Time Warp

Today it is August 2016 but this afternoon it was the 1950s. I have lived in Denbigh for the past 10 years and have spent 41 of my 46 years living in the Vale Of Clwyd. I consider myself to be interested in history, having been Head Custodian at Denbigh Castle in the early 1990s. I am also quite proud of my little corner of the Principality and am a keen supporter of local businesses and the like.

When I was a Custodian at Denbigh Castle, The North Wales Hospital was still open. It’s close proximity to the Castle meant we were a magnet to the suicidal escapees and would often have phone calls asking us to look out for people. The residents of Denbigh had free entry to the Castle and it became a magnet for young people and a few disturbed individuals. As the Custodian I was a captive audience and all kinds of individuals came to while away their days talking to me.

On the other side of The hospital was a farmstead called Cae Dai. This was the home of Sparrow Harrison, grandson of two Generals and educated privately where he met and became best friends with the much missed DJ John Peel. So different to myself the daughter of a bus driver and a caretaker. But similar to me Sparrow found that people used to visit Cae Dai from the hospital too.

I subsequently became a Social Worker. Sparrow also became a Social Worker of sorts. He set up the Cae Dai Trust to offer support and a second chance to the former patients of the North Wales Hospital.

Alongside this venture Sparrow set up a 1950s museum which houses all kinds of memorabilia from the era. It was to this museum we went today.

Cae Dai is on the Nantglyn road just outside the Medieval Market Town of Denbigh in North Wales. It sits in the shadow of the North Wales Hospital. You follow a steep dirt track down to the farm and park your car outside a non description modern building. This is a TARDIS. It houses so much more on the inside than it seems on the outside and it is most definitely a time machine.

From the moment you step over the threshold everything is of the 50s and 60s. There is a cafe area complete with a Jukebox in the corner and mannequins dressed in colourful teddy boy jackets. Film idols adorn the walls. It looks like the kids have just left. There is a display of Coronation memorabilia and a cabinet full of photographic equipment. Books, typewriters, toys even a Punch and Judy Booth complete with puppets. A small area is given over to kitchen equipment and various irons and every available space has old bottles packages and tins. It is all encompassing and you can’t shake the feeling that the people have only just left and if you wait a little they will return.

In the next room there is a bar in the corner a posh cocktail bar. Round the corner there is a 1950s living room set up complete with a programme on Churchills resignation that plays on an unbelievably small Television in a large wooden cabinet. Books and magazines are on the coffe table and a radiogramme sits quietly in the corner. This fascinates me as my parents bought a radiogramme in the 1980s which became our hi fi of the time and led to my lifelong obsession with 78rpm records.

Then in the next room is an area dedicated to radios, reel to reel tape players, record players and radiogrammes. The radios are explained with neatly typed information and you can almost hear and smell the valves as you walk around.

There ar vehicles too. The Ford Fiesta once owned by Christine Keeler from the Profumo Scandal a beautiful pink Cadilac and much more. There is a whole shop set up and also a a fabulous tobacco and smoking section with an impressive collection of lighters donated to the museum by other collectors.

The 1050s Museum is a gem that cannot be taken in on one visit and the informative guided tour by Sparrow Harrison is a delight. He regains you with tales of the 50s and his work at the Kray Tepwins Night Club and his prized possession the Lordy used in The Great Train Robbery.

We left the museum after a couple of hours and returned to the 21st Century. But I know I will be back, there is so much to see, so much to experience.

The 1950s Museum, Cae Dai, Nantglyn Road, Denbigh

Open 11-4   Admission £5       http://www.50smuseum.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a funny old world

It’s a month since Brexit and my how things have changed. We now have a new Prime Minister that has, so far, managed to make Margaret Thatcher seem positively cuddly. Theresa May elbowed her way into power and she is now strutting around as if she owns everyone and everything. I can’t say I have been overly aware of her in the past but the woman is pure evil. Her playground attacks on Jeremy Corbyn mark her out as the arrogant schoolyard bully she is. Getting into power b default she is arrogant and self assured.

I myself have been counting the cost since the brexit vote. To avoid being confused as Boris Johnsons love child I had to have an emergency haircut. When Michael Gove and Owen Smith came out of the woodwork I had to buy new glasses. The emergence of that moanng Minnie Angela Eagle made me ashamed to be gay and threatened to push me to Narnia and now Theresa May is Prime Minister I’m now considering a sex change.

Michael Gove disappeared and so did Angela Eagle, I’m told because Eddie Izzard wanted his dresses back!  Now we are left with Jeremy Corbyn and a Welshman no ones ever heard of so I guess I face a move from Wales to Scotland (that’s a thought that Nicola Sturgeon is one of my not so secret crushes)

On a lighter note Monday sees me venturing to the teeming metropolis that is Manchester for the Beat The Frog Open Mic Comedy Competition. A Comedy Club with a real pedigree stars such as John Bishop, Johnny Vegas and Sarah Millican have all appeared here. I am trying desperately to memorise my set leaving enough space for any last minute topical stuff that might just turn up.

I have spent the last month or so in a state of frustration and near constant state of anxiety so my comedy spot is likely to be an explosive ranty type performance about life post Brexit. Speaking to my CPN the other day I realised that Standup and Performance Poetry is my only way of releasing my anger safely. So watch out Manchester you have been warned!!!!

So I will watch the developments with interest in this messed up world of ours, examine and have a rant, after all if you don’t laugh you cry, it’s a funny old world.

Love and light

Mwddrwgimage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rememberance and Respect

As a brass player of nearly 30years Rememberance Sunday has never been an ordinary day for me. Back in 1987 when I first joined a brass band as a 17year old Armistice Day was always meant a freezing cold March and playing dust old hymns in the towns garden of Rememberance. In the shallow days of my youth I remember the irritation of having to get up early on a Sunday morning and marching with a load of old men in blazers and grey flannels wearing their berets and their medals. To my shame I once thought to myself this can’t go on forever, soon they will die and nobody will be left to March.

The garden of Rememberance was on the seafront nd when the wind got up you landed u with sand in your bell and the March cards would be ruined. The Solo Cornet played the last post and Revallie then the strange piper woman played her bagpipes. Some old bloke in a dress said Godly words then we marched them back to the RAFA Club where we had food…….the best bit. It never got to me……it was just another band job with irritating old soldiers and something we did before the carolling started.

As the years went on I started working for SSAFA The Armed Forces Charity and started to talk to Second World War Veterans and their widows. To them the War was real, it was their youth. Next Rememberance day our principal cornet was 18 and I realised that it wasn’t about old men marching but young men going to war. I have two brothers and suddenly I realised that in another time I could have lost them both. I had never let it in it was never real. But from that day onwards it was real to me.

2009 Harry Patch the last fighting Tommy died and a link to the First World War Was forever lost. It was that year I visited The Battlefields of France and the Thiepval Memorial and found the name of my Great Uncle Tommy who perished but his body was never found. I put a poppy in Rememberance…..now it was personal.

Since 2011 it has been my honour and privelige to play the Last Post at Bodelwyddan a small church in North Wales that has Commenwealth Graves of Canadian Soldiers. It s a job I take seriously.

This year we commemorate The Battle of The Somme. My Great Uncle Tommy died on the 10th July 1916. Tomorrow is the centenary of his death. I will place a poppy wreath on the Grave stone of my Great Grandparents where he too is commemorated. It is not an unusual story, it is the history of many families. I shall play the last post for Uncle Tommy and remember him for we mus never forget.

 

 

 

It’s the simple things

Last week was one of the most challenging weeks of my life. After a long time avoiding and ignoring my various debts………….they came knocking………big time. I will not bore you with the details here, suffice to say that Saturday, our five year anniversary consisted of phone calls to Step Change Debt Charity finally facing up to the level of my debt. There was incredulity and tears as I was forced to lay bare the details of my debts and the minutiae of my spending, down to the last penny, justifying why it would not be possible to reduce the amount of cats we had as four were over 15yo and on borrowed time and that time would sort it out for us. Little did the poor girl know on the phone that we would not eat so that they could eat. The future looked bleak the bailiffs were on their way and we had to wait till Monday to do something.

I  have been a volunteer for a charity for the past 22years and have helped hundreds of people in my time with debts and the like and for the first time in 22years I approached them to possibly help us. I spoke to a wonderful woman on the phone and I cried as I told her the story. She came round to see us the following day and went through the assistance form with us as I had done countless times for others. She was kind and non judgemental and very patient. As the visit drew to a close she asked for the bailiffs number and paid the outstanding sum for us. This was a gift to us from the organisation itself and I cried. It was a recognition of my 22years volunteering as well as my partners ex service history. I cried, cried with relief that the bailiffs wouldn’t be coming and cried that my voluntary service had been recognised. The charity is SSAFA The Armed Forces Charity and that day I was so proud to be involved with such an empowering organisation.

Be kind in your interaction with others, considerate and non judgmental for you never know when the boot will be on he other foot. In the darkest week of my life the kindness of a stranger changed my life for the better. It is the little things that are important. Today It was confirmed that funds had been granted for one of my cases which will enable a young man (who has been in hospital for six months) to come home. He will be home for his birthday which is on Saturday and his wife’s birthday is on Monday.

Be nice to people, you never know when you might need them x

Mwddrwg

 

 

Finding your way home

Today, despite a paltry three hours of sleep, I volunteered at Abandoned Animals in Prestatyn, a short drive from my home. Because of the disturbed sleep and mixed up meds I was emotional (I had been in floods of tears most of the morning) As I drove my mind wandered, what would I find today? Would any of the cats have found new homes or yet again would it be a matter of loving them a while as they continued to wait patiently for someone to pick them.

i arrived at the gates and beeped my horn to be let in and parked my car and looked over to the cat enclosure. The five little souls looked out from their pen over the desolate car park. Hugo a nine month old tabby with attitude. Nyla and Tash White and black affectionate cats about four years old. In the corner my favourite boy Chop an enormous bundle of fur and his sister Tuna. It had been a fortnight since I was last there and they were still waiting. Naturally I was pleased to see my feeling friends but my heart broke that they were still waiting.

I went to the staff room to sign myself in and then let myself into their little world otherwise known as the cat enclosure. I greeted them all by name and stroked them and I swear they understood that their friend was back again. And then I saw him…….my special boy Chop. Now Chop is very big but he has the softest fur and the loudest purr. I picked him up and held him in my arms, he wasn’t sure at first, but then he relaxed and sang me a beautiful song. I nuzzled my face into his soft fur and chatted to him quietly.  He looked me right in the eye with soft pleading eyes that seemed to ask why? But then something amazing happened. Carol the Manager came over and told me Chop and his Sister Tuna had found a new home. I was glad, I held him a little closer and told him he was such a good boy. Maybe his eyes would stop asking me why? I cried with relief for Tuna and Chop had endured nearly two years at the rescue without any interest. I buried my face in his soft fur once more as tears streamed down my face. I put Chop down as my arms had begun to ache and went to find Tuna. Tuna had always been more stand offish than Chop but today she sang for me and rubbed her head against mine. I told her I was pleased she would have a new home and that she was a good girl.

All this got me thinking. How many people are there out there that need a home, a place to be, a place to cling to. I am lucky my mum is still alive and still lives in the family home where I lived from five yrs old till I was 36. I visited her recently and spent some time in my old bedroom. It is now a store room for my brothers children but some of the furniture is the same and the bed. The walls have been repainted but I could still see the faint marks of sellotape and blue tack that held my pictures and posters when I was a teenager. There was an old wooden letter rack on the window ledge and looking insid I found a couple of letters from Zoos in reply to my letters about becoming a Zookeeper…..from the dates on.the letters I was only sixteen an entire lifetime away. I stayed a while but then headed back to my Mum downstairs having briefly glimpsed the past.

How things have changed. The letters had been typed on a typewriter, today they would be emails. Back then I had ambitions of a very different kind to now. Back then my mum was my rock. Now I am facing loosing her far too soon to pulmonary hypertension and for a moment I wished it was not so. This had been my home for so many years and I wondered for how much longer.

I have a new home. A home I have built with my partner Sarah our seven cats and a budgie. We have guitars on the walls, saxophones in the bedroom and bikes in the living room. We have a memory wall adorned with tickets and photographs of our various experiences. It is here I now call home with Sarah and the cats and I thank the Lord for such luxury. If we spend too much time in the past we will be consumed with regret. Visit it sometimes but always live in the present.

Mwddrwg