Archive – 2016

Please find our older blog posts below, with hits in brackets.  This news archive from the official Pontypridd Town website only runs from 2014 when we moved the old html, css site over to WordPress.  Previous years work (1998-2014) has unfortunately been lost in the ether somewhere.


2016

Racist and Stupid – Dec 2016

Hours after the Brexit result many of my so-called kind, intelligent, liberal friends (University educated, in good jobs, great pay) branded my other friends stupid and racist. I imagine the same thing happening in the USA after the Trump upset.

I hung back and observed. I watched the vitriol spew back and forth on social media while the political elite (MPs earn £75,000 plus expenses, plus second homes) quietly laugh to themselves knowing that once again they’d been handed a get out of gaol free card. Their lifelong butties in the equally well-paid media (shit columnist Richard Littlejohn gets over £1 million a year and BBC’s Huw Edwards, Fiona Bruce, John Humphrys and Jeremy Vine all earn over £500,000 a year) now have years of public distraction material handed to them on a plate. The same old sound bites with which they can continue their cosy, city of London, Game of Life callously played out for us on the taxpayer-funded BBC and the foreign-owned broadsheets and tabloids. I despaired, again.

Now who are these stupid people exactly?

Maybe they’re people like me, two degrees and a post-grad, unemployed, struggling to earn enough money from my writing to hoist me into the JAMs (Just About Managing). Oh, I’d love to be earning that little! Instead of surviving on my wits, spending my redundancy on food and watching as my previous hard-earned life’s savings dwindle down to a low enough level so I can claim benefits and qualify for the food bank at last.

Last night I watched another news report that had some fucking fool tell us that the economy was doing well, that more people were now employed, that this fictional concept called the deficit was coming down and share prices were up. Lies, lies and damn lies. Only swallowed by my kind, intelligent, liberal friends who nod sagely and say ‘deficit’ or ‘racist’ instead of engaging their long-dead empathy chips.

While we’re on the subject of the EU though, here are some figures from the EU themselves:

The UK pay £11 billion in but only get £6 billion out. I won’t say do the maths, then vote. We’ve already voted. Stupidly apparently? Anyway, here’s some more facts: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia all get more out than they put in. I admit Wales is a different kettle of fish though. More a bucket of eels…

Personally I’ll miss the EU money and the contribution it makes towards our great cycle lanes, roads that lead nowhere and tarted up railways I never use because they are so expensive. Can’t think of any other reason but I digress, surely for most people Brexit isn’t really an issue either way. Neither is the deficit – it doesn’t affect poor people, i.e. the majority of us. Think about it. When Labour were in power and we had this huge deficit we were poor, forgotten, abandoned and shat upon by our government. Now we have the Tories and it’s just more of the same. OK, to be fair they don’t pretend they despise us or try to hide how nasty they are but the the result is the same – we’re screwed, just at a far faster rate.

So who are these really stupid people? People who saw a chance to stick two fingers up to the established order knowing it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to their lives either way or the ones who voted for the present Tory government? Come on my friends, Romans and countrymen (both stupid and clever) we have to deal with millions being cut from the NHS in readiness for its privatisation, state schools going down the pan, £100 billion spent on nuclear weapons when we are telling other countries to stop making them, zero action on climate change, species extinction, habitat destruction, the list goes on… Stupid? Yeh, I know who’s stupid alright. Not our elected representatives, who are allowed to get a 11% pay rise that’s for sure!

On the plus side though we’re going to spend £360 million on a housing grant for the Queen to do up Buckingham Palace. Not bad seeing as we only have to pay £24 for a family ticket to see the work we’ll be paying the builders for. Mmm? Still, the Queen only gets about £40 million a year to top up her measly £350 million personal fortune. I don’t know how she manages? Maybe we need to vote her so more of our cash.

Oh yeh I almost forgot, we’re all racist as well. Our government lets ISIS fighters back into the country so they can follow them home to Birmingham, Cardiff or wherever to see who they’re talking to on Facebook while my own family are refused holiday visas by a foreign office official in Mumbai! The result is my son cannot see his wife and child and I can’t see my beautiful, half-Filipino grandson this Christmas. But not to worry the same UK government will welcome a host of terrorists home, pay to put them up in hotels and send them on de-radicalisation courses. I must be racist, there can be no other logical explanation?

Yep, now I know, stupid and racist that’s me. And millions of others apparently. What a shithole we live in – wake up you dull f******!

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Wales Trails – Nov 2016

wales-trails_tshirt_frontIn 2005 two Ponty boys, Dave Lewis & Derek Goode, cycled the iconic Land’s End to John o’ Groats route and raised over £1000 for Ty Hafan. In August 2016 Dave decided he needed a new challenge and so cycled around Wales to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK. He completed the ride (with the odd mishap), rode 688 miles around much of the coast of Wales, raised over £500 and has just published a book of his adventures.

Dave also hopes to inspire others to repeat the course and help turn this haphazard ‘loop’ of Wales into a world famous iconic ride just like Land’s End to John o’ Groats.

To download an Amazon kindle e-book – click here or to buy the paperback – click here.


Dave said: “After completing the ride I wanted to encourage others to do the same thing and so sent the following press release out to Welsh Assembly Government, BBC Wales, Western Mail, SW Echo, SW Argus, SW Evening Post, Ponty Observer and many other organisations, cycling forums, bike magazines, local bike shops etc. It’s on Facebook and Twitter, the Wales Forum and other online outlets. Fingers crossed someone will think it’s a good idea and want to promote the ride.”

Press release:

Wales Trails – The LEJOG-lite Cycle Challenge!

Welsh writer Dave Lewis has just completed a two-week cycle ride around Wales. He covered 688 miles, raised £500 for Prostate Cancer UK and has just published a book of his adventures. But wait, there’s more…

After cycling the iconic Land’s End to John o’ Groats challenge back in 2005 Dave has been thinking about setting up a similar ride in Wales. Well, here it is!

‘Wales Trails‘ is a new ride for everyone to enjoy.

The route: A loop of Wales

Duration: As long as you want / two weeks or more

Direction: Clockwise

Start / Finish: You decide / it’s a loop!

Charity: Up to you

Aim: To put Wales on the ‘must do’ bikers list

Dave’s idea was to create a ‘LEJOG-lite’ in Wales. The famous ‘End-to-End’ ride usually takes two weeks and cyclists cover approx. 900+ miles. The lap of the Principality can be whatever you want but 500-700 miles seems about fair. This means the Welsh ride is shorter and therefore great training for the LEJOG challenge.

However, if you do the ‘Wales Trails’ ride in two weeks the shorter distances per day means there is more time to enjoy and savour the fantastic Welsh scenery and meet the fabulous Welsh people.

This is a chance to put the land of the dragon firmly on the cyclists’ bucket list of adventures and also bring in some much needed income to the Welsh economy. Welsh B&Bs, bike shops, pubs, cafés and tourist attractions should all benefit!

So if you fancy a challenge with a difference why not attempt a loop of Wales and ride over 500 miles along some of the most stunning coastline anywhere in the world!

If you want to find out more why not visit Dave’s website or pick up a copy of his book, where he outlines his vision that one day, Wales, with its rapidly diminishing yet rich cultural heritage, will become a ride that all cyclists will want to do. More than just a guide, but a funny and thought-provoking account of two weeks in the summer of 2016 when one man’s dream becomes reality.

‘Wales Trails’ is available from all good bookstores, from Amazon and Dave’s own website as a paperback and e-book.

www.wales-trails.co.uk
www.david-lewis.co.uk

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Dog Friendly Beaches – Oct 2016

Wales is blessed with the Welsh Coastal Path. Opened in 2012 the path is the world’s first uninterrupted route along a national coast. The path shows off our beaches, estuaries, cliffs, woodlands and hills, There are also city waterfronts, writers’ retreats, fun-parks and historic castles. There’s 870 miles of coast path to explore. I don’t expect you to walk it all in one go but one day I plan to do just that!

lili1_600_400

Many of the beaches along south Wales’ coastline are dog friendly year round, although some are just dog friendly during the ‘winter’ months. I’ve put together a list of those I could find that do allow doggies on.

South Wales

1 May – 30 September
Dogs are banned from the following beaches: Aberavon, Southerndown, Llantwit Major, Cold Knap, Barry Island, Penarth, Rest Bay, Town Beach, Coney Beach and Trecco Bay (Porthcawl)

Doggies are permitted on: Ogmore, Pink Bay, Newton Beach and Sker Beach all year round though.

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3D Politics– 27 Sept 2016

It must have been about ten or fifteen years back when I realised that politics in the UK was not only rotten, but also broken. I suppose it’s always been rotten. After all, the system just keeps those in power in power and those that are rich, rich. But recently I really think it’s got much worse.

The more I watch the biased, dumbed-down news channels or listen to the lies and drivel of mainstream career politicians the more I get turned off from politics. In fact I seem to be actively encouraged by the media and the politicians to switch off, lose interest and finally give up on the whole idea that I can change anything by engaging with these parasites.

I used to think the problem in the UK was the press – the BBC, the foreign-owned Tory tabloids and the politically-correct broadsheets, but now I realise they are the same thing – the media and the politicians I mean. They are both part of one cosy little clique. It’s a childish little game they play. No-one gives a shit about anything except themselves. They don’t care about their communities or the country, all they want is to maintain the status quo and shun anything that may interfere with this symbiotic arrangement.

Result – I become depressed. Like a teacher who cares about children’s welfare. Like a doctor or nurse that longs to help people. Like any public servant that truly gives a monkeys about his fellow man and community! What do I do?

Well, I can fight. But sooner or later I’ll get so stressed out, as I battle against overwhelming odds, that I’ll finally get beaten down to their level. I either accept the banal and the stupid, I either welcome the deterioration of standards in society or I get ousted. The next step? Let go, made redundant, moved on / out, sacked, abused, threatened…

What becomes of me if I continue to stand up for goodness and mercy? Well, I become the personification of ‘natural wastage’.

Quite depressing?

It’s their masterplan. The sadder we all become the less likely we are to vote for any of them in the future. They simply do not represent us anymore. Voter turnout falls to an all-time low but the system means they still get ‘voted’ in to carry on ruining our lives and keeping us oppressed.

We need a new political system. One where the people write the policies.

I often get asked if I’m left-wing or right-wing. I bet you do too. Well, I’m both. I’m a raving facist when it comes to paedophiles, Muslim terrorists and serial rapists and I’m a loony leftie when it comes to our NHS, jobs and social care services. I want a living income for all, to abolish the benefits system for all but the most needy. So my politics, like many I believe, cannot be put into a box. Although I bet many would jump into my box – ooh err missus.

For example, I don’t want Eastern European criminals strolling into my country yet still love my Polish friends. If fundamentalists from Leicester want to blow me up then shoot them I say, but at the same time I want more Filipino nurses recruited to prop up our NHS until such time as we train more of our own.

I want equality in the workplace and equal pay for men. Yes, men I said! Everywhere you look there are women. Overpaid women! Take the BBC for instance. Every week they have two female presenters interviewing two women who are so hard done by, then they go over to the sports or business news with two more women, or maybe the weather with another woman. Mmm?

I believe in 3D Politics! I don’t want to be placed upon a straight line that goes from left to right, I want to be a sphere, I want to be able to have a different opinion on everything, not be forced into accepting the one true path of some silly, outdated, backward-thinking political party that never gets more than 30% of the country’s vote. I wonder why!

Here’s a good link for starters – take the test – and see where you stand. Life’s a grid man!

So, what political system would we have? Well, we have the internet so I’m sure we could be using this tool in politics too.

Compare the one-off democracy of the EU vote to the policies of the current government. They want to privatise the NHS, they want to give control of our energy to the Chinese, French and Germans. They want the USA to put bigger nuclear bombs in our country, they want to keep an unelected monarchy and hereditary Lords. They want the gap between rich and poor to grow wider, our state schools to become militarised zones and climate change to kill us all.  They want environmental devastation, species extinction, habitat destruction and life expectancy to fall to an all-time low for poor people. Hands up who voted for all this? Well, apparently we did.

So, how about a vote on a 100% publicly-funded NHS? How about a vote on abolishing private schools? That would help social mobility that millionaire May laughably claims she wants.

How about we vote on whether we should allow Sharia courts to continue in this country? How about we vote on child benefit for only one child? How about we decide what higher rate of tax Wayne Rooney should pay? How about we decide what pay BBC presenters get? How about we vote on whether we want Halal and Kosher slaughter methods to be banned?

Until we get to choose what we want we will never have democracy. We are quickly heading towards a US style of election system. One where money talks and the choice is between two idiots who would struggle to comb their own hair or manage a simple email account.

This is why working class people vote for UKIP. It’s a protest vote. It’s a vote against the status quo, it’s a vote against the BBC, Channel 4 and the rest of our unelected mouthpieces who continually tell us how we should think, how we should vote and how awful we are.

Someone needs to take control and give the people a chance to get involved. Facebook politics anyone?

(1370)


Precinct Plans Out– 21 Aug 2016

Even though RCT asked the residents of the town what they wanted for the derelict precinct site they have once again completely ignored the views of the people, just as they did with the environmentally-unfriendly Lido.

Details of the major plans to revitalise the former Pontypridd precinct site have been revealed for the first time and they are modern as expected, rather than a return to the old Victorian facade that many residents wanted.

I suppose this was to be expected as the London firms Knight Frank, Gaunt Francis Architects, and Atkins that the council has been working with, without going out to tender, have their own ideas how to profit from our public funds.

It should also be remembered that Ponty MP and Labour Party leader candidate Owen Smith voted for Knight Frank to work on the HS2 link from London to Birmingham.

The council did say that updates will be provided ‘when appropriate’, but have not provided details of the residents feedback or suggestions yet. (Doubt they ever will.)

So here are some artist’s impressions of what the new Taff Vale Precinct will look like as the developers seek outline planning permission – likely to be considered later this year, probably dependent on how well Owen Smith MP does in the leadership race.


No housing, rain shelters, greenery or public art?

Overall, the proposals want to allocate floor space for cafes/restaurants (450 sq.m.), non-residential use (1,145 sq.m.), assembly and leisure (1,145 sq.m.) and offices (9,935 sq.m.), even though most people who submitted ideas for the site wanted residential included that would overlook the river and Park.

A strange proposal seeing as Ponty already has half it’s non-residential units currently empty. RCT leisure services have been slashed across the county, due to austerity, and many offices and council buildings have been quietly sold off (at huge discounts) as staff are made redundant. Again very strange, unless you are a rich property developer who knows someone in the council of course.

The largest of the three buildings – to be built opposite the YMCA building (which plans to have non-residential, assembly and leisure use) – would have five storeys and would be up to 25m high, while the middle building would have four of five storeys and the smallest – opposite the old bridge – would have two or three storeys, up to 20m high in total.


The new buildings as seen from ‘The Wonky’

A new basement car park will be built as the existing one will be demolished and replaced with more or less the same thing.

Andrew Morgan, leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf council, suggested that the council wants to ‘change the direction of this key valleys town’, although he didn’t say in which direction?


Almost at river level, so therefore car park must be dug down much deeper?

The leader also acknowledged the multiple failures of previous Labour-led councils:

“Over the last 10 years or so, there have been previous proposals for the redevelopment of the former Taff Vale site…

“However, none of these have come to fruition…”

He also went on to add that that “An office-led development will bring hundreds of people into the town, who in turn will spend their money locally.” But not in the evenings or weekends which residential properties would have.

taffst_victorian
Old Victorian facade of Taff Street

Should the council have gone for a design more in keeping with the town’s heyday or is a new, modern, carbon copy development of other areas more likely to bring people back into town? You decide.

Either way the town desperately needs something done and with Owen Smith MP having so many ‘grot spots’ under his reign as MP for the town I guess he and the council have to show something to the voters.

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Living Income – 15 Aug 2016

Most rich, western, first-world countries have millions of ‘working poor’. These are people whose jobs do not pay enough to keep them above the poverty line, and whose wages are then topped-up by the state. In the UK we call this tax credits.

The minimum wage has never been high enough to reach the bottom of a ‘living income’ though. Therefore people still need government benefits. In 2008, about 5.5 million working families in the UK received tax credits, including working and child credits, housing benefits, and local tax benefits. The Tories austerity policies have reduced this number to 4.3 million. Given that there were 11.4 million working households in the UK in 2012, this means that an astonishing 38% did not receive a ‘living wage’.

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was cutting £12 billion from the welfare bill over the next four years as part of his screw-the-poor plan. Of this, £9 billion will come from cutting the tax subsidies for working families.

Mmm? Won’t this make things worse you ask?

The Tories also proposed to raise the minimum wage from £6.50 per hour to £9 per hour over the same period. The increase will fall on employers, not the government. The Treasury will save £12 billion, yet the higher minimum wage amounts to only £4 billion. In other words the government is taking £8 billion from people whilst also putting more and more burden on businesses and employers to pay this higher minimum wage!

This will result in more firms going bust and more people unemployed. This will cost the government more in benefits. Crazy backward economics?

As I pointed out in ‘Crap Jobs‘ automation will make more people unemployed. Up to 50% of existing jobs may be at risk in the next 20 years. Will enough new jobs be found to replace them? Of course not!

Also, is it even sensible to keep producing more and more shite we don’t need or can’t use?

So, as robots replace humans, humans will need incomes to replace wages from work.

Tax credits replace or top-up incomes, raising the minimum wage makes income more dependent on jobs. When wages go up we lose jobs to robots because they become cheaper.

So here is a radical (not new) idea. Government provides all citizens an unconditional tax credit / benefit amount, regardless of whether they work or not.

Bear with me. I know what you’re thinking. That would cost billions. Well, yes it would but we do away with the majority of the benefits system we have now, we just keep the bit that helps those sick, disabled, vulnerable etc. who cannot work.

This would mean that everyone gets a bare minimum amount of government money to spend on themselves. If they want more, they work, and get paid on top of this amount.

The UK is a very rich country and can certainly afford this but would it be a disincentive to work?

Well, the goal is not to strengthen the incentive to work, but to enable people to live without work. An unconditional basic income payment would make part-time work a possibility. Workers would be happy, have more leisure time, more time to spend with family, more time to spend money on services. All workers would have the freedom to make the same choices regarding how much to work, and under what conditions. No more slaves to the corporate machine that is driving us all to an early grave.

Now, if you think this is just a crazy idea and will cost too much money. Guess what, Switzerland have just voted on it, albeit rather negatively, and other countries, like Holland and Finland are seriously thinking about it too.

At the end of the day if you do the maths it will probably save the country billions!  Plus everyone will be happier and more productive. We’ll have more time to spend our cash on services which will need to offer more jobs to cope with the demand. There will be no abuse of benefits because there won’t be any!

Just a thought.

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Wales Cycle Ride – 28 July 2016

Wales Trails_tshirt_frontIn August 2016 Pontypridd writer Dave Lewis cycled 688 miles around Wales in aid of Prostate Cancer UK.

Eleven years ago two intrepid Ponty bimblers cycled the iconic Land’s End to John o’ Groats route and raised over £1000 for Ty Hafan. This summer, one of those riders, Dave, and a university friend (who joined him for three days) managed another epic bike ride.

As well as raising money for the charity Dave is also hoping to inspire others to repeat the course and help turn this haphazard ‘loop’ of Wales into another world-famous iconic cycle ride just like Land’s End to John o’ Groats.

To get involved and support this worthy cause use the links below:

Dave is hoping to raise £500 for the charity via his JustGiving page. Click the button below and see how he’s getting on!

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.


Prostate Cancer UK fights to help more men survive prostate cancer and enjoy a better quality of life. We find answers by funding ground-breaking research, we lead change by raising the profile of the disease and improving care. And we support men by providing vital information and services.

www.prostatecanceruk.org

PROSTATE CANCER UK Registered charity number 1005541 and in Scotland (SC039332).

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Ponty Prime Minister – 13 July 2016

‘Twas the night before the Labour leadership election and not a creature was stirring in the south Wales valleys. Well, apart from the usual scuffles between two obese, Kardashian lookalikes arguing over whose kebab is bigger whilst trying to strangle each other with their own stockings outside Soul Suite, but that goes without saying.

wolf-of-wall-streetThey say a week is a long time in politics, but recently it’s been like a badly-scripted soap opera or extended episode of House of Cards. We’ve had #Brexit in the valleys (that’s us by the way, us who get far more out of Europe than we put in), Cameron (the worst PM in 100 years if you read newspapers that have somehow forgotten how evil Thatcher was) gone, bonking Boris stabbed in the back by a grinning jester, nasty Nigel making a mint on his Euro speculation, and a Nazi mum who gave way to another investment banker‘s wife.

Then the really funny bit. Angela (can’t string a sentence together properly) Eagle decides to stand against Jezza, the man of the people, voted in by a bunch of loony lefties who wouldn’t know a proper job if their overpaid union could save one for them. Well, this is what we’re told by the mainstream media anyway… I mean, just look at Corbyn’s policies! It appears the UK has at last found a real politician who speaks for us all:

  • Corbyn is against PFI schemes
  • He supports a higher rate of income tax for the wealthiest
  • He wants to recoup losses from tax avoidance / evasion by investing £1 billion in HMRC
  • He opposes austerity
  • He opposed the new Welfare Bill, describing it as “rotten and indefensible”, after it emerged that thousands of disabled people had died after being found fit to work
  • He has said that the NHS should be “completely publicly run and publicly accountable”
  • He envisions the establishment of a “National Education Service”, a return to local authority over state-funded academies and free schools, and an end to the charitable status of public schools
  • Corbyn has campaigned strongly against tuition fees in England and advocates the restoration of maintenance grants, which were replaced with loans by the Tories
  • He is a pioneer of LGBT equality, Corbyn championed such causes as the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (great film btw!)pride
  • In 1975 he opposed Britain’s membership of the EU, then in 2015 he said that if Cameron negotiated away workers’ rights and environmental protection he would not rule out Brexit, then in 2016 he said that there was an “overwhelming case” for staying in the EU
  • He has been a consistent supporter of renationalising public utilities
  • He is a long-standing supporter of a United Ireland
  • He believes the royal ceremony for the State Opening of Parliament should be abolished and that Britain should become a republic and abolish the House of Lords
  • He has criticized Britain’s close ties with Saudi Arabia, yet he’s a total wimp as regards bombing ISIS
  • He has called for Tony Blair to be investigated for alleged war crimes
  • He opposes the replacement of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system and suggested that the 11,000 jobs supported by Trident could be replaced by “socially productive” jobs in renewable energy, railways and housing
  • He is a strong environmentalist, would ban hydraulic fracking, phase out fossil fuel extraction, and invest in public transport to improve air quality. He is also against the building of new nuclear power stations
  • Corbyn has been a long-time campaigner on animal rights issues and opposes the Yulin Dog Meat Festival

miss_islamOK, not perfect, but he’s getting there. If it was me I’d add a few tweaks: i.e. a living income in order to abolish the benefits system, reclassify Islam as a political ideology, boycott China (until they stop human rights abuses, stop killing elephants and rhinos, and withdraw from Africa, Tibet and the Philippines), deportation of foreign criminals, abolish public schools, ban job agencies, limit public servants salaries, and introduce the death penalty for paedophiles.

But back to Westminster, or as we in Wales call it – whatever ‘shite’ the BBC, Channel 4 or ITV want to tell us about our elected representatives this week. One thing we do know, it’s never the truth.

And so it seems the career-focused, media-savvy political class are at a loss. They can’t explain Brexit ‘cos they are so out of touch with reality, their media chums can’t give Jezza any decent platform ‘cos they’re scared stiff people might hear what he has to say and agree with him! Just read that list of policies again! So they are floundering big time.

Think about it. My God, what if people actually voted for him? Then the current crop of politicians would be out of their highly paid jobs for life, their middle-class school friends in the press might lose their cushy little numbers writing shit columns for the Sunday broadsheets, the status quo would be upset and the workers might actually get a decent standard of living from the 5th richest country in the world.

Then… Wow! said Kate Bush.

owensmithJust when you thought you’d had enough of this London-centric, reality-TV gameshow and were about to switch the telly over to watch ‘celebrity big island loves my brother dancing with a singing cake’, what we in Ponty have known for about six or seven years finally happens! Yep, our very own (I use that word loosely) ex-shadow cabinet minister Owen (son of Dai) Smith chucks his sugar plums on the workers party bonfire saying Labour needs both a “radical and credible” leader.

You couldn’t make it up! Mmm, radical eh?  OK, let’s compare policies with red Jezza.

Oily (as he’s known locally) Smith is well known for:

  • He supports PFI
  • As a lobbyist for Pfizer, he wanted to privatise the NHS
  • He also strongly supported Tony Blair’s city academies
  • He is a strong supporter of Trident and has friends in the arms industry
  • He has voted for military action in Libya and Iraq
  • He abstained on the Tory welfare benefit cuts

There seems to be no evidence whatsoever that Owen Smith is left wing. There is plenty of evidence that he is yet another, in a long line of, New Labour career politicians, who’ll say anything to win votes.

biased_mediaBut what the hell, we’re used to being screwed over in Wales. We’ve had a 100 years of it so why expect any change now? At least the TV will be fun for the next few months. From the partisan Welsh media circus expect two months of how crap ‘Corbynista’ is and how useless little ‘Eaglet’ is, and how great our local lad is of course, but after two months of mud throwing, we might, just might, have a Welsh winner once again. OK, we didn’t actually win the Euros, but we did lose to the eventual champions, and they were lucky anyway… if Ramsey had played… sorry, getting carried away here.

Anyway the Labour party will announce a winner on the eve of the Labour Party conference on 24 September.

Owen recently said – “I can heal the party and be a credible leader and next Labour prime minister.” Mr Smith also said he would vote to support the renewal of the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system in a Commons vote on Monday. Not quite sure how nuclear missiles ‘heal’ things but never mind that, if Ponty can get it’s first PM then what’s a few kilograms of uranium, plutonium and tritium between friends? Some would say Ponty town centre needs it.

precinct1_600Ponty people will know Owen quite well of course as he is a regular supporter of Ponty RFC. In fact, not long after he was elected as our new MP (after ‘shredder Howells’ took to his easel full-time) he even introduced himself to me once at the club (no idea why?), guess it was ‘cos someone told him I write this crap? Lol.

So we have an exciting time ahead in British & Welsh politics that’s for sure. I’m looking forward to the EBC vans’ sat-navs sending them to dead-ends in Cwmaman and the locals directing them over the Rhigos. Maybe Owen can introduce the inevitable, politically-correct, media scrum to the Tuesday dinnertime crowd of The Wonky for a more ’rounded’ appreciation of the problems facing the UK’s citizens today?

Perhaps we the people of Pontypridd can forget about the gibberish we hear daily by (and about) people we know nothing about and instead listen to new gibberish by (and about) people we know everything about! It’ll be so funny, like a re-run of The Office or Fawlty Towers. Exciting times indeed.

fp_closedownBut, here is the really great thing. Owen Smith could actually win. He could become the next leader of the Labour party! He could become the next Prime Minister! Wow! Imagine that. Our very own Ponty boy could finally sort out the major problems of the town (see photos) and the globe!

He could force Bargain Booze to open for longer, get a valleys, regional rugby team back! He could get the council to approve my application for a lap-dancing bar on Taff Street and he could even get the precinct developed.

He might even ban job agencies and create proper jobs in Wales? Remember those days? Now there’s a thrilling prospect! Maybe politics is worthwhile after all?

Then again, maybe the people won’t be fooled and he’ll go back to selling drugs for erectile dysfunction after his political career is ruined. Who cares really?

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Poetry Winners – 5 July 2016

The wait is over and the results of the 2016 Competition have now been announced by judge John Evans at a special prize night in Clwb Y Bont, Pontypridd.

1st Prize – Blackfish by Tarquin Landseer (London)

2nd Prize – Shattering-earth 2016 by Paul Hawkes (Aberteifi)

3rd Prize – Birth by Diana Sanders (Corwen)

For more details and to read the winning poems – click here.

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EU Result – 24 June 2016

united kingdom exit from europe relative imageWell, there’s a turn up for the plus fours! Didn’t think they’d allow this to happen. So what next?

Well, judging by social media (remind me to delete all my accounts later) the world will now dissolve, the KKK will be riding pale horses through Treorchy town centre, my children will be eaten by Britain First, our NHS will catapult all the Filipino nurses back to Manila this weekend, the pound will become synonymous with the Weimar Republic, house prices will rise to ten million euros each for a mid-terrace in Cwmbach, Boris will finally reveal himself to be a lizard, the Queen will emigrate to an independent Scotland and mosques will be draped in bacon and set alight. Oh yeh, and worst of all Loose Women (‘television for stupid people’ for those that don’t know) may get cancelled to make way for the news – damn.

Well, thank Dawkins for that. I thought we were in trouble for a moment. Look, Wales will probably lose to New Zealand again and the footie team will still be heroes, even if they go out Saturday. So all is not lost. Cheer up, as Brian of Nazareth said. At least Corbyn is on his way out too. Maybe now we’ve got the ‘EU vote’ out of the way we can start on the real problem, a minority Tory government (just 24% of the UK voted for Cameron btw).

cameron_faceBefore the vote I was sick to death of people lying (on both sides), sick of seeing Tories on the telly, sick of millionaires (journalists / business leaders / career politicians / ex-footballers / actors / celebrities) telling me how I should vote. I was also quite shocked that wonderful, caring, intelligent people I knew were turning into nasty, name-calling twats when faced with anyone who disagreed with them. Mmm? OK, I put it down to passion, nothing wrong with that, you’re forgiven.

Moving forward though, shouldn’t we be asking why poor, working class people voted for Brexit? For me it wasn’t because people had their intelligence chips removed it was just a way to stick two fingers up to the establishment. This was about class and wealth more than anything else. This was about inequality, unfairness and hopelessness. In Wales, it was the so-called ‘left-behind’ communities that voted out.

The Labour party, that has traditionally represented working people, have deserted us all long ago. Social mobility under Blair and Brown dropped to it’s lowest point ever in the UK. No-one cares about us, so I think people thought, ‘Right, I’m not going to care about you either.’

‘Wait, hang on… is that a burning cross outside my window?’ ‘Oh no, it’s alright, it’s just a London banker immolating himself.’

So let’s look at the actual doomsday scenarios I’ve been reading this morning. The pound has fallen. So? It’ll bounce back soon enough. How else will the rich get richer if they can’t speculate on currency fluctuations?

burningcrossOh yeh, house prices will crash. Great stuff! Youngsters might be able to afford one now. You know, those youngsters that are shouting and screaming for the genocide of ‘stupid old people’ because they can’t afford their own house, yet they spend a fortune every month on a mobile phone contract to post shit on social media, go to the pub, smoke, eat out, drive cars, go on gap years (from what I ask?), subscribe to Netflix and SKY TV instead of actually doing what older people did – save up for a deposit!

What about all the millions of job cuts that must come now? Well hang on, you can’t have it both ways, if EU nationals are sent packing we’ll have loads of jobs for people to do? But seriously, I doubt either will happen though. Maybe… just maybe, employers might just keep the good people, regardless of whether they eat beetroot soup or not.

What about the NHS, schools, council services? Will they just explode in a great big puff of smoke now that Boris has found a comb? ‘Oh yeh, I hope that austerity thing doesn’t stop now. I’ve got really used to it. How would we cope without cuddly George Osborne telling us we need to cancel our membership to Annabels because we’re all in this together?’

Btw, the happiest countries to live in are (in order) – Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Canada, Finland (‪#‎Fixit‬), Netherlands (‪#‎Nexit‬), New Zealand, Australia, Sweden (#Swexit). So, it kinda makes a mockery of all the so-called experts on our tellies telling the working class who voted for ‘out’ that they are idiots. And the arrogant, biased, pig-headed, absolutely disgusting BBC who dig up people to do vox pops about immigrants to peddle their nasty, racist, hate-filled agenda.

OK, rant over, time for a pint. ‘How much John?’ ‘Nine pounds fifty for a glass of Speckled Bollocks!’ We’ll see.

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Europe Judgement – 17 June 2016

Europe eh? Bloody hell. Husbands against wives, brothers against sisters, dogs against cats, hamsters against gerbils. And that’s just my house. Yes, I know you’re bored with it. The claims and counter-claims, the lies and counter-lies, the smug faces and biased media. But, wake up for a minute. Here’s the really important, nay incredible bit. We get to choose. Really! Well, as long as you use an indelible marker pen so the secret service can’t alter your vote.

europe1Who would have thought that we, the British people, would ever be given a chance by the ruling elite to vote for what we really want? And get this! This time it’s one person one vote! I think they call that democracy. Compare this to the last general election when only 66% bothered to vote. The Tory Party only got 37% which means that once again we have a minority government that approx. 76% of the people didn’t vote for!

Normally politicians will say anything to get our little crosses in their box, then spend four or five years ignoring our wishes while they line their own pockets on the back of our hard labour. But this time, it’s different. This time it’s got personal. Some would say far too personal and I’d agree. This vote could result in our political classes seeing their easy money disappearing as quickly as an African leaves Africa these days.

And this is why the airwaves, blogs, social media, TV, radio and even our pubs are full of it. Europe I mean, not bullshit, although there is a fair amount of that too. Now this decision will no doubt have some limited effect on us, the unwashed masses, but for the suits at the top of the butter mountain our decision could have very serious consequences. For the working class, struggling to make ends meet every week, a Remain vote or a Brexit probably won’t change much. We’ll still have the same political class in government. They’ll still be earning big bucks gambling on the stock markets while we eek out an existence and complain about the price of a pint.

As Joe Strummer said ‘the future is unwritten’, so ‘should we stay or should we go’? Well, I’ve been racking my brain for months and have finally decided, quite firmly, that I’m undecided. If the question was ‘Should we join the EU?’ I think most people would say ‘Non’ to us giving away hundreds of millions of pounds a week to tens of thousands of unelected Johnny foreigners who spend it all on grandiose schemes like straightening our bananas, but that isn’t what we’re being asked.

Ministry_of_Silly_WalksOK, so let’s look at some of the great and the good who are desperate for us to throw our love spuds on their barbecue. Out of touch, posh Etonian’s Cameron and Osborne, who want to privatise your granny, sell off the NHS to their friends in the pharmaceutical companies and send us back to Victorian times where we’ll eat gruel and be whipped for not doffing our hats quickly enough. They want us to stay in, even though they actually want us to leave so they can return to these good old days far faster. Then there is bonking Boris, fisherman’s friend Gove and irritable Duncan syndrome. They also want exactly the same as Cameron and his porky chums but say ‘Leave’! No wonder we’re confused, it’s almost as if this EU thing is just a game to them, to see who’ll become the next fascist leader of our less than free world.

And then there is the Labour Party. You remember them, the BBC used to allow them airtime occasionally. They were dead against us joining when national treasure Cliff Richard’s friend Ted Heath was kindly taking young lads for trips on his yacht. But nowadays they are mostly all for it. Wish they’d make up their mind! OK, to be fair only 4% of Labour MPs want to leave while 56% of Tories want to remain. So it’s as clear as mud what our career-representatives think (or don’t think, as the case may be).

Big business wants us to stay in, while small business wants out. The Greens and the scientists can see our planet melting if we let our current government have more say so also want to remain.

Oh dear. Looks like it’s up to us to work it out for ourselves. That could be a disaster, we’re not used to logical thought are we? That’s why we have politicians. To do our talking for us. Stops them messing up proper jobs. So let’s ask ourselves ‘what has the EU ever done for us’, apart from abolish the ministry for silly walks?

Workers rights have improved in Europe of course, especially for all those Polish descendants of our Battle of Britain Spitfire heroes who are now working in dynamic, meat-packing Merthyr. However, an over-abundance of job agencies has meant locals are overlooked in favour of Eastern europeans, which is a bad thing.

Many say our NHS would collapse without all the agency nurses we get from overseas but they can also double up as translators when we treat our EU cousins. Mind you I have to say that neither side has stated the bleeding obvious here. If we do vote leave and can control immigration better we can still employ EU doctors and nurses if we want to surely?

Most of our farmers are better off under the EU, although how Tesco can get away paying pennies for Welsh lamb is beyond me. Our fishing industry has been killed off by Europe but our environment is much better protected and pollution laws are more stringent.

Eurovision-song-contest-logoOK, what about the blue flag projects we see everywhere in Wales I hear you say? The A470, Ponty Lido and the dodgy pavements were all built with European money. Hooray! Mind you, we did give it to Brussels in the first place, then had it back minus a colossal admin fee, before it was topped up with more of our own money, which comes from the local council, via the Welsh Assembly, via Westminster, after we pay our taxes to London, then get subsidised to live in poverty because of antiquated maths devised by an evil goblin in a faraway kingdom somewhere in middle earth. I’m sure there’s an easier way of feeding people, building bridges and winning Eurovision?

Wales is a net beneficiary of the EU of course and will be until 2020, when we won’t be, because all our EU money will have to go to pay for even poorer countries than us.

Greece may default, and maybe even Grexit, while suicides are up 35% in a little less than 2 years there thanks to German austerity. Is this the future of the EU project? The future is indeed worrying. If the UK leaves Finland and Sweden also might consider it. Could we dismantle the EU and start again? Might put the price of a cuppa up in Strasbourg for a while if they lose their monthly income.

Bloody immigrants! That’s what the Germans would call us if we travelled there freely, took German jobs and got paid five times what we get paid here. But not many of us speak the lingo. Shame. I fancy living off Bavarian lager.

And what about these so-called trade agreements with Japan, Switzerland, Norway, and Brazil we could have? What about ISIS terrorists in boats off Kent and Norfolk? What’s wrong with a points system? The Six Nations has one. Will we be able to resurrect the British Empire and reclaim India if we vote leave? Might help our cricket team. Not so sure though, always crowd trouble there.

Talking of Empire, the Queen has been decidedly quiet on the topic. Apparently she wants to leave. A bit like all the men and women the same age as her, i.e. older people. They want Brexit because they’re scared about Turkey joining and have never really embraced the kebab culture. Younger voters on the other hand have a bigger and far more important decision to make. Should they go to Glastonbury or care about mobile phone roaming charges and vote stay?

OK, there it is. A broken Britain, a knackered EU, a sick world run by evil people – a depressing future either way. And so on that happy note, over to you, the people, to vote. And whatever you choose – please do vote. You may not get the chance again.

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Reclaiming the Beat – 23 May 2016

Reclaiming The Beat_400Pontypridd writer Dave Lewis has just released his twelfth book, a poetry collection inspired by the ‘beats’ of 1950s America but not only brought up to date but also with a contemporary Welsh edge to it.

Reviewers have included world famous Pontypridd writer Catrin Collier who describes Lewis as “a true Welsh poet of the Valleys who illustrates just how deep the connection between artist, the land that nurtured him and those long since consigned to history burns. Here you will find poems to be savoured, dwelt on, and considered over weeks, months and years. Both a cry and lament for the human condition they are the work of a mature and master poet who like everyman craves life above all else.”

To purchase a paperback or ebook copy just click here and for more information about the author, and to see his other books visit his website here.

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Precinct Plans – 8 May 2016

Right on cue – just before the Welsh Assembly elections – Labour-run RCT council have unveiled plans for the derelict 1960s Taff Vale Precinct in Pontypridd town centre, which the council has owned for a year and so far done nothing with.

This month though the council has released two designs of buildings which could be built on the site.

precinct_plan_16

And although the proposed developments look pretty awful I guess beggars can’t be choosers.

After asking the public for their views it appears that the council have ignored them and gone for a fairly boring, unadventurous design as opposed to the old Victorian facades that many residents asked for. The new design may well fit in with the new YMCA design but will be very different to the old buildings opposite, so I guess compromises have to be made. Can’t see any obvious solar panels on the buildings either?

In the recent past, many attempts to revitalise the precinct have failed. Mainly due to the lack of vision of past council leaders and the threat of car parking in the War Memorial Park, although as we write this it seems there are more cars parked in the ‘people’s park’ than ever before.

Councillor Morgan said that the council is looking to see if a second bridge connecting Ynyangharad Park to the town centre can be built. Not sure if he’s been to Ponty lately but we already have two bridges from town into the park so this would actually be a third bridge!  Maybe someone has shares in a bridge-making company?

He is right to say that the river is an asset to the town though and that is why housing on top of the shop units must face the river and park. We have been saying this since before 1998 of course.

“The council has been working with London firm Knight Frank, Gaunt Francis Architects, and Atkins to produce options for what is possible upon the site.”

Why there is any ‘significant commercial sensitivity’ to this project though remains a mystery unless this is some sort of development deal that hasn’t gone out to tender yet.

Ponty MP Owen Smith voted for Knight Frank to work on the HS2 link from London to Birmingham incidentally.

The council does say that updates will be provided ‘when appropriate’, whatever this means, so we wait with bated breath!

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Photo Exhibition – 16 April 2016

spillers300_200Pontypridd photographer Dave Lewis will be exhibiting some of his images at Gartholwg Lifelong Learning Centre from Friday, 15/04/2016 – Friday 06/05/2016.

The centre has a large exhibition space so why not pop along and see the photographs close up. All images are framed (either 8 x 12 or 12 x 16) and can be bought direct from the gallery or buy contacting Dave direct via his website – www.davelewisphotography.co.uk

For those thinking of taking up photography and don’t know what camera to buy why not read this article on Dave’s blog.

For more information, send us an email or contact the centre.

Gartholwg Lifelong Learning Centre
St. Illtyd’s Road
Church Village
Pontypridd
CF38 1RQ
Telephone: 01443 219589

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Crap Jobs – 4 April 2016

Over 80 years ago John Maynard Keynes predicted that technology would have advanced sufficiently by now to allow us to work just a 15-hour week. However, it seems technology is now used to figure out ways to make us all work more not less!

How? Well, jobs have been created that are, effectively, pointless. Just think local council managers, their managers and their manager’s managers, and their manager’s manager’s managers and their manager’s manager’s manager’s managers. (This is not a joke btw, I’ve worked under this system!)

Huge numbers of people, in Europe and North America spend their entire working lives performing tasks they know do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul, a bit like using Facebook every day. Yet virtually no one talks about it.

Over the last 100 years an endless variety of new jobs and industries have been created, but very few have anything to do with the production of homes, food, clothes or things we humans actually need.

So what are these crap jobs, exactly?

Well, over the last century, the number of workers employed in manufacturing industries and in farming (i.e. making stuff we all require) has almost disappeared. But, ‘professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers’ numbers have tripled, and now account for 3/4 of total employment.

Production has been mostly automated but rather than allow us more time for leisure pursuits governments have ‘created’ bullshit jobs. Crap jobs. Pointless, meaningless jobs. The majority of which involve pushing paper from one person to another until all the trees are gone. Then they can create a new job – tree planting manager and the cycle begins again!

Think about it. Where did financial services, call centres, NHS administrators, human resources, and public relations come from? And do we need them? Do we hell!

It’s like someone is just making up shit jobs just to keep us all working. If we were living in a communist state where everyone has a job then maybe, but under a capitalist system surely the object is to screw people to make money. So, why create these pointless jobs? Very weird.

Think Port Talbot steelworks. People who actually make things the country needs. Yet our government is happy to lose these jobs and import cheap Chinese steel? But bankers, oh no, we can’t lose them. In fact since 2007 the UK has committed to spending £1.162 trillion at various points on bailing out the banks. That total outstanding support was equivalent to 31% of GDP in March.

Note: at a cost of £1 million a day, this is about 3,300,000,000 years worth of finance for Port Talbot.

The answer clearly isn’t economic: it must be political. The ruling elite must think that a happy and productive majority, with free time on their hands will end up thinking. And they can’t have us mere mortals thinking, that would be a real danger!

Why does society want to limit the numbers of artists, musicians, poets in favour of hundreds of WRU administrators and quango managers? Ask yourself the question – is my job worthwhile or is it just rubbish? Do I contribute to people’s well being or do I just make life more difficult for others? Just think solicitors, hedge fund managers or estate agents.

The other thing you find is that the people with bullshit jobs resent the people with proper jobs, e.g. doctors, nurses, farmers, schoolteachers, dustbin collectors, cleaners etc. How do they react towards them? Well, they pay them less, pile extra (meaningless) work on top of them and if they can, they humiliate, ridicule and ultimately force them out of the profession they once loved! Guilt perhaps?

A world without ship builders, construction workers or aircraft engineers would soon be in trouble, and even one without crime fiction writers or blues guitarists would be a poorer place. But how about a world without derivative traders, BBC TV presenters, PR consultants, job agencies, weather bimbos, celebrities? I think I’d cope.

And what happens when doctors strike? The BBC interview some selfish bitch who complains about how her in-growing toenail operation has caused her so much suffering that she even contemplated thinking of others for once in her miserable life. So much for balanced TV.

Nobody seems to ask why teachers don’t want to do what they always wanted to do. Nobody seems to realise why they are leaving the profession in droves! It’s not the money, it’s not the holidays, it’s not the kids. It’s their constantly changing conditions of service as dictated to them by talentless, over-paid ‘crap job’ holders, like politicians.

Real, productive workers are continuously abused and oppressed by the useless workers. And that is what the ruling class want. It’s a new form of oppression, a brave new world. And the Chinese and Africans want to be like us! Dawkins help us!

Ah, happy days.

Note: I should point out that I have ‘borrowed / pinched’ most of this from a few different columns I read saying exactly the same thing, especially a great article from David Graeber.  I’ve tried to put my own slant on it as well to make it more relevant to Wales and our local angle.

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Music at the Muni – 20 March 2016

Three of Ponty’s best bands are to play a benefit concert for the town’s Muni Arts Centre.

Climbing Trees, The People The Poet and Peasant’s King will play the first live concert since The Muni Working Group – comprising representatives from Pontypridd Town Council, Cylch Cymreig, Artis Community, Coalfields Regeneration Trust and the YMCA – re-opened the venue in the autumn of 2015.

The bands, who have been participants in BBC Cymru Wales and the Arts Council of Wales’ prestigious Horizons 12 initiative, will join forces for this special event in association with promoters Staylittle Music on Saturday, April 2.

Matthew Frederick, of Staylittle Music and singer with Climbing Trees, said: “We’re thrilled to be involved in promoting this exciting show of local talent at one of South Wales’ best live music venues, with such a strong line-up reflecting the great music that’s coming out of Pontypridd and the surrounding area at the moment.

“There’s a massive amount of potential at The Muni, so it’s great to see this important facility getting back on its feet, not only as a live music venue but as a hub of the community.”

Development Manager of The Muni Åsa Malmsten added: “The Muni is at the heart of the Pontypridd and surrounding community – we are delighted that these three exceptional bands are performing for us here, and very generously donating their time and talent for free, to help us sustain this great venue. It should be a night to remember.”

Doors open at 7pm with tickets priced £5 in advance or £7 on the door.

This is an 18+ event, with tickets available to book online in advance from www.ticketsource.co.uk/muniartscentre

Source: Wales Online

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International Welsh Poetry Competition 2016 – 20 Feb 2016

Calling all poets amongst our readers. Check out the Welsh Poetry Competition website.

The contest was set up by Ponty poet & writer Dave Lewis in 2007. Officially launched on St David’s Day @ Clwb-Y-Bont, Pontypridd, 2007 the aim is to encourage and foster the wealth of creative writing talent that we know exists in Wales but currently languishes in the doldrums. We aim to inspire people to capture life in the present day and to give a voice to a new generation of poets and writers. We are not interested in purely academic types of literature but would much rather see pure raw passion burst onto the creative writing scene in Wales.

wpc_ss

With entries from as far a field as Abu Dhabi, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Corfu, Denmark, England, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, Kenya, Kuwait, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, Swaziland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, USA and Vietnam as well as Wales of course, the Welsh Poetry Competition is a truly international competition, accessible to all (through the English language).

We also hope to publish an anthology of winners every five years.

For more details – click here.

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Come Dine With Me – 11 Feb 2016

Ponty girl Andrea Grainger (centre) appeared on Come Dine With Me, Cardiff 2013.

andrea_cook1

On many occasions she said that it was the best week of her life. Andrea carefully prepared her menus including all ingredients that were Welsh e.g. Welsh salted butter and Welsh cream liquor etc. She practiced for weeks and weeks trying out her food on anyone who came to the house. All her hard work paid off when she won Come Dine With Me!

The other contestants said she was a worthy winner. Andrea was then selected out of 10 years’ worth of winners to take part in the champion of champions which took place in Sheffield back in October.

andrea_cook2

Again Andrea thought it was an amazing experience especially because Dave Lamb was there throughout the programme and her cooking was judged by the Birmingham Michelin chef Glyn Purnell. The series is currently taking place this month on Channel 4 at 5 pm. So if would like to find out if Andrea won, her time to cook on champion of champions is 23rd Feb.

Good luck!

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Six Nations 2016 – 29 Jan 2016

Dates for this years’ competition:

Sunday, 7 February
Ireland v Wales (Aviva Stadium, Dublin, 15:00 GMT)

Saturday, 13 February
Wales v Scotland (Millennium Stadium, 16:50 GMT)

Friday, 26 February
Wales v France (Millennium Stadium, 20:05 GMT)

Saturday, 12 March
England v Wales (Twickenham, 16:00 GMT)

Saturday, 19 March
Wales v Italy (Millennium Stadium, 14:30 GMT)

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Taff Trail Map – 20 Jan 2016

A useful, downloadable map of the Taff Trail for cyclists and walkers. Just click on the map for a larger version.

Taff-Trail-Map

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Cuts to Libraries  – 19 Jan 2016

RCT council, which still pays out £1.2m to councillors is to cut £1.1m from libraries, bus routes, day nurseries and youth services. Nice to see where their priorities lie!

Among them are the introduction of single-staffed libraries – mooted for Hirwaun, Ferndale, Mountain Ash, Pontyclun and Rhydyfelin – and the plan to scrap three of RCT’s least-used bus routes, from Porth to Trehafod (Woodfield Terrace), Tonypandy to Gilfach Goch, and Fernhill to Pontypridd via Cefnpennar and Ynysybwl.

In November, it was revealed 20 library staff posts could be affected by a loss of pay, while 15 staff could be at the threat of redundancy.

A 25% cut to the council’s book fund has already been implemented.

Also, as part of further cuts, the five council-run day nurseries in Aberaman, Tylorstown, Tonyrefail, Pontypridd and Llantrisant could stop taking fee-paying children.

They would all become Flying Start-only centres, with the exception of Llantrisant which does not currently offer that provision and would close completely.

RCT council leader Andrew Morgan said the changes were necessary due to a huge reduction in funding by the UK government. He said: “To deal with this massive financial challenge, the council is seeking to make savings in a number of areas.

“Proposals are already being consulted upon to reduce our senior management costs and we are seeking to make as many ‘back office’ efficiencies as possible to protect frontline services from the impact of UK Government cuts.

“Faced with such a significant funding shortfall moving forward, we reluctantly need to consider a number of potential service changes.”

If you think this is criminal do something about it!  Start here.

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