The viewpoint in the following poem is mine and it isn't.
  It's certainly one I hear a lot in Merthyr and, quite recently, in Anne's Pantry cafe at the bottom of High Street where I was discussing the rapidly declining town centre with Anne's two daughters who ran the place.   
   Note the Past Tense : in the last week it has shut, along with W.H. Smith's.
   Much as I disliked the latter for various reasons (one being a total lack of support for local writers), we are left with Siop y Canolfan in the Soar, an excellent bookshop but one which inevitably concentrates on Welsh language works.
   Anne's was always my favourite cafe. I have known the owner for years and used to go to Merthyr football games with her late husband. It was a friendly, laid-back place (with very good chips and cheesy toast) which will be missed.
   More closures are impending, with the two Co-op pharmacies surely due to be shut and Burton's is looking increasingly dilapidated. With Burton's, Boots and New Look all in the Cyfarthfa Retail Park, I can't see any of them staying on in town.
   So, at times, I feel exactly like the speaker in the poem and despair for the future ; for talented friends who have worked all their lives and now find themselves in their 50s and on the dole ( Jobseekers) and finding it very difficult to get the work they want so badly.
   At other times though, I do feel more optimistic.
   Not just because there are signs of renovation and general improvement evidenced by the Redhouse and the new Merthyr College, but also because in places like Soar, the Old Town Hall and our monthly Open Mic. at The Imp you'll discover so much creativity and original voices of imagination and dissent.
   You feel a good deal less isolated in the company of those who believe in the transformative nature of the arts, learning Cymraeg, or  helping others to express themselves in classes and workshops.
   I don't think I've ever known a time when Merthyr has been so full of creative energy: from Forge Films in Redhouse to the excellent young singer-songwriter Kizzy Crawford ; from the electronic music of Twlc to the highly imaginative paintings of Gus Payne.
   It is the best of times and the worst of times.  A time to both agitate and celebrate.

                                OWER  TOWN

Ower town is slowly closin down,
one artfa another the shops,
the ouse'old names an local ones,
like old people dyin off
in a neglected Care Ome.

An ev'ryone talkin in
ewsed-t-bes an I remembers
an tha's-where - it - wozs.

Ower Caffi Quarter should be re-named
ower Shut-down Area ;
I ewsed t go t Anne's Pantree
tidee chips and cheesy toast
an Anne's two daughters runnin it......
but now it's shuttered up.

Ower town ave moved out
to-a Retail Park no parkin charge,
though we got posh pavin-stones
an a one-way system, straight in an out.

Ower town is closin down
an waitin f'r-a flame an smoke.


03/18/2014 02:04

I love the poem and agree with the sentiments. Glad however at the resurgence of creativity in and around the town.
There needs to be some sort of reinvention of town centres all around Wales. I am from Merthyr, but lived in Tredegar and now in Bridgend where exactly the same things are happening to the town centres which look desolate and forlorn with closed shops, cafés etc. we must aim to reinvigorate town centres ...but need to think outside the box making them meeting places and arranging activities


Leave a Reply.