When I was six, I wanted to be a Basque!   I had no idea at all about that country in Spain and its unique fight against the fascist dictator Franco.
   I had merely seen a film in which the Basque people were depicted as resourceful and nimble mountain dwellers, always ready to surprise their enemy.
   So, on Tanybwlch storm-beach near my home village of Penparcau, I used to leap from giant boulder to boulder like a cross between a long jumper and mountain goat, with the name 'Basque!' on my lips.
   It didn't last long. If you'd asked me my ambition during most of those early years, it would've been 'a cowboy' or (in complete contrast to my older self) a soldier in the British army.
   Films determined the days' long fantasies, but television and, in particular, football was gradually making its mark.
   As popular music and footie took over my life and became my overriding passions (as well as the opposite sex), I might have played my tennis racket along with the hits of The Beatles, yet never had any serious thoughts about forming a band.
   I was later on the fringes of a couple without ever joining in. I should've grabbed the mic. and declared myself the vocalist, but I was less and less pushy as an adolescent.
   Footie was another matter. Even though my actual career peaked when I played for the City Schoolboys at eleven, I still harboured enough fantasies to keep alive a possibility of making it.
   In his fictionalised autobiography 'Ash On A Young Man's Sleeve' Dannie Abse describes himself fantasizing about being a doctor, something he succeeded in becoming. He also wanted to be a footballer with our beloved Cardiff City and even got to play at Ninian Park , though he had to play against Cardiff City reserves, as the opponents were a man short!
   As a teenager growing up in England , my team was Everton and those excellent midfielders Harvey, Kendall and Ball my heroes. Before that I admired winger Derek Temple ; so much so that, playing every evening on our village's cow-field pitch one lad dubbed me 'Simon Templar' (after The Saint, a popular TV series then), while another saw my blonde curly hair and called me 'Shirley Temple'!
   Ambition can be a strange thing : a mountain you climb to gaze around and down at fields, outcrops and valleys...only to spot another mountain, higher and more challenging.
   I think I must've realised that, even at 14, my footballing career was never going to happen and when I discovered poetry-writing at 15 it became fundamental to my existence.
   I could never think of being a writer as a job though and the only work I had any notion of doing was journalism.
   I used to read football magazines avidly and later the 'NME' and 'Melody Maker' and a fine one called 'Street Life', which sadly disappeared all too rapidly. My mother even suggested I leave school after 'A' Levels to become a reporter.
   Though I never realised that ambition, it has played a part in my life. At Aber Uni. I helped edit 'Rasp', an alternative newspaper, and have since written for 'Y Faner Goch' , 'Arcade' and 'Celyn'.
   My biggest claim to fame was being the first pop/rock reviewer for 'Wales On Sunday' when it first appeared as a broadsheet. I relished being able to enthuse about music I loved, such as the wonderful African singer Salif Keita and Welsh language bands Steve Eaves and Sobin, who were producing politically-charged songs about holiday homes and injustices n.Ireland.
   Now my son's a fully-fledged journo with Channel 4 News, it seems strange. He was always destined to be a musician, yet ended up in a very different arena.
  Likewise my older daughter, a politician who always aspired to a career in theatre. I think her experiences being cast as a chicken in 'Animal Farm' and a  peripheral leaf in another drama, didn't help!
   My younger daughter used to want to be a fireman, till she saw a documentary showing just how risky it is. Then it was an 'architecture'...perhaps the Eiffel Tower?...she's tall enough!
   For anybody who yearns to be a writer I would recommend it highly, especially if you're not interested in the money. There's so much variety: from the writing itself, to workshops and performances, from organising events to MC-ing them.
   On National Poetry Day last Thursday, what better place to be than in a library with an adult Creative Writing group, all eager to express themselves?

   As someone who still looks for inspiration to musicians, sportspeople and, indeed, journalists, I thought I had encountered one of those I admire last week :-

                       GEORGE  MONBIOT  ON  THE  VALLEYS  LINE

Thought I saw George Monbiot on the Valleys Line,
wasn't dressed up as a polar bear this time.

He was reading 'The Guardian', only one on the train ;
I thought, chances are it's got to be him.

I wanted to approach him and say -
'Hey Mr Monbiot, I admire what you say,

I like your red-green fusion and vision,
your fear of a future destroyed by global warming.

I like your support for Lucas, for Wood's ideology
(before she sold out on the monarchy).

However, Mr Monbiot, no offence of course,
but your U-turn on nuclear power's for the worse.'

He would've liked my Fruit & Veg Co-op carrier,
the fact I was, like him, a train-traveller.

But it's a good thing I never went up to him,
googling him later he looked so much younger :

the one I spotted had silver hair, was going bald,
and looked more like me, if truth be told.

I thought I saw George Monbiot on a Valleys train,
it was more like a hole in my ozone brain.

11/21/2012 09:03

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