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.

RECEIVING SOME ‘PHONE CALLS CAN BE CRIMINAL

RECEIVING SOME ‘PHONE CALLS CAN BE CRIMINAL

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 . . .

Perception

Perception!

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.

Escape the election

escape the election

Escape or just lighten up?

If you can’t escape the election – at least let’s all lighten up!

No doubt some of you will have marked the page dated June the 8th in your diary as an important day in British politics.

Then again, with the prospect looming of seven weeks worth of party political broadcasts, TV debates and MPs (who you never see from one election to another) banging on your front door to plead for your vote, some of you will have already marked the page dated June the 7th in your diary as the day you escape all the madness and fly off somewhere warm for your holiday.

Lucky you!

As this is an election-free zone, if I tell you that June the 8th is an important date, you can guess it has nothing to do with politics or polling booths.

If you look back in history (well, you can’t look forward in history, can you?)  – June the 8th is significant for several reasons.

On June the 8th 452, Attila The Hun invaded Italy. He meant to invade Austria but his satnav was playing up and as soon as he discovered Italy had a better climate, he stayed put.

Attila’s occupation didn’t have much impact on the Italians otherwise their national dish would be wienerschnitzel and not pasta.

When Attila walked through his front door after a hard day’s pillaging, did he call out to Mrs. Attila “Hi, Hun! I’m home!”?

On June the 8th 1786 the first commercial ice cream went on sale. As refrigerators hadn’t been invented, by June 9th it had all melted away.

On  June 8th 1896  the first ever case of a car being stolen was recorded. The owner didn’t recognise the thief but he did manage to write down the registration number of the getaway car.

Yes, it’s all very silly.

But isn’t that what we all need right now?

Royal seal of approval is helping to break a taboo

mental health

Breaking The Taboo

Mental health awareness is currently all over the news, thanks to the Royal trio of William, Harry and Kate talking openly about it in the press and on the radio.

They’ve made it OK to talk about the subject of mental health, which for so many years was frowned upon, especially by the male population who have been brought up to ‘put on a brave face and man up.’

Mental health issues can be extremely debilitating and affect so many of us.

Some of you reading this will have a close friend or family member suffering, or might even be suffering yourself.

The stigma attached to such issues is becoming a thing of the past.  Engaging with a counsellor or health professional is key.

We are not designed to keep feelings and emotions bottled up, so let’s start talking.

There is no need to suffer in silence, seek help and discover that being able to offload your fears and concerns can have a positive effect on mental health.

Problems and challenges can’t be eradicated without experienced guidance and a listening ear.

Depression, bereavement amongst a whole host of other issues can strike any one of us at any moment.

Let’s make it OK to talk and keep the momentum, started by the young royals, going.

Legend, yes, Welsh…maybe!

welsh comedy legend tommy cooper

A welsh comedy legend?

It’s 33 years since Tommy Cooper died while performing on the ITV show Live From Her Majesty’s at the age of 63.

On April 15th 1984, Tommy was almost at the end of his routine when he suddenly collapsed just before the first commercial break, causing pandemonium in the Outside Broadcast (OB) van outside the theatre relaying the show to ITV’s Central HQ and from there to the nation.

Neither the audience in the theatre, nor the viewers at home, realised that they’d witnessed Tommy Cooper’s final performance.

I’m going to court controversy here, because although he was born in Caerphilly, it’s a bit of a stretch to describe Tommy Cooper as a “Welsh Comedy Legend”, as some local newspapers describe him.

The same papers often print jokes they claim were Tommy’s but are obviously Tim Vine’s!

It’s understandable why local papers claim Tommy as ‘one of our own’.

While several top Welsh comedians present and past are/were very funny men, those whose fame spread beyond Offa’s Dyke and had long careers –  making them legendary – are in short supply. That the big man in the fez is a comedy legend is without doubt.

But at the age of three, Tommy and family moved to Exeter. That’s why, when we watch the repeats and clips of the madcap magician, he speaks with a thick West Country burr.

Can someone who didn’t start his comedy career until 20 years after leaving Wales truly be described as a Welsh Comedy Legend?

Just try contesting it with the good people of Caerphilly, where an impressive statue of Tommy stands opposite the castle.

If you’re a fan of Tommy, pay it a visit – and pop into the adjacent visitor centre for a cup of tea and a Welsh Cake. They don’t sell Exeter cakes!

Duo taking a Dusty Road to success in a tough business

dusty road to success

Dusty Road To Success

I just love hearing good news, especially when people are doing well.

Two local musicians, Daniel Hughes and Laura Jayne Davies, known as Dusty Road, have now released their first album, as their tremendous following of fans were demanding a CD after seeing them live.

Last Thursday was the official album launch party at Garbos SA1 in Swansea – and it was a sell out event as expected.

Having worked with these talented individuals on numerous occasions, I can confidently say that they are truly professional and create a wonderful atmosphere for the audience. Re-booking them on the night has become a regular occurrence.

The world of entertainment is a long hard slog and there is no fast track to the top, yet so many young performers today give up far too soon and get disheartened by the knock-backs the industry often dishes out.

Dusty Road are proof that hard work and commitment to ongoing development are key to regular work in a volatile business.

Having recently supported The Osmonds, and fast becoming regular performers at weddings and corporate events, this talented duo are on the up.

Check out their new website www.dustyroadmusic.com and catch them live near you soon. You can thank me later.