Oh brother…. what a year!

Feeling gloomy?  Depressed?  You’re not alone.

Unless you’ve just won the Lottery, many of us think that, so far, 2018 is a big disappointment.

There’s still a loud, unpleasant Trump in the White House. Kim Jong-Un is still on the verge of exploding in a giant fireball of anger and Emmental cheese (his favourite food). And Vladimir Putin, according to some newspapers, is planning to invade the UK.

As around 300,000 Russians already live in the UK and Russian businessmen own British newspapers and football teams, hasn’t it already started?

Perhaps we’d better learn the Russian for ‘Welcome’?
Dah-broh poh-zhahl-oh-vat!

Then, there’s the fast-moving revolution regarding how men should behave towards women, which spread from Hollywood to all corners of the world, including Fishguard.

While I agree there have been too many examples of powerful men – in all walks of life – taking advantage of younger women (and a change was overdue!), has it gone too far in the opposite direction?

I ask this because last week a lady on Breakfast TV claimed that winkingis now considered sexual harassment. Hearing that, I phoned our local monastery to ask if they had any vacancies for a monk.

And recently a well-mannered mate of mine opened a shop door to allow a young girl to enter the building, only to receive a scowl and a tetchy. “I can manage on my own!”

The way we’re supposed to behave and interact with each other today has become a social minefield.

Add to all these things the persistent wet weather we’ve been subjected to and it’s no wonder so many usually cheerful people are looking down in the mouth.

So, what can we do to offset this mounting mass of misery?
Don’t ask me.  I’ve just shaved my head. I now answer to the name of Brother Philip . . .

Make sure you capture those magic moments while you can

My very good friend and official show photographer, Rob Jones from Porthcawl, has taught me many valuable lessons over the years.
He is a firm believer that magic moments and memories must be captured and recorded on a regular basis.

At long last I’m now beginning to understand the importance of capturing memories of special occasions, family, friends and events that have helped shape us and turn us into the people we are today.

Looking back has so many benefits and often helps us relive feelings of joy and reflect on the good times of the people that we now so dearly miss.
Like everything else, though, there is always a down side. Like the hair cut, clothes and (in my case) a slimmer version.

With dementia becoming more of a concern to many families, taking a trip down memory lane while looking through old photos can be such a blessing and often provides that much needed relief to the pain and suffering attached to this debilitating condition.

We may not yet have a cure for dementia, but our minds can still benefit and be stimulated by pictures of days gone by.

Don’t waste the opportunity. You can thank me later.

Lonely feeling when you can’t sleep

There’s a song by Frank Sinatra that begins “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning . . . When The Whole Wide World Is Fast Asleep . . . ”

It’s a favourite of mine, despite the fact that in real life it’s impossible for the whole of the worldto be asleep at the same time – due to international date lines and different time zones!

BTW (as the kids say, or By The Way to you and me): Did you know that Canada has six different time zones?
You didn’t?

Then you should get up early and watch repeats of ‘The Chase’ on ITV 4, because that’s where I learned this fact.

Even though the song is factually incorrect, in the middle of the night, if you find it impossible to sleep, it can feel like you’re the only person who’s awake, if not in the whole wide world, then certainly in your street.

A few weeks ago I stayed overnight in a hotel and, even though I’d had a small night-cap downstairs in the bar and read for half-an-hour (in bed, not in the bar) before I switched off the light, I just could notfall asleep.

I had nothing on my mind apart from the same thought that swims through everyone’shead as it hits the pillow . . .

“What doesITV One Wales’ presenter Andrew Jones do between his final 30-second news bulletin on ‘Good Morning Britain’ and his lunch time bulletin at five to two?”

I did consider counting sheep, but even if I’d phoned a farmer friend and asked him to bring some to the hotel, the lift only held a maximum of 10 farm animals, so it hardly seemed worthwhile.

Besides, their bleating would have prevented me from sleeping, as would the sound of the night manager banging on my door.

I decided watching TV might help and did eventually start to doze around 6.15 a.m. to the sound of . . .

“Goooood Morning! I’m Andrew Jones with the news from Wales . . . ”

Too busy to acknowledge others’ kind acts?

Call me old fashioned, but I’m a big supporter of please and thank you.
It costs nothing to be polite and to appreciate an act of kindness.

Far too often I witness such acts being totally ignored.
Take last week, for instance. I saw a young man hold a door open for a middle-aged lady in a busy Swansea shop and was shocked to see that this gentlemanly gesture was totally ignored.

Fair play to him, he just smiled and went on with his day.
This also happens on our busy roads.

If I’m stuck in traffic, I often let people in if safe to do so, but, unfortunately, very few people acknowledge the gesture.

Are we becoming a nation of arrogant individuals, or is it that we are so preoccupied in our own little world that others don’t matter or deserve acknowledgment for being polite and courteous anymore?

Write and let me know your stories if this has happened to you.
The best story will win an extremely popular gift from Evans HQ!

Good luck and get writing!

Fame, Films, Canaries and Cwmtwrch!

If you visit Lower Cwmtwrch today, you’d never know that flesh-hungry aliens once walked the streets, terrorised the residents and called into the ‘pub for a couple of pints and a game of darts.

The aliens sneakily landed on New Years Eve, knowing their presence would hardly be noticed amongst the cacophony of fireworks, renditions of “Agadoo” and general revelry for which Lower Cwmtwrch is renowned, not just at the turn of the year but most Saturday nights.

As I reported back in July 2017, the aliens were characters in the new science-fiction comedy film “Canaries” and were accompanied by a film crew under the supervision of Swansea-born director and writer Peter Stray.

One year on, “Canaries” can be seen in selected cinemas around Wales and on Sky Cinema. There will also be a gala screening in Ystradgynlais on October 21st, at the Brecon road cinema,  followed bya cast and crew Q & A session.

“Canaries” stars Kai Owen, Robert Pugh, Hannah Daniel and Cwmtwrch-born Craig Russell, who is also the producer. Apart from Craig’s home town, locations included Washington DC, Vietnam and Martha’s Vineyard – on a budget of less than £30,000!

Because the cast and crew believed in the script, they were willing to defer salaries and Craig explained that the film also had enormous help from the local community. “My mother, who owned the post office, together with Ruth Levy, did all the catering, and housed the cast, crew . . . and the aliens!

“We filmed next to my mother’s shop in a converted chapel, knocked on doors asking if we could plug things in and filmed late into the night, but no-one complained. They even closed The Castle pub just to let us film.”

An eerie alien invasion movie with a dash of Welsh humour sounds like a winning formula that’ll appeal to science fiction fans around the world….and possibly other worlds too!

Unhygienic

Too often, I find myself witnessing unhygienic actions in public toilets.
Not that I make a habit of hanging around in such places, but when nature calls, needs must.

It’s now very common to witness men leaving the toilets in pubs, cafes and restaurants without washing their hands.

I can’t speak for the ladies, as for me observing such activities in ladies toilets brings with it consequences and a warning that I took onboard immediately.
Moving on . . .

Recently, I saw a man leaving a pub toilet without washing his hands; he then went on to share a bowl of crisps with his partner.

It would be so funny if he was reading this . . . hang on…. was it you?

In supermarkets, I’ve witnessed men return to their shopping without washing their hands after visiting the toilet.

What’s the hurry? It takes less than a minute and would prevent germs from spreading and people becoming ill.

Mark my words, the next step will be hygiene police employed at all public places.

OK, maybe a slight exaggeration but possibly not a bad idea!

Please, don’t leave it to ‘someone else’

Loyal readers will be aware that I have many pet hates.

I also hate many pets, like next door’s cat, which I call “Handyman” . . . because he keeps doing little jobs in my garden.

Talking of pets, people who keep snakes, lizards, killer whales etc consider themselves superior to anyone who keeps ‘run-of-the-mill’ pets like hamsters, budgies and goldfish.

In their minds, they’re ‘individualists’ who don’t follow the common herd.
Yet, strangely, every single one of themwho owns a pet python calls it Monty!
How’s that for individualism?

My Number One Pet Hateis the casual way people drop litter out of car windows, on the pavement and in parks.

Wherever I go, this country is slowly drowning under a tsunami of plastic bottles, take-away cartons and crisp packets.

As soon as their train pulls into the station, some bone idle text-addicted rail travellers leave their empty coffee cups on the bench they were sitting on for 20 minutes.

They get on the train without a backwards glance, confident ‘Someone Else’ will do what they’re too lazy to – drop the cup in the bin placed all of 10 feet away.

After the Reading Festival, 30,000 tents were left behind, along with a mountain of general rubbish – all of which will go to landfill.

That means 30,000 or more people should, under the Phil Evans Law (which is sadly not on the statute books . . . yet) be doing serious jail time for being thoughtless, lazy twerps who think it’s okay to walk away from a festival, leaving all their gear behind for ‘Someone Else’ to clear up.

That ‘Someone Else’ is the rest of society – people who’d never think of dropping litter. They’re people who feel so strongly about our streets and green parks being covered in discarded rubbish that they make the effort to pick it up and bin it.

I’m ‘Someone Else’.  Are you?

Thanks for all the support – your feedback’s amazing

Those astute readers among you will realise that my contribution to the local press has now been going since June, 2014. That’s a lot of column inches.

When I was approached to become a regular contributor to the well-established and respected newspapers it was a total surprise. A shock to be honest. Up until that point, it was not something that I had even thought of adding to my repertoire!

But as you know, I love a challenge and I was fully aware that the media eats up material at a tremendous rate of knots.

The technology was also an issue: would my typewriter cope with the extra work? Are spare parts still available? Did I have enough candles in my study to work until the small hours?

I am so glad I took on the challenge.

The amazing positive feedback I get (not only from the readers in Wales, but as far afield as Ireland, Switzerland, Canada and America) makes it all worthwhile.

On my travels, I meet so many fascinating characters with interesting stories.
Without them, this space would probably contain Saturday’s lottery numbers and more adverts.

Perish the thought. Thanks for reading and, more importantly, thanks for your support.