It’s not rubbish – litter really winds me up!

I’m a mind reader. Ammanford’s own Derren Brown, if you like.

But with a lot less cash in the bank and a lot more hair on my head than the mysterious maestro of magical manipulation. And to demonstrate my pseudo-supernatural skills, I predict that when I tell you I’m talking rubbish this week, many of you will ask, “So what’s new?”

Nevertheless, I will talk rubbish, because I see it everywhere I go. Crisp packets, cans, bottles, polystyrene food containers from well-known burger chains and paper bags from equally well-known bakers/sausage roll emporiums.

They pollute our streets, parks, grass verges, back alleys, front gardens and even our driveways. We’re under attack from an army of idiots who think it’s okay to drop their litter outside our houses at three am and “Somebody else will clear it up”.

No, mate!

You bought the can.

You bought the burger.

So you have to take your rubbish home.

People behave in this slovenly way partly because we’re too nervous to tell them they’re doing something wrong in case we get sworn at . . . or worse.

I’m all for stiff penalties for dropping litter and more should be done to raise awareness of the problem. How about allowing mobile phone pictures and video evidence being used to prosecute people?

Last week, I saw someone ‘Spring-cleaning’ his car while driving along a busy road.

Out through the driver’s window flew sweet wrappers, paper cups and empty sandwich packets. Until I saw it for myself, I would never have believed a pig – especially one who’d had its brain removed – could be taught to drive.

And don’t get me started on cigarette ends!

A friend of mine works in a large local hospital which – quite naturally – bans smoking in the grounds. Nevertheless, every morning his first job is to use an industrial blower to create a path for patients and visitors through a pile of cigarette ends discarded by thoughtless smokers.

I take pride in my environment and have always respected people who feel the same way. But, clearly, there’s a substantial element of society who see nothing wrong in polluting the world around them and creating a filthy atmosphere for others

Now you’ve read the article and realised how fired-up and frustrated I am about litter, if you still think I’m talking rubbish, you know what you can do with your opinion.

Put it in the nearest bin!

A genuine talent worth celebrating

When I switched on the TV news to find that Victoria Wood had died at 62, I was genuinely shocked.

Possessing her own distinctive style, she was a pioneer in a male-dominated world and no British comedienne who followed in her wake could emulate the quality of her work.

I loved her sketch shows, her sitcoms, her songs, her stand-up routines and her superbly-written TV plays and films, not all of which were comedies.

Victoria created an astonishing body of work in a relatively short lifetime.

Right from her early days in the business she realised that to hone your craft, you have to put the hours in – and it paid off.

We live in a time of ‘C’ list ‘celebrities’ famous for being famous – what an empty, pointless existence that must be!

They’ll be forgotten in a few years – I don’t even know 99% of them now.

But the multi-talented Victoria Wood will always be remembered as long as our world contains laughter, compassion . . . and custard creams.

Here’s hoping for some summer sunshine

As I write this item, my mind is wandering to thoughts about summer and, more importantly, as we live in Wales, will we get one?

I’m not sure if these thoughts of long summer days and warm summer nights could have been triggered by last weekend’s sunshine and the thought that a relaxing break will soon be needed.

My spies tell me that travel agents are currently very busy with enquiries which may even lead to a record increase in sales.

So does this mean that the financially hard times are over and that people have more cash to spend, or is it that people will always find the money needed to spend on what makes them feel good?

A change is as good as a rest but, unfortunately, most people will venture overseas in order to guarantee sunshine, which is sad really as we are blessed to live in a truly beautiful part of the world.

One of my friends tried to persuade me to go camping this year, but after some consideration I have now decided that nobody needs friends like this. Life is hard enough.

Child hunger is a national disgrace

Have you ever heard an item being read out during a radio news bulletin and it took you a moment for it to sink in properly?

It happens quite a lot to me, because I’m usually doing something else at the same time as listening to the news on the radio – like reading the news in my daily paper or on my iPad.

I prefer to listen to the TV news rather than watch it, because so many newsreaders have irritating habits that detract from the job they’re employed to do.

When reading the news, Huw Edwards can’t look into the camera lens for more than a minute before giving in to a compulsion to cast his eyes downwards and to his left.

It’s like he’s being distracted by a TV set under his desk that’s featuring a more interesting and less pompous newsreader than himself. If you haven’t noticed his infuriating habit yet, you will from now on!

Last week, I was in bed changing a wheel on my mountain bike and listening to a news bulletin on BBC Radio Wales. The last news item before the sports report was one of those stories that took me a moment to take in.

Thousands of British children who rely on being served breakfast and lunch during the school term are going hungry in the school holidays and at weekends. I couldn’t believe my ears.

In 2016, children are going hungry in Great Britain – the fifth richest country in the world?

So, I did some research and it turned out to be perfectly true. Frank Field, the Labour MP who led the UK Inquiry into Hunger and Food Poverty and published the Feeding Britain report, said that grown-up politicians find it easier to be silent while all too many poor children go hungry.

He also said there’s been a conspiracy of silence and that ‘School holiday hunger’ is the one great unmentionable in British politics. Un-flipping-mention-able?

It’s a national disgrace that can’t be mentioned enough.

Sixty-four percent of the British population are obese because they eat too much junk. The living proof can be seen waddling along every street and supermarket aisle.

Yet thousands of children wake up in the school holidays and there’s no loaf in the bread bin. No cereals in the cupboard. No milk in the fridge.

Can someone please explain this wickedly unfair conundrum to me?

Sssss…It’s that time of year again!

Don’t you just love nature and waking up on a sunny Sunday morning to lawnmower and petrol strimmers howling in the background?

Yes, I bet you do. Having done a late night gig, Sunday morning is the only chance I get to have that extra hour of quality rest to recover from the demands of the weekend – but clearly others among us have their own  ideas.

Everyone is entitled to a well-kept back yard and a neatly-trimmed bush, but my neighbour takes this too far and has invested in one of those high powered, turbo-charged, petrol-driven hedge cutters and his enthusiasm for this new gadget has meant that the whole street wakes up early to find out where the noise is coming from.

I honestly thought that a Formula One racing team had relocated their practice sessions to Ammanford. But don’t worry about me, I’ve sorted it and will be ready for next weekend as I’ve invested in a large box of ear plugs.

Inspired by magical music

Isn’t the power of music incredible?

Catching up with Saturday night TV, I came across one of the most inspirational sights I’ve seen in a long time. The gospel choir that appeared on Britain’s Got Talent on Saturday night blew that audience away.

Their stage presence and enthusiasm for what they were doing had everyone including the judges mesmerised. To see so many people on their feet, clapping, singing and dancing along was an incredible sight.

The power of music has the ability to take us back to certain times and places and evoke incredible memories, both good and bad. Music can make you smile, it can make you cry, but this performance on Saturday was one of the most uplifting and positive things I have seen for a long time.

So, next time you are feeling a bit low, I dare you to put on your favourite uplifting song and dance around the living room like no one is watching. Just don’t forget to shut the curtains first, in case the neighbours call the police!

Nearly time to call International Rescue

Even the bad news can be funny!

If you see me in the street, please say “Hello!”, “How are you?” or even “You’ve got a great face for radio!”

But please don’t ask “What’s occurring?” as I won’t know.

I’m badly informed about current affairs because the papers are so full of sad stories, political shenanigans, appalling revelations, C-list celebrity puff-pieces and photos of the permanently-grinning Myleene Klass (does anyone know what that woman actually does for a living?).

I just skim through them.

I’ve been known to turn the pages of my newspaper at such high speed the friction created by my fingers causes the paper to catch fire. So, it’s probably best not to sit next to me on an aeroplane.

Some days I get through my paper so quickly that in less than a minute I’ve reached the ‘twilight zone’ between the ‘proper’ news and the sports news – the pages devoted to advertisements for retirement bungalows, stair lifts and walk-in baths.

Why anyone living in a bungalow would need a stair lift to get into a walk-in bath is beyond me.

But, once in a while, I’ll come across a news story that brings a smile to my face, joy to my heart and some of the previous night’s fish pie back into my throat.

For example…

A GOWER bus went missing for over an hour after, it was claimed, the driver got lost with around 22 people on board.

Some passengers waiting at bus stops finally lost their patience and got taxis home.

The company running the bus from Rhossili to Swansea’s Quadrant station said the driver took a wrong turn and got stuck in the mud trying to turn around.

That’s right. Somehow, along the 18-mile route between Rhossili and Swansea, a ‘bus was lost for over an hour!

Another 10 minutes and someone might have called out International Rescue.

F.A.B!

Apparently, the befuddled bus driver was new to the route and couldn’t tell the difference between a main road and a muddy track. But, what really amused me, was the casual reference to there being ‘around’ 22 people on the bus.

The bus company were admitting there might have been less…or there could have been more. So it’s possible that right now, somewhere between Rhossili and Swansea, a couple of weary souls carrying shopping bags are wandering around in circles.

Remind me – which one of the Thunderbirds specialises in finding missing bus passengers?

 

Miracles do happen!

Ever since I was a young lad, I’ve had a strong passionate interest in magic and mentalism and in recent years have been lucky enough to perform and work with some extremely creative artists.

This art form fascinates me and, hopefully, it always will.

But, my most recent highlight was being invited as a guest to witness Derren Brown’s latest show, Miracle, at our prestigious Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

I know what you are thinking – he was in the Swansea Grand two weeks back.

Yes, I understand, but I wasn’t invited as a guest to that performance!

Moving on . . .

For me, this was the ideal venue to show off a spectacular performance by a man who is currently at the top of his game. From the outset, the audience was drawn in.

It was an amazing performance in which Brown had the crowd mesmerised continuously. His quick wit and one-liners were worthy of any top stand-up comedian, and he wove this into a stunning stage show which I didn’t want to end.

Winter fun’s a chance worth taking

What does a crown prosecutor, painter and decorator and a comedian have in common?

Well I will help you out on this – all three have a passion for winter sports.

I’m writing this item on a glacier in Monterosa, Italy, which will be our last opportunity to enjoy the perfect snow conditions for this year.

And, to make the experience even better, the cost of this holiday adventure was less than a third of normal holiday package prices, which is down to the fact that we are outside of the school holiday period.

As you know, the school holiday period is an exorbitantly expensive time to take the family on holiday and many destinations are financially out of reach for most families.

Off peak holidays offer the same benefits and facilities as on peak holidays.

For the majority of us, they become more of a bargain and I can see the great temptation to take our children out of school to benefit from an affordable family holiday where magical memories can be created.

Making a break with tradition

There are some very scary people in this world.

On Easter Sunday, I was sprawled in front of the telly….eating my chocolate egg….when suddenly the manager of Curry’s/PC World came over and yelled at me to get out!

Only joking!

But it was no joke on Easter Monday when I opened my chocolate egg and noticed that the packaging didn’t actually mention Easter – just ‘Chocolate Egg’, as if the manufacturers were embarrassed to include the word ‘Easter’ in case it upset potential buyers for whom Easter had no meaning.

Which is crazy!

Confectioners make, advertise and sell chocolate eggs this time of year not because it’s Shrove Tuesday or National Meat Pie Week.

But because….it’s Easter!

And they’re shaped like an egg because, depending on your belief, it represents re-birth and the coming of Spring or Jesus rising from his tomb.

Children talk about ‘The Easter Bunny’; the holiday’s called ‘The Easter Weekend’; the Sunday is ‘Easter Sunday’; and for months the shops sold ‘Easter Cards’ – although not to me because I think they were cynically created by greetings card companies to make a few extra quid at their dead time of year, after Valentine’s Day.

All the clues are there, Sherlock.

If this trend continues, what might happen in the months leading up to December 25th?

Will shops, supermarkets and department stores coyly hang up signs that just say ‘Happy…..!’, leaving out the rather important word ‘Christmas’ so no one is offended?

Wait and see…

Talking of being offended, I certainly was when I read that at Easter, hospital A & E departments were over-run with people who’d made themselves ill by over-indulging.

In a Facebook page, South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust wrote: “People are coming into A&E with stomach aches caused by too many Easter eggs and a big Sunday dinner. You’ll feel better after a rest at home and drinking plenty of water”.

It’s a sad day when basic common sense has to be spelled out to a portion of the population.

In addition to the puzzling popularity of ‘adult colouring books’, not realising that stuffing 10 large Easter Eggs into your cake hole will give you a  pain in your belly is solid evidence that Britain’s being dumbed-down faster than the speed of light.

As I say, there are some very scary people in this world….

R.I.P. Ronnie Corbett.

Now he’s gone there’s no time left for one extra news item….