Merthyr Tudful is dying and being reborn at the same time. Perhaps it was always thus. In the heyday of the iron industry, when it was one of the  largest producers in the world, there were notorious slums like 'China' and cholera was rife, just as people poured in from the impoverished countryside.   Today there are examples of death and rebirth everywhere. Those of death are more familiar : the effects of the giant opencast coal mine at Ffos-y-fran and the impending environmental doom of the incinerator at Brig-y-cwm (unless it is stopped). More obviously are the many problems relating to poverty and unemployment, among them drugs , crime and serious health issues.

   Yet the rebirth cannot be underestimated : the old Town Hall will hopefully  be reinvented as an arts and training centre, the first ever Children's Literature Festival (bi-lingual, wrth cwrs) could well take place at the soon-to-be-launched Soar Theatre and there are a number of other projects, such as the Engine House in Dowlais, which bring so much hope to the young people of the town.

   Our latest guest reader at the Open Mic. at The Imp in Pontmorlais was author of 'Real Merthyr' Mario Basini, who bemoaned the fact that so much of the town, such as the famous 'Triangle' housing in Pentrebach and also Penydarren ironworks, had been destroyed by callous Councils. 

   While I agree with him,  we can't alter that. However, things can be done today and one must certainly be a comemorative monument at the site of the recently demolished Castle Cinema, where so much of the drama of the 1831 Rising happened. The brutal attack by the British army on unarmed workers who were fighting for their rights should be a focal point of our town's history. 

   Merthyr used to be synonymous with failure : the C5 built at Hoover factory ( a washing-tub on wheels!), the flights to USA fiasco of that same factory and the ski-slope with its snow-machine, which left a perfect runway for the hang-gliders by Troedyrhiw!

   Now, there's a vibrant creative arts department at Merthyr College, Soar's ambitious programme of events and a Town Hall where the rats will be piped away up the mountain by music and dance. A town realising its many talents!

   The greats of the past must not be forgotten either, as these can be an inspiration. I'd like to see 'viewing platforms' at various locations around town associated with these writers and historians, places where short biographies, photos and extracts should be displayed. Our museum at Cyfarthfa has done little to promote the town's rich heritage of writing, so people like Gwyn Alf Williams, Alun Rees, Glanmor Williams, Jack Jones, Glyn Jones and Leslie Norris should be celebrated and enjoyed  at these key points. Historical tours of the town could stop off at these places, like Dowlais for Gwyn Alf, the Morlais brook for Glyn Jones and Cyfarthfa Park for Leslie Norris.

   Which will it be, slow death or eventual rebirth? I feel the answer is, as ever, both. Economically , we will suffer disproportionately from the continuing recession with its cuts, unemployment, inflation and dwindling spending power. If the incinerator comes we will have pollution's most modern theme park: come and visit our landfill site, opencast and waste- burning for a day's spectacle on how to destroy the environment!

   Yet, long after Ffo-y-fran is either filled in and made into bare pastureland, or becomes a landfill mark II, I believe the Soar and Old Town Hall will be flourishing.  People have objected to the money spent on these projects and to that I'd reply - ' These places will grow, develop and become havens of hope.'


                                  FISH FOOT CLINIC

It's come t Merthyr at las,
we got one o them 'Fish Foot Clinics'
down town in a posh stewdio.

In-a local paper it boasts
'Probably the biggest in Merthyr'
(far as I know, int no other!).

An orready I yeard 'bout this bloke,
pissed arfta goin up-a Wyndham
(one of-a top 10 ardes pubs in-a land) ;

ee goes inta this Clinic
where there's all these women
avin theyer feet nibbled by tiny fish.

'I wan mine done!' ee demands,
'on'y make it fuckin piranhas,
not them poncy fish yew do ewse!

Aye, they cun feed off-of my tattoes.
On'y piranhas are ard enough
f'r a pair o feet like these.'

'Sorry sir,' sayz the manager, thinkin 999,
'we on'y got these ones,
Gara Rufa 're gentle as yew please.'

'No way!' ee replies,' I'll bugger off
up a Chinese Ealth Shop an ave
loadsa needles stuck in my balls!'

 

  
 


10/06/2012 10:28

Was just looking for a site like this, thanks

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