16 hours to Midnight

So I catch the train a lot. A train carriage is a strange place. Its an Non Space, its a transferable space, a place where humans pass through and remain anonymous in this space which holds no significant value. Its the space you pass through to get to the place you are going or coming back from.

The place before the night out, day in work, meeting etc.

Its also a place that limits your ability. A place that holds you in a limbo state. It restrains you and holds you to that spot, forces you to just stay and do nothing. You have no control over your journey once you have boarded the train. It places you there and makes you read, watch and think.

16 hours to Midnight is a selection of photographs Ive taken over the last few years on these non space commutes.

This is a bit of a rough draft, it needs a lot more editing and thought and its a bit boring to be honest but thank you for all the kind words and likes over the years, it doesn’t seem much but they do mean a lot so thank you.

18 Hours to Mightday 18 hours to midnight draft 7

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God’s of Steel

(A short text I wrote last year when Port Talbot steel works looked set to closed which has now been saved for now but still felt it was a important in todays world)

I was recently standing on a train station platform, patiently waiting my train. As I lingered, I absentmindedly gazed out over the busy station. My eyes took in a passing goods train without paying it much attention. As I watched the flat cars go by, I become aware that the first few cars were packed with steel girders. Then a half full car passed. Followed by an empty car. More and more cars streamed by with more and more of them running empty. As the last empty car went by the realisation struck me that I was watching steel being transported from Port Talbot and this could be the last time I see such a sight. The familiar image of steel transport on the railways could vanish and become a thing consigned to the old newsreels and photographs of former glory days books and films. The mundane sight of steel on the tracks could be slipping into the world of yesterday.

 I was born in South Wales, a child of the Valleys. I don’t remember the coal industry, it was going when I was born. I didn’t see the coal miners or the towering collieries, I didn’t see the long lines of coal cars or even the mines close but I saw the effects. I see them everyday, in the empty shops, the absent spaces, the collapsing miners halls, the mass migration of job seekers to other places, the lack of esteem and pride in the work which remains. I see this daily. Thats what happens when the industry, the life blood, the dependance of a place disappears.

Port Talbot is famous, everyone knows the name and knows it for the steel. The steel works and Port Talbot are synonymous. Passing Port Talbot by road the steel works dwarfs the town. The economy is depend on it and not just that, the pride is in the steel. The very purpose is in the steel.

The recent news of its possible closer isn’t just due to the cheaper imports or the global fall in steel prices. It is also due to Britain changing from an industrial economy into a service sector economy (the chief characteristic being the output of services instead of end products) which in principle for a developed country’s G.N.P. is fine but it may not be fine for a countries measurement of happiness and pride.

Of course we have seen the closure of industry before. Academics tracked what happened to the 300 MG Rover workers after the car plant closed in 2005, they found 90% of them did find other employment, a lot retrained into the service sector. However they were now earning on average £5,640 less every year and a quarter admitted to living off their savings or being in financial difficulties.

There’s pride in construction. It’s a very different kind of pride from the kind found in helping someone with their P.P.I. claim. We have a different reaction to someone who works in a call centre (which is what Wales’s new economy seems to be) to a steel worker. The problems with these jobs are they are temporary, most of my friends in that industry swing from one call centre to another after they close and reopen peddling something else. The loss of the heavy industry in Wales is the loss of a pride in the nation. A person who retires after years of work in a steel plant has a very different identity to a person who retires after spending years working in a call centre processing injury clams, there is honour in one and not much in the other.

One is a job that children grow up dreaming of becoming, a role which they idolize and train for many years to do. The other job is one you just fall into to pay the bills, its one that just happens, one in which you just do. One in which you do but not dream to be doing.

“All Places are Temporary Places”

Walking out of Cardiff Central train station last October, I looked up and saw standing in 10ft tall, bright, white letters atop one of the buildings “All Palaces are temporary Palaces”, an installation by artist Robert Montgomery for Cardiff Contemporary art festival. This phrase has stayed with me ever since as a thoughtful reflection of the passage of time and the relativity of human nature.

 Last week I was standing in the centre of what was once the grand Roman forum-basilica at Caerwent, “Venta Silurum” to the Romans. This was the administrative and market capital for the whole Silure region (the ancient tribal name for South Wales). From 75 A.D. this place was the centre of life, death, trade, taxes and records for the whole region. The seat of power, influence and dominance over countless lives.

 A grand building of towering columns, rich mosaic floors and plush, colourful painted walls at the very centre of a bustling Roman town is now an empty space of crumbling bricks and half forgotten stones. Its treasures, importance and power vanished into time.
   Now anyone can stand in this space not just the rulers of the region, those rich and powerful men are forgotten, the fear of their words and the power issued from this palace, nought but a wikipedia entry to most today.  

 However not everyone is forgotten. During its excavation graffiti was found on the council chamber walls. It read “Domitilla (sends love) to her (sweetheart) Victor”. It is thought (from their names) Domitilla was possibly a slave girl and Victor a Roman. Its clear someone didn’t approve because underneath in large letters was written “FOR SHAME!”. 

 We don’t know any more about Domitilla and Victor, if their love lasted or was even allowed but we can guess for the act of writing it in the assembly, the heart of her masters power, that Domitilla was a bit of a rebel. We can hope they lived happily ever after and, hopefully, in this life and the next their love continued but sadly we will never know. But we do know that they existed, that once a girl called Domitilla fancied a guy called Victor. Their names are remembered unlike the names of the council members, the ruling masters or their many decrees which were once life or death to so many in this region. We haven’t a clue at any of that but we do know Domitilla and Victors names and can imagine their lives, who they were and guess at their story.

I am fortunate enough to come from the Valleys. The means which built and made the Valleys famous, heavy industry, is all but gone what remains are the homes, chapels, buildings and the children of the people who worked those mines. Chapels which were built to look like colliery winding houses so that they would blend into the industrial landscape are now the most visible indication of what once was there. It’s intriguing to consider what is left behind when the importance of a place is gone. So often it’s not the power, the money or the law of everyday life but the people, their loves, their beliefs and their stories.

 All Palaces are temporary places but the ghosts of life remains.

 

 

 

Unknown Flying Dragon

Since its St Davids day, I thought I’d share the surprisingly story of Dragons.

The first thing you need to know about Dragon’s is they are quite vain. I mean very, very vain. Ridiculously self concise, self-obsessed and slightly egotistical, completely and utterly vain, they are so vain they probably think we are talking about them right now (which okay we are talking about them right now but we don’t always talk about them, I mean all the time, just occasionally). They are so vain in fact there is a bad joke here in the Valleys which goes “what do you say to a Dragon when he gives you back your mirror? ….. Nothing, you say nothing, cause you are never ever getting that mirror back”.

They are also quite self absorbed and self obsessed and want people to always talk about them. When Oscar Wild said “the only thing worst then people talking about you is people not talking about you” and he might of been speaking of the mind set of a Dragon. The only problem with this self obsession is sadly for Dragons they are also quite socially awkward and are something of a paradox in they want everyone to look at them and talk about them but at the same time they worry all the time about how they come across and so can show up in a dramatic and impressive fiery display of power and epic Dragon’ness but then suddenly get self concise, accidentally set fire to a village hall and mistakenly knock over some church towers or small castles and then fly off again, red with embarrassment. They are strange creatures indeed and please do not think I am not fond of Dragons, I am of course very fond of Dragons, there just a bit touchy about things.

You generally find most Dragons living in the land of Wales, why you might think is that? Is it because of the mountainous landscape, with its very impressive scenery of valleys, lakes, castles and mountains which the Dragons love posing against as very impressive back drops, perfect for dragons. Or is it the vast amounts of coal, gold and iron which the dragons can eat, or the large amount of Castles (more Castles per mile than anywhere else in the world) which the Dragons can attack and be all dramatic against. You might think it was because of any of these reasons but in fact no, no, it has nothing to do with any of these reasons. Dragons are and can be found in Wales mainly because the Welsh have a Dragon on their flag and so Dragons think thats (1 if they have a flag with a dragon on then people will expect to find Dragons so we should be there, its basics advertisement and tourism really, don’t want to disappoint the public (2 because the people of Wales must love dragons to have one on their flag so decided to go hang out there and give the people what they wanted and finally (3 because dragons are after all, quite vain and like to see them selves on flags.

Dragons up until quite recently had somewhat of a image problem, they had for years enjoyed and took great pride in their role of fire breathing creatures eating knights and fighting Princess’s but unfortunately with so many things in the old world, the dawn of communism was their down fall. The coming of the new world order, destroying and abolishing monarchies, with their kings, Queens, princes, princess and knights that were over thrown and fell out of fashion and with everything turning into workers collective groups instead. Dragons suddenly feared they were becoming old and outdated, with the world changing quietly around them Dragons were at a lost with what to do. They tried flying up and attacking a communist castle, or a “social housing workers collective” but it just wasn’t the same. Even in those countries where communism didn’t happen the Dragons found something worse, much worse than communism. The dragons found capitalism taking hold. This didn’t replace the kings and queens but instead bought them off, or replaced them with CEO’s, Dragons discovered that flying down in a dramatic manner, landing and setting fire to a barn and then turning round ready to eat a CEO up, something they had done countless times to kings and queens. They now found they turned around and were confronted with a court injunction and a law suit by the CEO’s layers. Dragons not having the mindset for self liberty law suits were unsure what to do in these situations and left confused, embarrassed and feeling quite sad about the hole thing. This is of course until the great Dragon, the epic, famous Dragons, the lord of the creative fashion Dragons, also known as Gavin the Dragon, changed all this.

  Now that tale begins like this. Dragons were as we explained, a bit down on their luck and undergoing something of an image problem. Young Dragons at the time were a bit confused with life and unsure what to do with them selves. The life their parents had lead of knights and princess now was no longer around for them. The Dragon youth were lost with what to do and like most people who are lost and unsure of what to do. The Dragon youth traveled to America, one dragon who went was named Gavin, who had heard a lot about America and the new world and thought they didn’t have Dragons there so he could pass un-notice or so he thought (of course Dragons have been traveling to the America’s for years without anyone noticing, most people assuming they were just very large Americans). Gavin of course went by boat cause it was a long way to fly, the boat landed in the great city of New York.

Gavin was amazed at the sight before his eyes, the great city was a buzz with movement and chatter. The mountain too, towering over the city (I’m afraid Gavin hadn’t see sky scrapers before so thought they were mountains) were so tall and bright, it was a city of excitement and wonder. Gavin spent his first day wondering around, seeing the sights and taking it all in, in the evening he found himself in an urban, industrial part of the city. Confused and unsure where to go and thinking he must of taken a wrong turn. Gavin the dragon walked down the long streets and as he walked he suddenly heard music, well he thought it was music, it was the oddest music he had ever heard, strange twanging instruments and tingly beats seemed to be coming from a warehouse. Interested Gavin the dragon approached the warehouse thinking that some sort of oddity was happening inside. Slowly he stepped up to the large building and sliding closer to one of the large windows, he peered in side. What he saw confused him even more, inside appeared to be a party at a tie die factory (or this is what he thought) people were wearing strange, bright and colourful clothing, large colourful prints of a women face, repeated over and over and over again were hanging on the walls and in the centre of the large room appeared to be a man dressed all in black, painting a very large painting of a can of tomato soup. Complexed by this very odd sight Gavin turned to leave but as he did so he almost crashed into four young men who were walking past, appearing to be heading into the warehouse. “Oh Sorry” said Gavin to the men “aye thats alright Dragon, no harm done” replied one of the men in a very British accent. “A dragon? me?  no? surely not? there’s no such thing, Im certainly not a very handsome, brave, grand looking dragon” (remember Dragons are vain) replied Gavin attempting to look more like a dragon then anything else. “It’s okay Dragon, we are from Liverpool mate, we know all about you Dragons” replied one. “oh really, thats okay then, hello I’m Gavin”, “Hi Gav I’m John, you going inside?” “um Im not sure, what is this place?” “oh this is the factory and Andy is giving a party, come on in, it’s a laugh, if anyone asks just say your with the band” “oh thank you very much, okay” replied Gavin and so Gavin the Dragon went inside with the four young musicians from Liverpool.

Inside he was amazed, he had never seen so many bright colourful wonderful things before, the factory (although to him looked a lot more like an art gallery) was filled with cool cat, happening people and even cooler sights and sounds. After a while Gavin started to enjoy himself and thanks to his new friend John had met many nice and interesting (and a few strange) people. After a while Gavin found himself by the man he had seen through the window, the one who had been painting a massive picture of a tomato soup can. “Heya” said Gavin the dragon “Hello darling” said the man, “I like the painting of tomato soup you were doing, its very … umm ….. life like” “thank you darling” replied the man “its moderate, an essence of the self and sociality in a consumer state”.
“Oh well, its very nice” replied Gavin unsure.
“Have you always painted tins?”
“No only recently darling, starting out painting walls and moved on from there, what about you darling? what’s your story?”
“My story?” replied Gavin
“Oh yes, everyone has a story, I re-invented myself to fit my story”
“You re-invented yourself? You mean you can change who you are?”
“Oh of course darling, everyone can do that, its easy, if you are not happy, change to be someone you are happy being, you don’t have to accept who you are now to be who you want to be”
“Oh but how? how do you re-invent yourself?”
“well first tell me where you came from and then I can tell where you are going”
So Gavin the dragon told Andy Warhol everything, all about dragons, all about their history and about the image problem and how they didn’t know what they should do about it. Then Andy told Gavin about himself and about recreating and about the new ways and most importantly he told Gavin the Dragon about Pop art and then after that he took Gavin the Dragon around the party where he met some of Andy’s friends in the theatre and the fashion world and that is where Dragons became fabulous.

It was a month later and Gavin the Dragon, Andy Wahole and his friends were all in the deserts of New Mexico after spending a week in Vegas that went badly wrong after a misunderstanding with the Mob over the correct definition of the pattern on a dress. If the correct word should be “poker dots” or “spots” to describe a garment, although thats another story. Anyway after running for their lives they were ready to re-invent the “Dragon brand” as the image consultants put it.

   “Okay Gavin we are ready” shouted Andy, they were all gathered together behind their camper van while Gavin the dragon changed into his new outfit just out of sight behind some rocks.
“Are you sure I look okay?” shouted Gavin
“Yes, yes darling, it shall work”
“You sure people won’t laugh?”
“of course not darling”
“Im not sure about the shiny’ness or the lights now to be honest”
“Oh Gavin, come on now you look splendid now out come here and show everyone”
“Oh okay” and with that Gavin the Dragon stepped out in his fashion outfit. He was wearing a very shiny suit, he was covered in head to tail in shiny tinfoil like fabric, here and there lights blinked on and off in different colours.
There was a large “wooo” and “ooooo” from the crowd and everyone started applauding.
“How do I look? said Gavin nervously
“You look fantastic darling, fantastic”
“do I?” said Gavin happily
“Oh yes very fabulous”
“I do don’t I” agreed Gavin “Oh I love fashion. this is perfect, I feel like a new Dragon and I don’t feel like people are looking at me, more people are looking to me, this is great, this is just what we need, a new look for Dragons, all we need to do is add more lights or colours or even we can try flying in formations and giving people displays but we’ll never get too close, first rule of PR leave the public wondering and wanting more isn’t that right Andy?”
“Oh yes, very good, very good, thats the beauty of art darling you can always re-invent and re-invent darling, now why don’t give it a try and fly darling, why not give the people round here a show, there’s a little town down the road, it’s not far why not do a display for them, whats it called? oh yes, its called Roswell, I bet the people of Roswell have certainly never seen anything like this before, they won’t know what to make of you darling, go on off you go.”

And so Dragons became UFO’s (or UFO’s became Dragons? no, no it was the first one)
although strictly speaking they should be UFD’s, Unknown Flying Dragon’s. Ever since Gavin’s meeting with Andy Warhol, Dragons have adopted this strange new thing called fashion. Flying everywhere in bright shiny outfits, even more bright and shiner than the last, with strange blinking lights on and even stranger flight paths, doing all twists and turns and making their flight seem impossible to an untrained person who thinks they are aliens and not dragons in disguise. You see the outfits offer Dragons everything they wanted, they are now talked about and feel special, they are mentioned on TV and films but never get spotted now in the street by fans and don’t feel self conscious, it is just the right amount of celebrity for them and of course they don’t have any foolish knights or CEO lawyers trying to slay or sew them which was getting a bit tiresome. All thanks to Gavin the fabulous Dragon, as he is now known. Even tonight you may seem some straight sights in the sky, some odd lights or even odder moving object and wonder what it is, in all likelihood its problem a Dragon, just a Dragon being fabulous darling.

Forty and Two tales from the valley nights, Basil Super villain extraordinaire.

For about five years now I’ve had this idea of writing a series of absurd and eccentric short stories based in the Welsh Valleys loosely inspired by the Arabian nights (which is a book I love, Read the Arabian nights it, its AMAZING). Anyway due to a mixture of self delaying, doubt and fear I haven’t done anything about it, until now that is, so I finally decided to write Forty and Two tales from the valley nights. There illogical, ridiculous and foolish and I just let my imagination go weird so the first one is here, if you like to read it thank you if you don’t then no worries.

Chapter 2, Right honourable Mr B Thomas, Mayor of Cardiff and the Vale AKA Basil Super villain extraordinaire.

Long ago during the Victorian days the now great city of Cardiff was on the up. It was destined to be a great city but hadn’t quite got there yet, it was still just a city (although some said it was nothing more than a big town but we’ll come to those naysayers in a sec). Cardiff was growing at quite a splendid rate, the coal of the valleys was making the city rich. The coal being transported from the valleys to the city and through it’s newly constructed docks and then out into the wider world. Although all was not well, the City had a great rival, another city which was also on the up, also becoming rich through coal and also placed on the coast, in fact the two cities were practically alike (altho no one would say that to ether of the cities faces), with some many similarities you would think they would be quite good friends but as is so often the case, the more cities have in common the more they dislike each other as Im sure you’re noticed. Cardiff great rival was of course the also not yet great but soon to be great, city of Swansea, which lay just down the coast. Both cities competed with each other and would try and out do one and another in a school yard attempt to get one up on the other city. If one city had a new dry dock then suddenly the other would also have a dry dock but with a new crane, if one city had a famous Arctic explorer visit its people then the other city would try and bring the Arctic itself to its peoples (and by doing so accidentally invent the ice cube but quite frankly thats another story and is slightly to strange to tell right now, especially since it involves a Polo bear in a top hat and the seventh fishing fleet of Scandinavia not to mention those flipping ice dragons).
Anyway the great rivalry of the two cities was largely lead by the two Mayors, in Swansea the Right Honourable Lord Mayor S Williams sat, ruling over the city with grace and questionable decision making, and in Cardiff the Right honourable Mr B Thomas, Mayor of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan was in charge Now the Right honourable Mr B Thomas, Mayor of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan was also known by another name, this name was Basil Super Villain Extraordinaire.

The right honourable Mr B Thomas, Mayor of Cardiff and the Vale AKA Basil super villain extraordinaire was indeed a super villain, some say he was in fact the first super villain, I know they are a little common place these days but you do have to remember this was Victorian times and the concept of the “super villain” was still new. It was said Basil could steal anything, which wasn’t quite true, Basil was sometimes a little arrogant but he himself would agree he could steal almost anything “apart from the one thing he alway wanted” he would say. He was also despite his title of super villain, actually rather a nice young man in his late 20s, with a pleasant face and rather kind heart. He loved his city and would do anything for her and its people. The reason he had the title of super villain extraordinaire was largely because he had stolen things for Cardiff, helping to make it great and in those days no one really minded a super villain. Its what gave the place flavour and intrigue people would say. Basils exploits were quite extraordinary but the episode we will tell of today is possibly his second most remarkable, the one involving Cardiff’s City hall.

It was a bright clear morning in Cardiff when the Right honourable Mr B Thomas, Mayor of Cardiff and the Vale AKA Basil super villain extraordinaire rode his penny farthing bicycle down the cobbled street to the city hall and his office. Basils day would always start the same way, he would get to his office, have a cup of tea, read the morning paper (The Western mail) then get down to work dealing with the cities affairs, approving or declining new infrastructure or plotting some highly daring and unexpected heist of some exquisite and rare artefact for the city museum. Today how ever was slight different, Basil got to his office, picked up his morning cup of tea and newspaper and gazed at the front page, then dropped his cup of tea onto the floor whist jumping up in surprise and horror, shocked at the news that greeted him on the papers front page. “Whats up chief” Basil’s assistant, friend and villainous partner in crime Edds asked as he rushed through the door hearing Basils super villain extraordinaire shut of surprise. “Look at this Edds, look at this, you know what that cade, Mayor S Williams of Swansea has done” throwing the paper at Edds “he’s gone and built a new city hall, what the fudge, I thought we had a gentleman’s agreement that this one up’ing of city halls would stop, we’ve built enough city halls, we had an embargo, the 1883 city and town city hall embargo. We’d agreed not to build anymore city halls after the Bridgend incident” (Basil was of course referring to the 1882 Bridgend incident when Swansea had constructed a city hall so big and vast that it wouldn’t actually fit inside the city of Swansea boarders so had to be moved along the coast and renamed as Bridgend and reclassified as a small town where it still remains today….). “We had an agreement” Basil continued “no more city halls, we shook on it”,

Edds looked at the front page of the Western mail it showed a large, quite impressive and soundly built new city hall in a modern grey build design with a large tower housing a clock at the top to one side of the construction. “I mean granted it’s not as big as Bridgend but still its pretty big, this is sure to impressive her, it might even win her heart and quite frankly Edds I don’t think I could take that, I could take Swansea having a bigger city hall but not Swansea being her favourite, I mean we built that new train station which I was sure to impress her, we all know nothing impresses a lady than a new train station, apart from a new city hall”. Basil was of course referring to not just any old her but Her, as in Her e.g Queen Victoria, who Basil rather fancied to put it mildly. To put it more accurately its said that behind every great man is a great women but in Basil cases the great women was in front of him, just always that feeling out of reach, the women was Queen Victoria who Basil loved and would do anything for, unfortunately it took a lot to impress Queen Victoria, in fact Shania Twain wrote a song about it. “That don’t impress me much” is actually written about Queen Victoria’s lack of impressment, the line “okay you got a car” is today not that impressive but you have to remember back in Victorian times the car was just invented so it was a pretty impressive thing to have one and everyone in the world was impressed with one, apart from that is Queen Victoria who wasn’t impressed that much by it. Anyway the Queen did not feel the same towards Basil preferring a German Prince named Albert. Basil still with the determination that had made him a Super villain extraordinaire persisted in trying to win her over. It was said Basil could steal anything apart from the one thing he would always say “the one thing I always wanted” and that one thing was the heart of Queen Victoria but in the end it didn’t really matter as Basil discovered but we’ll get to that later in Fishguard.
“I don’t like it Chief what we gonna do?” asked Edds, “I don’t know, I just don’t know, I mean it’s not like we can steal Swansea’s new city hall and put it in Cardiff can we? That would be unsporting” (even tho Basil was a Super villain extraordinaire he did have a very firm belief in rules and gentlemanly behaviour). “Can’t we Chief? I mean there’s a railway we could put it on that and just move it down to Cardiff” carried on Edds “no, no, no it be no good, anyway that could set a dangerous precedent, once we start stealing one bit of a city for our own city, Swansea will steal something back so we’ll steal something else and they’ll steal some more and before we know it the hole of Cardiff is in Swansea and the hole of Swansea is in Cardiff, we would of just swapped cities. The Royal Mail would get very confused. Remember what happened when we stole….I mean borrowed” Basil added quickly “that Swansea City sign? we got 456 letters addressed to people in Swansea and 767 copies of the Swansea Gazette delivered to our door, it was weeks before we got them all sent back, it coast us a fortune in second class stamps, we can’t steal any of Swansea, no matter how nice it is” Basil finally finished, falling back into his chair as Edds put the paper in front of him once again. Just then Basil suddenly sat bolt up right in his chair, his eyes suddenly alive with intent as he gazed down at the paper, not at the Swansea story but at a small one line, in small print, placed at the bottom left hand corner of the paper. “This is it Edds, this is what we are going to do” Basil shouted excitedly holding up the paper and pointing at the little one line “What Chief, what?” expressed Edds amazed at the transformation that had come over Basil.

“We are going to steal THIS” pointing at the one line “now get two tickets booked across the Ocean and get that massive airship blimp thing over there too, we are going to need some extra lifting gas too, maybe 300, no 400 ponds of it, oh and a large rope, now hurry Edds theres not a moment to lost” Basil explained as he ran out of the office.
Edds amazed at the changed that had come over his friend lent over the desk to look once again at the paper, at the tiny little one line which gave Basil such excitement, it read “The United States of America completes work on new Capital Building in the centre of Washington, D.C”.

It was a week later and both Basil and Edds stood in the capital city of that Great country, the United States of America, gazing at the newly built, white marbled Capital building of that impressive land.
“So we are going to steal that then Chief?”
“Yeah” replied Basil
“Okay seems pretty straight forward, lot easier than some of out other jobs, but why this one Chief?”
“Well its very simple Edds, ever since the war of 1812, I’ve wanted to pull a villainous deed over this side of the pond so what better to do then steal there new capital building, pop it back to Cardiff, out shine that darn Swansea and also impress the Queen by getting one up on the Americans, all in one simple move” Basil explained.
“okay so let me guess the plan, the lifting gas in the blimp balloon thing will give it move lift so it can take the wait of the building then we use the big rope to tie it around the capital building and fly it back to Cardiff?” asked Edds
“Yeah pretty much” replied Basil happily
“Oh seems pretty straight forward, what could possible go wrong” replied Edds happy with his friends Basils scheme.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, quite a lot can go wrong and we’ll discover what in a few seconds.
A few seconds later a loud voice behind Basil and Edds boomed out over their heads “Well hello Basil, you’ve decided to darken our fair nation with you’re thieving escapades”.
Both Basil and Edds turned around and were greeted with the sight of a small, large, very well dressed men in a top hat, fine tailer made suit and holding a long black cane, his face was over sized and from its mouth a big fat cigar was wedged between his lips and from it pure white thin smoke flowed up wards toward the sky.
“Oh hi, its …. you….. hey…. how you doing?” said Basil, really having no idea who this stranger was but was operating under the idea that because he knew Basils name then Basil must of met him at some point but had now completely forgotten his name so was really hoping he wouldn’t have to introduce Edds to him and admit his embarrassment of forgetting the guys name.
“Didn’t think I’d see you here…. how are you been? not seen you since… um …. that time yeah, Edds look who it is” carried on Basil.
“Oh yeah…..hey Mr…..not seen you…….since that thing” carried on Edds in the same tone of embarrassment and confusion.
‘We’ve never met before” said the stranger
“Oh really, oh good” replied Basil, glad to be let off the hook of remembering the strangers name
“Please allow me to introduce myself, I am Goodwill Vito Corleone……”
Nice to meet you Im Basil and this is Edds”
“HEYA” said Edds in true Welsh friendly fashion
“Yes….I do know that”
“lovely” continued Basil
“Im sure you have heard on me” said the Goodwill Vito Corleone
“Oh yeah sure, you are Goodwill Vito Corleone everyone knows who you are” answered Basil having no idea what so ever who Goodwill Vito Corleone was
“You did that thing over in that place where that thing happened yeah” carried on Basil
“Quite right I did that thing over in that place where that thing happened” said Goodwill Vito Corleone
“Lovely, yes it was a big thing, that thing you did in that place, where the thing happened” said Basil
“Im very gratified you think so, that is high praise indeed coming from you, the thing was indeed a big thing, that happened with the thing and the other thing in that place where the thing happened” said Goodwill Vito Corleone.
“Yea everyone was talking about that thing in that place where the thing happened that time where the thing happened and when it happens over there in that thingy place” chipped in Edds
“Fantastic, well now we’ve met we will be on our way, won’t we Edds and can I just say may the force be with you” said Basil hopefully turning to leave.

“You have no idea who I am do you?” asked Goodwill Vito Corleone
“None what so ever” admitted Basil
“I see, well since we have wasted enough time all ready I won’t beat around the tree any longer, time is money and I am certainly that, I’ll get straight to the point” said Goodwill Vito Corleone in the tone of a man who even though claimed to have no time to talk would still take a surprisingly long time to talk and convey information than he really had the time to tell, turning his ordinary statement of having no time into a paradox of tedium.

“You are here to steal the capital building, I am here to stop you” said Goodwill Vito Corleone “I am the head of the gangsters of New England, DC branch, this is my town and I run everything that happens here, and I am here to tell you that you have had a wasted trip and should get the boat back to your little coal mining town” finished Goodwill Vito Corleone with the tone of a man determined to have the final word.
“Steal the cap building? really what a silly suggestion, no no no we are here to see the Taj Mahal” lied Basil
“The Taj Mahal is in India” said Goodwill Vito Corleone|
“WHAT, Well the travel agent certainly never told us that…” lied Basil acting surprised
“I know you are here to steal the building, I follow you on twitter” said Goodwill Vito Corleone
“Oh sodding heck, I told you Edds we shouldn’t of hash tagged stealing the capital” Basil said turning to Edds.
“My agents have informed me of your airship arrival too, I assume you plan on stealing the building by lifting it up and flying it across the sea, haha a laughable idea, how charming, how very British, such an old and unimaginative idea. It is my pleasure to inform you that I will make it my personal duty to stop you, my men will be standing in front of the building until you leave our land. Let me assure you that its pointless trying to do anything, my men will be armed with cannons in the latest design, loaded with scientific weaponry, anti-balloon canon balls that will shoot down your balloon before it gets anywhere near the building, now sir, I shall bid you a good day and trust I shall never see you again” Goodwill Vito Corleone finished turning and walking away, leaving Basil and Edds along on the street.

“Well, we’re screwed” said Basil to Edds
It was much later on in the day, after walking around the city Basil and Edds had now ended up outside their hotel in down town Washington. Both men were outside talking as the loud noise of singing from the hotel bar had driven them from the insides of the building.
“Never say die chief, you have got to have something up your sleeve”
“Not this time mate, you heard the Goodwill Vito Corleone bloke, they’ll have canons and men all around the building, the balloon would be shot down in minuets, theres no way we can get round that”
“There has to be something Chief” said Edds
“theres nothing, nothing at all, I’ve let you down Edds, I’ve let you down and worse I’ve let Cardiff down, now Mr Swansea show’y off pants is going to win the heart of Queen Victoria, this is the end, I don’t know how to continue after this, I shall not return but wonder throu…..”
“Shine Ya shoes Govna?”
“What, oh no, no go away thank you”  Basil said turning to address the source of the question, annoyed at the interruption mid way through his heart felt speech.
“Sure Govna, shine ya shoes, them good luck”
“Look here shoe shine boy” Edds said turning to the slim figure dressed in rags with a grey cape covering his facial features “We said we don’t want any of your street peddling high jinx, this ain’t cockney London you know so kindly go away”
“Alright Govna, no need to be rude, jus making a livening aint aye” said the shoe shine boy walking away.
“Wait, hang on, just a minuet, come here” said Basil to the shoe shine boy “I have a question for you”
“Yea, sure Gov wanna direction do ya, I know this town like the back of ma head, can show you anywhere” said the shoe shine boy
“No, it’s not exactly that, we don’t need directions” said Basil with a tone of confusion in his voice
“I wanted to know….”
“Yea Gov whats up?”
“Well, its, um, well….”
“Yea Gov?”
“Why are you a girl” said Basil finally braving the question
“What, me a Girl gov, nah gov, a boy I be, shoe shine boy, well known fact you get shoe shine boys, ain’t no one ever heard of a shoe shine girl, Im clearly a boy” said the shoe shine boy
“Um no I think you are a girl” said Basil
“a girl hahaha, you having a laugh gov, clearly you are gov, see I’ve got a beard” said the shoe shine boy lifting up his face to the two men so they could see under the grey cap.
“Yeah thats clearly drawn on with a pen” said Basil looking at the black marks drawn on to the young mans face
“oh, no it isn’t, clearly it’s a growing beard, Im doing Movember”
“Its August” said Basil
“Oh is it, dam…well Im still a bloke”
“Oh yeah, tell me rule one of fight club” asked Edds
“thats easy, rule one of fight club is you don’t talk about flight club” said the shoe shine girl
“See that proves it, you are clearly a girl” confirmed Basil
“What, umm, no, not, am not, no” continued the shoe shine girl
“No you are a girl, if you were a bloke then….” said Edds
“Oh all right I am a girl” agreed the shoe shine girl, interrupting Edds,  “how did you know?”
“Very simple, rule one of fight club” said Edds
“Oh I suppose if I was a bloke I wouldn’t of said what rule one is since its don’t talk about fight club and I broke rule one by talking about fight club?” asked the shoe shine girl
“no, if you had been a bloke you wouldn’t know what fight club is since blokes don’t believe in the cinema” said Basil “it goes against ever bloke rule of bloke’y ness, being quit, sitting down, in the dark, watching a film about feelings, it’s so unbloke’ish its unheard of, any true bloke would never entertain a cinema” said Basil
“Well if thats true, how come you know what fight club is” asked the shoe shine girl
“very simple my lady, we are not blokes but gentleman and as gentleman we are in touch with our feelings and feel happy expressing ourselves in artistic delights” answered Basil
“hang on, how did you know Im a lady?” asked the shoe shine lady
“you know about fight club, well known fact that ladies love fight club”
“alright you have me there” answered the lady
“so why are you dressed like a shoe shine boy my lady? and what is your name” asked Basil
“Its Emily and Im dressed like this because Im trying not to be a lady any more” replied the now no longer shoe shine boy but now shoe shiny lady Emily
“Oh I see, why not?” asked Edds
“Its a long story, my full name is Emily Fairhall second duchess of Devon and I am on the run from the family, I dishonoured them and the Queen”
“Oh i see, I am sorry to hear that, may we ask what happened?” asked Basil in what he hoped was a caring tone knowing full well how easy it was to dishonour oneself and ones family in Victorian society, blowing your noise at the wrong moment in front of a lady could be enough to send you to the other side of the world, any small act could be the reason to dishonour a person, especially a true lady like Emily Fairhall Basil thought.
“I don’t like to talk about it” said Emily
“thats fair enough, I know as gentleman we shouldn’t pri…”
“I shot a swan”
“WHAT”
“I shot a swan”
“umm okay”
“yep got him in the wing”
“ummm why?” asked Basil
“It knows why…..” said Emily darkly
“well Im sure it deserved it” said Basil after a pause, unsure what to say to this “Im not a big fan of Swans myself” thinking of Swansea
“and since I shot it I cant return home, the Swan was only wounded and got better then blamed me in court and now cousin Vic is pissed off since she owns all the swans and I only winged the sod”
“hang on, cousin Vic? owns all the swans? you mean your cousin is Queen Victoria?” asked Basil astonished at this turn of developments
“yeah thats right, duchess and all, all one family really us royals, nightmare at christmas with all the cards” said Lady Emily
“oh um sorry. so why are you here in DC?” asked Edds confused with the turn of events
“well why are any of us here, if you take Plato’s view that….”
“no, no, no I mean why here in America?”
“Oh I see, well I had to leave the UK because of the hole swan shooting thing, massive dishonour, was in all the papers, all of Europe would know so I decide to travel to a place where I knew no one would know me and where they didn’t read newspapers, so I came here. I half hoped I could perhaps do something to win back the family honour, if I could get one up on the Americans then maybe cousin Vic would be pleased and forget the hole swan shooting business. So came here to DC but I didn’t realise how much things cost over here and used up all my money on whiskey and black jack, so have been trying to get some cash working as a shoe shine boy, I know a shoe shine girl would never get any business over here, there a bit backwards when it comes to equal rights, shoe shine boys can earn loads over here, apparently the hole of DC was built on a swamp so theres tones of mud around which they dislike, they love shiny shoes the Americans, so I thought I’d give that a try, make some cash and what is all that singing about?” said Emily looking around at the windows of the big hotel hearing the rowdy noise of drunken singing coming from its windows
“Oh that, its just the Llanelli scarlets rugby team, they have been over here on a rugby tour and heading back tomorrow on the boat, think there celebrating their wins”. Edds said.
Basil brain now was working over drive suddenly the light of an idea had suddenly sparked in the depth of his villainous brain, he suddenly had a plan, a good plan, a working plan, a plan that would steal the Capital building, sneak one passed that Goodwill Vito Corleone guy, show up Swansea city, impressive his love, Queen Victoria and if he brought Emily along for the ride it would firstly win back her family honour and secondly maybe she could put in a good word with her cousin Vic’y, which would be win, win for Basil.

“Okay, I have an idea, Emily you are now with us, Edds I need a few things, one thing Im going to need those tap dancing penguins managers number and also a distraction.
“Im sorry but Im with you how?” asked Emily confused
“oh yeah forgot to say, Im Basil this is Edds, Im Mayor of Cardiff, we are here to steal a building in a surprisingly unexpected and daring manner which makes no sense what so ever for our new city hall and you are going to help now Edds get the number of the penguins, oh and also get me the head of the Welsh Rugby Union and we’ll need a distraction” said Basil.

It was the next day and Goodwill Vito Corleone was pleased, he had stayed up all night guarding the Capital building, his men had stood with there canons ready and no one, no one at all had stolen the building. A dog had attempted to wee on it but apart from that nothing at all had happened to the building. Goodwill Vito Corleone looked at his pocket watch, only 9 minuets to go before that Basil the so called super thief, more like super beef (Goodwill Vito Corleone thought to himself) haha, beef good one, 9 minuets before he would be on his boat heading home, defeated by good old American guarding’ness. There was nothing he could do now, all was left to do was turn around face the Capital building and give his men a good speech about American values, he had been planning it all night in his head and now he would be…
“Shine ya shoes Govern” said a voice behind him
Goodwill Vito Corleone turned to find a shoe shine boy with a drawn on beard behind him
“No, no, go away thank you”
“Sure Gov, you got mud on your shoes, sure you don’t want shiny shoes” said the shoe shine boy
“No, no go away now please” said Goodwill Vito Corleone firmly
“Alright but it’s your lose, oh gov one thing?”
“Yes what is it now?” Goodwill replied angrily
“whats that up there” said Emily pointing at the sky
Turning Goodwill Vito Corleone saw a large airship, a blimp, slowly but steadily flying towards them
“THATS IT, THATS IT” Shouted Goodwill excitedly “He’s trying to steal it boys, the fool, the utter fool, he doesn’t stand a chance, get the canons ready boys, get them ready and when he’s in range let him have it”.
The airship came on, steadily on course straight at Goodwill, “You got to admire his bravely, look at him, coming straight on, the fool but a brave fool” said Goodwill, “who’s that Gov?” asked the shoe shine boy e.g Emily
“Oh what, oh no one, well at least soon to be no one, OKAY lads open fire, FIRE, FIRE NOW EVERYONE FIRE” shouted Goodwill at his men and there canons.

BOOM,BOOM BOOM, CRASH BOOM, CRACK, BOOM, RUMBLE, RUMBLE, RUMBLE and then one final BOOM as the canons went off firing at the airship.

The airship completely disappeared in a haze of smoke and shot, no one could see a thing, then suddenly the ship was seen dropping out of the sky, crashing onto the grassy lawns of DC, it lay there crumbled and burning in a tangled mesh of iron, fabric and mess.
“Well that certainly went with a bang” said Goodwill to the shoe shine boy “must of been all that extra gas that made it go up so quickly, was kinda hoping for a bit more of a dramatic ending, with a bit of flame or something or someone jumping from the cab, oh well cant have everything can you?” Goodwill said turning to the shoe shine boy who had been standing next to him but to Goodwill surprise (and slight annoyance because he suddenly thought his shoes could do with a bit of a shine) was now gone. The boy had vanished.
Oh probably didn’t like the noise, Goodwill thought, cant blame the young lad, it was pretty loud, those booms and rumbles. Goodwill stopped for a second thinking, rumbles? rumbles? Cannons don’t rumble. “Hey lads what was the rumbling noise?” Goodwill shouted turning to him man.
What met his sight filled Goodwill Vito Corleone with dread and horror, what Goodwill saw was a sight he thought he’d never see, a sight he thought was impossible, he stood there his fat cigar between his lips dropping to the grown in surprise “its gone” he finally managed to utter “its gone, but how, WHERE HAS IT GONE, WHAT HAS HAPPENED? HOW? WHERE IS THE CAPITAL BUILDING?, CHECK YOUR POCKETS LADS, MAKE SURE NO ONE HAS PUT IT IN A POCKET FOR SAFE KEEPING, WHERE HAS IT GONE?” Goodwill Vito Corleone shouted, the shock turning his brain to mush.
The Capital Building had gone, the foundations of the building could be seen but as for the once proud structure, standing tall in its white marble, the building had completely and utterly vanished leaving nothing but Goodwill, his men and his canons just standing there guarding an empty space.

“Well that went well” said Edds to Basil, it was much later, both men stood on the decks of SS Terra Nova as she sailed home towards Cardiff towing behind it a large barge with the Capital building or should I say, towing Cardiff’s new city hall behind it.
“Quite so old sport, quite so” replied Basil pleased with himself
“Did he really have no idea?” asked Edds to Emily
“None what so ever, last thing I heard him shouting before I left was how did that happen” replied Emily happily.

And how it happened was like this. As Goodwill Vito Corleone stood in front of the Capital Building with his men and canons behind him he had inadvertently placed himself exactly where Basil had wanted him. As he stood there waiting for Basil to make his move, Basil and Edds a few miles away had lunched the airship from DC’s international airship, blimp and box kite aerodrome. Then after it had risen a few meters into the air had jumped clear from the cabin, leaving the airship on its auto pilot, set on a direct course to the Capital building and Goodwill Vito Corleone. Meanwhile Emily, dressed as a shoeshine boy/lady had managed to blend in with the DC crowds and had engaged Goodwill in a conversation about the shining of his shoes and loudly pointed out the airship to Goodwill and his men, drawing their attention to the airship and away from the Capital building behind them. As this was happening, Basil then played his trump card, at Goodwill Vito Corleone announced to his men to open fire on the airship, he had no idea of knowing that this was also the signal for Basil’s men e.g the Llanelli scarlets rugby team (who it turns out were quite happy to lend a hand after Basil had promised them the freedom of Cardiff’ Brain’s brewery on return to Wales) who had been milling around disguised as tourists (which they also were so to be fair it wasn’t a very had disguise for them to pull off). As Goodwill gave his signal to “fire” to his men the Llanelli scarlets rugby team had formed up into a large rugby scrum to the right side of the Capital building and as the canons began to fire, the rugby team, rugby tackled the capital building, smashing into its side with a force unknown before in the realms of town planning, the building at first took the push of the Llanelli Scarlets rugby team but as the team showing all the skill and strength that had won them so many rugby matches and also a tug of war contest against HMS Thunder child, kept pushing and pushing and soon the building was off. The soft mud of the swampy soil that DC is built on gave way and the rugby players pushed, slowly at first but with every step picking up more and more speed, the building went flying down the slopes and through the streets of Washington DC, sailing over the land like a bar of soap across a tile floor, they kept pushing and pushing until they had reached the river where the rugby team simply pushed the hole building onto a waiting barge where Basil and Edds cut the ropes to the shore and tied a very strong rope from the SS Terra Nova to the barge and once Emily and the now out of breath Llanelli scarlets rugby team was onboard, they were off, setting sail on there way back to Cardiff and to victory.

So ends our tail of how the first Washington DC Capital building ended up as Cardiff City hall in the very centre of Cardiff where it still stands today, proudly displaying the greatness of the city of Cardiff. The people of Washington were at first annoyed at the wicked caper but sleeping on it realised that this gave them the chance of building a new Capital building, even bigger and better than before which is what they did, and once Basil had smoothed things over with them a few years later by sending over Cardiff’s famous 7 Tap Dancing Penguins of Cantan to entertain them at the opening all sins were forgiven and another amusing story was added to the DC tourist trail. Goodwill Vito Corleone was at first upset but got over the embarrassment and after writing a best selling book which later become a film, became the 7 Tap Dancing Penguins of Cantan tour manger on their very successful US tour. Emily returned home to much public celebration, her honour restored, Emily was later recruited by the British Admiralty as a spy for Navy intelligence and played a key role in the Fishguard affaire. Basil and Edds returned to a triumphant Cardiff, the people loved there new city hall and the events that had resulted with its relocation to their city, even Swansea was slightly impressed (although they never admit it) but they were. Sadly tho the only person who wasn’t impressed was Queen Victoria, who is famously hard to impress and did not give her heart to Basil. Basil was at first devastated with this, confirming once again that he was indeed Basil Super villain extraordinaire, the man who could steal anything, apart from the one thing he really wanted (The love of Queen Victoria) but it was okay in the end because as is so often the case on long sea voyages, he had got to know Emily very well and would later realise that his love for Queen Victoria was misplaced and instead loved Emily and married her after the Fishguard affaire, after all they both had a lot in common, they both didn’t like Swan’s very much which is enough to build a solid marriage on, the dislike of Swans. But we’ll hear more about this in the next instalment of Basil Super villain extraordinaire, the Fishguard affaire.

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Cardiff city hall, 2016.

Forty and Two tales from the valley nights

For about five years now I’ve had this idea of writing a series of absurd and eccentric short stories based in the Welsh Valleys loosely inspired by the Arabian nights (which is a book I love, Read the Arabian nights it, its AMAZING). Anyway due to a mixture of self delaying, doubt and fear I haven’t done anything about it, until now that is, so I finally decided to write Forty and Two tales from the valley nights. There illogical, ridiculous and foolish and I just let my imagination go weird so the first one is here, if you like to read it thank you if you don’t then no worries.

Chapter 1. THE HOLE IN THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN.

Long, long ago when the coal consuming madness still lay as a black shadow over the land of Wales there lived a man in the village of Mountain Ash who they called the mad man of Mountain Ash. For he was a man, he did reside in Mountain Ash and he was quite utterly and completely mad, but for the purpose of this tale we shall call him Thomas.
Thomas lived in the great age of steam, when the black gold taken from the land of our fathers powered the engines and gave life to the steam engines that powered the ships, turned the togs and moved the wheels of the great Empire that covered the glob, but that’s another story. It was an age where anything through science and engineering seemed possible, even to the most humblest of folk.

Which could possible explain a great deal of the unusual circumstances behind the events surrounding this tale. It could also explain why a seemly ordinary man from a simple back ground with no apparent training or teaching in any major area of sciences, engineering or any real understanding of the laws of physics could ever hope to build a rocket that would fly more then 2 feet of the ground. But maybe such things are rather boring and tiresome, and are certainly not what makes for an interesting tales.

Thomas lived with a great rival, from the neighbouring village of Abercynon. This rival was named Morgan. Both men were great thinkers and engineers, although some did say Morgan was the better of the two. Both men were head strong and became taken with that mad rush that sometimes over takes the minds of men. Both men were determined to be the first man to fly to the moon and so their race began. It was the summer of 1903 and there was indeed a great fuss and gossip about the two men’s contest to design and build the first sky ship to reach the heavens, it was all anyone talked about for weeks on end, a great deal of money was also placed on the event with Morgan becoming the bookies favourite.

But Morgans tale is still to come, so no more shall be said about him until later. This story is about Thomas and the hole in the side of the mountain which he made. Thomas was a miner by trade, working for one of the many coal factories in the area. In the day he would work down the pit which was the lifeblood of the great industry of the day. During the night Thomas would read, think, plan, design and dream, he would dream of building a rocket. A rocket he hoped that would take him to the moon and back, beating Morgan and showing everyone that he, Thomas was the better engineer and not just a pretendgineer as some thought of him.

Thomas worked long and hard all that summer and at the end of September he announced to the local area he was ready to finally veil his sky ship and attempt his dream to fly to the moon (Which of course caused a great deal of excitement and interest in the local area I can assure you). Now it was a warm September’s evening when Thomas with much huffing and puffing pushed out of his shed a strange looking object under a large red sheet. People came far and wide to see it, even legend has it a man with a camera from the South Wales Eco newspaper international group came down to witness the event.

 

The crowd gathered around Thomas and his mysterious red sheet, people climbed roof tops and onto garden walls to get a better view. Now Thomas was never one for show man ship and as he stood in front of this ever growing crowded he decided it was time to put his plan into action and so with a little squeak of “alright, here it is” he pulled off the red sheet covering the sky ship with one quick movement. A loud gasp arose from the crowded, followed by a large collective “um” of confusion at the sight Thomas had veiled.

The sheet disclosed what appeared to be two large coal carts, one turned and stuck on top of the other, with the four tiny tram wheels still on the bottom cart and a small little hatch on the roof of the top cart. At the rear of this construction there seemed to be a large wooden beer barrel tired with ropes to the back with a small chimney flu sticking out the end.

To be honest, most of the watchers in the crowd that day were hoping for something …. well something a little more impressive. Something with massive feather wings like a bird, or something with a massive gas bag above it like a balloon, or even something cigar shaped with a pointy end the size of a chummy stack on a massive pole, anything would of been a bit more impressive. What Thomas had built looked like something that the annual miners Jazz band ride into battle in during the yearly battle rumble with the other profession jazz bands of the valley, to win the yearly title of hardest jazz band. It did not look like something which travels to the moon. But seemly not to notice this Thomas began to climb on top of the coal cars and with a great wave of his hand and a shout of “see you when I get back, yeah” he climbed into the strange looking contraption. There was then a few moments of clicking and crunching sounds coming from inside the strange looking ship. Then the hatch reopened and Thomas round face popped out again looking slightly embarrassed and shouted to the crowd “umm I don’t suppose anyone could push me could they? …”. At this point someone from the crowd thought to ask the question that everyone was wondering but no one had said “Thomas what are you actually planning mate?” Thomas, his head still sticking out of the hatch shouted back “to go to the moon, yeah”. “yes we know, the man from the South Wales Eco is here and everything” shouted the man back “but what are you actually planning in terms of right here right now, I mean what does this thing of yours do?”.

At this Thomas stood up in the strange sky ship so his waist was sticking out the top and began to explain “this here see? Is a sky cart, I’m going to use it to fly to the moon like the birds” “YES we know” shouted the crowd, who were keeping up with preceding rather well.
“What I’m planning is for the sky cart to be pulled to the top of the valley mountain, up by Ferndale yeah, then with a push it will go down the mountain side becoming faster and faster right, then at the bottom, at the little hump back bridge there, I’ll light the fire here and it will send a jet of steam out of the back and this along with the speed of the hill will send me into the sky and straight to the moon, now can someone push me to the top please?”. At this the crowd got together and began to push the cart to the top of the mountain, they said to them selves “well Thomas does work in the coal factory, he must of worked all this out scientifically. I mean he was always good at that, remember when he fixed little Gwen’s bike wheel with nothing but a bit of chewing gum and a news paper? he must of done the numbers and knows what he’s doing. We’ve sure he knows what he’s doing” said the crowd. Although of course he didn’t.

Darkness was just about to fall when Thomas and his strange machine got to the top of that mountain, the moon was just rising above the valleys.  Just like it had done through out the great life of the world and just like it will for the rest of its days. The ever-lasting great ball of clear, pure light in the sky, that object of beauty and of dreams. A bright full moon hung across the valley from Thomas, it seemed to be waiting, beckoning Thomas onwards, tempting him on and on with its beauty and its mystery.

Now it was time, they had pulled the machine to the top of the mountain and with the famous last words from Thomas of “cheer-y-o then” he jumped into his machine and was off.
The large crowd watching was to be fair, quite disappointed with this, they were hoping for some sort of fare well speech, such as “once more into the breach dear friends” or “its one small step for man, one large leap for mankind” not “cheer-y-o then”. Cheer-y-o’s are not the sort of things that makes epic and good stories but there we are. Thomas once he had slammed shut the little iron hatch upon the roof of the machine had set into motion the first launch stages of his journey to the moon. With that the little sky cart began to move slowly forward, down the hill, quite slowly at first because the machine was heavily and took time to build up momentum on the long slop. But faster and faster it went, it began to pick up speed and by the time it was half way down the hill it was flying. The machine was going faster and faster, some later said they herd a tiny speaking noise coming from one of the wheels as it speed down the hill. Inside the machine it wasn’t until Thomas was three quarters of the way down the side of the mountain before the thought appeared in Thomas head. That thought was “I wonder if I should of doubled checked the calculations for the gradient of the bridge to send me into space. Nah I’m sure it be fine” but of course it wasn’t.

The watchers with much excitement, saw Thomas strange machine hit the hump back bridge, going at such a terrific rate of speed, it zoomed up the slop of the hump back bridge and then it took off, it really did take off, and it flew. All the crowd watching sore blind it flew, and it was such an amazing sight to see that strange borrowed shape cart flying through the air, the tiny little wheels still spinning like crazy, round and round they went, defying the laws and the very logic of gravity it flew. It flew, not gracefully but like a stone being thrown through the air, it flew. Then it stopped flying and began to drop. To be fair it only flew for about nine seconds, but still nine seconds is still nine seconds of flight.

It began with the front of the machine beginning to drop a tiny bit, then it levelled off, then quite quickly it began to noise drive into the side of the mountain.
Some said they heard Thomas voice from inside shouting something that sounded like “ugger me” as it crashed with such a massive bang into the side of the mountain. It should by all logic of the world stopped there and crumple up on the side of the valley like a scrupled up bit of news paper thrown at a wall.  It would of too if it hadn’t been for the engine rockets at the back of the machine, that little beer battle tied to the rear. Suddenly picking that particular moment to kick in and fire off a cloud of powerful steam. Sending the machine hard into the side of the mountain, at first it just hit the mountain with no movement at all, then it was seen to begin to burry itself into the valley somehow, the engine steam coming out of the back pushing and hammering the little sky cart into the ground, digging through the mountain side like a stone falling through a bank of snow.

At this time in the tale the man who lives inside the mountain should be brought into the story because Thomas is about to drive through his front room. There is of course a man who lives inside the mountain, actually there’s not just a man but a very large community of many different people. They have lived there since the beginning of time and live there still, even today. In fact a popular supermarket chain are currently reopening certain mine shafts in the South Wales area in order to supply these under grown communities with cheap affordable fruit and veg. (As you can guess this is a tricky topic at the moment in the underground world of the valleys. Mostly because it’s the first time the underground world and its people have had to deal with the confusing issue of paying 5p for a plastic bag but that’s another tale and something the Welsh assemble government are much more qualified to tell.)

The man who lives inside the mountain has lived there for many years, he had once been a stone giant but after a bad turn of moss (stone giant version of sun burn) he decided to move inside the mountain and never see the sun again. At that moment in time he was entertaining his good friend the Dragon who lived near the Dare. They were just sitting down for after tea and coffee in the man who lives inside the mountain front room. The man was just finishing saying “I’m thinking of knocking all this through and adding a window so I can finally use that sundial aunty Pam gave me for Christmas last year, I don’t know why she gave me a sundial, I live inside a mountain for Drakes sake, anyway would you like an After eight mint, I know its not quite eight o clock yet but still I think we can get away with it, oh can you hear a digging noise?”.

Just then Thomas in his machine with a rumbling and a massive banging smashed through the man who lived inside the Mountain front room and carried on going strange through the room and into the rock side of the other side. Destroying most of the front room’s furniture and upsetting the coffee table and sending dust and dirt everywhere, leaving a long hole with light streaming through into the man who lives inside the mountain living room. A few moments after Thomas was gone and the shock had dyed down a bit, the dragon turned to the man who lives inside the mountain and said “that was quick, you’ll have to give me the number of your builder, I’m wanting someone to look at my guttering”.

Inside the strange machine Thomas was being shaken worse than a sock in a tumble dryer. Luckily tho, thinking he would be crash landing on the moon, he had padded the inside of the craft with his mattress so he was in effect being thrown around like a small child on a bouncy castle.

Now on the other side of the mountain there was the Merthyr vale valley and the village of Pont-y-gwaith and its world famous petrol station. At this time (the same time as it always was since and every time since, till the ending of days) it was the time of day for the local chapel gathering. The village local vicar was about to begin his mid week sermon. Now the Vicar of Pont-Y-Gwaith at this time was the right honourable Vicar Victor Edwards. Who was famous up and down the valley for teaching about the devil and the dangers of drink and drugs.  He was considered to be a fire and brim stone preacher who frightened the hardest working men up and down the valleys. He was preaching at this time to a crowd of about two hundred, mostly they were miners waiting for the bus home, although there was a small band of generally interested people, mostly it is worth noting these were lady’s of an older age who seemed to find the Vicar Edwards attractive.

The Vicar Edwards was once again peaching about the devil of drink and had got to the point in his speech (his favourite part in his speech) where he spoke of the devil coming up from the ground to drag drinkers back to the fires of hell. As he spoke, his deep booming voice echoed around the valley hills “He from down below with thunder …….” As he said these words there was a very tiny sound of a rumbling. “shall arise, and the earth will shake” again a rumble, this time it was heard much louder and a slight tremble could be felt in the ground. People looked around at each other with the sort of look people give one and another when they weren’t sure that they felt something. “That shall be the sign that the devil has come and please stop who ever is banging that drum, I am speaking” shouted the Vicar Edwards. At which there was an all mighty band and the ground shook as Thomas and his machine came screaming through the side of the mountain bringing mug, dirt and earth with him in a showering explosion of steam.
“Flipping heck it’s the devil, quick tell Samuel Peeps” shouted the Vicar Edwards.  Of course the vicar (being from the Merthyr valley) knew nothing about Thomas and his crazy adventure and dream. Thomas being from the Aberdare valley (where those in the Merthyr valley say are a bit strange, although those in the Aberdare valley say those in the Merthyr valley are a bit strange. So who knows maybe everyone is just a bit werid). The vicar seeing the strange machine burst out from the valley side, sending dirt, coal and rock flying in all directions. Hearing the bang’s and rumbles, like a dragon had just burst out from its dark black home, thought at once that he had been proven right and the devil had come to take the soul of the drinkers back to his awful land of fire.

No one knew this at the time, but the vicar Victor Edwards had a dark and terrible secret, the vicar Victor Edwards every night after his days work had been done. Quite enjoyed the occasional whiskey, well not just the occasional whiskey, more the hole bottle of whiskey and a pint of rum before bed. In fact he was the worse drunk in the hole valley but no one knew of course. Seeing the devil spring out from the side of the mountain, or to be more truthful Thomas and his machine pushing through the mountain. The vicar Victor Edwards at once thought the devil had come for him and before you could say “oh there goes the vicar Victor Edwards”. He was off, running as fast as he could down the green, green grassy slope of the side of the valley, running as fast as he could. He didn’t stop until he got to Merthyr it self, where upon he went straight to skypi Samuel Peeps for advice.

“There goes the victor Victor Edwards” said one innocent bystander, “what was that?” “oh Nothing” said the bystander. Now Thomas machine had finally run out of steam and was slowly coming to a halt on the grass about 50 meters beyond the hole which it had made in the side of the mountain. The valley people from the Merthyr vale valley, who had up to very recently been hearing a speech from the now vanished vicar Victor Edwards found them selves looking straight through the mountain through the hole Thomas had just made. On the other side the people from the Aberdare valley now found them selves looking straight through the hole at the people from the Merthyr vale valley. And the man who lives inside the mountain and his gust the Dragon who lives near the Dare were looking at the dragon’s holiday photographs from his trip to China on the man’s now rather dusty sofa.

“This is quite handy, no more climbing up that mountain every time we play the other valley in Rugby on a Sunday” said a women, “ow yeah, good point, Cheers Thomas, good job” said another man.

So ends the tale, the two valleys were now linked together thanks to a very long hole in the side of the mountain. Which was better for everyone, for trade, sport and for general life. Thomas after he had a good strong cup of tea and a lay down went onto change, patten and market his machine into a more comfortable tunnel builder. Which he become very famous and very rich for, travelling all over the great empire building tunnels for everyone. Until that is the faithful day when he dug the second channel tunnel and refused to pay the fish king’s council tax for the digging and was sadly attacked and in prisoned by a lot of very angry north sea cod. He’s still in jail to this day, refusing to pay the fine. But the hole inside the mountain still remains, the Man who lived inside the mountain has now moved to another mountain after a brief time of attempting to set up a toil booth in his front room charging people who wanted to use the tunnel. This how ever did work out so instead the man moved homes and is now quite happily living inside another mountain. The vicar Victor Edwards was never seen again until the murders began and the people of both the Aberdare and the Merthyr valleys both enjoyed the use of the tunnel to this day, even with the new hot air balloon bus service operating in the valleys.
Which we’ll hear more about later ……

Postage note poetry

40/40 postage note poem.  YAAAY Last one
So this is the last poem, number 40 of 40 and its been an interesting experience. I think in many ways its help me realise a lot of things, its something not easy to know what your thinking. It certainly helps to see it written down, visually in front of you. Anyway this is the last one, I must say I don’t think I’ve ever been happy with any of my posts, there not great poems/writing and I may come back and work on them someday but for now its nice to know I’ve written 40 poems/texts/things.

This one is titled “Them in suits”

“The them in suits don’t know how to shoot
they just sit there looking at there statistic screens
reading out the beans
as they dot their i’s and cross their t’s.

They hasten and call and spend money
like its nothing at all to plenty.
Blow a wedge on a cheeky weekend
and belittle all the world that surrounds there pain.

Them in suits don’t see the world
as black and white but in shades of grey
which they can pay.

They hardly believe the world there is
enclosed in a financial bubble
thats all they can see.

Them in suits don’t perceive the world
just the numbers and the charts.
They see the view from behind their desks
and wonder why its such a mess.
Them in suits believe they rule the world
them in suits are wrong.”