When we arrived  to live in Merthyr over 30 years ago it seemed full of 'characters'. In the streets, pubs and especially my workplace, a Comprehensive School, there were many fascinating eccentrics.
   Fascinating yet, at times rather frightening, because there was often another side to their strangeness.
   The first who made a great impression on me was undoubtedly 'Billy Sticks', who usually stood at the infamous Burton's Corner (where prostitutes were said to hang out).
   Billy sold the 'Echo' and had a characteristically plaintive call. He was an emaciated man (hence the nickname) with long grubby mac and an inevitably disgruntled expression.
   He is the subject of two of my earlier poems and also the writer Grahame Davies (once a reporter at the local paper, now lackey of the Crown) has an interesting story about how he once tried to save Billy from being attacked and was set upon himself.
   On one occasion Billy ended up in Court after he was accused of pleasuring himself in front of several elderly ladies on their way to chapel. The judge appreciated double entendre and gave him an 'absolute discharge'!  Few bought his papers again.
   One of the other memorable characters was 'Omo' or 'Daz', a gypsy from the equally infamous Bogey Road, where he lived surrounded by old slag-heaps. His photo - superbly captured by Al Jones - is on the cover of my book of fiction 'Child of Dust'.
   He looked like Fagin but was, according to Al, a gentle man. He never washed and was always black as a miner come straight from the pit ; he nickname a classic example of Merthyr humour.
   I often saw him down town, as I did another whose nickname eludes me. He was an ex-boxer and spent his days railing at passing traffic and challenging cars with his raised fists. Everyone said he'd suffered severe brain damage in the ring, but he is one of the many casualties of boxing not recalled, as our town glorifies its contribution. You have only to read the poems and stories of one of Merthyr's best ever writers Leslie Norris (himself an amateur boxer) to realise the tragic consequences of that brutal sport.
   In later years, two characters stand out. I often saw Dezzy down the bus-station, where he was regularly collapsed on the floor. The place was his home and when vaguely sober it was obvious he had many friends there. He died lying down under its plasticky tubing and the cops tried to raise him, believing he was in another drunken stupor. I have written about him in my story 'Bus-station Clinic' (yet to be published).
   The most colourful character in recent years was Dave.......call him 'Dress-up Dave' if you like. I believe he came up from Ponty and now spends his fancy days in Cardiff.
   I've also written a couple of poems about him and his various guises. He once dressed as a policeman and was in deep conversation with real cops in the Arcade.
   My wife and young daughter encountered him one time in Walter's Photographers dressed as Edward Hitchcock, the brother of the famous auteur! This was one of his most original.
   I witnessed him as Crocodile DunDave, Mexican Dave , Dave Atlas (not a pretty sight!) and even Michael Jackson Dave. He always wore a label of explanation, even when it was obvious.
   He seemed to fit perfectly into the 'barkin' atmosphere of Merthyr Tudful and his move to Cardiff was baffling.
   In school, there were so many characters it seemed like every other person was larger than life.
   One who made his presence felt had actually retired, yet still appeared on the supervision list. He was a well-known amateur inventor yet once wrote an entire exam  out on a roll of wall-paper and held it up in front of the class!
   He was renowned for not knowing the names of pupils he taught and one Parents' Evening decided to bring along the photos of classes and ask parents which children were theirs.
   Another teacher used to teach half of Pink Floyd in their Cambridge days. He was a genial charmer outside the classroom, who sometimes turned into a psycho inside it. Once he kicked a boy called Ratty in the goolies as he lay on the floor and another time chased a pupil down the corridor brandishing a chair leg, only to stop and greet a colleague with 'Good morning, Robert!' in mid-pursuit.
   A fantasist teacher was well-known for his incredible stories and I did manage to incorporate him into a poem, though I changed the context completely.
   He regaled both staff and pupils with his remarkable exploits : how he had played cards underwater, his feet trapped in a Giant Clam, or how he'd stood on the wings of a plane and kept balancing there even after it took off.
   Another teacher nicknamed 'Dick Bow Dai' was the epitome of this Jekyll & Hyde syndrome. A dapper man with an array of bow-ties, he had a serious drink problem. All his wit and good nature could turn in a second to vicious temper and he would hurl board-rubbers at pupils.
   I particularly liked one older teacher who often wore black beret and wellies to school (a Geography teacher, of course!).  She had a distinct aversion to germs and at times wore a surgical mask in class ; when pupils farted she would instantly deodorize them.   
   As time passed, teachers' tortures were banned and rightly so. However, the greyness of conformity presided over education and such characters sadly disappeared.
   Our Open Mic. nights at The Imp in Pontmorlais have attracted a few along over the years: a renegade actor from 'Pobl y Cwm', Gerhard the bodhran-maker  who once played with The Chieftains,  Bartzman the prize heckler and, above all, the Pirate who turned up in full garb brandishing his harmonica (check him out on our Facebook page).
   I'd spotted him down town earlier heading for the Civic Centre
 and thought he was a distant cousin of Dress-up Dave.
   He enlivened the evening, even if he did end up picking a fight with one of our regulars.    

                                  POSH PIRATE

There's a newclear scientist
lives up Dowlais Top
oo knows wha's goin on

an there's a pirate,
a fully-fledged buccaneer,
walkin round ower town

there's a cannon up by Cyfarthfa
an ee sits astride it,
but ee int firin nothin

there's-a Council always yappin
bout the colour o bags f re-cyclin
an there's a pirate oo's watchin em

there's a trolley stuck in-a river,
Tai Kwando at-a Leisure Centre,
but ee int sailin or fightin

coz ee's buyin a cheapo cutlass
an a small inflatable parrot
from ower best Pound Shop

once stood 'gainst a well-known Tory,
ee knows the tewn o 'Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau'
 an ow to ambush poetree 

picks barneys with minin engineers,
leaves nex day soon as ee can ;
posh pirate leggin it f'r Englan'.



07/04/2012 08:53

Ronny Mouth-Organ

10/10/2012 05:36

This is just the information I am finding everywhere.Me and my friend were arguing about an issue similar to this! Now I know that I was right.Thanks for the information you post.

10/06/2013 10:32

you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something

01/09/2014 22:29

Thanks for the unmatchable diary.it was rale useful for me.navigator sharing specified ideas in the instant as symptomless.this was actually what i was labour for,and i am voluntary to came here!

express gratitude you for the efforts you been putting on making your location such an interesting and informative location to browse through. I’ll be travelling to your location again to gather some more precious data. You really did a good job.


I feel good to read such post and thanks for the good job done by the writer, please continue the good job.

09/07/2012 23:04

Wales has one of the earliest literary traditions in Northern Europe, stretching back to the days of Aneirin and Taliesin and the haunting Stafell Cynddylan, which is the oldest recorded literary work by a woman in northern Europe. Thanks.

10/14/2012 23:23

lace wedding dresses UK

02/20/2013 04:49

Throughout each civilization and language, poets have used various styles that have changed through the course of literary history, resulting in a history of poets as diverse as the literature they have produced. Thanks.

03/15/2013 02:09

Great remarkable issues here. Im very glad to look your post. Thanks a lot and i am looking ahead to touch you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

04/07/2014 23:58

I admire the valuable information you offer in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and have my children check up here often. I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else!

03/21/2013 03:22

dsg dsf df a

05/20/2013 20:54

Whether there is, it 's not out good grades, in the research paper had books, as well, paper purchasing philosophy is providing writing services of paper in the true sense of the term is a good way of another.mty

06/04/2013 22:16

A suitable plan from your service provider would make allowance for the necessary space to launch your website. Such premium plans are backed with appropriate anti-spam machinery, advanced email, blogging software, SEO tools and many advanced security features.

06/24/2013 05:19

Merthyr of what I think was a gracious place full of characters. I always used to wonder about the credibility and grandeur of it. The poetic language in posh pirate is also simply out of the world. Keep updating this page. Thanks a lot.

07/14/2013 06:15

paper purchasing philosophy is providing writing services of paper in the true sense of the term is a good way of another

10/02/2013 23:23

Awesome! Love this idea. Thanks for sharing!

10/03/2013 10:41

I am so delighted I located your blog, I really located you by mistake, while I was watching on google for something else, Anyways I am here now and could just like to say thank for a tremendous post and a all round entertaining website. Please do keep up the great work.

12/13/2013 03:32

A very good and informative article indeed . It helps me a lot to enhance my knowledge, I really like the way the writer presented his views. I hope to see more informative and useful articles in future.

05/24/2014 23:05

Hey, you have written the resume with all necessary sections, which is making it unique. You can also have a look at aroj.com. You will get more ideas for adding weight on resume.

05/24/2014 23:05

Thanks for the comments, guys. I will also add OxyClean as a good way to go for stains and such. This was mentioned a few times in comments on another post.


However, by year’s end, GE will no longer control NBC—it will be run by the Roberts family that has a major stake of Comcast, which could mark a major shift.

06/14/2014 13:35

After reading your article I was amazed. I know that you explain it very well. And I hope that other readers will also experience how I feel after reading your article. I feel very grateful that I read this.

09/14/2014 10:09

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.


Leave a Reply.