Tag Archives: South Wales

Where I Go In My Dreams (Part 20)

In which The Author takes some cough medicine

For about a week I’ve been troubled by a persistent cough. It started for no reason last Wednesday night, and even made me miss a pint or two with Geoff E. on Thursday, which is pretty serious stuff. I also decided to sit last week’s karaoke out, another indication of how rough I was feeling. (Anyway, I was working on a project, so I was sort-of glad for an excuse to stay in.)
I popped over to the pharmacy, less than a minute from my house, and bought some cough sweets which I hoped would relieve the symptoms a bit. They did help (albeit temporarily) through the day, but during the night I had such a prolonged coughing fit that I was nearly sick.
By Saturday morning, when there was no sign of the cough easing off, I revisited the pharmacy and bought a bottle of medicine. The label described it as ‘non-drowsy’, which turned out to be a bit of a misnomer. I dozed off listening to the 6.00 news on Radio 4 a couple of evenings ago, and again during the increasingly misleading ‘Comedy’ Club on 4Extra the same day. Then again, that might not have had anything to with the medicine itself.
I also went out like a light after taking another dose in the early hours of Wednesday morning. And that’s when the dream happened. (As usual in these cases, these are just the edited highlights.)
I was with Jeff T., a good friend of mine from the book trade in Cardiff. We’d caught a bus from Merthyr, heading vaguely east, and had jumped off in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere. Jeff wanted to show me some of the interesting things that were tucked away off the ‘main road’ (which only just qualified as a road).
There were hardly any houses and only one little shop, which wasn’t even open when we were there. There was a huge chapel dominating the landscape, and bits of railway architecture dotted here and there. We took some photos of the chapel, the shop, some of the cottages, a nice stone bridge which carried a cycle/footpath across the road, and a few oddments of rusted track which had somehow survived.
After that, Jeff and I set off along a steep path uphill, with terrific views across to the Brecon Beacons and down towards Cardiff. He promised to show me something amazing when we got to the other side. I don’t know how long we walked for, stopping every so often to take a photo, but we eventually reached the top of the mountain. Below us was a strange industrial building of some kind, with a freight railway line leading into it, and lots of wheels and parallel motions visible through the windows. There didn’t seem to be anyone around, but the place was still functioning. Jeff told me he knew a couple of people who worked there, but he wasn’t sure what they actually manufactured.
We took a lot of photos between us, and then descended a steep slope to emerge below the plant. We took a footpath parallel to the freight line for a while, and then came to a busy road with a bus stop a short distance away. Jeff said we could catch a bus from there into Caerphilly.

The Sight of Free Speech

In which The Author isn’t the victim of an April Fool’s joke

Back in the good old days of Punk, the seminal DIY band Crass released their first EP/maxi-single/mini-LP/whatever, entitled The Feeding of the 5000.
The initial release (of five thousand copies) came out on the Essex-based Small Wonder label. Unfortunately for everyone’s favourite anarcho-hippies, the pressing plant refused to handle the content of the first track, ‘Asylum’. As a result, the record hit the shops with about two minutes of silence before ‘Do They Owe Us a Living’ kicked in. The band subsequently referred to this John Cage tribute song as ‘The Sound of Free Speech’.
I found myself in a similar position yesterday evening, when I had a phone call at home. The local Labour group had taken exception to something I wrote in this blog a couple of months ago, and had gone to the Western Mail about it. I agreed to delete the offending posting ASAP – although I couldn’t do it last night, for obvious reasons (no Internet access at home, and no library access at 6 p.m.).
I thought about it afterwards, and realised that it was only two paragraphs in an otherwise innocuous discussion about housing estates. It seemed like overkill to remove the entire entry. I would have had to delete all the subsequent links, and alter quite a bit of the external content as well. It would have been the blogging equivalent of sending Crass away from Southern Studios at the outset.
I headed straight to the library this morning and read the article for myself. Martin Shipton, the chief reporter, had also emailed me yesterday to ask for my thoughts on the subject. I’ve just emailed him back, explaining that all views expressed in my blog are entirely my own (unless I’m quoting someone else, obviously). They don’t reflect the opinions and policies of any political group with which I may (or may not) be involved at any level.
I also pointed out that there’s a considerable amount of criticism of the ruling party scattered throughout the last eight years’ worth of content. It’s funny that they’ve never picked up on my entries about the declining library provision, or the public transport cutbacks, or the antisocial behaviour in our town centres, or any of a dozen other issues I’ve mentioned over time.
So I decided on a compromise. I’ve just redacted the post in question, in the way that redacted documents appear on NCIS. Instead of being able to read slightly jaundiced and tongue-in-cheek comments made in a personal capacity, you’ll now be able to enjoy the sight of free speech in the one-party state of Rhondda Cynon Taf.
It looks like this:
twas brillig and the slithy toves
did gyre and gimble in the wabe,
all mimsy were the borogoves
and the mome raths outgrabe