Picture
VOTE PIJIN!
   

   In a recent interview in Greggs, down town Merthyr Tudful, Wayne-O Pijin declared his intention to stand as a candidate for the Cooo-operative Party.
   Referring to it as the General 'Erection', Pijin explained that they were erecting walls, fences, roads and more in the Borough much to the detriment of his kind.
   Between corned beef pasty and jam doughnut, Pijin commented that the No-Wings (humans) were rapidly destroying his environment, especially with their plans to move the bus-station.
   He welcomed the growth of fast food outlets, but predicted the demise of the local chippy, though it wouldn't alter the dietary requirements of his ilk.
  He said that while there were increased opportunities for study with the opening of the new access-for-all Greggs, Merthyr still needed at least five additional ones to accomodate the growing pigeon population and its hunger.
   When I asked him what he thought of the present M.P., he was scathing -
' I ave on'y ever seen im in a flak jacket on telly through people's windows.  If we ad a full-scale Civil War in Merthyr between us an the No-Wings, I imajin ee'd turn up......arfter the conflict!'
   I then asked him how he responded when many people called him and others like him 'scroungers'.
   ' It's wha I do do for a livin mun. It's my daily job; that an bonkin.....an yew don' yer the media criticise us f'r that, do yew?'
   His election strategy was being managed by his Head of Campaigns Al-Wings Jones, a Zen Buddhist pigeon who spends a lot of time meditating on tree-tops.
   'I trust Al-Wings. Ee might seem a bit static at times, but ee int stuffed! Ee'll sort an ewge election drop, no prob.'

   His 'Birdifesto' makes interesting reading :-

1. Votes for all 'pijins' of all ages.
2. Greggsology and Pijin Welsh to be part of the Core Curiculum in all schools.
3. Retention and expansion of the 'Food Tubes' ( i.e. the bus-station). 
4. Increase in fast food outlets at the rate of one per week.
5. Julien Macdonald to be made into a saint because he favours the use of furry animals (predators to pigeons) in his clothing range and, as far as Pijin's aware, has never used pigeon feathers.
6. In place of every statue of a boxer the erection (he now deployed the word positively) of sculptures of pies and pasties, which would provide perfect perches.
7. Removal of all offensive spikes above signs.
8. No vomit to be cleaned from the streets after Friday and Saturday nights, because although it's somewhat sour, it does introduce his kin to a taste of world cuisine.
9. Introduction of a Cooo-operative Society at every level of  : pavements, rooftops and ubiquitous roof trees.
10. World heritage Status for all Merthyr's footbridges - secret treasures of the Valleys - to bring tourist 'pijins' to the area and enjoy those vantage points.
11. The immediate abolition of opencast mining.

   On the last point Wayne-O elucidated - ' It's no joke! With all the black dust in the air yew carn tell a pigeon from a crow. The mating implications are most unfortunate.'
  Finally, Pijin would like to see a massive Festival of Droppings every year in Cyfarthfa Park, with a formation fly-past and summary revenge on the No-Wings below for their historical mistreatment and abuse of pigeons.


                            VOTE  PIJIN!


I'm standin f'r-a Coo Coo Cooo-operative Party,
s Vote f   Me!


Speakin Pijin Welsh t ev'ryone
c....c....c.....colomennod!


Think o what we d' do
when yew call us 'rats with wings'.


We're great at re-cyclin,
eat ev'rythin, even yewer spew.


Bits a chips an pasties yew fling :
more like oovers with wings.


Member, if yew get dive-bombed,
int it lucky t be shat on?


So, vote f'r me, 
not jest pijins but No-Wings!
 
 

   Ces i fy ngheni yn Aberystwyth ond mae teulu fy nhad yn dod o'r dde : teulu Jenkins ( fy nhadcu) o Gilfynydd ger Pontypridd a theulu Thomas ( fy mamgu) o Wenfo. Mae'r ddau ohonyn nhw yn dod o deuluodd Cymro Cymraeg.
   Roedd teulu fy mam yn dod o Wlad yr Haf yn Lloegr pan roedd hi'n ferch ifanc (tua 10 oed) , ond doedd fy mam ddim yn teimlo fel Gymraes fel arfer.
   Fodd bynnag, dw i'n gallu cofio tipyn bach o Gymraeg adref ym Mhenparcau, pentref ger Aberystwyth : ymraddion fel 'Caewch y drws!' a 'Cysgwch yn dawel!'
   Er oedd fy mam yn fenyw dalentog iawn, doedd he ddim yn lico'r iaith Cymraeg o gwbl a byddai hi'n enw yr Urdd 'The Welsh Hitler Youth'!
   Roedd fy nhad yn casau y Gymraeg gyda'r un agwedd, oherwydd yn ei waith fel swyddog yn y Gweinidogaeth Amaethyddiaeth cwrddai fe llawer o ffermwyr oedd yn siarad Cymraeg yn unig. Dw i'n meddwl oedd fy nhad yn teimlo istaddol iawn.
   Pan symudodd fy nhadcu Will o Gilfynydd i Barri  i chwilio am waith, collodd e ei Gymraeg.
   Ar hyn o bryd, dw i'n moyn adennill yr iaith y cymoedd, lle oedd y teulu Jenkins yn byw yn y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg.




  
Geiriau Yn Fy Mhen

 

 

Mae geiriau yn fy mhen

fel adar sy’n hedfan :

rhai prin, rhai cyffredin

 

 

adar du yn yr awyr gwyn

ond pob un gyda phluen

yn lliwgar fel y paun

 

 

dw i’n dal rhai

yn fy nwylo weithiau;

yn sydyn , mae nhw  wedi mynd

 

 

dw i’n ceisio darganfod

ble mae nhw’n byw :

dinas neu pentre? mynydd neu goed?

 

 

mae geiriau yn fy mhen

yn canu o chwedlau a hanes ;

caneuon trist, caneuon hapus.










y cyfieithiad : -






WORDS IN MY HEAD


Words in my head
like birds circling :
some rare, some common


black words on white air,
each one with feathers
colourful as peacocks


I hold some of them
in my hands at times ;
suddenly, they take off


I try to find
where they are living :
city or village? woods or mountain?


words in my head
sing of myths and history ;
some sad, some happy.



















 
 


Red poppies down town
on lamp-posts, poles and railings,
on fences, trees and monument ;
Library, Redhouse and Civic Centre,
days before and days after.




So many everywhere, the television
flooded by paper, ceramic, real blooms
and the background screen to 'X Factor',
every presenter, guest, interviewer
(one white hidden under red on ' Question Time' ).




A silence, remembrance and then move on.
The next bloody invasion and the next one.
If only there were a different poem
on each billboard, hoarding, fly-posted even :
Owen, Hedd Wyn, Rosenberg, Jones, Sassoon,
those who knew the suffering and sang
for their comrades, against cacophony of bombs.
 
 
Picture
Merthyr's new road bridge


   Merthyr Tudful is rapidly changing and developing.
   A brandnew college with an annexe in Greggs, where students spend most of their time.
   A parabolic bridge 'with a twist' to show how progressive we are and even a large expanse of fencing where UKIP can happily display election posters.
   Yes, that's how advanced we are.....we saw UKIP coming.
   No matter that the area of rubbled, levelled land, once a brick-works, has been left vacant for years by the UKIP-supporting owner of Trago Mills, who are always on the verge of coming here.
   A one-way system to rival Ponty , an urban maze that could be turned into an interesting board game , which allows all traffic to pass the 6th form college where drivers can admire students returning, laden with pasties.
   Most convenient of all, we have two funeral parlours ( one the former Great Escape pub....most appropriate! ) located right near two Care Homes for the elderly. Georgetown reinvented!
   We've also got lots more empty space at either end of the High Street, at Dic Penderyn Square (named after the Wetherspoon's pub, of course) and around the Lucy Thomas Fountain.
   This enables our beloved Council to hold festivals with a particular Welsh dimension, such as chilli-eating and dressing up as dubious historical characters.
   Then there's the Old Town Hall, imaginatively called Redhouse because....well, it's red! Here there's a traditional Welsh cafe, the Mad Hatters Emporium ( more than one Mad Hatter naturally), in which there are likenesses of many famous Merthyr people and lots of dead Labour politicians you won't recognise.
   These are good times for the town, with its productive huge opencast called Ffos-y-fran and , as a result, the generosity of the company Miller Argent can be seen everywhere, with their bribes (er...I mean donations!).
   Like the ironmasters of old, they are truly philanthropic and I wouldn't be surprised if they actually funded an asthma clinic, with the strange increase in cases in the town in recent years.
   As many boast, we have 'One of the biggest black 'oles in Ewrop!'
   The development doesn't stop at bridges, squares and pasties however.
   There are plans to relocate the bus-station to the site of the present police-station, when the latter moves closer to the Assembly office....enabling officers to exit town quickly towards their houses elsewhere.
   It's a clever idea moving the bus-station.
   It's all designed to disorientate the alkies and druggies who hang around the place most days.
   They 'll hardly want to sit around on a building-site as men in hard hats demolish the bus bays known to local pigeons as 'food tubes'.
   Climbing up scaffolding may appear a challenge, but they'll surely come to grief and land on passing students brandishing sausage rolls.
   The other great development in Merthyr - town of the martyr - is the real possibility of a local currency.
   As all items in every shop will soon cost £1, then the idea is to spend a 'martyr' rather than sterling.
   A 'martyr' would be a beer-can shaped piece of metal and would encourage those shops not charging a quid per item to do so.
   Even things which are normally less, such as the local paper (useful for chip-wrapping and lighting fires) will have to change its price.
   Poundland, Poundworld, Poundstretcher and Poundlings....so much choice, yet these shops are performing an act of sheer humanitarianism for giving those on benefits jobs for free i.e. paying them nothing.
   In an age when such people are seen as the lepers of our society, it's wonderful to see such businesses give them a sense of purpose by labelling items with the cost for instance. 
   Tesco - which used to dominate the town - is attempting to hit back, but will eventually lose out as the 'martyr' takes hold.
   Even their efforts to honour the local billionaire pie merchant Sir Stanley Thomas OBE by erecting displays of his goods on every aisle will not woo folk away from the subtle science of Greggsology.
   Finally, perhaps the most innovatory proposal is the one which could see Merthyr-boy-made-good Julien Macdonald OBE design a series of outfits for some of our more pointless foot-bridges.
   The concept of 'pimping' a bridge is a truly exciting one, and will surely bring even more tourists to the town.
   Imagine the 'A'  bridge as you turn off the A470 towards Rhydycar in a Macdonald creation : topped with fur from rare animals, with a luminous lacy draping. It is certainly skinny enough to warrant his attention.




                             A  PIJIN  IN  GREGGS




This pijin woz struttin is stuff down town,
ee wuz in Greggs lunchtime -
think ee wuz arfta the offer
of 5 ring donuts f'r a pound.


So I sayz to im, I sayz -
'Ow d'yew get in yer pijin but?'
'Well', ee replies,' I flew down
from my perch on-a Lucy Thomas Fountain,


then I come up the Igh Street
pas where Anne's Pantree ewsed t be,
pas the New Crown Inn, like Labour,
the Crown t yew an me......


pas where Woolies ewsed t be
tidee sweets in the ol dayz ;
pas where Smith's ewsed t be
an-a Body Shop, great f Christmas smellies.


Pas where Dew'urst's ewsed t be,
pickin at-a back, bits o bodies ;
pas where a Co ewsed t be,
like-a sound 'Co', bit like me.


I come yer f'r a pastie
coz I wanna do a college course
t learn ow t be a seagull
an yeard this is where yew enroll.'  


     
 
 

   A week of contrasts which began with the song 'Mama Says' lodged in my head.
  Thankfully, I couldn't get rid of it.
   The voices of Ibeyi haunted and possessed my imagination, the lead singer like Billie Holiday, so full of intense emotion, telling the sad tale of a mother left devastated because her man has either left her or died and the daughter can offer no consolation.
   Despite the twins of Ibeyi (it means 'twins' in Yoruba) being Cuban, they sing in English and Yoruba, the language of the Nigerian slaves who were taken there.
   I often wonder if everyone has such songs : ones which follow them every waking hour and , most likely, even speak to them in dreams.
   And then , from the heights of a single song - precarious ridge looking down - I was soon brought falling by the sheer idiocy of local politicians.
   The magazine 'Contact' is produced by Merthyr's Labour Council, circulated to every household and explains all the great things they are doing.
   Its cover is obscene!
   It depicts a scene on Penderyn Day, which took place in Penderyn Square in front of the Old Town Hall/ Redhouse over the summer. 
   Four men are dressed in the uniform of a British army regiment which played a major role in the events of the !831 Rising.
   They are clutching their muskets with pride, as a little girl sits below them , gazing up cheerfully.
   Just as a sanitized Keir Hardie impersonator was used to open Redhouse , so our Labour leaders have seen fit to glorify the very military who were directly responsible for the slaughter of at least 20 Merthyr citizens on that day in that very area of town.
   Not one soldier was killed in that working-class uprising, despite reports that the people had seized weaponry ; people fighting against oppression seen as 'rioters'.
   Needless to say, there was no enactment of those brutal events on Penderyn Day.
   Indeed, there is no plaque or memorial to those who were killed there , in a bloody replay of what happened years before at Peterloo in Manchester.
   Just as the memory of socialist republican Keir Hardie was insulted by the invitation to Carlo to open Redhouse, so the citizens of this town have been sold ( or given, should I say ) a lie in this cynical re-writing of history worthy of '1984'.
   And so, I was looking forward to Red Poets anti-opencast event in support of UVAG at the Blast Furnace pub in Pontlottyn to lift the week.
   It all started disastrously when the landlady told us there'd been complaints about swearing in poems a year before and would we refrain from 'bard language' in the readings!
   I told her I didn't want censorship and she'd have to tell the poets herself.
   Despite these strictures, the evening was packed with quips about swearing, with Barry Taylor asking if it only applied to English and I did a poem which consisted entirely of swear-words i.e. a minute of silence!
   Jim Davies was the funniest, when he read a poem by Helen Burke including the 'bastards ' and 'bloody'. Afterwards he told me - 'Mike, I did leave out the 'fucking' .....I replace it with 'flipping'!'
   Pity Tim Richards didn't launch into his signature poem 'Fuck Em'!
   Later I learnt that two Englishmen at the bar had left in disgust, ostensibly because of Barry's Welsh republican song; though later it was suggested they were UKIPers generally appalled at our stuff.
  I wonder what the likes of Andrew Bartz and Jazz would've made of the evening. 
  I can imagine Andrew's defiant swearing as heckles , or Jazz challenging the UKIPers to a duel outside.
   It was still a really good evening, with plenty of great readings and songs.
   As Jamie Bevan commented on Facebook, asking the Red Poets not to swear is a bit like asking the Pope not to talk about religion....or Farage not to mention the EC for that matter..... or Norman Tebbit to talk sense etc etc.
   Next up for Red Poets  is the Castle Hotel in Tredegar on November 26th and, as always, there'll be a big welcome there.


                             THE  NAMELESS  ONES




We are the nameless ones, history's forgotten.


We are here not for revenge
or to detract from that martyr
in this our town of martyrs ;
but for you to remember.


Here because you dress up those days
and make them into a pantomime ;
those townsfolk with their mock guns
posing with smiling children.


A plaque, a pub and a square,
magazine with soldiers looking stern ;
you have voted for these and we....
we died for the choice you've made.


'Caws a bara!' and 'I lawr a'r Brenin!'
under the red banner, a small insurrection ;
wages lopped like trunks and debt
a disease killing us like trees.


We're not claiming all innocence :
weapons and road-blocks, did what we could
to make this town ours not the ironmasters
or regiments sent to put us down.


Our blood - like that of the lamb
which stained the flag on the Waun -
is the sap, despite the downtrodden
frail leaf-like figures scattered around. 


We are the forgotten ones.....give us names!
   
 
 
Picture
Photo - Jon Candy

   Being a good football manager is like being a good teacher.
   You can get all the top grades at school, go on to Uni and achieve a doctorate, be an expert on some esoteric field of study and still might not be able to communicate all that intricate knowledge.
   Let's take the case of Mr Solskjaer, a highly-accomplished performer with a very impressive CV : all the necessary honours.
   Not only that but a likeable man, who came over well at the interview, enough to impress Chair of Governors Mr Tan (a ruthless businessman), even though he now denies having anything to do with the appointment.....because Mr Solskjaer's reign in the classroom was a complete disaster!
   The pupils /players looked as if they were eating crisps and drinking coke during every lesson.
   They were lethargic,over-weight and couldn't concentrate for the full period.
   Mr Solskjaer knew his subject from back to front and inside out, but made it far too complicated for them.
   Every lesson he changed topic and there was no consistency to his planning or delivery.
   Understandably the players/pupils were baffled.
   On the board he displayed the tactics,but it might as well have been hieroglyphics.
   He explained the formations in complex mathematical formulae full of 4-3-3s , 4-1-4-1s and 4-2-3-1s.
   The pupil/players had no confidence in him and so, none in themselves to perform well. 
   When it came to producing work, they dallied and dithered. Everyone classed them as 'failures', even though they were supposed to be top set.
   Despite the man's affability, the Chair of Governors asked Solskjaer to leave and he was eventually replaced by Mr Slade, after two supply teachers had filled in.
  Mr Young,one of the supplies,had been at the school/club for many years and did such a good job that he was appointed Slade's assistant.
   Now Mr Slade had taught elsewhere for many years, in tougher schools which were considered second rate compared to Cardiff City High.
   All the pupils joked about him before he was appointed, calling him 'Noddy' after the lead singer of the band Slade and quipping that they wouldn't be judging him till 'IT'S CHRISTMAS!'
   Mr Slade sported a bald head  and a beer belly and was hardly a Mr Mourinho figure ( Head of the high-flying Chelsea Academy).
   However, he put his foot down straight away, giving them extra work and demanding first class work at all times.
   He kept it simple and straightforward and always explained things clearly. He had never excelled himself at school or college but understood that, given confidence, his players/pupils had the potential to do great things.
   Quite quickly they responded, though of course there were serious setbacks, as there are with any learning process. They respected this rather burly figure, who showed so much passion and wasn't afraid to be blunt.
   The class was like a team which was winning games and gradually climbing up the league.
   In fact, the class is Cardiff City and our new manager Russell Slade has made just this kind of impact, even if our defeat against Millwall was disappointing.
   From being a shambolic set of individuals, lost and clueless, we are actually playing as a team with spirit, fitness and organisation.
  It remains to be seen if this is enough, but I am cautiously optimistic.
   Slade resembles a good teacher....in fact, he was one before he went into football management!

  The following poem is written from the viewpoint of an ex-hooligan, but is based on a true incident.  
   Football has changed dramatically over the last decade and become much more of a family sport.
   We mix with the away fans quite happily at the station after the games and  Cardiff City - once possessing a very bad reputation - was actually the best club in the Premier last season when it came to arrests.



                           BARD  MEMREE


Seen im at-a ground,
the Merthyr speed king.


I knew im well
from the ol Soul Crew dayz.


Now I got a famlee, settled down,
take my son to-a games.


Twice ee'd bin sent down,
drugs and GBH I bleeve.


'Wha's appnin but!' ee sayz
jest like we wuz young agen.


Could see is eyes wide
an glarin; ee wuz on pins.


We shared stories of firms
and Feds, always the fightin.


Member when he got taken in
f settin fire to-a Union Jack in-a Den.


On-a train back ome, in Cardiff
I yeard it kickin offf.


Im alone takin on Ipswich fans
an securitee flung im off.


On-a platform, surrounded by cops;
bard memree, as we left im be'ind.

 
 



In the midst of pots and food,
above the whir of oven's hood
a tip-tapping sharp and hard.




At the French windows, so close,
a visitor to our house, stranger
from the land of grain, my youth.




Rare pheasant, tame at my sight,
perhaps befriending a reflection,
strutting the patio, raised head curious.




'Adopt it !' my son had  suggested
though he , no doubt, would say fair game,
thinking of sauces and fattening.




She stepped the stone as if on ice,
once lying down like it was a nest ;
for hours beaking on glass, obsessed.




With the darkening evening, gone.
Pictures a proof it was not delirium,
no messenger from barley-fields once known. 
 
 
      Owner of Cardiff City FC Vincent Tan has a phone conversation with his personal advisor :-

P.A. (on work experience at CCS, painting walls) - Uncle Vinnie.....I've heard there's a big game on Friday and it's almost a sell out!
VT - What? Nobody tells me anything. And the new manager just appointed.
PA - Yes, and I have very good news for you. You know your new red-seater stand where nobody normally goes?
VT - Yes, yes!
PA - It will be full and , what's more, all the fans will be wearing red!
VT - My boy, this is marvellous!.....it must be the influence of Slade.
PA - Yes, I love their songs, especially the Christmas ones, didn't know they were doing a concert.....
VT - Enough of that, you sound like a 'Western Mail' reporter. Tell me more, good boy.
PA - Well, the dragon will be displayed everywhere and we will have one of the best players in the world playing for us.
VT - Not Etien Velikonja at last?
PA - No, a local Cardiff boy called Bale.
VT - Never heard of him. Did we sign him on loan? Slade is a magician!
PA - No. Just one problem Uncle Vinnie. We will now be called Wales.
VT - I like it.....that means the whole country will support us, even Swansea fans , and I get to hug the big dragon mascot.
PA - You must turn up for this one and wear your best red shirt.
VT - Who are we playing?
PA - Bosnia- Herzegovina.
VT - Don't I own them as well?
PA - I don't think so, Uncle Vinnie.... they play in blue!

   Something truly remarkable happened last Friday at the Cardiff City stadium.
   No, I don't mean the Wales footie team drew 0-0 with Bosnia to maintain their unbeaten record in the Euro qualifiers.
   I mean the fact that over 30,000 fans turned up (over 2,000 Bosnians, of course) and the atmosphere was simply the best I can recall since....well, actually, I can't remember.....probably v. England at the Millennium.
  Though, in a way, this was better as a smaller ground generates that much more intensity and passion and the Bosnian fans were great, bopping up and down and chanting throughout.
   A beautiful mistake, I thought I'd ordered tickets for my usual Ninian Stand, but had them for the standing section of the Canton instead.
   I love standing. It took me back to the days of the old , wooden Grange End when I first starting following the Bluebirds : chanting, singing and ranting at the referee.
   (The fact that a single spark from fag or match could have sent the whole thing up in flames like the dreadful Bradford disaster doesn't extinguish my nostalgia).
   The truth is (as I've blogged before) football and not rugby is our national sport.
   Rugby internationals may attract a lot more fans, yet there are whole swathes of Cymru which have no interest in it.
  A lot of the Welsh-speaking north-west, such as Caernarfon and Bangor, as well as the north-east like Wrecsam all have much stronger footie traditions. Growing up in Aberystwyth even, it was football not rugby we played on street and park.
  Rugby's areas of support come predominantly from the south, stretching from Carmarthen to Newport: it is a south Wales rather than national sport.
   If our football team actually managed to qualify for a major tournament, I predict that the support would be unprecedented and come from the four corners of the country, as it did last Friday.
   Swansea's Premier League success and the Bluebirds brief spell there has only added to this and it helps that the Wales captain is also captain of Swansea, Ashley Williams.
   The team could even boast a Welsh-speaking midfield in Joe Allen, Emyr Huws and Aaron Ramsey ; common in rugby, this is a new phenomenon in footie.
   What heartened me last Friday was the total unity of the chanting.
   To be frank, I couldn't believe it!
   There were constant chants for Ashley Williams and even a proper rendering of the Swansea song 'Ar Hyd Y Nos' ; all happening in the midst of many CCFC banners!
   Of course, it's possible to read too much into this.
   On Monday we could lose to Cyprus and fans could turn on Williams with that galling chant 'You're not even Welsh!'
   All that unity of purpose, which saw players hug after the game, could disappear into disillusionment again.
   However, there was a glimpse of what could be.....no, not just a 'glimpse' but a surge of emotion......a feeling of a small nation full of joy and confidence.
  A moment, yes, but a significant one.


                     ON TO GLORY!

I just love those Welsh songs
'Nah-nah, nah-nah
Nah-nah'
and
'Dur-ra dur-ra dur-ra
Duh-duh'

from the four corners of the globe
well 'o bedwar ban y wlad'

gogs, hwntws, Cardis fel fi
Kairdiffians, Valley Boyz
Wrecsam fans, Westies

I just love those Brazilian rhythms
and the sheepshagger chanting
and, what's that?
'Ar Hyd Y Nos' ?
it's a Jack invasion!

standing on the Canton
like the ol' days of the wooden Grange End,
kids with their mobiles
and those vuvuzelas
and those flappy, snappy
free cardboard things
everyone's clapping
like old-time wooden rattles

one country together
singing 'Men of Harlech' -
well 'Nah-nah,nah-nah'
on to glory....
a 0-0 draw
and an almost victory.



 


 
 
   Last Friday I had great pleasure taking part in an event at Rhydyfelin Library.   It was a Variety Night to raise funds and also awareness of the vital contributions which libraries make to our communities.  
   Last June several local people, including Red Poet Mike Church ( who helped organise the event ) chained themselves to shelves there as a protest against its impending closure by RCT's Labour Council.  
   Rhydyfelin was given a reprieve, while many other libraries, including ones in places like Maerdy - which have little else in terms of facilities - were closed down in the first acts of cultural vandalism.
     This weekend saw the final performance at the Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd and that town is now left without an arts centre. A loss to present and future generations of performers, who attended workshops there and the many who enjoyed numerous concerts. 
     All this after the smooth-talking MP for that area Owen Smith had the gall to attack the Tories and Lib Dems for their austerity measures. He even suggested at one point that the abandoned project for Ponty precinct could be turned into a 'Tate by the Taff.'  
   Well, now it resembles some of the past entries for the Turner Prize....an Emin bed of rubbled wasteland, absurdly surrounded by security fences.      
   The evening was an enormous success, but I was saddened to hear that the library's future is by no means safe.  Of all the Labour Councils which are carrying out the ConDem cuts with the selfsame relish that they once administered Thatcher's poll tax, RCT seem to be the worst. 
   Hawthorn Swimming Pool has shut and local schools have to travel to Abercynon and further afield for lessons. Swimming clubs either relocate or disappear.  
   Of course, Labour will shift the blame to central government. Cuts in Wrecsam recently tore that party in half with the resignation of 10 councillors who became Independents. 
   On a British level there are many alternatives, yet no mainstream party will take them. If cuts are to be made then abolish the monarchy, don't subsidise nuclear power and slash expenditure on needless defence.  
   On a local level, what is required is a campaign of mass civil disobedience on the part of the majority party in Cymru (i.e. Labour), with Councillors simply refusing to destroy their communities, while the real cause of the 'deficit', the bankers , still get their bonuses.         Unfortunately,this is not going to happen.   Labour have long abandoned those they represent and it's up to people to protest however they can and, when it comes to voting, make sure they elect anti-austerity candidates.
  One thing's for certain, the Labour Party under Miliband are committed to carrying on with these ludicrous and callous policies.
   The latest service to face the axe in RCT is the entire music service. It faces being wiped out completely, as schools will be left to buy in music tuition by private companies like CAVMS. 
  Once again, Labour will be embracing privatisation!
  28 staff will lose their jobs and there will be no more choirs, harp clubs, orchestras, jazz bands, samba bands etc
   Catrin Finch appeared on BBC Breakfast extolling the virtues of classical music. I would call on her to take a stand and join the protest against this devastation.
   Both my older children benefited greatly from this service  : my son went on to study Music at Cambridge and my older daughter to play in groups and orchestras.
  My younger daughter regularly attends the orchestra and in recent years went on tour with them to Germany.
   The Council contributes a mere £474,000 to maintain this.
   Yet, there is a real possibility that they will give themselves a 15% pay rise next year.
   Money  will be found in RCT for a project called 'Super Schools' , which will vastly increase the size of some schools at the expense of others. But music , it seems - in the birthplace of the composers of 'Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau' - is an easy sacrifice.
   Once it's gone, then the music service will never to restored again and our children's lives will suffer as a result.
   I would urge everyone who cares about music and the opportunities for young people to express themselves creatively, not just to sign the online petition, but to join the campaign on every level.



      
    ORCHESTRA   STOPPED   FOREVER



The strings were torn off
to be used as snares.
The wood axed for fires.

Brass made into ornaments
and the drums became
units of storage.

The harps wheeled away
and preserved in museums.
Guitars and keyboards sold on e-bay.

The voices of the choir
and beat of the Samba band
lost in the empty Arts Centre.

Even staves were turned
upright and into columns
of an accountant's ledger.

Mid rehearsal the orchestra
were stopped forever ;
children holding onto air.



In reply to  Paula, I am citing my lifelong experience of the Labour Party in 'action' in the Valleys. They have consistently carried out Westminster policies which are totally contradictory to what they used to stand for. I'm not a member of any party, but I would urge everyone who opposes the Cuts to vote for anti-austerity parties next May and that means the Greens, Plaid Cymru, Socialist Party etc. Anyone voting Labour will be voting for more cuts if they get into power.




 
 
                              A   SMILE


How long is a smile?
You can't measure it
in hours, days or seasons.


It doesn't translate
into any language
known to mankind.


It's the song of lips
and eyes and teeth
together in unison.


It's the seed
of an expression
planted in the skin.


It's the running
of an underground stream
heard beneath your heart.


A smile is as long
as you can't calculate
distance between one and one.