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A Message From North Wales


By Ceri Shaw, 2020-11-30

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Hi from North Wales

I hope that you’re all keeping safe and well.

I’ve got a special offer to share with you – perfect for a few enjoyable hours.

Audible have given me codes that allow FREE downloads of the audio version of my Inspector Drake novels. The great thing is that you DON’T need to have a subscription to Audible to enjoy the audio books.

I only have a LIMITED number of codes and they are only for the US and the UK so if you’re in Canada or Australia or elsewhere my apologies.

Some of you may have taken up the offer of codes for   Brass in Pocket   the 1 st   Inspector Drake novel narrated by the super talented Richard Elfyn.

Now I’ve got FREE code for   Worse than Dead   the second Drake adventure. If you’d like one, then click on the link below.

AUDIBLE CODE US

AUDIBLE CODE UK

I always enjoying hearing from my readers so do please get in touch.

Regards / Hwyl fawr

Stephen .

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Deann recently joined AmeriCymru as A Fairy House Studio , where she creates unique, one-of-a-kind mixed media sculptures.

AmeriCymru:  How would you describe what you do?

Deann:  I make sculptural fairy houses from selected natural, botanical materials. Some of them include jewelry or small figurines or other things in them and they all include fairy lights. Each one is completely unique. 

AmeriCymru:  How did you start making fairy houses?

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Deann: I’ve been an artist of some kind for most of my life. I was a dancer, a multimedia sculptor and I just like to make things. Years ago, I had a serious heart attack and afterwards my physical activity was really limited. My doctor told me to take long walks to help heal and build up my stamina and I did that. 

On my walks, I spent a lot of time in the woods and along nearby marshes and rivers and for fun imagined fairies living in these places, just out of sight, and what would their homes be like? I started looking for material on fairies, where did they come from, etc, and found first British fairy stories and then that there were Welsh fairies. I can’t remember where I read this but I did read something that described at least some of them as what we often think of today as fairies, tiny women with wings, like Peter Pan’s Tinkerbell, and houses for them seemed to be what I wanted to make.

AmeriCymru:  Where do you get the inspiration for your houses?

Deann: I mostly get my inspiration from my materials, find an interesting branch, some interesting leaves or lichen or moss or a flower I want to dry, and those things eventually inspire the house I want to put them in.  Inspiration can also come from a piece of costume jewelry or a small figurine of some kind or as I collect things, all of a sudden they fit together and then I start working on something new. I love to make beautiful things and see people take pleasure in them, that’s what fulfills me. 

I also include a string of fairy lights with a battery pack so they can be lit in the dark and present a completely different appearance than they do during the day. Each house is completely unique and gets its own name.

AmeriCymru: They’re very beautiful , they look like they take a long time to make and aren’t particularly for children.

Deann:   No, they’re not and they’re not for placement outside. The materials on them are real - dried roses, dried mosses and ferns, dried leaves, acorns, bark and other elements, attached with adhesives but still fragile. They’re definitely a display piece you have indoors and don’t handle. People have talked about them as meditation aids, Pagans and Wiccans have used them as religious shrines, but I think for most people they’re something beautiful to enjoy  looking at, especially in the evening with their lights on.

AmeriCymru: What’s been the response to your work?

Deann: So far, everyone who’s seen them has said they’ve loved them, they get a lot of attention online. I think right now people are looking for things that give them joy, that are calming and pleasant. 

AmeriCymru: I see that you’ve got a house with a Welsh name, what’s your connection to Wales?

Deann: Mainly two things, I have some ancestors from different parts of southeast Wales. When I started making these houses I went looking to see if there were Welsh fairies, and of course there are, and found first British fairy stories and then that there were Welsh fairies. Yes, I made one house named after the Tylwth Teg and I want to do some more Welsh-themed houses as I find out more about those stories.

AmeriCymru: I hope we'll get to see more of your work and more fairy houses? 

Deann:   Thank you, yes! Right now I’m just going to keep making fairy houses. They’re the thing that’s most inspiring me. 

AmeriCymru: Any message for AmeriCymru readers?

Deann: Ha, buy my houses? Seriously, though, I hope people like looking at them and find the something that makes you happy, I suppose?  Making these and looking at them makes me happy. I hope they make other people happy.

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Youth Transatlantic partnership consolidated - despite Covid-19



A ground-breaking partnership to remind young people on both sides of the Atlantic of the lethal perils of racism will press ahead this winter despite the major challenges of lockdown.

Urdd Gobaith Cymru (youth organisation in Wales, UK  (www.urdd.cymru/en ) and the students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have come together to create a virtual gospel choir to celebrate their new partnership and both Choirs will sing together in Welsh for the very first time!

Wales, known as the land of song, has an unequivocal strong and longstanding history with music and that shared passion was an obvious link when Siân Lewis, Chief Executive at Urdd Gobaith Cymru met with Patrick Evans, Chair of the UAB College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Music, on a visit arranged by the Welsh Government to Alabama last autumn.  

Welsh ties with the African American community in Birmingham, Alabama were formed in the immediate aftermath of the vicious bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church by the Klu Klux Klan more than half a century ago when the people of Wales donated a stained-glass window to the church in solidarity. A formal visit by Sian Lewis, CEO of the Welsh youth Movement, Urdd Gobaith Cymru, and Welsh Minister for Education Kirsty Williams to the University of Alabama last year strengthened these ties. 

Tour arrangements for the UAB Gospel Choir to visit Wales and the Urdd National Eisteddfod for 2020 were being finalised when Covid-19 swept across the world and plans were put on hold. Keen not to let the challenges scupper the opportunity to bring the young people together, a virtual choir was formed.  

The are 34 members in the virtual choir and Urdd members between the ages of 18 – 25 years old will form the voices of Wales. Mared Williams, a former Urdd Member and star of “Les Miserables” in the West End in London and UAB Gospel Choir Director Reginald James Jackson take the lead as soloists while Music Director Richard Vaughan brings the voices together.  

Meanwhile it will be a new experience for members of UAB Gospel Choir too as not only will they be singing virtually with their partners across the Atlantic, but they will also sing in Welsh for the very first time – a translation of ‘Every Praise’ by Hezekiah Walker – “Canwn Glod”     

Siân Lewis, Urdd CEO said,
   
“Music, and gospel music, has long been known to provide comfort and hope during troubling and testing times. This year has seen its fair share of challenges thrown our way, not only as individual nations but collectively as world citizens.  

“We are delighted that despite the pandemic, we have been able to develop our partnership and give our members the opportunity to learn more about gospel singing from our inspirational friends at UAB. Together, we have recorded a truly uplifting performance – a true beacon of hope as we look forward with positivity.” 

Patrick Evans, UAB Chair of the Department of Music, added 
 
“The coming together of these young voices marks the beginning of a positive relationship between our students and the young people of Wales. Singing in Welsh for the first time was a challenge for the choir members, however they embraced the challenge and we are looking forward to visiting Wales when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we hope that our virtual collaboration will spread a little joy during these hard times.” 

Kirsty Williams, Minster for Education at the Welsh Government said:

“I am delighted that we continue to strengthen links between Wales and Alabama. This initiative between the Urdd and the University of Alabama at Birmingham ensures that a new generation will take our relationship forward. By uniting students through the power of song, our transatlantic friendship will continue to flourish, despite the distance between us.”

As the Urdd approaches its centenary in 2022 it has ambitious plans to ensure Wales makes a positive impact, to ensure that more people know about Wales, offer international experiences for young people and celebrate the cultural richness of Wales as well as share good practise with international contacts in the success of increasing confidence use and enjoyment of a minority language. Since its establishment in 1922, the Urdd has nurtured over 4 million young men and women to be proud of their country, open to the world and living embodiments of our language and culture, along with the universal values which we cherish in Wales. 
 
The video is published to coincide with Thanksgiving in the USA and will be available on the Urdd Youtube Channel here from 0800 GMT 26 November 2020.  

What is the Urdd?

Urdd Gobaith Cymru ( www.urdd.cymru) is a National Voluntary Youth Organisation  in Wales, UK with over 55,000 members between the ages of 8 – 25 years. The Urdd provides opportunities through the medium of Welsh for children and young people in Wales to enable them to make positive contributions to their communities. 

The Urdd has nurtured generations of young men and women to be proud of their country, open to the world and living embodiments of our language and culture, along with the universal values which we cherish in Wales. Over 4 million children and young people have been members of the Urdd since its beginning back in 1922. The significance of the institution in Wales cannot be over-emphasised. Its contribution to generations in Wales, to the lives and confidence, and mental health of our young people over the years has been immense. 



Atgyfnerthu partneriaeth ieuenctid Drawsatlantig – er gwaethaf Covid-19




Bydd partneriaeth arloesol i atgoffa pobl ifanc o ddwy ochr Môr yr Iwerydd o beryglon dinistriol hiliaeth yn bwrw ymlaen y gaeaf hwn er gwaethaf heriau sylweddol y cyfnod clo. 

Mae Urdd Gobaith Cymru a’r myfyrwyr ym Mhrifysgol Alabama ym Mirmingham ((University of Alanama – Birmingham - UAB) wedi dod at ei gilydd i ffurfio côr rhithiol i ddathlu eu partneriaeth newydd a bydd y ddau gôr yn canu gyda’i gilydd yn y Gymraeg am y tro cyntaf erioed!

Mae gan Gymru, gwlad y gân, hanes hir a chref gyda cherddoriaeth ac felly roedd yn gyswllt amlwg pan gyfarfu Siân Lewis, Prif Weithredwr Urdd Gobaith Cymru, â Patrick Evans, Cadeirydd Adran Gerddoriaeth Coleg Celfyddydau a Gwyddorau UAB, ar ymweliad a drefnwyd gan Lywodraeth Cymru i Alabama y llynedd. 

Ffurfiwyd perthynas rhwng y Cymry a’r gymuned Affro Americanaidd ym Mirmingham, Alabama dros hanner canrif yn ôl yn dilyn ymosodiad terfysgol gan y Klu Klux Klan ar Eglwys y Bedyddwyr, 16th Street. Fel arwydd o gefnogaeth ac undod rhoddwyd ffenestr lliw i’r eglwys gan bobl Cymru. Bu i ymweliad swyddogol Siân Lewis, Prif Weithredwr yr Urdd, a Gweinidog Addysg Cymru, Kirsty Williams â Phrifysgol Alabama y llynedd gryfhau’r berthynas hon.  

Roedd trefniadau taith Côr Gospel UAB i ymweld â Chymru ac Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yr Urdd Sir Ddinbych 2020 yn cael eu cwblhau pan fu’n rhaid gohirio’r cyfan wrth i Covid-19 ledaenu ar draws y byd. Yn awyddus i beidio â gadael i’r sefyllfa atal y cyfle i ddod â’r bobl ifanc at ei gilydd, ffurfiwyd côr rhithiol ar cyd rhwng Côr Gospel UAB ac aelodau o nifer o aelwydydd yr Urdd ar draws Cymru. 

Bydd 34 o leisiau yn dod at ei gilydd i greu’r côr rhithiol yn gynrychiolwyr o Gôr Gospel yr UAB a thua hanner ohonynt yn aelodau o rai o gorau aelwydydd yr Urdd o Hafodwenog, Penllys, JMJ, Pantycelyn a’r Waun Ddyfal. Cyn aelod o’r Urdd a seren “Les Miserables” yn y West End, Mared Williams a Chyfarwyddwr Côr Gospel UAB Reginald James Jackson fydd yn canu rhan yr unawdwyr tra bod y Cyfarwyddwr Cerdd Richard Vaughan yn gyfrifol am ddod â’r lleisiau at ei gilydd. 

Bydd yn brofiad newydd i aelodau Côr Gospel UAB hefyd, nid yn unig y profiad o uno i greu rhith gôr ond dyma fydd y tro cyntaf iddynt ganu yn y Gymraeg – addasiad o ‘Every Praise’ gan Hezekiah Walker, ‘Canwn Glod’. 

Meddai Siân Lewis,
   
“Mae gan gerddoriaeth, a cherddoriaeth gospel yn enwedig, y gallu arbennig i gynnig cysur a gobaith mewn cyfnodau anodd a chythryblus. Mae eleni wedi bod yn flwyddyn heriol a dweud y lleiaf, nid yn unig i genhedloedd unigol ond i ni gyd fel dinasyddion y byd. 

“Rydym mor falch ein bod wedi llwyddo i ddatblygu ein partneriaeth a rhoi’r cyfle i’n haelodau ddysgu mwy am ganu gospel oddi wrth ein ffrindiau ysbrydoledig yn UAB, er gwaetha’r pandemig. Gyda’n gilydd, rydym wedi creu perfformiad sydd wirioneddol yn codi calon – gwir esiampl o obaith wrth i ni edrych ymlaen yn bositif i’r dyfodol.” 

Ychwanegodd Patrick Evans, Cadeirydd Adran Gerdd UAB, 

“Wrth ddod â’r lleisiau ifanc yma ynghyd rydym yn nodi cychwyn ar berthynas gadarn rhwng ein myfyrwyr a phobl ifanc Cymru. Roedd canu yn y Gymraeg am y tro cyntaf yn her i aelodau’r côr ond fe wnaethon nhw groesawu’r sialens ac rydym yn edrych ymlaen at ymweld â Chymru pan fydd hi’n ddiogel i ni wneud. Yn y cyfamser, gobeithio bydd ein rhith gôr yn creu tipyn o lawenydd yn ystod y cyfnod anodd hwn.”

Meddai Kirsty Williams:

“Rydw i wrth fy modd ein bod yn parhau i gryfhau cysylltiadau rhwng Cymru ac Alabama. Mae’r fenter hon rhwng yr Urdd a Phrifysgol Alabama ym Mirmingham yn sicrhau fod cenhedlaeth newydd yn bwrw ymlaen â’r berthynas. Wrth uno myfyrwyr drwy rym cerddoriaeth, bydd ein cyfeillgarwch trawsatlantig yn parhau i ffynnu, er gwaethaf y pellter rhyngom.”

Wrth i’r Urdd agosáu at ei ganmlwyddiant yn 2022 mae gan y mudiad strategaeth ryngwladol uchelgeisiol i sicrhau fod mwy o bobl yn gwybod am Gymru, yn cynnig profiadau rhyngwladol i bobl ifanc yr Urdd ac yn dathlu cyfoeth diwylliannol Cymru yn ogystal â rhannu arfer da gan gynyddu hyder a mwynhad yn yr iaith Gymraeg. Ers ei sefydlu yn 1922 mae'r Urdd wedi meithrin 4 miliwn o ddynion a menywod ifanc i fod yn falch o'u gwlad, yn agored i'r byd ac yn ymgorfforiadau byw o'u hiaith a'u diwylliant, ynghyd â'r gwerthoedd cyffredinol yr ydym yn eu gwerthfawrogi yng Nghymru.

Mae’r fideo yn cael ei rannu ar y cyfryngau cymdeithasol i gydfynd â dathliadau diwrnod Diolchgarwch (Thanksgiving) yn yr UDA. 

Bydd y fideo ar gael yma i chi lawr lwytho am 15:00 dydd Mercher 25ain o Dachwedd mewn pryd i’w gyhoeddi i’r cyhoedd am 08:00 dydd Iau 26 Tachwedd. Mae modd gwrando ar ddarn bychan o’r gan o flaen llaw yma (dim i’w rannu/ gyhoeddi). 

Am ragor o wybodaeth neu i drefnu cyfweliadau, cysylltwch â Sioned Wyn, Swyddog Marchnata a Chyfathrebu yr Urdd sionedwyn@urdd.org neu Shannon Thomason, UAB Office of Public Relations, thomason@uab.edu 

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square.jpg Author David Jones is most insistent that this is a 'people' book. A brief perusal of the Contents list reveals how accurate his assessment is.  We are introduced to a cast of characters whose challenging and inspirational experiences are recounted in sections on Personal Histories, Family Histories and Covid-19 Heroes. Overall the book is a tribute to the small Welsh community of Cwmbwrla in Swansea and chronicles its response to the 2020 pandemic. There are also contributions from local artists and poets, and Jeff Phillips original drawings of Old Brynhyfryd are particularly evocative and memorable.

Consider the case of Circus Eruption, the UKs first integrated circus project. Based in Cwmbwrla since they purchased the old St Luke's Church building in 2018 their mission is to teach youngsters (11-19) circus skills. Their work and commitment has provided local youth with a much needed break from the misery and tedium of lockdown:-

"The building is a proving to be a perfect base for outreach work, and on the final day of 2020’s unusual summer the Cwmbwrla Community Events team saw at close quarters just how effective Circus Eruption are at engaging young people.

'Among the highlights of an August Bank Holiday event in Cwmbwrla Park were a series of workshops teaching skills in juggling and plate spinning, as well as a range of team-focused games. The mission of Circus Eruption, as we saw very clearly on that sunny Monday afternoon, is to build confidence and spread joy. So far it’s mission accomplished.'

At the Manselton Surgery we find Corinna Evans and her colleagues standing by no matter what the personal cost:-

'Sister Corinna Evans has worked at this surgery since 2005 and it’s difficult to imagine anyone being a more dedicated public servant. On the day I spoke with her, she hadn’t slept. During a night of heavy rain, a leak in her roof had kept her awake. She was clearly exhausted, but she still came to work. She always comes to work.'

It would be so easy (not to mention, a pleasure) to go through this book cherry picking the wonderful tales of dedication and commitment contained therein. But that would be unfair to the many contributors I would have to omit AND to you dear reader because I know you will want to read this book so, the fewer spoilers the better.

David Jones has provided us with an invaluable record of a tragic year. We owe him and everyone else who collaborated on this project a debt of gratitude. And, hopefully, this magnificent effort will inspire others to follow suit. Personally I don't care what lies Boris Johnson peddled in the Commons this morning, even though his penchant for buffoonery occasionally makes his performances entertaining. The guardians of community are our REAL leaders for they are the guardians of the human race. This is REAL history.



BUY IT HERE: Circling the Square: Cwmbwrla, Coronavirus and Community




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BUY IT HERE



AmeriCymru:  Hi David and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. Care to introduce the community of Cwmbwrla for our readers? Where in Wales is it and what is its history?

David: Cwmbwrla is a district of Swansea, on the South Wales coast. It’s home to 8,000 people and has produced some of Wales’s most celebrated sporting figures and artists. In particular, it’s well known as the birthplace of John and Mel Charles, Ivor and Len Allchurch and Mel Nurse, five of Wales’s finest footballers. But it’s the people who aren’t so famous that I admire the most. The people who quietly find a way to make other people’s lives better and never expect any thanks for it. There are a lot of them in Cwmbwrla.

AmeriCymru:  How has the coronavirus pandemic affected Cwmbwrla?

David: The pandemic had a notable effect on small businesses in the area, forcing their prolonged closure and jeopardising their futures. People who were forced to socially isolate found it difficult to cope with the lack of human contact and many families found themselves in an awkward financial position. Luckily we have community leaders who’ve worked tirelessly to address these problems, led by Emma Shears, a Local Area Coordinator who has done a remarkable job of bringing people together to support those in greatest need.

AmeriCymru:  What gave you the idea for this book? What inspired it?

David: On the May bank holiday this year, my neighbours and I gathered outside our houses to share a socially distanced drink and reflect on the unusual turn the year had taken. One of my neighbours mentioned that their mother, who had lived in the area all her life, had interesting stories to tell and shared one or two anecdotes. I then shared some examples of the good things that local people were doing to help each other through the lockdown. It occurred to me that these anecdotes were worth documenting. People’s stories are worth telling.

AmeriCymru:  The book consists in large part, of personal and family histories. How did you go about collecting these? How willing were people to participate?

David: I brought the idea to a group that had previously come together to organise local events and we compiled a list of people we thought would have interesting contributions to make. We also shared the idea on social media and encouraged people to share their stories. It was then a simple matter of picking up the phone. When you spend time talking to people – and more importantly listening to them – their stories emerge. People were happy to participate but many of them initially protested that “I haven’t really got anything to tell you” or “I’m not really doing anything to help”. It didn’t take me long to realise that they were being far too modest. And talking about family histories made it clear that Cwmbwrla us a place where children are proud of their parents and parents are proud of their children. That’s certainly something worth celebrating.

AmeriCymru:  Do any of these personal reminiscences stand out for you? Are there any interviewees/stories that you would like to highlight? 

David: It’s difficult to single anyone out because I interviewed almost 40 people and I ended up admiring all of them. But if I had to choose two I would nominate “All Heart” and “Finding our Way Home”. “All Heart” is about Colin Lightfoot, a small business owner who has run a local greeting card shop for the past 40 years. He treats customers as friends, he does everything he can to make people happy and never puts himself first. Earlier in 2020 he was admitted to hospital with a heart problem, and he’s still there now. People love him, they miss him and they want him to know how much he means to the community. Hopefully the book will make it clear. “Finding Our Way Home” tells the story of a remarkable group of women who started up an emergency food resource. They realised that many local families would struggle to put meals on the table in 2020 and they set about building up a supply that could be shared with those who needed it. The need still exists, so the food resource is still active. People are taking care of each other. 

AmeriCymru:  You also have a section titled  'Covid-19 Heroes'. Care to tell us a little about these?

David: I’m in awe of the local people who’ve stepped up to help their neighbours at this difficult time. These aren’t wealthy people, they’re working women and men with their own problems to solve and their own families to support, but they’ve chosen to give their time, effort and resources, cooking for their neighbours, shopping for them, collecting their medication, just picking up the phone and talking to them. A lady named Lisa Challenger comes immediately to mind. She told me it breaks her heart to see neighbours, many of them older and vulnerable, not having cooking facilities and never sitting down to a good hot meal. Her response has been to cook hundreds of roast dinners, all at her own expense, giving people something to look forward to, giving them sustenance and keeping them healthy. And Lisa will tell you that she isn’t doing anything special. She’s doing something very special, and she’s just one of the COVID-19 heroes who make me proud to live in Cwmbwrla.

AmeriCymru:  Where can people buy the book online?

David: The book is available in paperback and ebook form on Amazon. I hope people with Welsh roots will recognise the warmth and inclusiveness of this community. I hope it will remind them of the best of Wales.  Circling the Square: Cwmbwrla, Coronavirus and Community

AmeriCymru:  What's next for David Jones? Future plans?

David: Now that I’ve seen how much it means to people to have their lives and their work acknowledged, I’ll be pursuing similar projects in 2021. In February I’m helping my friend Jeff Phillips, a local artist, organise “Swansea Past, Present and Future”, a celebration of arts and culture through the ages in our city. I’m planning another “people’s book” to accompany this event. I feel privileged when people share their stories with me, and I’ll try my best to do them justice.



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Can you possibly imagine, being no more than a child?
To be pulled from your bed, and dragged off to work as you cried
At an age where all you want to do is play
Not to be dragged down a coal mine, for a pittance of pay

Used in seams so damp, wet and narrow
Where even the pit ponies wouldn’t go
Crawling on your hands and knees, harnessed like an animal
Soaking with sweat, clothes ripped to shreds. Is this natural?

Or left all alone for hours on end, guarding the ventilation doors!
Alone, for ten hours or more?
In the darkness, silence and gloom, the time seems endless
The cold, biting into the young bones, terrified, scared witless

Childhood, the most important years!
They should be cherished, not sent down a mine in tears
Shackled to a coal haulage implement, in places so wet and so low
Clinging on with fingers bruised and bleeding, scared to let go

Some working fourteen hours a day, seeing very little day light
Dragged off to work in the middle of the night
Coming home, sometimes with little to eat or a place to bathe!
Their young lives passing them by, to the mines they were slaves

The coal mines, where the word safety didn’t exist
Many of the children, to be put on an early deceased list
Children taken to the mines by their father
Fathers mostly unable to read or write, never knowing any better

The families were all very poor
If they don’t work, no money was coming through the door
Sometimes the whole family went to work in the mines!
Still they barely survived, even when their money was combined

The younger children who worked there
Would be pushing the heavy wooden tubs of coal, often in pairs
Back breaking work for those so young
Pushing heavy tubs of coal to pit bottom, not out playing having fun

The hurriers harnessed to the tubs, like small pit ponies
Thrusters, pushing from behind, children hands so small and bony
Children, many catching illness’s, they were unable to be saved
These children, who had no childhood, destined for an early grave

A life where puberty can be thwarted
Legs, knees, spines and feet horribly distorted
Girls, who develop pelvic deformities
That could later life cause childbearing difficulties?

Collapse of the digestive organs was also common
Diseases of the heart, causing inflammation
Stomach pains, cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting
Caused by contaminated water drinking

Those who were lucky enough to survive, by God’s grace
Would be sent to work in the coal face
Working with a candle or a safety lamp
Hot, cramped, squalid conditions, many perishing with the firedamp

Firedamp or methane, call it what you may
No taste, no smell, but in a flash, it would take you away The
silent killer, always lurking in the coal mines
No mercy, no warning, not understood in Victorian times

So, as you watch your children playing happily in the sun
Try to imagine these children, lives over barely before it’s begun
Sitting in the cold and the damp, behind wooden doors
Dark, dinghy, foul smelling, sitting on a sodden dirty floor

Waiting all day in the dark, as a door keep
Frightened to fall asleep
If they did, they may be beaten, and their meagre pay docked
Just sitting in the boredom, waiting for the door to be knocked

Victorian times, where the factories were flourishing
Where the workers were like slaves, working for next to nothing
Those days, when there was no such thing as electricity
Where coal was a much sought-after commodity

And the mine owners were quick to see
Give the parents a job, the children work almost free!
The mine owners generating vast wealth
Not caring about the worker’s health

Uneducated people to them, only fit to work underground
Cheap labour to them, with very little work to be found
Except the mines and the factories, all owned by the paymasters
Living in depressing squalor. The paymasters houses full of laughter

Where children on the Sunday, the Lords day, day of rest
Would stay in their beds, not go out to play, they had no energy left
The modern day mines we thought, were hard and uncompromising
Nothing like the Hell these children endured, not living, just existing

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The challenge ©R.K.Jones2193


By Ralph Jones, 2020-11-23

Sunday morning a day of solitude and creativity
Alone but not alone, at home with my privacy
I listen to a young woman’s voice
A rich mellifluous voice, in which many will rejoice

I sit at my desk, filled with ineffable sadness
Trying to imagine people living in loneliness
People in a lonely uninhabited place
Where you can see the sadness in their face

The young woman’s lyrical, melodic tone tells of isolation
Of people living in desperation
People who have to live alone in seclusion
Some mentally unstable, in a state of confusion

Not seeing another person, since who knows when
Wondering if they will ever see someone again
The rich tone of her voice, mellow and euphonious
As the plight of confinement, reaches out to us

Confinement that can lead to paranoid delusion
Clinical depression, anxiety and illusions
As the young woman continues to relate to us
An ineffable beauty descends upon us

But these words of indescribable beauty
Are really a lament of brutal reality
Of how people are being let down
In our own cities and towns

People, who are being forced to live in isolation
As a viral infection causes untold devastation
People who are being forced to self-isolate
Elderly people who need help, before it’s too late

As I look at the images of masks and coffin lids
Again and again she talks of Covid
A virus causing people to isolate behind four walls
A virus that we must tackle, before it kills us all

So, as the mellifluous voice may be sweet on the ear
It is also makes it ineffably clear
That if we don’t challenge this viral infection
We face the prospect of more solitude and isolation

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In 2020 the people of Cwmbwrla came together in the face of an unprecedented health crisis to put smiles on each other’s faced and food on each other’s tables. Neighbours became friends, and together they showed Swansea at its best. We believe their stories are worth telling, and contributors including Brynhyfryd-born Mal Pope, local author David Brayley, MP Carolyn Harris and Councillor Peter Black agree.

Circling the Square: Cwmbwrla, Coronavirus and Community” tells the stories of individuals, families and groups whose acts of kindness and quiet courage have improved the lives of those around them, year after year. In particular, they’ve improved people’s lives this year, just when it mattered most. The book introduces readers to women and men who stocked up an emergency food resource, created art and craft packs to keep children entertained, cooked, shopped and cared for their neighbours and provided vital medical and social care no matter what the barriers or risks. It introduces readers to the best of Swansea, the best of Wales and the best of people.

We believe the people who’ve breathed life into these streets through wartime and peacetime and made their neighbours feel safe and valued throughout the coronavirus crisis have made their own history.”

Royalties will be reinvested in the community that inspired the book, with all revenue going to Cwmbwrla Community Events , a nonprofit group that funds entertainment and sports activity for children and adults across Cwmbwrla, Manselton, Brynhyfryd, Gendros and Landore.

Circling the Square: Cwmbwrla, Coronavirus and Community” is available in paperback ($7.95) and ebook ($3.99) from Amazon and also at a discounted rate from selected local retailers. Be a part of the Welsh community success story of 2020 and buy this book.

BUY IT HERE -

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Circling-Square-Cwmbwrla-Coronavirus-Community/dp/B08NDXBFTC

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The EP is a flurry of recent work, with reflections on recent situations. 'Take Me With You' dives headfirst into the current feeling and situation. It asks for salvation in a time of threat, uncertainty, division and chaos. The chant of "lockdown, lockdown, lockdown" is an angry cry of frustration amongst a distorted diatribe against powerfully overdriven beats.  “What My Monster Looks Like” haunts with its warning “you’d be out of sight if you knew what my monster looks like” and repeats “never mind” in an all too familiar apathy. Pulsing bass and looped samples push the track forward.

'Gander’ is brutally melancholic at first, echoing and duplicating as it emerges from one theme, the monotonous loop and cycle of not being able to move forward or do something. It then transforms into a dance beat - evoking freer times - before exposing the original theme again, losing the memory for reality. An acoustic guitar evokes sweet resonance on "As It Goes" under the raw honesty of a final argument at the end of a relationship. The structure also grounds it in the Groundhog Day feeling a lot of people have been experiencing this year.

The EP winds its way through both jarring and soulful transitions as well, capturing a state of mind that bounces between chaos and serenity at whim.

Minas is the project from Cardiff producer James Minas alongside drummer Greg Davies and bassist Bob Williams. The songs tell stories of a chequered past over a mix of deep melodic soundscapes and loud, aggressive stanzas. Covering subjects from personal struggles with mental health to finding a place in the society we have. As a producer James is working to build a new sound for the South Wales scene with a number of artists and genres (such as Luke RV, Dead Method, Dan Bettridge, Razkid and more) but as an artist he presents brutal honesty going against his natural defenses to present the most open and vulnerable self for anyone who wishes to listen.

Minas grew up in the circus with parents who were heavily involved in the 1980’s Punk scene and then moved to secondary school in the Welsh Valleys, with the boredom and misbehaviour that came with it. Minas aims to create music that discusses these things and ends with an empowering feeling of hope, something we all need in right now.

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For Fans Of:
 The Burning Hell; Half Man Half Biscuit; AJJ; The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band

Seven years on from its initial release, Cardiff-based Quiet Marauder are set to unleash a contemporary reimagining of their record-baiting, format-stretching debut album MEN. Cut back from its original guise of 111 tracks and nearly five hours, its sister EP, Tiny Men Parts, clocks in at a much more manageable nine songs (and just over 25 minutes). Released at the end of November, Tiny Men Parts is a celebration of Quiet Marauder’s live band over the last few years, stepping away from the lo-fi, bedroom aesthetic of their debut and embracing the bombastic rock conjured by the group as a whole.

Recorded in Rat Trap Studios with Tom Rees (Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard) at the helm, the remit was to channel the sweaty joviality of a dive bar gig - something even more poignant in the context of coronavirus. This feat was accomplished with aplomb on the punk-rock bassy, bangy scuzz of previous single Eggs! and is repeated throughout via tracks such as The Business Deal, Lucky Tonight and I Want A Moustache, Dammit. Naturally, these tracks and the EP as a whole, share the same thematic and lyrical concerns of its longer predecessor; a study in the darkness of toxic masculinity, lad banter and the insidiousness of gender inequality.

Tracklisting

1. The Business Deal

2. I Want A Moustache, Dammit

3. Roda And The Bunker

4. It Wasn’t Me, It Was The Moon

5. The Internal Monologue Date

6. Lucky Tonight

7. The Animals Are Spying On Me

8. Eggs!

9. I Want A Moustache, Dammit II (Dance Remix) . .
...

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Released by Bubblewrap Collective, Tiny Men Parts will be preceded by digital single The Animals Are Spying On Me on 28th October, lyrically about human capability for irrational and yet somehow intractable paranoia. Following that the full EP will come on 27th November, arriving in limited edition heavyweight white ‘fried egg’ vinyl with accompanying ‘real man’ temporary tattoos. ...

This record is a celebration of the longest-serving live incarnation of Quiet Marauder, as well as a reimagining of our ridiculously long debut album, MEN. Way back when, seven years ago in 2013, a lot of that album was recorded by one man banging a frying pan on an inflatable mattress in the Cardiff suburbs. As fun as that was, fast-forwarding to 2020 and the tender touches of Tom Rees in Rat Trap Studios capturing our innate rock rawness was one thousand times more rewarding. Huge thanks to Tom and Ed Truckell for their tracking and mastering, Bubblewrap Collective for still indulging our whimsy and to the kind souls reading this who, we assume, have not stolen this or in the midst of destroying it...and of course, the Quiet Marauder players responsible for making the fundamental noises in the tiny grooves of this disc: ...

Quiet Marauder are:

Simon M. Read: Vocals, acoustic guitar

Ian Williams: Vocals, electric guitar

Rowan Liggett: Vocals, bass guitar

John Whittles: Drums

Francesca Dimech: Vocals, trumpet, melodica

Kadesha Drija: Vocals, percussion ..

Many of these songs chart the darkness of masculinity and human behaviour - its lack of logic, its danger and the spectrum underlying that on which we all sit and should be conscious of. Beyond the dark, there's more often than not some light. Be and stay kind.

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