Meeting with Meic was a real highlight

Step up to the Meic!

We’ve had that many ballot papers recently that I’ve forgotten how to sign my name . . . I just put an ‘X’!

But life isn’t all bad. The highlight of last week for me was a catch up over a coffee with Welsh pop legend Meic Stevens.

Not many of you would know this, but Meic was brought back to life as a baby, rescued from the sea as a child, addicted to Valium as an adult and married to a chronic schizophrenic, lurching from one crisis to another.

He survived everything life threw at him, reaching the dizzy heights of pop stardom in England and Wales.

He was described as the UK’s leading songwriter by none other than Bob Dylan.

Now in his 70s, he continues to perform live and has a loyal following.

We chatted about life, what inspires him to keep going and the joy of performing to a live audience.

You can catch Meic performing in a Welsh language show, along with me, comedians Aled Richards and Gary Slaymaker on Saturday, October 14, at Theatre Felinfach, Lampeter.


Food chain’s bad taste advert?

Shockingly bad taste!

At my advanced age – 39 and holding – I’m not often shocked by things I see on television. Certain news items will do it . . .

. . . And charity appeals requesting urgent donations for natural disasters that include heart-breaking footage of floods, earthquakes and famine.

On a much less serious level, my jaw’s been known to drop when confronted by exploitation TV shows with titles like “The Man Who Was Unaware His Head Had Exploded And Continued To Work At The Welsh Assembly”.

But I never thought a television commercial for a well-known chain of fast-food restaurants would have me reaching for my remote so I could rewind to check that I hadn’t imagined what I’d just seen.

The advert features a young lad sat in a branch of the afore-mentioned chain with his mother.

During the brief conversation between them it becomes apparent that the boy’s father is dead.

The mother tells the sad-faced lad that the meal he’d ordered was also his late father’s favourite.

At which point the sad lad’s face breaks into a smile. This isn’t a TV soap series.

It’s a commercial specifically designed to make money for the fast-food chain. Naturally, it attracted loads of complaints.

For example, the children’s bereavement charity Grief Encounter said it had received many phone calls from concerned parents.

The main complaint was that the fast-food chain exploited childhood bereavement to connect with young people and surviving parents.

Originally, when complaints started rolling in, the restaurant chain denied the intention of the advertisement was to manipulate viewer’s emotions – which seems an odd thing to say.

Because the whole point of advertising is to manipulate us into buying the product being advertised.

Mercifully, the advert has now been pulled from our screens.

But a TV ad using childhood grief to sell a product should never have appeared in the first place.

I’m talking rubbish again!

Inspiration regarding what to write about this week leapt out of my TV and into my lap, almost making me spill my Charles and Diana’s Wedding souvenir mug of Leek & Potato soup, as I watched a show made by ITV One Wales – as HTV was re-branded some years ago.

Before that it was TWW. Oops! I’ve just taken a diversion down memory lane. I’ll do a u-turn back to 2017.

The ITV One Wales show recycled archive footage of events in Wales we’ve seen many times before, including film of the notorious “Winter of Discontent” – not to be confused with my local camping outlet’s January sale, advertised as the “Winter of Discount Tents”.

During that 1978/79 winter, mountains of uncollected rubbish bags covered our pavements, broke open and spilled into our streets.

As someone who loathes litter and the bone-idle people who drop it, it was a disturbing sight.

Co-incidentally, the following morning I noticed a pile of empty crisp packets and fizzy drink cans had collected in the gutter outside my front door…again!

So I collected it up, ready to recycle later…again!

Later, as I walked around town, I noticed lots of cans, bottles, empty plastic bags and polystyrene take-away cartons on the pavement outside shops – and even outside a bank!

There was a time when shopkeepers took pride in their premises and swept the pavement outside several times a day – or washed it down with hot soapy water if necessary.

Although picking up litter (probably dropped by their own customers) would only take a minute, many of today’s shop proprietors are content to leave an unsightly mess right outside their front entrance.

If they can’t be bothered to clean up the rubbish outside their shop fronts, I can’t be bothered to wade through it to give them my custom.

Accent on our language

This weeks’ column comes to you from North Wales. Well to be precise a little village called Y Felinheli, near Caernarfon.

This part of Wales is stunningly beautiful at this time of year, the scenery and landscape is so inspiring, towering mountains, lakes, flowers and wildlife that will take your breath away.

Clearly the internet has a tremendous benefit here as I can continue to work and keep lines of communication open whilst on my travels.

My work commitments prevented me from keeping up with Eurovision over the weekend – so there are benefits to all this demanding travel.

I can’t remember ever being in a town where over 90% of the people communicate with each other in Welsh. I’m sure that if I were to spend a few weeks in North Wales my Welsh would improve greatly.

Having said that, the language up north, for me, is not as easily communicated or understood as the Welsh we have here in South Wales. Far from it.

I woke up on Saturday morning and banged my head on the bedpost. Shockingly painful. Strangely, I’m now talking in a North Walian accent like a true gog….. apparently that’s how they all get the accent.



What would you do if your ‘phone rang and before you can say, “We don’t want any double-glazing and your name isn’t Cledwyn Jenkins because you’re calling from Mumbai”, a sinister-sounding automatic voice tells you . . .

“This is HMRC. We have been trying to contact you.  We are about to issue a lawsuit against you.”

Well, the first thing most of us would do is find out what telephone number had called.

That’s exactly what a friend of mine did when he received such a call last week and discovered he’d been telephoned from area code 0203.

Knowing that his tax matters were up to date, that the HMRC never ‘phone individuals and they’d definitely not been trying to get in touch with him because his address and home ‘phone number haven’t changed for 30 years, he suspected this was a new form of scam.

When he checked online on the internet to see if anyone else had received similar calls, he found that thousands of people all over the UK have had them.

They come from criminal organisations who want your hard-earned cash.

This is how the scam works . . .

If you fall for their con and phone them back – but please don’t! –  you’ll speak to an ‘HMRC official’, otherwise known as a crook, a thief, a rogue and far worse descriptions than I can write in a family newspaper.

You’ll be asked for your bank account details and told they’ll take out what you owe.

Do not give them your account details and end the call. Otherwise they will rob your account of every penny.

If you receive such a call, ignore their threat to ‘Take out a lawsuit against you’.

They can’t.

But what we can do is find out where they’re based and threaten them with a prison sentence!

Form an orderly queue . . .



How we see ourselves and how others perceive us can be poles apart.

This is something that I have had challenges with over the years and I’m sure many of you can also relate to.

This isn’t new, I’m sure, as many conversations have, over time, highlighted the fact that communication often breaks down when we fail to see or consider everyone’s point of view.

Society has conditioned us to have an opinion, to often become outspoken and to challenge authority.

This approach can lack empathy, compassion and good old fashion manners, which is something often witnessed in public, in our towns and cities.

We now see such shenanigans on our roads and motorways – it’s known as ‘Road Rage’. Sound familiar?

One of my loyal social media followers from Switzerland wrote last week – “I often read your columns. I think what you write about is valid everywhere. You see life with open eyes = inspiration.”

Seeing myself as ‘inspiring’ was not how I perceived myself in this column, as my aim has always been to add colour, bring a smile and the odd chuckle to the loyal readers and followers.

Therefore, it just goes to show that my view may be perceived differently by others. Lesson learned and thank you, Karin.

It’s no mystery why we love watching thrillers

watching the thrillers

The Thrill Of Mystery

The current series of BBC One’s “Line Of Duty” ended last Sunday. Thandie Newton’s portrayal of psychopath detective Roz Huntley was riveting.

She’s one of the main reasons this particular series – following on from the previous three – attracted millions of viewers.

Each episode contained several threads – murder, assault, accusations of sexism, police corruption and (something rarely shown in TV dramas) husband-beating.

As with all dramatic stories, in the series finale, it’s likely that long-hidden dark secrets were revealed and those who deserved it will have received their come-uppance.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to drop any finale spoilers in here!

With that compelling series ending, the equally excellent “Broadchurch” coming to a definite end (there will be no more!) two weeks ago, and another cracking thriller “The Replacement” ending recently, the TV schedules currently remind me of supermarket shelves late on Christmas Eve.

Stripped bare . . . apart from some sprigs of holly!

What’s interesting is, in this age of box-set bingeing and digital recordings you can play back any time, many millions were so gripped by “Broadchurch” and “Line Of Duty” they preferred to watch them as they went out ‘live’ rather than catch up with them later.

They did this so no-one could spoil their enjoyment by texting, tweeting or revealing in an old-fashioned face-to-face conversation the following day, “Did you see that ‘So and So’ fell off the Mumbles Pier in last night’s episode?” which can be so annoying.

Especially for ‘So and So’ if he couldn’t swim….

However, many TV shows fail to grip as tightly.

We’ve all started watching series which were okay at the beginning but lost our interest by episode three.

In my case, it was “Coronation Street”.

Are Elsie Tanner and Ena Sharples still having stand-up rows outside the Rovers Return?

Business skills make for better government

phil business knowledge

Government Business Skills

Traffic and parking seem to be my main pet hates at the moment.

Parking fines are on the increase. If issued by the local authority, they can be considered another ‘stealth tax’.

It also frustrates me greatly when I see parking charges increasing in our local town car parks – the very towns that are struggling to fill commercial properties and shops.

Small businesses are fighting hard to maintain market share and attract customers. Increasing parking costs deters a steady flow of customers with the potential to spend money, which in turn supports the local community.

If I was Prime Minister, I would insist that every councillor, member of parliament and assembly member undertake a recognised qualification in business studies, marketing and management.

Why on earth are we still voting for and electing candidates that have very little or no business or management acumen?

The majority of local government members and councillors that I have personally engaged with over the years demonstrate little understanding of ground roots business matters and what drives the local economy.

This is evident today, in the run-up to the local elections and makes me question their reasons for taking on the job.

For money to be spent locally we need thriving towns and communities, otherwise we will spend our hard earned cash out of the area via the motorways – and I don’t fancy that because I hate traffic. Rant over.