Black, Black Friday
“ When shall we three meet again?” asked Daniel Druff dramatically.
The remaining two members of his drama group at Merthyr Tydfil Technical College stared back from their online Zoom meeting and shrugged their shoulders.
“I think it best if the ‘Read Brigade’ meet in person to discuss our proposal, in order that no third party can infiltrate our Group or stop our plan…agreed?” continued Daniel.
His fellow Brigade members of Grant Aide and Douglas Deep nodded their approval from their respective bedroom laptop computers.
“5.00 am at the statue?” he suggested.
Daniel was the ringleader of a plot to get even with society over the issue of the unfair treatment of Black & Asian people caused by the British Empire and all it stood for.
His lecturers (when he saw them on the Merthyr Tydfil equivalent of the Open University) called him Danny Boy.
Post-Brexit English Nationalism was on the rise and like everything in this World this was the check and balance.
Danny Boy was the antidote to fascism.
He wanted to push back.
Daniel was so incensed after watching the 1970’s Alex Halley mini-series ‘Roots’, that he felt that he should make his stand with his Bristol brethren, who had demolished slave trader and capitalist Edward Colston’s statue and thrown it into the harbour.
Daniel wanted to do the same with other forms of slavery- just like the 19 th Century English Ironmasters, Crawshay, Guest & Homphfrey had done to Dowlais, Cefn Coed & Merthyr Tydfil but couldn’t find any statues to tear down of these evil tyrants.
The ‘Read Brigade’ decided that they would have to make do with the former Coal Mine- Owner Eddie Thomas statue in Georgetown- on the justification basis that he was always surrounded by people with black faces which were beneath him.
They felt that miners should be included in the definition of BAME- Black and Mineral Extracts- after all the history books showed that the members of the NUM had taken ‘Rodney King-style-beatings’ from the Police at Orgreave Colliery and other places around Great Britain in 1984.
There was no doubt that Daniel Druff had rebellion in his blood.
His family had descended from Irish immigrant ancestry that had come to Merthyr to work in the Ironworks after the terrible Potato Famine that had hit Ireland.
He was fed up of decades of Tory Rule and was particularly incensed, as the current Government had taken away his one chance of going abroad by removing the Erasmus Programme Post-Brexit.
No longer could he or his fellow students have the freedom to roam Europe or have roaming data but the inept handling of the coronavirus issue by the same Eton Mess, had meant that a visit to the European Continent was now out of the question for the foreseeable future.
He was determined to follow in the footsteps of the Chartists, who had met at the nearby Cambrian Arms Public House (currently closed in its modern- day form of the Lantern) and raise his own ‘Read Flag’ of defiance to the powers that be.
5am was a little early but if he wanted his disciples to be ‘Woke’ then this the appropriate time.
Besides, they would get a march on the Police at that time in the Morning, who were probably dozing in their vehicles on night shift.
Z ZZ- Cars most likely.
The call sign of the Read Brigade was that of an owl.
They really did give ‘two hoots’ to make sure their subversive agenda was met.
They had all agreed to dress the same.
Balaclava Road black ski-mask and khaki camouflage coats with tracksuit bottoms for warming their hands down the front- in true Gurnos tradition.
They wanted to give the appearance of Irish Terrorists but not too fashion trendy-they didn’t want the Sun newspaper to refer to them as the ‘New Look’ IRA.
Daniel was first on the scene and had brought with him the tools for the job.
His neighbour’s van had a sticker on it saying that no tools were left overnight in this van.
Daniel had made sure this statement was true by pinching them.
If there was one thing young Daniel had taken from his schooling at Penydre High School, it was his ability to break into vehicles.
He had a jack-hammer, sledgehammer (once registered to one Peter Gabriel) and a series of guy ropes.
He stood next to the tall figure of Eddie Thomas former boxing promotor, mine-owner and former Mayor of the Town.
He stood hands out as if sparring in the air.
Daniel was determined that this stand would make a show that the underclass of Merthyr Tydfil had risen again, once more against their puppet masters in Westminster and Cardiff.
They no longer spoke for him.
Talk and debate never got anywhere- it was time for direct action.
Grant was second to arrive and hooted loudly before he emerged from the thick bushes on Avenue De Clichy, left to go wild after the initial landscaping budget had run-out.
That was the way with Merthyr.
Nothing was ever maintained the way it should be.
Always cutting corners and opting for cheap rather than quality.
Grant had his own hidden agenda.
He wasn’t as committed to the cause of his fellow students as Daniel was.
His plan was to achieve notoriety and achieve a career path of his own.
Reality Show influencer.
Strictly Come Dancing.
I’m a Celebrity get me out of here.
Welcome Break Magazine Cover model.
Retire to Emmerdale.
Unlike Norwich Union- Grant really wanted to make a drama out of a crisis.
With that, forgetting to hoot came Doug Deep.
But then again there was little need -as you could hear him coming from a mile away, after all it is difficult to silent pushing five stolen Iceland trollies.
“ It’s no wonder Peter Andre is ripped….pushing this bloody lot uphill from Town!” he said gasping for breath like an asthmatic smoker with one lung.
“That Long- Covid really takes it out of you!” he rasped noisily.
“What’s that Gibberish written on the front handlebar?” asked Grant.
“Bee Gee language of course from the Isle of Man!” replied Danny Boy pulling their legs.
Grant and Doug looked blank.
“Welsh…c’mon boys it’s your Mother tongue!” said Daniel.
“What does it say then?” asked Doug.
“I have been trying to read what it says while I was pushing them!” he continued.
“May contain horsemeat!” stuttered Daniel trying to convert it into English for the pair of numbskulls.
“That’s not horsemeat!” proffered Grant as he pointed into the final ‘fifth columnist’ trolley.
“What the F*** is that!?” asked Danny.
“It’s my Jamiriqui hat for the start of the Friday, Bloody Friday rebellion….I bought it on e-bay for £5.00….only cost me £40.00 in postage too….bargain…!” replied Doug.
“Besides, you told me that you wanted us to get on national television and what better way than wearing a Red Indian Buffalo Hat?” Doug replied.
“Didn’t you think we would lose the support of the vegetablists?” said Danny wisely.
“Most of Merthyr is now vegan after seeing the looks on the faces of the sheep and cattle being transported up the Slip Road to Cowsvitz in Pengarnddu!” agreed Grant.
“Any way, no time to lose, the sun is coming up and we need to separate the statue from the Plinth of Wales before the Cunstabulary release what we are doing !” ordered Danny.
As he unloaded the jack-hammer, Grant – the electronics wizard- began to patch the power supply into the adjoining traffic lights shorting them out.
Just like the film Ocean’s Eleven, another Danny had a masterplan to help their cause by creating mayhem with the traffic in Avenue De Clichy which would prove even worse than the existing confusing road layout.
Ocean’s Eleven had nothing on River’s Three.
As Doug Deep dug deep, it came as a shock to the three would be rebels that the ground around the statue was so soft it took minimal effort for the statue to resemble the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the Merthyr equivalent- the mining subsidence hit Edwardsville Swimming Baths where the shallow end was now 45 feet deep.
“Stop!” warned Danny, as the statue began to list at a 3.99 degree angle.
Both of the others ran into position to support the statue and were shocked to see how light it actually was.
“It’s hollow!” declared Danny surprised- noticing a tracing crack around the neck of the former Mayor- where his goldie looking chain would have been.
“A bit like Nigel Farage’s life is after achieving Brexit!” he continued.
“Bring the trollies around to the front!” ordered Danny, just like a foreman of the Council watching others toil away filling the potholes in the road with fairy dust.
Grant manoeuvred the Iceland metal carts with a mind of their own under the structure and lowered the statue onto them to take the weight.
“Take the knee!” shouted Danny back straining under the weight.
Doug immediately dropped to the floor like a Pre-Match Premiership footballer.
“No….you dopey bastard…HIS knee!” screamed Danny to avoid a sucker punch from the Welsh Muhammed Ali.
There was no cheer like the fall of Saddam Hussain in Baghdad, just a few grunts that would turn into full-blown hernias in 20 years time for the foot soldiers of the Read Brigade.
Now controlling one Iceland Trolley with a wonky wheel is hard enough, but attempting to guide five of them downhill on a slope towards the Civic Centre is a Herculean task best left to Greek hero of the Underworld Sisyphus.
The runaway train of carts began to pick up pace with the incline and like most drivers in Merthyr refused to stop at the junction with Avenue De Clichy.
There was a massive ‘wind rush’ as the students flew pass the Council Offices and out onto the Fire Station Bridge without stopping, mounting the pavement and finally only coming to a halt when it bashed into at the metal bridge railings- leaving the statue teetering like the van in the 1968 Italian Job film over the edge of the parapet.
“Oi…what are you bunch of teenage delinquents up to?” shouted local Official, Hectorz House, who appeared to be cleaning peanut butter off the outside of the windows of his office attached to what looked like a bungee chord.
“I may be suspended but I am not having that….Not In My Back Yard!” he screamed at the trio.
The volatile situation was bad enough as the three students had to use all their puny muscles to keep the statue from going over too early.
They wanted maximum publicity and the arrival of local ITV news correspondent, Hanna Barbara to film the event.
She had received a tip-off to be at the bridge at 5.15am for some excitement which would go far beyond the usual local news stories such as a goat being born in Vaynor with the face of Jesus Christ.
As she arrived the bridge, the Mexican stand-off with Hectorz and the Fire Brigade, just like the River Taff was in full flow.
“What are your demands?” asked Hanna pointing a microphone in the face of Doug, still partly covered in goatshit.
Doug just smiled weakly, as the cannabis from Amsterdam he had smoked early that morning to give him Dutch courage kicked in, as he tried in vain to hold onto the feet of the deceased boxer.
The Fire Brigade had already worked out a plan to defuse the situation and Fireman Sam ‘Sparkes’ Toomey was busy twirling a lasso around his head.
Its purpose to ‘rope a dope’ if he had too.
Hectorz House too was closing in on the students from the other side of the road.
“That’s close enough!” warned Danny, reaching into his pocket with one hand and producing a neatly typed list in Gaelic Font.
“The demands of the Read Brigade are as follows:
One : the immediate demolition of all statues of slave traders and Ironmasters in Wales.
Two: A declaration that Winston Churchill and Tony Blair be deemed War Criminals.
Three: That all student loans be wiped and replaced by Student Grants – except for those doing a degree in David Beckham Studies.
Four : The release of all political prisoners currently held on Gogglebox.
“ It is Merthyr Council Policy not to negotiate with Terrorists or Blackmailers!” replied Hectorz.
The crowd suddenly gasped as the Official had used the B word in public.
A Note was immediately added to his extensive Personnel File by a member of the Council CIA (Council Interview Associate).
“Now if you drop that Statue into the River Taff you will never get that job at the Guardian Newspaper as a Fifth Columnist and will be in big shit!” Hectorz continued.
“ I will see to it that you lot get more F’s on your college report than if it was marked by Gordon Ramsey!” hectored Hectorz.
The flooded River had turned black from the overflow of 58 unsafe spoil tips that still blight the Unitary Authority Land.
It was also receiving raw sewage from the Morlais Brook outlet , with turds now racing the squadron of plastic bottles dumped on the steep side of Abermorlais Tip.
Daniel was not an easy one to imidate.
He decided to fight fire with fire.
“Very soon we won’t be the only ones!”- he said pointing the boxer in the direction of Cardiff Bay.
As he did so, the top of the Boxing Promoter suddenly fell off into the raging River below.
Miraculously, just like a miracle of Fatima, the gathered crowd watched as Eddie Thomas face did a reverse Michael Jackson and turned from white into black.
Some began genuflecting.
Then even more miraculously for Merthyr, a series of Ten Pounds Notes began shooting out of the head of the statue like a broken cash machine.
“Well, I’ll be blowed!” said Hectorz, trying to hold onto his trousers- as the Monica Lewinsky career following female assistants from the Council surrounded the Dreamboat.
“I think you have discovered the fabled Reddy Money from the Atlanta Match in 1987!” he continued.
“Quick Fireman Sam….jump in and retrieve the monies we could plug the Gap in the Council Budget with that lot!”
The three students in a pre-determined plan all smiled at the ITV Camera, produced their mobile phones and shouted ‘Selfie!”
As they did so, gravity took effect and the remainder of the headless statue toppled into the fast-flowing Taff waters, before landing upright on a small island- standing there stranded just like Robinson Crusoe.
The Iceland Trollies, one by one, tried to follow the statue into the raging black waters as if drawn in by some ghostly invisible drunken hands on a night out at Koolers.
Just like the three students- they had to be forcibly restrained.
It was just another Black, Black Friday in Merthyr alright.