you have been warned - poetry). It really is the worse part and you're grateful that teenage Carrie reverts to being Chatty many years under her belt Carrie again.

Most of all on completing this you will realise how much you miss the fact she's no longer with us. Consumed in that cull of celebrities that swept 2016. You miss the humour, the never took herself seriously, the kookiness and yes the grace.
And remember I've never seen Star Wars.

Until the next time.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

As Donald Trump Leads Us Into World War Three Let's Chat About The Loss Of The Library Date Stamp.

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

A couple of days back I was able to go into what is since our move the local library in the centre of Penarth Town. I'll chat properly about it another time and will obviously chat about the book I borrowed when finished. Though for the purposes of record only this was what I took out.

What bothered me about the experience was what happened after I approached the library desk to get the book checked out. Instead of having a simple stamp inked into the first inside page giving a clear unequivocal idea as to what the date of return would be before the Penarthian literary police threw the book at me.

Instead I was lead to a relatively tall impersonal machine by a kindly lady librarian, clearly weary about having to show this to people like me. I was told to scan the barcode of the book, and then the barcode of my library card. Out from the machine Bank Slip style came this.

Pathetic Isn't It?
I hated it. There was first a certainty about the stamp and the emboldened date of return which this ticket does not have. Also it was always interesting to see how popular a book you had chosen was by looking at all the other times it had been borrowed.

There is also the environmental impact of all those little pieces of paper being created when the old ways were actually more friendly given that the paper and the stamp itself was recyclable Also of course it's likely for these scraps to be lost.

But of course what I really hate about this. And I mean HATE. Is that it represents change for change sake. One less job for the librarian to do does not that he/she is going to be doing something else. No it means that a Vale of Glamorgan councillor will advocate that there will be less librarians and more volunteers to save money further. More @Community libraries@ which I must be honest I hadn't realised that my previous library in Sully was. Librarians as profession, let alone libraries as an institution are under threat by people who hardly read anything without pictures and don't care anyway.

Saving money in the short term will mean losing money in the long term as people will have less free access to information that will open their minds and perhaps their futures. Perhaps that's the idea.

And why does this come back to Trump? Because this idea of thinking outside the box misses that the box is there in the first place because it's secure. Without the box things tumble out and are difficult to control. It's the sort of right wing thinking that has taken hold and needs to be attacked before it does even more damage.

Until the next time.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

A Weapon Of Wax Destruction

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

A couple of days ago at work I noticed that a colleague wasn't walking comfortably. I asked why and she explained that a candle had dropped on her foot breaking two toes.

Now I must admit that my first reaction was to laugh (well you would wouldn't you?) in the same way that you would on seeing someone slip on a banana skin showing concern instantly afterwards.

Only later did I realise that when she was talking of a candle my colleague wasn't talking about a small thin white construction that people might use if there's a power cut. No she had been injured by a Yankee Candle or one of their competitors type of waxed construct. In other words a heavy lump of wax encased by a heavier lump of glass. So whether the candle had been dropped by accident or thrown in anger (I don't know) it would hurt.

A quick digression. I've never understood the popularity of scented candles. Or at the very least a candle whose scent is not easily identifiable. In our bathroom we have a Yankee Candle with the scent of "Wakiki Melon". Now unless you're a resident of the area or an expert in exotic versions of everyday food then how do you know it's accurate? Where (my case Wales) are there such knowledgeable people close to hand? It all seems very dubious to me.

Anyway back to the subject of a candle as a weapon other than for pyromaniacs. And this is the moment when I'm going to chat about a Roald Dahl story so you've been spoiler alerted.

There is a story where a wife kills her husband using a frozen piece of meat only to cook it later thus the evidence unknowingly finds itself in the stomachs of the police officers investigating the murder. Well exactly the same thing could happen here.

Your only real requirement is a good throwing arm. But if you're able to hit and knock out the victim you can then light the candle in it's normal place before leaving the house thus assuming the person is slowly dying because of a head injury or falling down the stairs their last moments are at least full of probably some obscure scent. The weapon will be hidden in plain sight.

You then return, feigning shock and distress as you call the police and then watch as they ponder what has happened. If (and it's a big if) your throwing arm is good then there  is a good chance that you will get away with it. If only because the means is not clear.

Before you ask I wouldn't do it personally. Because a) I love my wife b) I don't have a good throwing arm c) I would be an instant suspect because I've written this post and d) I've already told her of my theory.

Still the capacity of those big fat glassed candles as a weapon of wax destruction should not be overlooked. You have been warned.

Until the next time.

Monday, 30 December 2019

See You Later.....Or Perhaps Never

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

As I'm approaching the fifty sixth year of my existence my status as grumpy old man has never been stronger. Though if truth be told I've hovered between that and wild optimism ll my life. However one thing I have noticed is that as I've become older supposedly little@ things start to have a demonic status all their own.

One of my pet peeves of recent years has been the phrase "See You Later". When I was young it was perfectly simple. It meant that you were going to see the recipient of that conversation that very day. What could be easier?

However a few years ago that started to change. I was at work and a woman was about to leave. "See you later" she said walking out of the door .

I didn't understand. I wasn't going to be seeing her for the rest of the week let alone that day. What was she on about?

Other people then started to say the same thing to me and I realised that it was a phrase that had taken a life of it's own which went literally went beyond the original meaning of the word....joining such descriptive transformations as literally itself or when the youth of today describe something as being "bad" when it was in fact good.

So I let it fester in my old man heart. That is until Saturday also at work when a guy said @See you later@ as he was also leaving. Now what made it different was that we were in Bridgend to the west of Britain and he was taking a four hour (and probably then some) to Norwich to the East.

It meant that not only was I not going to see this man for the rest of the day. I was unlikely ever to see him again. I knew from our conversation that he was not returning to South Wales and whilst I have no particular dislike for Norwich I've no wish to visit there either. And yet his last words to me suggested we were going to the pub that evening (of course not being a drinker he'd be disappointed when I become that boring guy)

Language evolves. But it also should make a degree of sense. Or else what happens is that it becomes worthless.

Until the next time.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

The Near Midnight Meanderings On A Movie With A Microwave Meal Part 22: A Night To Remember (1958)

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

I haven't been well recently, which is why there's been a long break since the last time I've done this blog. But I'm back now for which I'm apologise.

So one of the things I'm returning to is going through and chatting about the movies the 2013 Radio Times Film Guide  bought in 2018 in W H Smith in Harlow for £2.50 when in Essex exile looking after my mother.

The most recent film then that I randomly recorded was Roy Ward Baker's 1958 production for J Arthur Rank about the Titanic disaster. So let's start  with that title.  A Night To Remember? Really!Surely it's one people would rather forget.

Of course such a movie is not easy. If it wasn't for the fact that it's a tragedy then you could joke that it's the ultimate spoiler. Everyone knows what happens next so creating tension is difficult.

I had wondered how to chat about this and then worked out that perhaps comparing it with the much more famous James Cameron Hollywood sugar coating romantic gush of a movie would be a good idea. I did see it but decades ago so these are scattered memories. It is therefore Clash Of The Titanics Part 1. When I get round to looking at Cameron's Titanic again then we'll come to Part 2.

Here's my initial reaction. I didn't like either film but for different reasons. In the case of A Night To Remember a lot of the reasons are technical. But some of this comes down to the script by thriller writer Eric Ambler. There is with few exceptions too little time is spent on too many characters. As the viewer, especially when the iceberg hits, you get a situation where you're introduced to one plot line and then suddenly are shifted to another. That's disconcerting

But like I said most of my dislike for the British film is technical. It's clearly done on a budget and it shows. You might think I'm being unfair in comparing a British movie in the late fifties with it's modern counterpart. But it's nothing to do with the actual sinking ( taken from a Nazi movie - unseen - on the subject). For example the decision to make it in black and white. I would argue (and did so in a Facebook group) that secondary to it's sinking the Titanic is remembered for it's extravagance. Black and White does not cut the mustard [or insert your colour here] Though I have to mention if you look at the set design of the restaurant it doesn't seem special either. The Hollywood version is better.
And before we leave the restaurant there is a scene when as the ship sinks a trolley hits a pillar. That pillar wobbles.Go

Being a British film it does seem more realistic when conveying a nation's pride at it's building and the class structure of the ship' s staff which mirrored society a whole. Class is an important part of both films but seems to be more authentic in the Rank one.

When the iceberg hits the Rank film seems to change it's patriotism to show Britain calmly dealing with this disaster. That is until you're shown that even when it comes to women and children to go on the lifeboats class is an issue as those on third find themselves locked in whilst those on the upper classes get to relative safety first.

Of course when it's about to go under then anarchy does rule.

Whilst there is a young Honor Blackman and David McCallum the true star in this film was Kenneth More. He was the upper middle class star of movies at this time. He was the comfy pair of acting slippers being representative of supposed British authority, calmness, decency and a sense of humour. Here he plays the number two of the ship and comforts his audience by being the only person to confront (albeit mildly) the only boo hiss villain here, the head of the shipping line.

I have know idea as to the veracity of this but the film seems to blame at least in part the disaster on a series of admin errors. To be honest it seemed too easy and to pat to have done this. Yet talking of blame it is interesting to note that in both movies the character that seems to have gone off lightly is the designer of the supposedly @unsinkable@ ship. After all in it failed in it's first real test and no one confronts him.

You feel that even in it's budgetary constraints A Night To Remember could have been a better movie. Instead it ultimately become a disappointment.

Until the next time.

Monday, 28 October 2019

A Rugby Morning In Wales With A Halloween Postscript

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

It is a Sunday. A fact that means nothing to me as I'm working later. It's also bright. A contrast to the past couple of grey, miserable but most of all wet on an almost Noahist scale days that we've had to put up with.

I look at the mobile. It's eight something. The clocks being put back an hour overnight.It explains the good sleep I've had (yes I know) but also why the wife isn't beside me in bed. She's downstairs getting ready to watch the match.I

Yes that match.

Wales vs South Africa. Second semi-final of the Rugby world cup.

The previous day we saw England beat New Zealand. Let's make my position clear here. For the same reason I wrote about last year regarding England and the football World Cup though I support Welsh independence I'm supporting England. Simply because sport is different and you don't change your team in the same way that you would change say a brand of baked beans.

Also much as I like rugby (though never as much as football) I would not claim to be an expert or even fan knowlegeable. Indeed I hadn't watched any of the previous games before this one and only saw yesterday's game by being at the right place at the right time

But hey I'm going to pontificate anyway. It seemed to me that after the devasting first twenty or so minutes England were not really that special. The real acheivement was their ability to neutralise New Zealand. The All Blacks became the All Greys. The England coach Eddie Jones had done his homework (a man who let's not forget called Wales a "s****y" country).

Back then to the Wales game. Or rather the living room of the new house where the wife is firmly ensconced in front of the TV. I walk in. The match has started. She turns to me and asks me to go out and get two bottles of milk and a packet of cigeraettes. I can't really argue given that she's a) Welsh and b) recovering from major surgery.

Now I've learnt already that the  convinience store near us is a wierd place. It's not that it charges high prices taking advantage of it's captive audience for those just seeking the odd item like me. I'd discovered last Monday that it wasn't open in the early evening and now even more remarkably it wasn't open on a Sunday morning either. For those lucky enough to be under fifty five let me tell you that such shops were open in the seventies on a sunday. That's how wierd this is.

It means I have to take the car to the next nearest store I'm aware of. Walkable but just far enough for me to think that driving is the better option to get the stuff given the wife's condition. It's a Spar solely served by an attractive young woman with dark hair, Morticia like make-up round the eyes, a metal something on the nose and a dark top. It occurs to me that she is either the local Penarthian Goth or she had come to work straight from a Halloween party the previous night and powered herself to go through the morning with energy drinks.

It's all quiet. People are watching the game obviously. Unless you're working only English people with not that much interest in rugby are probably wandering around.
Anyway the items (at last) bought I return to the house. It's approaching half time. Wales are losing but not by much. You don't need to have seen the half to know that it's a tough game to call the winner.

Anyway the items (at last) bought I return to the house. It's approaching half time. Wales are losing but not by much. I decide to let her watch the second half alone. During the time I hear one whoop of cheering but otherwise silence. When she comes out of the room I know the result. Wales had lost. Agonisingly the diffTerence being a last minute penalty.

I suspect her reaction is that of most Welsh people. Disappointed but acknowleding that the team did their best. Perhaps the best word to describe it is sanguine.

Now a quick Brexit Halloween postscript. I was working that day and have to go through the A48 to Bridgend. Normally a quiet route, especially midday on a Sunday, the early part of it was jamful of traffic.

Why? A field had become a Pumpkin field. People could drive in and pick their own Pumpkin. Personally Pumpkins are overatted as food and it's remnants stink afterwards as if skunks were in a wrestling match. But clearly it's a minority view. Not only was the field busy but people had parked on the grass verge on the road outside. This included a disability van and an unfortunate guy doing some repair work under the engine.

And this is the point. Halloween as an event has sort of creeped up and taken over from the fireworks of Guy Fawkes. And whatever the origins as an event this is clearly an American construct. If it was European you know the Leave people would have been attacking it but  becuse (again as a marketing event) the origins are American they are silent. And yet the British event of Guy Fawkes has suffered for it.

The Disunited Kingdom we live in folks.

Until the next time.

Monday, 21 October 2019

At Last We'ved Moved

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Well at last we've moved. We're now in Penarth. The Penarth according to brother in law's partner "Near the council estate" but no matter. Wife's dream has now borne fruit.

As I've explained before this is not my dream. Treorchy is where I wanted to go. But I owe my wife for being there when I was unemployed and suffering from depression. This I consider a debt paid.

Still it does not mean I dislike Penarth. It is as I've also explained before the urban version of a comfy pair of slippers. The street itself is very quiet but also very thin. Which doesn't help much when your driveway is full of scaffolding.

Ah yes. The builders are still there. But it seems the wife's strategy of just moving in once habitable seems to be successful. They are after all these months putting a shift in. There is a very good chance now that it will be completed by the end of the week. It should have been done months earlier.

Of course as it was always bound to happen they're putting this effort in the worse possible week. Wife's operation was last week (timing is everything). It appears to be successful which for more than the obvious reason I'm happy about. This was her dream. To reach it and then become unable to enjoy it seems a punishment she does not deserve.

So I am back blogging. after this personally speaking eventful break. More regular stuff as I adapt back to the blogger groove.
Until the next time.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Last Night I Dreamt Of Harlow

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

We haven't move yet but are about to. The saga of the builders has been the stuff of cliche which I'll chat about another day. Promise...

However we are actually going to move by this weekend at the very latest. So at very long last Penarth here  we come.

But in the meantime let's talk about last night when I dreamt of Harlow.That's right Harlow in Essex. A place I haven't been to for almost two years since I was in Essex exile looking after my seriously I'll mother. But there I am, in it's main shopping centre. Having a coffee with a woman (remember I prefer tea). A dark haired young woman I do not know in real life. And we are, shall we say, friendly .

"I have a girlfriend" I tell this mystery female. So I don't mention  that I'm married but I say I'm in a relationship. Like most  dreams  it makes no sense.

My mystery fling holds my hand across an uncrowded coffee shop.

"Don't worry" she says "I have a boyfriend".

What have I led myself into?

It then gets weirder than even that. For another character I've never seen emerges. He's bald,he's wearing glasses...and he's drunk.

He also knows us. For he threatens to reveal all.What do I do? Deny everything? Plead that he does nothing? No I prop up the drunken figure and help walk him out of the shopping centre with my mystery fling.

What this all means? I've no idea. For that's the moment when the alarm went on my mobile.

Dreams are annoying that way.

Until the next time

Saturday, 21 September 2019

The Battle For Wales : How Mark Drakeford, David Cameron And The Queen Furthered The Cause Of Welsh Independence

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

This past week may seemingly have been quiet in the cause for Welsh independence but actually has been quite important and needs to be noted down.
Let's start with Welsh First Minister Mark "Jeremy's Disciple" Drakeford who in the Senedd earlier this week basically stated that the majority of Welsh people did not want independence. and basically tying himself and Welsh Labour to the Westminster Unionist fold that makes it part of the problem and not th solution.

Welsh Labour have been in recent weeks seemingly have pursued a twin track approach on the issue of independence. On the one hand there has been the fervent Unionists like Stephen Kinnock, the Labour MP we have chatted about previously on this blog talking up the "precious union" and talking down on Wales. As I've mentioned before about  Mr Kinnock (who in terms of Wales really is the London Planetarium of politics - Bald and pointless) he really needs to speak to his wife about small countries who are happily independent such as Iceland.I

But, including Drakeford, there have been another faction that has dipped it's tiny toe on the issue basically stating that under certain circumstances it cannot be ruled out. Thus the tactic seemingly is to muddy the waters and not lose further votes in local government elections to Plaid Cymru.

Now however by acting as he has done Drakeford has clearly fallen into line with what Jeremy and the Westminster head office want. There is no ambiguity anymore. Welsh Labour is part of the Unionist fold. It has, not for the first time, surrendered independence of thought.

Drakeford is right. At the moment the majority of Welsh people wish to stay in the union. But the polls show that support for independence is rising rapidly. Labour have been losing local by-elections to Plaid Cymru partly because it's clearly the party that seeks independence. It offers an alternative vision.What has happened in Scotland is happening in Wales. Many Labour voters are turning to Plaid. The loyalty to Welsh Labour is diminishing rapidly. Labour's nightmare is coming true.

Of course the twin track approach was always a stupid/opportunist strategy anyway but sticking to the Union come what may has/will damaged Labour and will continue to do so. Furthering the cause of independence in Wales.

So let's come to David Cameron and the Queen. I've not read Cameron's autobiography and have no wish to do so but this is the first political autobiography I can recall where the subject comes out of it even worse than before publication.

Of course Cameron came into this on a particular low ebb anyway. Not only did he call the Brexit referendum but then clearly as Prime Minister ran it so badly. Allowing the  Leave campaign to  make the running . Furthermore after having lost  the referendum he immediately resigns from the mess he created. Running away I'd argue to spend more time with his money.

Whatever you think of Theresa May, at least she tried.

Initially the focus of the coverage has been on Brexit, and specifically his views on Boris Johnson  and Michael Gove. But later it turned on events surrounding the  Scottish  independence referendum of 2014. where he revealed  he asked the Queen to act in support of the union during the campaign. Obliquely she did. Stating that people should "think very carefully" before  casting their vote.

As we all know the Unionist side won the referendum though subsequent events suggest that for the SNP it was  a defeat but of  a battle not the war.

Whether the Queen's remarks influenced voters who knows?  But it  might have done.

Now the  Disunited Kingdom media are focusing on the Queen's displeasure and the breach of royal protocol. Something I'm sure discussed in foodbanks everywhere. But there  is no denial that the story is true.

However the important point  in terms of  a Welsh  independence referendum is this. No Prime Minister will be able to  use a member of  the Royal family as a weapon  for Unionism again  If they try they will be attacked as a tool of Unionists, a puppet. Indeed the position of the monarchy itself  within Wales  would  be under threat.

A Unionist weapon has been neutralised by a Unionist. Oh the irony.

All in all then. A good week for Welsh independence.

Until the next time.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Argh My Laptop's Dead

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Sudden death is always the worse for those around the deceased. If only because of it being so unexpected. There is shock mixed with helplessness. The inability to help. The inability to say goodbye because the swiftness of the departure As you get older you feel that pain towards inanimate objects as well. Though the pain is short lived ( as you can get a replacement) it is there.

Monday night then. I'm trying on the laptop to get a stream to watch the Aston Villa West Ham game (Nil-Nil so the hunt wasn't even worth doing it in itself) I'm on Google so not even on a website itself when suddenly the machine went ping, the screen went dead and just died.

I do everything I can to revive it. Switching leads, pressing the on switch very  hard that it hurts my finger but to no avail.

There is a very remote chance that it's alive however the only way to find out is to go to a repair shop. However I genuinely don't have the time given that we are actually going to be physically moving to our new home next Thursday.

And I am grieving. If only because in the past two and a quarter years it and the tablet has pulled me through as going on the internet it's been a portal to knowledge, communication and entertainment. So it's helped me not go quietly mad.

So it's likely to be dead. And I'm saddened by it's loss. Saddened as well that I have to go and get another laptop when this last one worked so well (and if you ask how I'm writing this mourning of a Microsoft powered ACER whatever it's through the Kindle)
At time of writing (3:19am - I can't sleep) there's a fly hovering around me. I will try and kill it.

It's  death won't bother me.

Until the next time.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

In Which An Englishman Criticises Potential Public Irish Policy. No It Isn't Brexit But The Case Of Lyric FM

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Only a foolhardy Englishman would criticise potential Irish public policy without the risk of having Brexit thrown back at him.

Only a stupid Englishman living in Wales would criticise the possible closure of a radio station when he's not even part of it's catchment audience.

Only a ….well you get the idea that man is going to be me.

I learnt yesterday that the Irish public broadcaster RTE is considering closing it's classical music station Lyric FM. We'll chat about why later. But to be fair to me I have mentioned it occasionally in the blog before just saying that it's the best classical music station I know.

What makes it different? After all it plays classical tunes just like any other classical radio station. It broadcasts live concerts just like other classical radio stations. It seemingly is a clone of any classical commercial radio station you can think of  (RTE though a public broadcaster does commercials) with regular news, weather, traffic reports, competitions etc.

The difference is it's tone.

Bare in mind I'm talking generally now but let's compare Lyric FM with the two major classical music stations in the Disunited Kingdom BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM. Radio 3 constantly has difficulty in hiding the impression that it's tolerating you but considers itself superior. The commercial Classic FM seems to suggest that it considers it's core audience are listening to it in between reading the Daily Mail and watching omnibus episodes of Murder She Wrote.

Lyric FM on the other hand treats you as a friend. It does not patronise. What it understands is that it may know more about the subject matter than most of it's audience but that does not mean the listeners are thick. Neither is it fundamentalist in it's music choices. It can play Chopin and Ray Charles in the same programme.

So having worked out the formula for the ideal classical music station RTE is now considering throwing it away. Madness.

And why? Well to be honest living on this side of the Irish sea I'm not completely sure. The article I saw online suggested that RTE had a general "financial shortfall" (how come? It is paid by a licence fee and commercials). The article suggested that regional services, sports and drama were also likely to be cut. It seems to me that if these reports are accurate the idea of RTE being a public service broadcaster at all would be called into question.

But back to Lyric FM. Some people would say well then what's the issue when there's the example of Classic FM? The private sector will provide. Stop moaning. However that tone I mentioned will go. You will find that (taken as a whole) commercial classical radio will just get blander and blander.

I have,no knowledge as to why RTE has got itself into this situation. What I do know is that it's created a special public service gem with Lyric FM and losing it will not help it's future at all.

Until the next time.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

The Battle For Wales : Why Wales Should Not Enter England's Possible Civil War

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

I have a link on my mobile to Microsoft's News service (it's a Nokia. Connected to Windows 10. And if that sounds impressive it isn't. They've stopped the model now). It alerts me to the news headlines. In truth I'm not sure how I arranged it. But from time to time the handset pings to reveal an article from a news organisation.

For the most part it's not that impressive. Telling me stuff I already know or stuff that I really didn't need to know. But a couple of days back it brought up an article that made me want to read it instantly.

By Alan Crawford on Bloomberg financial news agency dated September 12 entitled "Will Brexit Trigger The Nation's Next Civil War?"

(The link is here

Now I've raised the possibilities of right wing dictatorship in this blog many times. Also as this strand of posts obviously says I've mentioned a political battle in Wales between people who believe in independence and whatever the right wing turns out to be. But this English Centric article (though worth reading - Wales isn't mentioned once - Scotland and Northern Ireland mentioned once in passing) puts forward the possibility of a civil war within England as a consequence not just of Brexit but it also needs to be said the subsequent mess of British government negotiations afterwards.

The chances of such a scenario are slim. But it says enough about the Disunited Kingdom now that no one in 2019 could honestly say that it's not impossible. And that fact alone should make people step back and gaze at the mess in front of them.

After all we have a scenario now of a Prime Minister suspending Parliament and purging dissidents from his own policy. One of the greatest ironies of the media manipulation is where the right wing press will accuse Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of wanting to bring in a Stalinist administration and yet it's Baboon Boris Johnson who has acted in this way.

Secondly Brexit is an issue that has caused division like no other in my lifetime. The issue arises passion on either side. Some people, whether previous friends or family members no longer talk to each other because of the arguments it has brought. That as history tells is as good an ingredient as you can get for that civil war stew.

Add to that shortages of food and medicines and increased political violence should Britain crash out with a no deal Brexit.

So then what if England is at war? What then? And given the title of this post. What should Wales do?

Wales is not in an easy position. It doesn't have the reunification option of Northern Ireland, nor did it vote to Remain in the EU referendum. The Brexit Party won most of the European Parliament elections in May but that doesn't really count as the Remain vote was split.

That all having been said though it does have the option of independence. Brexit might be the cause of an English civil war but let's be clear it will just be different facets of Unionism fighting with each other. If the Welsh Parliament declared independence from England and neutrality in such a conflict I would suspect that in such a scenario that  majority of people living in Wales would accept it. Firstly because they would not be involved in a war and secondly because what is the point in being in a  union disintegrating before your very eyes?

I have never said in this blog that independence will instantly make life better. And this scenario probably more than any other will be the most challenging. Still I would argue that messy independence would be far better than tying yourself to a country at civil war.

Until the next time.

Friday, 13 September 2019

A Short Post On Why You Shouldn't Blame Fireman Sam For Gender Stereotyping. Blame His English Translators Instead

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

So it appears that the media preschool superhero of the Welsh rural village of Pontypandy is in trouble because he's not considered by one English Fire authority as "not inclusive" and outdated and have stopped using him as a mascot for this particular service.  Focusing on the title "Fireman Sam" the argument is basically that this discourages women from joining the service.

Now this an argument that splits people into ways that you would expect, the sort of "this is political correctness gone mad" response. However those who feel that the title "Fireman Sam" should be replaced to something gender neutral are correct for various reasons. Starting with it would follow the original Welsh text.

Fireman Sam was originally a pre school programme on the Welsh language channel S4C. It's (original) Welsh title was "Sam Tan". Literally "Sam Fire".

So the point being is that in terms of his occupation the original Welsh title was gender neutral.

Sam is innocent of the charges brought against him. As the title of this short post suggests the real guilty party here are those who decided that his English title should be gender specific. Sam however could hardly be blamed for the decisions of others

Now personally I don't see anything wrong with changing the title of the show to "Firefighter Sam". However I am bothered that one brave guy is cast as an outdated sexist symbol when in fact he has been anything but.

Change the title by all means. But don't kill off the guy.

Until the next time.

No More VE Day Clelebrations In Bridgend Town? Another Potential Welsh Labour Nail In It's Coffin

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Yes it's been a while since my last post. 1001 different things have been happening. But essentially I haven't unfortunately had the time. Anyway not as if anything has happened in Britain in the meantime.

But it seems somehow fitting that my first post in a while concerns a regular blog villain, Bridgend Welsh Labour council.

Now since the blog began I've focused on the urban tragedy that is Bridgend Town which I've argued is due to the arrogant incompetence of the Welsh Labour council. I intend to visit again (I work nearby) later this month but if you're interested tap Bridgend Town on this blog's search engine and it will explain more fully.

So we have a town on it's knees without (unlike say other towns in the borough like Porthcawl) a clear strategy for it's future and this remember is before the closure of the Bridgend Ford engine plant next year.

Let's move to another strand. Bridgend Welsh Labour council have made swinging cuts to public services and they are proposing to make even more. They blame this on the cut in subsidy from the Welsh Labour government in Cardiff Bay. As I've said before if Welsh Labour blames Welsh Labour then it's Welsh Labour that's responsible.

The local paper, the Glamorgan Gazzette, has made a list of where the proposed cuts are going to be. If I discussed each and every one in detail then I would be still writing this post next week. But one caught my eye immediately as it seemed to show how incompetent the council is.

The council subsidies events in the town centre such as World war two V E day celebrations reenactments (hence the bunting in the town which has not been taken off for a year) Caribbean concerts, markets and the one which I've chatted about from time to time (as I happened to be there on those days) classic car shows.

Well the proposal is to cut this subsidy.

Now this subsidy is for other parts of the borough as well but let's focus on Bridgend Town. What it means is that one of two things have happened.

1) That these events have been unsuccessful in bringing people into the town.

2) These events have been successful in bringing people into the town and the Welsh Labour council are now proposing to cut them thus people won't visit and spend money in the town which desperately needs it.

Either way it only highlights how incompetent the Welsh Labour council have been in managing the town. How it's a town brought on it's knees by arrogant Welsh Labour incompetence and it needs all the help it can get. Instead it appears Welsh Labour just want to bang another nail into it's coffin.

Until the next time.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

In A Disunited Kingdom On The Verge Of The Death Of Democracy Let's Chat About Gender Stereotyping As Light Relief....Through The Medium Of Two Dead Birds In An Attic

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Yes that's right. Gender stereotyping as light relief. That's how insane this Disunited Kingdom has become folks'

So yesterday the wife and I visit the house we're about to move into. Mainly because she has some issues with the shower (which I won't bore you with). However as I'm there she asks me to go up to the attic. Last time she went up there the wife saw two dead birds (presumably during the day the workmen forgot to close the window) and wondered whether they were still there or had been removed.

So gender stereotype number one. The wife is the sort of small woman who takes no messing from anybody. She will go all in to do things that are supposed to be "men's work" (even if I'm there and offering to do it). And yet when it comes to rodents or in this case dead birds she becomes the most girly girl in the history of girls. She just can't do deal with the situation. She is almost immobile. She'd rather walk out of the house and leave them there.

I've no issues with any small animal really that isn't a domesticated wolf (aka a dog) so I go up and yes they're still there. Like germs in a Domestos ad. Dead.

So gender stereotype number two: When the wife first saw the birds (I was at work) she asked the workmen to remove them. According to her they didn't want to do it because they were scared. That's right big strong tradesmen with tattoos over their tattoos were scared to deal with two dead birds.

Gender stereotype number three: Me. A man who you could deal with in a fight by just taking my spectacles off felt a rushing surge of testosterone in my veins as I proclaimed "I am Lord of this domain and I shall resolve this!!"

Or I just shrugged my shoulders and "I'll deal with it" (I'll leave you to decide).

But not at that moment though. I needed gloves and a couple of black bags as the birds were not the only things left in the attic. There was a sixties style suitcase (unopened), a tennis racket and various songbooks including one I noticed for Boyzone (which surprised me as I only thought they did cover versions).

I'll sort out the birds, open the suitcase and look at the other stuff properly on Tuesday. Obviously in the most manly of manly ways possible.

Until the next time.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

The Insomniac Meanderings Post : The Almost September Edition

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

The first thing I need to say to regular readers, before I say anything else, is that I'm conscious that this blog is a little disjointed of late. This will continue for a while. Because within the next thirty days we will (at long last!) be moving.

Consequently things are being packed already. And in terms of the blog the learning of a few languages and the chats on movies for example will be put in storage until we've actually moved and bedded in. They will of course return. They are important to me.

Of course I'll still be reading (some things will never stop) but until we move it'll just be from the Kindle.

I am on this Saturday morning feeling as if I'm being drugged by kidnappers but I am awake. It's an odd feeling. Hopefully the cup of tea by my side will warm me up.

I also have a cold. September is coming. The weather outside is cloudy and grey. Rain is threatened.

Anyway a quick note on British Constitution. Only British Unionist politicians and academics would be proud of a constitution that isn't even written. Well now there are calls that there should be a written one. Thing is. It's too late. As I explained in my previous post Unionism as a philosophy is now dead. A written constitution will be the first document in history attempting to revive a corpse.

So independence is the way (there is even a Yes Cymru group for farmers I note). And when right wingers send me tweets regarding Wales being "too small etc" I just send them my recent post from the right wing magazine The Spectator about Iceland.

I am at this moment drafting a post suggesting that the worst case scenario for Brexit will be that the island Oliver Mcqueen gets stranded on is a perfect metaphor for what Britain will become. An article in the BBC News website today  discussing discussing the foraging of food does not help. After all surely such an article would have had more relevance in the summer not now (almost September). So why is this up there?

Anyway wife's awake. Things to do (and pack). Until the next time.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

The Battle For Wales : After Suspending Parliament Unionism Is Now Dead

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Well after what Prime Minister Baboon Boris Johnson did yesterday in suspending parliament one thing is clear.

Unionism is dead.

Unionists will survive (for now) because those will have power will seek to keep it. But Unionism is dead.

For after all if a Unionist government in Whitehall is happy to suspend the Unionist Parliament in Westminster (which as I've explained before has had a nervous breakdown in itself) then it's an action which once and for all has reduced Unionism to be a power grab and nothing else.

Now I know what some of you will say. "What about upholding the result of the EU referendum?" Well what about it? As I've also explained before the problem of the referendum, and the source of everything that has happened since, is that people voted on the destination not the route to get there. Who outside the cultish right wing truly voted for a No-Deal Brexit? Who?

So then what we have are right wing Unionists flexing their muscles uncaring about the democratic oversight of parliament. Whitehall truly rules. Johnson, Rees-Mogg, Gove. They represent the establishment without any pretence of decorum.

What that this do to the Scottish and Welsh independence movements? Well by overriding the will of parliament Boris Johnson has provided nationalists with more weapons to fight independence with. This is ultimately a right-wing English manoeuvre. A fact not lost.

In Wales Mark "Jeremy's Disciple" Drakeford has called the Senedd in early to discuss the Baboon's actions and how a no deal Brexit will affect people here. But let's not forget that as Finance minister he was the man who help surrender Welsh powers to Theresa May for a seven year period. These powers now to be controlled by the Baboon and his Welsh consul Secretary of State Alun "Chucky" Cairns. No one in Wales voted for this. And yet this is what's happening.

Therefore in Scotland and Wales the independence movement will grow (I'm assuming Ireland will be reunified - After all if Arlene Foster thinks that the suspension is a good thing then that's another DUP dinosaur manoeuvre) and will not be stopped. Independence is for Scotland and Wales the only other alternative to the right wing regime amongst us. And how can unionists now claim independence will provide chaos when they have helped cause the death of the philosophy they claim to follow?

I, I must admit, have not been the greatest at making predictions but I'm going to make another one. When Wales and Scotland become independent, and they will, historians will look at the actions on the 28 August and will mark that this was the day when the point of no return was reached for Unionism.

Because Unionists killed it.

Until the next time

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Whatever The Finsbury Park Mosque Attacker Is......He Is Not Welsh....Yet Why Is That Impression Given?

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

In June 2017 Darren Osborne drove a van into a crowd coming out of the Finsbury Park Mosque in London. One man was killed.

I remember at the time being appalled at the time. Then being truly stunned that he had rented the van from a place in Pontyclun, almost at the beginning of the Rhondda Cynon Taff area. Which he meant he drove all the way along the M4 to London to commit this hate crime. I didn't understand how a Welshman would have been prepared to do this at a place so far away.

He is now in the news again following an alleged assault on a fellow prisoner. And this time Twitter has informed me of something I wasn't aware of.

Whilst he lived in Cardiff .He's not Welsh.

He was in fact born in Singapore and spent his formative years in Weston-Super-Mare.

Now you may say, rightly, that this really has no baring on the crime which he committed. What is also true and needs to be stressed here before I go on is that I'm not saying that there is no one born in Wales capable of committing a similar act.

But the thing that Twitter pointed out was that the Wales Online article explaining the latest incident gave the impression that he was Welsh.

So I looked instead at the BBC Wales online article and it too gave a similar statement. It said "Osborne, from the Pentwyn area of Cardiff.....". But again this gave the wrong impression. He might have lived there but he wasn't born there.

An admittedly quick skim of articles at the time of the Finsbury Park attack and subsequent trial were also similar in their wording unless they spoke of his background. Only then was it revealed he wasn't Welsh.

So the question needs to be asked why is the impression given that Osborne is Welsh?  Well I've no idea. At best it's lazy journalism.

But what I do know is this. Trust in news organisations is diminishing at a rapid rate. This general impression that Osborne is Welsh has now lasted over two years and it continues today.

All people want are all the facts.

Until the next time.

Monday, 26 August 2019

The Battle For Wales : Why Ireland Will Be An Independent Wales' Friend

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Something odd happened to me on Twitter yesterday. I responded to a tweet from the pro-Leave group Turning Point UK which showed two young women called "The Grant Sisters" speaking about Britain, Ireland and the Irish backstop with all the patronising fluency that apparently reading from an autocue would suggest.

I won't go through what they said. But just imagine being taught by condescending vacuous supply teachers and I think you would start getting the right impression.

I tweeted that I would want the sisters to speak about Ireland and the backstop Ireland.... in front of the Irish and then they would get the cold chill of reality.

And to my amazement the likes to that tweet came in their hundreds.

Brexit has not caused a rift in the relations between Britain and the Irish Republic but the reaction to the Irish backstop has. You know that thing that's actually helped peace in all of Ireland for decades. And the thing is this. Why is Westminster so surprised that the Irish Republic are being firm on this? Why is Westminster so surprised that Dublin is acting in the Irish interest?

As for the Welsh Labour government it's trying to improve Wales-Ireland relations but truly it's hands are tied due to the mess the party has found itself in regarding it's attitude to Brexit. The only true clear thing about Labour policy here is that it's policy is as clear as mud.

What the British government has been under May, and even more so under Baboon Boris Johnson, is arrogantly incompetent. It is a lazy attitude. It smacks of disrespect of an independent nation. It also suggests Ireland is, even subconsciously, still a colony in their eyes.

But of course it is Wales and not Ireland that is the last truly Serf nation in Europe but as the calls for independence rises (including a leader piece in this week's Economist magazine) it's interesting to chat about what an independent Wales's relationship would be with it's other neighbour across the sea.

Now before going on this crystal ball gazing assume three things:

1) Brexit occurs

2) Wales will be independent

3) Whilst not a full EU member believing that the priority has to be the bedding down of independence, Wales is a member of the subsidiary EU organisations eg EFTA like Norway and Iceland (there it comes again. Iceland mentioned three times in this blog in just over a week!).

So where do begin? Well let's start with the obvious. Unless England turns into A State Of Denmark (The novel by Dereck Raymond depicting an undemorcratic England - though interestingly Scotland and Wales being independent - no longer as far fetched as it would appear even five years ago) Wales would still want to be good neighbours with the only country it shares a border with. After all good neighbours become good friends.

However even a most democratic and free thinking England will be resentful at Welsh independence. It would be after all a divorce so it should not be a surprise if it threw (even literally) road blocks along the way. Ireland would provide help to alleviate whatever England decides to do.

You might say why should it? After all Wales voted for Brexit. It seemed to tie itself to Westminster. But even now Wales is a different country to what it was then. Welsh independence would change the dynamic of the country. Of how it's viewed around the world. No longer would it be seen as a Serf nation of London. And Ireland would be one of the first countries it will need to reach out to. Being as it is the neighbour across the Irish sea

In the short term Ireland will be damaged by Brexit. But in the long term it will adjust as a member of the EU. It will have 26 other countries to help it and I'd argue would be in the longer term more prosperous than it has ever been. Consequentially it will become Wales' gateway back into Europe both as an example and as a route for easier trade. This would not be quick and simple for Wales. Nor indeed should it given it voted to get out and indeed as I stated before the bedding down of independence should be it's first priority not attempting to rejoin .

Also if England does go A State of Denmark route. Then there would be potentially security issues for the Celtic nations that surround it. And that includes the Republic. Therefore co-operation between Ireland, Scotland and Wales will be needed.

Now I'm not a fan of the "Celtic nation" idea combining the three nations together. But there are some shared issues and, ironically enough, the state of England could be one of them.

Socially relations between the Irish and the Welsh have always been good. I remember years ago being in a pub in Cardiff where after a Six Nations games the fans were having a whale of a time. I was the odd one out. Not because I'm English but because I don't drink (I was with the wife's brother who invited me). A big burly Irish guy put an arm on my shoulder and said:

"Why don't you get p*****?"

Under the circumstances not an unreasonable suggestion. Thankfully he wandered away singing something so that moral maze was avoided.

I've never been to Ireland. But based on the Irish people I know the "Italy with rain" tag I love about Wales does appear to apply to the Republic as well.

Good neighbours become good friends.

Until the next time.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

I Am Not Mr Summer So Am Happy September Is Approaching

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Regular readers will know that I'm not Mr Christmas and will probably have had a suspicion of this from previous things I've written about in the past. But let me make it clear. I'm not Mr Summer either.

One of the reasons I'm writing about this now is of course Brexit. I get the feeling that there has been some sort of plan to put Brexit on the back burner for a short while. "Enjoy the summer" the propaganda would say. "Don't worry about Brexit"  "Relax". We're doing the work whilst you don't have to. It's that sort of thing that makes me hate summer even more this year. The feeling of disaster whilst few are truly noticing.

It's as if we are being lulled into a European (oh the irony) Siesta.

This summer for the most part has not been of the blisteringly hot weather that I truly can't stand. The sort of heat (which happened last year) where your brain wants to do things but your body doesn't have the energy towards. If I'd believed in God I'd say that was a blessing.

Similarly my dislike (tidying up aside) of gardening has not been hidden from this blog either. Are you say. Summer means you can relax whilst watching the fruits of your efforts bloom. Thing is. What are you watching? Grass and flowers. Hardly a movable feast for the eyes.

Nor am I a beach person. Or indeed a picnic person. And let's go on about picnics for a while. I'm a man. So the idea of being able to eat food whilst swatting away insects that try to hover over the offerings on the picnic sheet seems to require a degree of multi-tasking beyond my intelligence.

It was actually worse when my daughter was very young, because summer holidays especially meant having to keep her occupied for six whole weeks . Even as a child I knew that the summer holidays were exciting to begin with, became deadly dull (these were the days before the internet and where there were only three television channels) only for you to frantically make it exciting again as you realised that the return of school was about a week away.

So as hard reality of Brexit approaches I've noticed articles talking about "Staycations" and "Charity clothes shopping" as if it's a good thing. Quietly we are being lulled into a very cold place indeed.

Personally I'm happy September is approaching. Happy that things will start moving again and that summer is going. For both personally and as a Disunited Kingdom, reality is rarely a siesta.

Until the next time.