Saved by a 6th sense or something else entirely?

Do Guardian Angels exist?

Personally, I never gave the possibility any thought.  Until an old friend told me about something that happened to him years ago that defies rational explanation.

A level-headed person who belongs to the world’s biggest unofficial religious organisation – Lapsed Catholics – he always maintained that if Guardian Angels existed, his was “permanently slouching around the back of the building, having a sly smoke!”

Then, a few months ago, a memory came back to him about something that happened in the 1970s, which has given him pause for thought.

My friend (let’s call him Jack) had been driven by a friend to a city centre car park that, although still under construction, was open to the public. Health and Safety wouldn’t allow that today.

After his friend parked on the second floor of the car park, which was almost deserted, Jack wandered over to the concrete balustrade around the edge to view the city from this new vantage point.

He then turned to go back to the car and to this day he has no idea what stopped him in his tracks.  But . . . had he walked just a few inches to his right, he would have fallen more than 30 feet through an unprotected 10-foot square gap on to the rough concrete floor below.  He was so shocked at the time he didn’t even tell his friend about his close call.

Some 40 years later, he can’t help but wonder how his life would have changed if he’d fallen through the gap – and what prevented him.  A sixth sense? Or something else?

Even if he had survived his injuries, he probably wouldn’t have gone on to achieve the successes and failures in the career he switched to in his early 40s.

Don’t think his life has been problem-free.  He’s encountered health and family problems over the years, as we all do.

Interestingly, my Lapsed-Catholic friend told me this was the first of two occasions – 20 years apart – which have only now made him wonder if his Guardian Angel had twice stubbed out his fag and paid him some attention.

Maybe I’ll tell you about the second occasion another time…

Mood of the nation would change for the better

Every week I get a chance to share a bit of me with you, which at times can be both challenging and colourful, yet a privilege for me in many ways.

Here we are halfway through October and I’ve heard a rumour this week that the Tories are holding a bonfire night party next month.  They’re all going to have sparklers, but they’re hoping to give Boris the rocket!

Browsing the newspapers this week, it seems we are bombarded with doom and gloom from one source or another 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
And surveys!

Apparently, Brits are now the most surveyed people in the world.
According to a recent survey, that is!

Well, maybe your reasoning is different to mine, but research suggests that we are addicted to gossip and negative news.

Wouldn’t it be great if all news reports had to be happy, upbeat and uplifting? I can guarantee the mood of the Nation would change for the better.

I love the fact that as part of my job people share events and stories with me.  Some of the best material comes from true stories, maybe with a bit of an added comedic twist.  Long may it continue!

‘No, they wouldn’t’

In the year 1540, even though King Henry VIII owned a pair of football boots worth £100 in today’s money, he banned the game of football – or ‘fotebale’ as he spelt it.  The big-bellied beardie was too busy ‘chopping and changing’ his wives to learn to read and write to a decent standard.

He banned ‘fotebale’ because gangs of boisterous lads kicking a ball around narrow Tudor streets often led to outbursts of violence and sometimes erupted into riots.  As they say, there’s nothing new under the sun…

Although the ban was only temporary, this was quite a significant moment in history, being the first recorded case of …“Reign stopping play!”

I only mention this in the hope it might amuse some readers and bring a tiny glimmer of a smile to those amongst you who rarely see humour in anything.

No names – you know who you are.

Being an historical moment, it loosely connects with something that’s irritated me for some time – and I don’t mean the rash on the back of my neck.

Last Friday, October the 9th, John Lennon would have been 80.

Sadly, because of what happened outside his New York apartment on December 8, 1980, we’ll never know what great songs he might have gone on to write and record or what amazing musical collaborations we were deprived of.

So, what is it that I find irritating?

Well, while it’s quite legitimate for me to say John Lennon would have been 80 last week, I find it ridiculous when radio and TV presenters announce that particular day is the birth date of a famous person who’d died many years ago so “Had they lived” they would have been 150, 175 or even 200!

Whenever I hear that nonsense, I want to shout at the radio or TV “No, they wouldn’t, you stupid person!

Because nobody ever lives to be that old!”

I’m so glad I got that off my chest.

Incidentally, my research revealed that ‘fotebale’ banning Henry VIII was born on June the 28th in 1491.  So next year, had he lived, he’ll be 530…

I’m more of a Swiss Army knife kinda guy…

Today I woke up, took my temperature and am pleased to report that I’m in the ‘green’.  This is a good sign. How times have changed. I do hope that you are also in the ‘green’.

In case you haven’t twigged yet, I have invested in a new gadget. One that takes my temperature and indicates, by colour if I have any underlying issues that need further consideration.  The dog, however, is over the moon that a version of this is not needed for him on a daily basis.

Most people like a new gadget, but I never thought for one moment that I would purchase such an item.  I’m more of a Swiss Army Knife kinda guy…

The evidence is out there and the people in the know are convinced that more care and precautions are needed in order for us to stay safe and to help protect each other during this worrying pandemic.

Many of the readers of this paper remain in lockdown, not the little fishing village of Ammanford I might add, however the village is close to you and my thoughts and wishes are that you too will remain safe and a degree of freedom and normality will resume very soon.

On a lighter note, I’m looking forward to that night when all those ugly looking monsters knock on your front door at the end of this month.  I’m just grateful that my in-laws don’t visit that often.

All the latest news and gossip in the ‘Parish Pump’

We live in a world of rolling TV and radio news; online news-sites; and relentlessly regular radio news bulletins – except on glorious BBC Radio 4 Extra, where they’d be unwelcome intrusions between classic episodes of ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ or ‘Round The Horne’.

In medieval times, there wasn’t any ‘News’ – because hardly anything interesting happened from one day to the next.  A bit like spending two weeks in Aberystwyth in January.

If Sid The Chastity Belt Welder’s wife, Brenda, ran off with Waldo The Cess Pit Emptier, the world couldn’t read about it in the Daily Chain Mail because paper didn’t exist.

And you could count the number of reporters and press photographers around on the fingers of your right hand.  Provided you hadn’t been caught stealing a sheep.

An early example of ‘News’ was ‘Village gossip’ exchanged at “The Parish Pump” where villagers would meet every day to pump fresh water into crudely-made buckets and discuss local matters using crudely-made remarks.

For example . . .

“’Ere! Quince! Have you noticed the terrible smell in the air since Waldo left town?”  “Be fair, Ethelred. The smell was pretty bad when he was around!”

Centuries later, ”The Parish Pump” was replaced by urchins standing on street corners selling newspapers for a penny each.

On Saturdays the price increased to a penny ha’penny to cover the cost of the TV listings magazine inside!

And all these milestones eventually led to the esteemed local newspaper you’re holding in your hands – or reading over the shoulder of the person sat in front of you on the bus.

Local newspapers have always played a vital role in binding a community together, never more so than this year, providing the necessary unbiased and in-depth local information that the national dailies can’t.

It’s all very well having instant access to news on radio or TV, but settling down in your favourite armchair – or someone else’s favourite armchair, just to annoy them – with a cuppa and your local newspaper is always something to look forward to.

Unless it contains a report of your court appearance the day before!

Or you happen to be Brenda, Sid The Chastity Belt Welders ex-wife!

When is all this madness going to end?

So, the weekend was spent putting the patio furniture away as everything in the garden is starting to die back and my bones are already feeling winter approaching.

The great shall we/shan’t we put the heating on debate could be heard echoing throughout Wales this week.

My local WH Smith had put copies of ‘Arthritis Monthly’ on the bottom shelf, which is helpful and, any day soon, my thermal vest will again make an appearance.

Lockdown continues in the surrounding areas of my hometown of Ammanford and we are wondering when all this madness will end. The reality is, our chances of survival during this time is dependent on the common sense of others.

Every week, I receive messages via email or social media from loyal readers as they are keen to share their thoughts with me following my ramblings. Something I do cherish and welcome, by the way.

Many have adapted well over the past few months and feel blessed by the support they are having from friends, neighbours and their local communities.

The reality is that we can all help play a part in this by just reaching out and checking up on each other, from a two-metre distance, obviously!

Community spirit is more important now than ever before.

I felt as if I could reach out and touch the 3D film characters

Cinemas were closed for months and when allowed to re-open (with strict hygiene rules and socially-distanced seating) were eager to showcase new films that would attract audiences and bring in much-needed revenue . . . especially from the sale of popcorn and soft drinks!

The film industry was hoping that Christopher Nolan’s complex, visually stunning film “Tenet” would be the one to kick-start the public’s return to big screen entertainment.  However, for whatever reason, “Tenet” hasn’t done the ‘box office business’ that was hoped for.

“Mulan” was due to be Disney’s big summer release, but it went straight to pay-per-view streaming.

Let’s hope the new James Bond film “No Time To Die” – originally due out in April – will definitely be released to cinemas this year, as the producers promise.

The film business will survive this tough period as it has many times before.
In the early 1970s, the only ‘attractions’ at many British cinemas were spin-offs from TV sitcoms and X-certificate ‘comedies’ about randy window cleaners.  It seemed to many that the British cinema was doomed.

Then, in 1977, when “Star Wars” came out and George Lucas insisted that any venue that screened it had to have Dolby Sound installed, cinema chains upped their game and audiences flocked to see it and all the sequels, creating a craving for massive blockbuster entertainment.

In the early 1950s when TV replaced ‘the pictures’ as the people’s main form of entertainment, Hollywood fought back by producing wide screen films in CinemaScope, VistaVision and the Granddaddy of them all . . . Cinerama.
3D films were also popular around that time and were again more recently with many big-budget films getting the 3D treatment.

When I went to see one of the new 3D films, I was amazed.  I really did feel I could reach out and touch the characters.

Half-way through I had to make a call of nature, so, still wearing my 3D glasses I made my way to the back of the cinema and asked a fellah who was standing there if he knew where the Gents was.  He said “Don’t ask me, mate. I’m in the film!”

Discovering the perfect time to shop

For more than 25 years most of my Saturday evenings have involved travelling far and wide to comedy events and functions.  However, last Saturday evening, between the hours of 8.00pm and 9.00pm, I found myself wandering the aisles of Lidl in Ammanford.

I have discovered the art of shopping when no-one else is around.  It’s very therapeutic in these troubled times.  I even managed to pick up a tent, an inflatable flamingo and a trombone from the bargain middle aisle.

It’s now clearly evident that I’m also getting fitter.  This is all down to the new face mask rules.  Every time I walk into a shop, I end up walking back to the car to get my mask.

I also never realised until now how wearing a mask improves my looks!

Before I left for my shopping trip, I noticed that we had more than enough toilet roll left over from the last lockdown.  If anyone runs out, I can do a good deal.

On my way home I couldn’t help but think about all the people in the pubs I passed having to go home at 10pm.  Isn’t it amazing how Boris knows Covid respects opening hours?

Stay safe, my friends.