These poems were typed in from an old book dated 1970 – 71 on December 26, 1993 and re-edited a little bit for blatant typos only during June 2014. They are still a bit raw but I’ve kept them like this because it’s a link back to when I was a teenager and it would be a bit of an imposition to edit them from the perspective of a 62 year old man.
Notes: I used the pen name Del Brennan at that time. From Del – a shortened form of Derek and Brennan – my mother’s maiden name.Continue reading →
Even in a small country like Wales (and Wales is the definitive small country), there are many tribes and factions. Even in the smaller virtual country of Welsh-speaking Wales, there are many. Take Pobol y Cwm for example. Pobol y Cwm is a Welsh language soap opera, filmed mostly in Cardiff and set in the Gwendraeth Valley between Llanelli and Carmarthen. (Pobol y Cwm is Welsh for People of the Valley.)
The programme is made at the BBC studios in Llandaff, Cardiff, on behalf of the Welsh TV channel S4C. If you were to pronounce S4C phonetically in Welsh it would sound like S ped war EK. It’s known by some (cynics that they are) as S ped war Cheque because of the generous dollops of cash it splashes over its actors and programme makers, especially those associated with Pobol y Cwm.
So, there I was on the set of the Deri Arms – the local pub in Pobol-y-Cwm-Land, pretending to be a pub owner from Llanelli who had come to buy a few kegs of beer from the local brewery.
I arrived in the Green Room at about a quarter to nine, not even knowing I was playing an actual part; up until then I’d only done work as a background extra. So this director came to see me at about five past nine and gave me about five lines to say in a scene with one of the brewery’s owners, something to do with complaining about the beer being too expensive.
Anyway, my Welsh is crap, and the director was a Gog (a Welsh speaking Welshman from the Gogledd (North)), so, by the time I went on set at half nine I was in bits. Continue reading →
Tossers is a surreal pointless play first presented by Michael Kelligan as part of the On the Edge series of script held performances at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. The play includes three poems one of which is included in the extract below. Continue reading →
He wasn’t much of a ram, small and weak, with no possibility of siring any of the sumptuous ewes that shared the lush green hillsides. He didn’t mind, he had his darling girl. She was tall and thin on her two legs, her hair as black and as thick as his fleece. He knew he was her favourite. Today, she hugged him longer and harder than usual and her eyes were wet with tears. Then she vanished. Later, the big man came back, grabbed his black fleece and dragged him into the back of a lorry.
He was an American, a couple of years older than me. I was sixteen.
In the summer of 1968, I hitched from my dreary Welsh town to see Pink Floyd in Hyde Park. After a long, scary, but interesting journey, involving a lift in an abused Transit with a stoned roadie, I arrived in the park after midnight the night before the concert and leaned against a tree to rest and absorb the vibes. Excited fellow travellers buzzed around me looking for somewhere safe to crash. Despite my exhaustion I felt I was part of something significant, a revolution was taking place and I was at the heart of it.
A pair of London louts tried to sell me a lump of dodgy-looking dope, it was probably chewing tobacco, or henna, or something. They looked shifty and vicious, like sly hyenas. I felt exposed and alone, so I shook my head and turned my back on them. I was skint anyway. The big one pushed me against the tree and pulled a knife. A young man in a black leather jacket stopped and stared narrowly at them. His hair was slicked back like James Dean, his face smooth and unreadable. The dealers sized him up, thought the better of it, and swaggered away into the gloom.
There’s a fire on the hilltop
There’s a fire in my heart
And it’s always been there
Since the very start
There go by the engines
The engines there go by
But they can’t put mine out
So they needn’t try
There they go again now
Racing from the hill
They’ve put out that fire
But mine is burning still
The memory was sparked off by the smell of a grass fire alongside the motorway. I saw the smoke first, smudging the spring-blue sky above the road ahead, I thought it might be mist or fog, but it was too dry and too late in the day for that. Then the sweet-acrid smell of a grass fire seeped into the car through the sun-roof – tilted open to compensate for the non-functioning electric windows. I love the car, it’s an environmental baddie, an old Rover Vitesse Turbo; it drives like a confident oil-baron and swallows a hundred miles of motorway without taking a breath, but it’s done nearly 200,000 miles and it’s disintegrating. Continue reading →
There’s a calendar on the desk in this office. One of those ones that show just one day. You’re supposed to rip a page off every day – and display it in a position that can be viewed from all angles. Just in case you forget what day it is. But this one shows yesterday’s day and date which happens to be APRIL 7 WEDNESDAY. Now there’s a thing it doesn’t show the year. What the fuck year is it?
Betty, a woman of about 60, is browsing for books in the local branch library. A group of youngsters, led by a scruffy 14 year old come in and harangue her and the library assistant Vicky, a woman in her thirties.
Betty is distressed, but despite the intervention of the library assistant, the youths continue to behave in a threatening way.
An older woman, Mair, appears from behind a bookshelf and watches the melee.
The plea from his friend Rick appeared in the text message window, announcing its arrival with its signature whistling tones. ‘Come on Prem – I’m gagging.’
Prem laughed, opened a drawer of the desk and pulled out a bottle of vodka. He tapped out his response. “OK, OK.” Then “Look, this site is amazing,’ he pasted the url of the site into the message and pressed enter.
Prem returned to the browser window and scrolled down, pausing now and again to look at the pictures or read the words. The phrases ‘Sign of the Beast,’ ‘666’, ‘Black Magic,’ flashed at him in a blood-red gothic font on a black background. The images on the screen were a mixture of gore and beauty. A beautiful girl in a long black robe stared at him, her eyes seemed to pull him in – he was transfixed. Continue reading →
It was a sunny afternoon in May. Ali, a mixed race boy of fourteen, big for his age, should have been in school, but instead he was hiding behind the garages, chatting to Cindy. He liked Cindy; she was his friend, not like most of the other boys and girls on the estate and in school, who were horrible to him.
Ali made a grab for Cindy’s new phone. “Gimme a look Cindy,” he said.
Cindy dodged. “No, you’ll break it, you big lump – it’s expensive. I’ve gotto go now anyway.”
The creature woke up; it was screaming silently, becoming aware that it existed as a presence inside its own skull. It was a bundle of bones, hanging with flesh.
Where was he? Who was he?
Ah! Yes. He was what was known as a man, on a planet known as Earth. A few hours earlier he’d lain on that bed next to a woman, a similar collection of flesh and bones. They’d been together, sharing their existence on that small blue planet for twenty-five of its years. His name was Ianto; her name was Siân.
She was lying next to him now, her flesh and bones covered with a smooth skin. He reached across under the bedclothes and stroked her thigh with his fingertips. Continue reading →
“I’d just taken a couple of paracetamols,” Mr Pain said, speaking yesterday after his wife was tragically injured in a freak accident. “I was on my way to the kitchen to get a glass of water to swill them down with, when my nose began to tickle. I couldn’t help it, I just let out a huge sneeze.”
One of the paracetamols shot out of Mr Pain’s mouth and smashed into the right eye of Roberta Pain who was just emerging from the kitchen carrying a cup of hot black coffee. The shock of the impact caused Mrs Pain to let go of the cup, hurling its contents all over the cat, who jumped up from its place near the radiator and attacked Mrs Pain’s other eye. Continue reading →
I have a mini-exhibition on at the moment. Over the Rainbow gift shop in Pontcanna, Cardiff, have got four of my abstract paintings on display: Click on the thumbnails to see more. All paintings are for sale at Over the … Continue reading →
My new novel Boys from the Backfields has just been published
The cover of the book features a painting I did of the Cefncaeau Estate in Llanelli. The story is set on a very similar housing estate where in 1963, Mick, a 13 year old boy, witnesses the murder of Betty Fish. Half a century later the murder is still unsolved and still overshadows Mick’s life.
Cefncaeau View – Oil on Canvas
Boys from the Backfields is available as a paperback and as an ebook in all the usual places, or can order a signed copy directly from the publishers Opening Chapter.
It’s not often I write something reflective, believing that the work should speak for itself, but I’m going to indulge myself for once.
I’ve been editing the manuscript for my next novel Boys from the Backfields. It’s been a long project. I wrote the first draft of the book in the mid-nineties, almost twenty years ago. I got some interest from a big name literary agent at the time, but through naivety or stupidity I blew it.
The book was written in two parts. Grandly, I named them Book One and Book Two, like it was a great saga. In fact the novel only ran to 70,000 words. The agent loved Book One, but felt that it could be extended into a full novel, leaving my precious Book Two to fall off the edge of the desk into the dustbin. I protested, and argued my case, Book Two was what it was really all about, the whole point of Book One was to set things up for Book Two. Correspondence ceased, I was cut adrift. Touchy bastards those agents. Continue reading →
In 1963 the world is rocking to the Beatles, and being rocked by the Cold War and the assassination of President Kennedy.
There are far more important things on the mind of Mick Matthews, a 13 year old boy growing up on a council estate in Wales, such as the murder of a middle-aged widow in one of the posh houses across the road. Mick and his small gang are out gathering blackberries and scrumping apples when they witness the murder as it happens.
Around the same time as the demise of Betty Fish, Mick falls in love with the enigmatic Angel, a girl of the same age.
Fifty years later, the murder is still unsolved and the shadows it casts over their lives are as dark as ever.
About the book
Boys from the Backfields is a story I’ve been working on, on and off for nearly twenty years. I’ve finally decided to publish it. The book is in its final editing stage and will be available early November 2013.
My new novel Cheats and Liars is now available in paperback and as an ebook in lots of formats
Everyone’s a cheat or a liar, or both. What happens when the Greatest Living Artist in Wales decides to stop playing the game?
Brian Llewelyn is an artist at the peak of his powers, in fact he’s the Greatest Living Artist in Wales. Despite his success, or perhaps because of it, his life seems worthless. He decides to redeem himself by investing heavily in a community arts project.
Following this altruistic path exposes the fragile foundations his success is built on. His life disintegrates and his career evaporates as the corrupt liars and cheats propping him up turn on him.
Cheats and Liars is an exploration of success and its fallout set deep in the psyche of Brian Llewelyn, The Greatest Living Artist in Wales.