Some things should stay private

I’ve always had a fondness for old sayings like “Empty vessels make the most noise” and “The pen is mightier than the sword” and enjoy tinkering with them so they have a different meaning.

For example…

“Birds Of A Feather….should have ended after the third series.”

“You can’t make an omelette…without frying some chips to go with it.”

“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence – ever since I concreted-over my front lawn.”

“No man is an island. Except Marlon Brando, who in his later years was the size of Tasmania.”

Some old sayings completely contradict each other, as in . . .

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “Out of sight, out of mind” and “He who hesitates is lost” and “Look before you leap!”

And then we come to, “It is better to travel than to arrive.”

Depending on your source of information, that was first said by either Robert Louis Stevenson or Buddha.

At the risk of offending fans of the author of “Kidnapped” and followers of the benevolent spiritual leader who had a tendency to eat all the pies – they were both wrong.

Because, neither of them endured a journey as bad as the one I did recently on a jam-packed, early evening Inter City train from London.

Surrounded by harassed commuters and foot-sore day trippers standing in the aisle, I was trapped in my window seat next to a woman who for 80-odd minutes managed the not inconsiderable feat of maintaining a non-stop conversation on a mobile phone clutched so closely to the side of her head I thought she’d had it surgically stitched to her cheek for convenience of use.

As the train pulled out of Paddington, the lady – and I use that description in its broadest sense – started talking at, rather than talking to, some poor soul on the other end of the line in a dreary monotone, launching into a meandering mealy-mouthed moan about her work colleagues.

As the miles sped by, she discussed her husband, children and her last holiday, her next holiday and one she was planning for 2018. She also mentioned her dog had just had a minor operation and she’d be picking it up from the vets the following day.

Despite the fact I was sat so close to her I could have (perhaps should have?) elbowed her in the ribs and told her to give it a rest, she kept talking loudly, everyone around her an unwilling listener.

As we approached Bristol Parkway she announced to her friend that she’d have to end the call because she’d reached her destination.

Great news for those of us who’d reached the end of our tethers.

If you appreciate irony, you’ll love what happened next.

As she stood up, I had to say something to let her know we’d all overheard her marathon phone call, so I said, “Goodbye, and I do hope your dog’s okay”.

Looking down at me with a face like thunder, she said “Do you mind! I was having a private conversation!” and stormed off down the aisle.

People, eh!

Success keeps coming for such a talented choir

Huge congratulations this week to a very talented Welsh Junior School choir who you may have seen me mention in my column a few weeks ago, after their outstanding performance in the junior schools Eisteddfod. Llangennech Junior School choir have done it again!

This exceptionally talented group of youngsters, conducted and mentored by Lewis Richards, have made it through to the Songs of Praise School of the Year Junior semi finals, with a superb performance on last Sunday night’s show on BBC1.

You can see from their performance that not only are these children hugely talented, but the dedication and practice that they put in to their songs shines through, with beautiful harmonies and warm, rich tones to their voices. All this talent at such a young age!

The support of Mr Richards, teachers and parents make this junior school choir something extremely special and I have a feeling they are going to go places.

There is definitely no stopping this choir as they go from strength to strength, if you get a chance to see them, don’t miss it!

Another bright idea of mine!

Ok, I have to admit, I have a new obsession. It’s garden solar lights.

It all started with a casual stroll around a well known DIY store with the Mrs on a Saturday afternoon, a few strategically placed decking lights would add that tasteful evening glow to the garden.That evening came and all was well…. but something was missing.

Yes, just a few more solar lights, maybe around a few trees, in a few borders, lining the path? Off I head to the DIY store (where they now know me by name, ok, they actually call me “Phil the garden with solar lights”).

By Sunday afternoon, evening fell and I was pacing . . . I couldn’t wait for it to get dark.

After a quick call to Cardiff International Airport to warn them that my garden may now be used as an emergency runway, I then spent an hour turning the garden into a mini version of Blackpool illuminations; with the poor other half standing in the upstairs window while I became the Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen of the solar lighting world. Despite the Boeing 747 on my lawn, it’s all looking rather good!

Good and bad luck – we make our own luck

George, who runs my local chippie, once said to me, “Good luck occurs when opportunity meets experience!”

Wise words, indeed.

But I didn’t take much notice of them at the time because I was paying him for a large cod and chips and anxious to get home before they got cold.

Next morning as I was shaving, I looked in the bathroom mirror and thought, on reflection, he was right.

Bad luck, however, tends to arrive unannounced.

Take last Thursday…

I was walking through Swansea city centre, minding my own business (I’d be foolish to waste my time minding someone else’s business when we’re still not out of the recession) and I came upon two of those blokes in red jackets who hang around town, asking people “Have you had an accident in the last two years?”

As one of them posed that very question to me, I turned my head to look in his direction, which broke both my concentration and my purposeful, manly stride*.

*Not to be confused with the moustachioed actor of 1940s British film comedies, the late Manley Stroud.

I then collided with their metal sign which was placed slam-bang in the middle of my path.

The momentum of this impact caused me to go base over apex, hit the ground, rip my trousers at the knee and graze my hands and face.

Falling over in public, injuring myself and ruining my trousers was bad enough, but as I was about to say “Yes, I’ve had an accident. I just collided with your metal sign which was placed slam-bang in the middle of my path” to the red-jacketed pair, they turned and looked the other way, engaged in what was obviously a hurriedly concocted conversation so they could deny that they’d been witnesses to my trip.

I couldn’t continue to walk around Swansea with ripped trousers and a bloody knee – it wasn’t a Friday night, after all.

So, gathering up my dignity and a dozen mint imperials that had fallen out of my pocket when I tripped, I limped away to a nearby charity shop to see if they had a cheap pair of trousers.

Not that the ones I’d ripped were cheap. I was wearing a suit which had cost me a lot, several years ago. Well it is traditional to look your very best when you’re walking up the aisle with your new bride.

I saw a pair of trousers in the charity shop window that almost matched my jacket, so I went inside and asked the lady behind the counter if I could try on the trousers in the window. But she said I’d have to try them on in the changing room.

They just about fitted me, so I kept them on, walked to the counter and paid the lady, who said “They’re a lovely fit. You’re a very lucky man!”

To which I replied “Madam. If I really was a lucky man, I wouldn’t have had to come in here to buy these flippin’ trousers!”

Here’s to the new middle age

So, according to reports out this week, scientists have now discovered that 50 is no longer officially “middle aged”. It’s now 60! Phew!

Have you noticed that the older you get, life always begins at the next birthday with a zero on the end?

You hit your 40th birthday and all your friends pat you on the back and shout “ah, what you worrying about, life begins at 40!”.

Then you hit your 50th birthday…. and apparently life begins then, too!

To me, age is just a number.

The older we get, the more life skills and knowledge we gain, the only downside is the more creaky my knees are getting and I’m having to have an afternoon nap every day recently.

Have you noticed that when you are in your early teens, 60 seems so old and ever so far away?

I can remember thinking 30 was the slippery slope to retirement!

Each decade brings us new found skills and greater knowledge, so let’s raise a glass of Sanatogen to 60, officially the new middle age. Cheers!

Such an enjoyable encounter

Last Friday evening, I had the absolute pleasure once again of witnessing yet another outstanding production by Llanelli Little Theatre at the Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli.

These guys never fail to impress their audience, the sheer hard work and dedication that must go into rehearsals comes shining through in every production I have had the pleasure of watching.

This intimate, spell-binding production of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter had the audience mesmerised from the start and it is quite clear to see why this production completely sold out a four-night run at the theatre.

Kathy Bowen and Martin Boyd in the lead roles put on a stunning performance, which seemed to hypnotise the audience for the whole evening.

The whole cast of Llanelli Little Theatre are such warm and endearing characters, you will always be guaranteed a top class evening of entertainment. If you haven’t seen them yet, you really are missing out.

An evening watching live, local theatre really can’t be beaten, go and have a look at what is coming up in your local theatre and treat the other half to a great night out!


Good to have an unhealthy body but a healthy mind?

While browsing through the news this week having my morning coffee, to my surprise, as I took the first bite of my breakfast multi grain, fibre filled, gluten free, wheat free chocolate muffin, I noticed an article which I found fascinating.

Apparently, middle aged people who are obese are far more likely not to suffer from dementia related illnesses when they reach their twilight years.

Now this got me thinking: are the professionals now telling us that it’s ok to be overweight because it will lead to a healthy mind in the future?

Is this not totally the opposite of what we’ve been told previously, that being overweight is unhealthy?

Not long ago, alcohol was bad for you, then a report came out that a glass of red wine every evening if you are over 60 is good for you, so I’ve come to this conclusion.

Life is too short to worry about everything all of the time, “everything in moderation” is my new motto.

A cake now and then, a glass of wine here and there, some exercise and lots of cwtshes and laughter.

I may be onto something here…..

A weekend in the garden – but not how I planned it

So, what did you do over the Easter Holidays? Visit a stately home, a zoo, garden centre or a theme park?

I’m so glad you had a good time. Really glad. No, really.

I spent my Bank Holiday in the garden.

I didn’t intend to, but I’d locked myself out of the house and – as so often happens with a Bank Holiday – it inconveniently fell on a Bank Holiday, so the local locksmiths were closed.

They were probably locked too, because they know about that sort of thing.

I couldn’t have called them out even if they were open, because my mobile phone was on the kitchen table.

Why didn’t I force my front door open?

(Who asked you to interrupt my flow? You’ll have your opportunity to comment after this gets published on Wednesday.)

Since you asked, my front door’s fitted with strong locks, chains and bolts by the local locksmiths. Who know about that sort of thing.

I couldn’t drive to a stately home, zoo, garden centre or theme park because my car keys were next to my mobile phone.

You don’t think the two of them got nervous, wondering if their master had gone away and left them forever?

It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Still, worse things happen at sea. And at the sea-side, as you’ll know if you read about the horrendous traffic jams that visitors to Barry Island got caught up in on Easter Sunday as they tried to leave the resort’s main car park.

Apparently, some people couldn’t get out of the car park for four hours. I bet quite a few regretted buying that second cup of tea or extra glass of fizzy pop before they left.

They were stuck in a car park, surrounded by hundreds of other cars, not having a clue how long they’d be there or when they’d next see their home again.

A similar experience to being in the audience at a Ken Dodd show!

It must have been a nightmare, especially if they had tired babies or small children on board.

I can’t imagine anything worse.

Apart from having that annoying, money-saving expert Martin Lewis in the back, spouting non-stop advice for four hours.

Think about what you could accomplish in those wasted four hours.

You could travel to Brussels and back on the Eurostar. If that’s your idea of a good time.

You could walk from Swansea centre to the Mumbles and back. That’ll keep you fit. Not so much the walking, but the constant dodging from side to side to avoid being run down by a maniac cyclist.

Or you could read the latest James Patterson thriller. There’s bound to be a new one out this week. He’s had 173 books published in the last 12 months. Now there’s a man who’s never wasted four hours in his life.

And I bet he’s never been locked out of his house over a Bank Holiday…

Great to share opinions

I’d like to say a big thank you for all of the emails, letters and response through social media I received this week when I asked people to get in touch with me.

The amazing, positive response to my Evening Post column has been fantastic; thanks guys!

I’d also like to thank the people who wrote in to the paper and had their thoughts posted on the Letters page.

Media is a great way of keeping people informed, getting your opinions out there and having a damn good discussion about things that wind us up from day to day, and it’s lovely to see so many readers getting involved.

I think there are far too many times in life that we choose not to say anything because we think our opinion won’t make a difference.

Opinions are great, a really good discussion about something you are passionate about can be very stimulating for the mind.

I’m off to write next week’s column now, have a great week gang, best wishes, Phil Evans (proud Member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists).

Short story of awful socks

Well, it looks like Spring has finally sprung! The daffodils are all in full bloom, the evenings are staying lighter longer, I’m no longer leaving the house in the morning in the dark and we all feel a little bit more cheery now that the long winter is over.

But how do we really know it’s Spring in Wales? That one’s easy to answer. Men in shorts.

There may still be ice on the car windscreen in the morning, but it doesn’t matter. The shorts must come out; Welsh men have an inbuilt trigger that as soon as they see more than three hours of continuous sun, it’s time to wear shorts.

Now, while I don’t mind this, there is one thing that does make me cringe, shorts accompanied by beige socks.

I may even start a campaign to ban beige socks completely. They have no place in society.

Team the beige sock with a Jesus sandal and I may just have to stop you in the street and point out the error of your ways.

So look out if you are brave enough to combine the two this Spring…. I’m watching…..