Some Shadow

The path to the cabin was choked with brambles; that was good. It meant that no one had been near the place for months at least.

Jack laughed.

‘Ssh,’ Emma said.

‘No, it’s all right now,’ he said. ‘Look – there’s no sign of another human being – we’ll be safe here.’

‘But it’s not human beings we’re hiding from, is it Jack?’

‘Of course they’re human beings; you’ve been watching too many episodes of Doctor Who.’

‘Oh shut up. I know what I saw. You saw it too. If that was a person then it was still a monster – more than just a normal person.’

‘Yes, but it’s still got to move around, whatever it is and it would leave traces.’

‘What if it can fly?’ Emma asked.

 The sun was blotted by some shadow.


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There’s Always Burnt Jam

I thought I’d written about this before but can’t find it anywhere. I know I did write a poem at least, and I know it ended with the line ‘But there’s always burnt jam.’ I can’t find that either. I wonder how many other poems or snippets of writing I’ve lost, many of them on paper from my teenage years, and many more on broken computer disks since. Ah! Sometimes you just have to let things drift down to the dim depths of the Akashic Records.

It was the late sixties, possibly 1970; I was seventeen or eighteen years old. I used to hang around with a group of young people from around the town of Llanelli, where we behaved in ways that defined that period if you believe the myths that have arisen since. The truth was there were not that many of us, no more than a few dozen – a hundred or so at the most, and that from a population of around 77,000.

Llanelli Beach - Stradey Woods in the background

Llanelli Beach – Stradey Woods in the background

We were a small group, but we were highly visible because of the way we dressed and the way we behaved – roving around the streets, openly smoking joints and tripping on acid, as well as squatting the grass opposite the town hall, playing guitars and engaging in free love, well free foreplay at least. Continue reading

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The Artistic Imperative

The Artistic Imperative

* Warning – this is a self-indulgent ramble *

When I was young I was told I was very clever. ‘You are so intelligent,’ they used to say. I was also a very nice kid – generous, gentle, helpful and uncomplaining. I was full of life – ‘Fond of play’ as my form teacher wrote on my final report from the primary school. I was top of the class, number one of thirty-four, and that was in the A stream in the final year at that school – so at that time I was the top pupil of the whole school.


Me writing in the chalet/shed at the allotment. pic by Rhian

To be fair my teacher recognised this and wanted me to apply for a scholarship to go to Llandovery College – a private school around thirty miles from my home – it would have meant boarding I believe.

But, my parents didn’t have the wherewithal, either in monetary terms or in imagination to pursue the idea and the teacher realising it was an impossibility, let it go. As it happens, I’m glad about this, I don’t think I’d like the person I would have become if I’d spent those important years of my childhood in such a place.

Now, I’m approaching my 65th birthday – my mother is disappointed in me. I can see it in her eyes – and anyway, she says it often enough. ‘You used to be so clever,’ she’ll say. ‘You could have done so much.’ Continue reading

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Detritus on Llanelli Beach

We visited Llanelli Beach yesterday. There were little piles of material along the tidelines. The piles contained a mixture of natural and man-made material. After decades of humankind’s neglect and selfishness God knows how much of this crap is in the sea.

When viewing the images, scroll down and click to view images full size then zoom in on the images for a closer look.

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I’m just leaving the Co-op Shop and I’ve got a bag of “All Original Starburst Chews, Bursting With Real Fruit Juiciness”, a Grab-Bag of Walkers Salt and Vinegar Crisps, the last manky copy of today’s Guardian newspaper and one Silk Cut cigarette. I’ve got more cigarettes at home, of course, loads of them. Thing is, I’m not going to get home. I’m going to die before I get home. I’m going to die; I know I am.

starburstSomewhere in the fifteen minute walk home, I’m going to die, I don’t know when exactly, but I know I’m going to die. Thing is, what am I going to do with the last half-mile, or less, of my life? It’s a difficult question. Perhaps if I run as fast as Flash, I can cheat death, slip past on its blind side maybe? Get home before it gets me. Continue reading

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There’s a Spider on the Ceiling

spiderOK, so that last bit was a bit rushed – a bit fake, a bit gratuitous, but I’m back already and I want to write about something in particular but I want to put that on hold now, in an instant, for a bit, to digress into something that happened twenty-one words ago.

The words were flowing out through my hand and the pen at an astonishing rate and I knew exactly what I was going to write about next (but as it happens – funnily, I did not write those words next) – the feeling was one of some kind of communion – the words were forming in my gut or even lower, like a kind of chakra writing they moved up into my head and down my arm like a river of light and fire – painful and blissful at the same time. I don’t know if I can describe it properly maybe later. For now back to the thing I was going to write about.

There is a spider in the corner of the bathroom ceiling above the toilet. The roof slopes down there so that corner of the ceiling is just above head height and is easily within arm’s reach as you stand peeing into the bowl. The spider has been there a week at least. I have been peeing a lot lately so I see it quite a few times every day. I always forget about it until I’m standing there – in the act – and look up casually. When I see it I always think ‘God, it’s still there’. I’ve often thought of cupping it and putting it outside but then think ‘Don’t interfere boy’ – leave the creature alone – besides, spiders eat flies and they are a pain.

The spider is a long-legged-tiny-body variety and it sits upside down on the ceiling – immobile. I’ve blown on it a few times to see if it reacts – and it does – but only by a slight adjustment of its legs. There is some sort of haphazard web around it and I saw it fussing with a small package once – like a little fly cocooned.

I’ve taken to thinking about the way it perceives me – every couple of hours I appear before it – a huge shape emanating whatever kind of energy it receives – shimmering perhaps – or vibrating in some way. I wonder if it’s scared – probably not, since it doesn’t even budge – even though a simple swat with a newspaper would end its conscious existence – but then maybe it will reincarnate in a more interesting life, but then who am I to say whether my life or anybody or anything else’s life is more interesting than the life of a long-legged spider who lives in a corner of the bathroom above the toilet.


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Objective: Say that life is temporal.


  • Character A: Life is temporal.
  • Character B: Uh!
  • Character A: You know, it exists in time.
  • Character B: Yeah? What’s your point?
  • Character A: Your life, my life, whoever’s life, has a very limited existence. Against the background of eternity it is infinitesimally small. It’s not worth getting so worked up about.
  • Character B: Who’s getting worked up?
  • Character A: Well – I am I suppose.
  • Character B:  Yeah – that’s your problem. Do you fancy a cuppa?
  • Character A: Why not.

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Extracts from: “The Diary of an Ordinary Man”


Despite the sobs, I am not sad. I know what it’s like to feel the weight of the black dog, as Churchill called it, but that’s not what I feel right now. It’s more a sort of extreme frustration, like seeing the taillights of the last bus disappear on a cold, rainy night; the mobile phone’s battery is dead and there’s no money for a taxi anyway.

diaryIt all came to a head in the Asda car park after a silly argument about shower curtains. We’re poor you see. Buying a new shower curtain is a luxury I can’t contemplate, even if it was only ten quid, and would have brightened up our gloomy bathroom, adding a little light to this dark phase of our lives.

Fuck off, she said, just fuck off. So I did. I got out of the car and walked. I cried all the way home. Continue reading

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Tafftown – a new Cardiff based Soap Opera


So, it looks like Tafftown is becoming a reality – when I say reality, of course I mean it’s not real, but it’s a drama of the sort that’s commonly known as a soap-opera – a term originally coined to mean a programme that depended on advertising revenues from soap (or washing powder) companies, or as Wikipedia says (although I’ve never heard the term ‘soapie’, it sounds Australian?):

“A soap opera, soapie, or soap is a serial drama on television or radio which features related story lines about the lives of many characters. The stories usually focus on emotional relationships to the point of melodrama. The term soap opera originated from such dramas being typically sponsored by soap manufacturers in the past.”

So that’s what Tafftown is, and it’s based on an idea of mine, influenced by several factors, including the fact that I have lived in an area similar to the one depicted in Tafftown for the last ten years and for a period in my twenties. I’ve been thinking about such a television series for a long time, and it finally came to a head a few days ago when after a meeting with my co-writer Dafydd Wyn Roberts and consultations with the other as yet unnamed people involved, we decided to announce it to the world.

So there it is it’s a reality.

The first episodes will be short – ten minutes or so – and will be broadcast online only.

Scripts and characters are in development and several parts have already been cast.

There’s a little bit more info on the Tafftown website and on the Tafftown Facebook Page or you can follow Tafftown on Twitter

see ya soon

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Oggy Oggy Ugly

Bore Da

rugby-ball-castleRugby again today. Sorry about that, but since I live in Wales I find it difficult to avoid what is effectively a national religion, especially if you listen to Radio Wales in the morning. I used to tune in to Radio 4 but I can’t bear to have it on any more (click here for a video about that).

It looks like I will also have to abandon Radio Wales because of its obsession with rugby, a sport I already have major issues with (see yesterday’s post for more). And then, earlier, on Good Morning Wales, there was a discussion about a report suggesting that conventional rugby is far too dangerous for young children to play, due to the risk of serious injury and the long term consequences of the heavy tackling involved.

The presenters of the programme said they were finding it difficult to find anyone on social media who agreed with the report. They spoke to an ex-player who had to retire because of epilepsy brought on by injuries he received playing rugby, and even he defended the game. I’m not surprised – a while ago, when I worked as an IT consultant I helped two ex-rugby players with their computer setups; both seriously injured by their dalliance with the oval ball. They were in wheelchairs, one was paralysed from the waist down while the other, a quadriplegic, had to operate the computer with a plastic stick attached to a headband, and couldn’t talk properly.

Neither of them blamed the game in any way and I got the impression that they regarded themselves as wounded warriors rather than victims. The Rugby Union paid for their computers and for my time and no doubt for other equipment and services to help make their lives more comfortable. I suppose the money also helped to keep them sweet. I wonder how many other people are tucked away unseen in adapted accommodation nursing their rugby wounds for the rest of their lives.

Like all my contemporaries I was forced to play rugby in my early years at Llanelli Grammar school and was good enough to be selected for the school team, until I fell out with the gym teacher – bastard that he was. After that incident I began to hate the sport – so yes, my antipathy towards it is personal.

If it was up to me I would consign the whole game to the same bin of history as press-gangs and sending kids up chimneys. I accept that not everyone feels the same as I do and if you’re an adult and you want to play then no one’s stopping you, but please, stop forcing children to engage in an activity that can cause them irreversible damage and ruin their lives.

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St David’s Day in Wales

This is a piece I wrote this morning, on St David’s Day. If you would prefer to listen there is an audio recording at the end.

lambIf you believe the hype, the Welsh are rugby-obsessed lamb-eating choristers. As with most lazy stereotyping this is completely wrong of course. I’m as Welsh as they come and I don’t like rugby, lamb or male voice choirs. It’s not just me though, but most Welshies are too afraid to admit it. For example, a friend persuaded me to go to a rugby international in the Millennium Stadium a few years ago, to see a match involving our Celtic cousins Ireland. Because of a ticketing mix-up I ended up sitting up next to strangers in the upper hinterlands of the stadium. Continue reading

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Message to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme

A personal message to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme

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This time next year

Another extract from some work-in-progress on my new book ‘This is It’

NOTE: After writing this I forgot about it for eleven years, if I hadn’t I would definitely have made that first million.

This Time Next Year

(How I make my first million)


1-millionHi! It’s seven minutes past ten in the evening; it’s Monday May 16th 2005. This is the beginning of the story of how I made my first million. As of now, I have no idea how I’m going to do it, but do it I will. This time next year I’ll be a millionaire. Continue reading

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I may have written about this before but it will have been with different words

Another snippet from This is It.

(Disclaimer: I can’t guarantee precise historical accuracy – all these memories may be mixed up and reconstituted in a skewed way, probably due to the bin-bag full of potent Mexican grass we consumed during the period – it was the sixties after all!)


In 1969 when I was seventeen I went to London with my friend Dave. He picked me up in a transit van from where I lived with my parents and my siblings in the small council house on the outskirts of Llanelli. Dave was a roadie; well actually Dave was a brilliant guitarist but worked as a roadie in London at the time. He was a couple or more years older than me and he died in his twenties but that’s another story. Dave was one of my two best friends – the other one was Stu, who was younger than me and who also died in his twenties – that’s another story too of course. Continue reading

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A snippet from some work-in-progress on my autobiographical-novel This is it


slade-poster-res‘It. Is. Art.’

‘No. It’s. Not.’

‘Hah!’ Samantha stood up. ‘Gotta go,’ she said, leaning down and puckering her heavily-lipsticked lips.

Benedict tilted his head upwards and reciprocated with the puckered lips.

Their puckered lips met.

‘Mwah,’ they said in unison. Continue reading

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Public Bloody Transport

Another one from the archives – written on Tuesday November 30th 1999

Public-bloody-transport. How did it come to this? Me. Having to catch a bloody bus of all things. It’s my fault I suppose. By my age you’d think I’d know that you have to do something to earn a living. I mean, you get up in the morning, you go to bed at night and you have to do something in between. That’s why work was invented – to fill the gap.

Most people know that instinctively, they just get on with it. But me? No, not me. I’m so bloody stupid; I don’t know where I get the ideas from. It’s as if I thought I could live on thin air or something.

That’s why I’m on this bus. Look, there’s another pair – fellow-travellers, I’ve seen quite a few in the last two weeks, since my car broke down and I couldn’t afford to get it fixed. Couldn’t afford it – me? After all the money that’s passed through my hands in my various (failed) business ventures. Perhaps one day that poor bloke will start a business of his own – he might as well. At least then he’d have the illusion of doing something useful for a while, until he goes bust. Continue reading

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Exhibition – Day 2

This is a piece I wrote on Tuesday 4th November 2003 during the substantial gaps between visitors on the second day of an exhibition of my work at the Neville Gallery, Llanelli. I had also invited a few others to exhibit some work alongside mine since it is a large hall.

Exhibition Day 2 – Tuesday half ten am.

No one in yet but at least it’s finished. Everything’s up.

The Three Bears

The Three Bears

Laura Mason’s installation – Anna’s paintings – Ian’s drawings – my 87 varieties. Maybe I’m deluding myself but it all looks amazing to me. Toying with the idea of getting in touch with the media – but I don’t really want personal publicity a la Llanelli Star, obviously I’d like artistic publicity-recognition-acknowledgement whatever, but I’m scared of getting my chops in the local paper – daft aren’t I?

Need to go for a piss etc so shall lock up and leave a note on door. Continue reading

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Shopping Monsters revisited

In 2003 on a visit to Carmarthen I spotted a man and a woman coming towards me in the street. They could have been a couple but they looked so similar that they were probably brother and sister. When I got home their image was still in my head, so I painted it on art-card using acrylic paints. Here it is – apologies for the fuzzy photo.


Shopping Monsters 2003 – 32″ x 24″ – 80cm x 60cm

The other day I retrieved the painting from the beams of the shed on the allotment. I had rolled it up and stuffed it there three years ago (with a lot of others) when we moved to a smaller place and I had no more room at home.

Of course, three years in a damp shed is going to have an effect.

What 3 years in a shed can do to a painting

I like this painting so I intend to restore it and get it framed – watch this space . . .

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(Another snippet from ‘This is it’ – my Fantasy / Autobiography)

Something on an old sheet of paper torn from a notebook – written around 1969 when I was 17. Like many of the pieces I post on here it is completely unedited – just the beginnings of a work-in-progress. This horrifies some of my writer friends but since there is very little chance of it being fully developed this is the only way it will get an airing – and in any case I like it and it means something to me.


bubblesWhat was that noise, a screech, no just noise. Noise of what, thought the tramp, noise of excitement, he concluded, what excitement, he restarted. Round the bend of the car park came a gathering, hippies they were, all together, messing about with a skin-head.

‘Okay,’ shouted the skin. ‘Okay.’ Louder. ‘So you prove your point.’ Hysterically. ‘Okay – O-bloody kay.’

They all stopped, gave him his boots back and offered him food from a bag, a brown paper bag. Irrelevant. Brown paper bags were very common in town on Saturday. Everybody had one, under arms, in bags, trolleys and other convenient spaces; it was the day of the brown paper parcels, conform, buy your brown paper parcel today. Horror, I’ve got one round my bubble-tube, get rid of it, ceremoniously execute the conformity of brown-paper parcels. Irrelevant. It’s Christmas, a change, bells, green leaves, red hats, and multi-coloured paper wrapped parcels. Irrelevant. Brolly time, out of nowhere comes the dreaded rain, my God you must not get wet. What a disaster. Wetness, put up your brolly, tuck your parcel more securely. Irrelevant. Do you feel secure? Irrelevant. Of course. ‘I’ve got a house. At least I earn my living.’ Irrelevant. Living, are you living? Are you dying? Are you preparing? Comfortable? Irrelevant. ‘I like my work.’ Well it’s better than hanging around doing nothing. Nothing at all. Sleep long. Watch the taxman, watch the Axeman. Worked hard, got bread. Irrelevant.

The smiling face of Mr Punning caught me in the eye, yes sir, no sir, bollocks sir. ‘Ah well,’ thought, then said Mr Punning. ‘Restless these youngsters today, never had it so good. Lucky they don’t live in the same place as those,’ a sudden twist to fascism, ‘Dirty Red Bastards.’ He sighed heavily, that was hard to get out, but he’d said it. Pity no-one heard him though. He was sitting in a park eating his packed lunch out for a change. ‘There you are duck,’ he said, thinking how kind he was, yes the English were kind to animals.

‘Excuse me, man.’ Punning jumped agitatively. ‘I heard that.’ What had he heard thought Sir. ‘What about the bomb?’ said the man. Irrelevant. He hurried off tucking his brown paper parcel and putting his brolly up for a spit of water. Irrelevant my foot. My foot? Irrelevant.


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Boys From the Backfields – the first chapter

The first chapter of my novel The Boys from the Backfields

Backfields-front 1 cover oct 8-2013 2013

 The door to my past opened easily, it was a surprise. I’d intended to confront Angel directly, but she was out when I arrived. Considering her profession, she should have changed the locks.

I was hiding in the attic when she came back in.

I’d climbed up there to see if I could find any clues among the bits we left behind when we’d gone to LA in the nineties. The questions raised by the anonymous emails needed answers. I found a heavy wooden box crammed with old photos, and two large manila envelopes, stuffed with my scribbles about the events that had come to define my life.

I was sitting in an old deckchair waiting for Angel to go to bed. The answer had to be there, in those damp, limp bundles, some detail I hadn’t realised was important when I’d written it down.

My cell phone vibrated as another text arrived. It was my PA, Helene, again. No. I couldn’t think about work, or too much about Helene. I had to focus. The past had to be resolved before I could think about the future again.

I wrote the first ‘book’ in the late seventies, when I felt I was able to give some time to myself, after half-a-dozen years of frantic success. Hell, I even considered retiring then, before my thirtieth birthday.

The paper was thin and stained, but the typewritten text was still crisp and bold.

I started to read.


1963 – 1973


Have you watched those wildlife programmes on the television and seen the images of big cats dealing with porcupines? That was me and trouble. I sniffed at it in a circumspect way, and then, when it showed any sign of life, I ran like hell. That was me usually, but that day the taunting just got to me.

The smirking face begged to be squashed into the muddy grass of the field. It was a wet summer and I had recently come into that phase of life that marks your earliest memories, the few vivid incidents from early childhood that you remember when you eventually emerge into the heaviness of adulthood.

The boy’s name was David, an innocent sounding name for what was a vile specimen of childhood. Like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, he slithered and oozed his way around my consciousness, an evil, ugly, smelly, little boy. I knew him as Snobby, a name that invoked gross images of dirty dried-up snot and filthy fingernails. Continue reading

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