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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blast from the past

Forgive me dear reader for a very personal blog post. I live in Wales in the UK. It is 4am here and I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep despite having a busy day and a busy day ahead.

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know of my ambitions to be a standup comedian. I have done a few gigs and am learning all the time.

This evening I was hosting an event in my hometown featuring ladies with talent. Included in the performers was my beautiful and talented partner Sarah doing her first standup set. I was the compere for the evening, a role which I usually relish. Tonight was different. Tonight everything was done in a bubble, on autopilot. The reason for my emotion or rather lack of passion? A member of the audience.

I arrived at the venue early and got set up. Sneaked out for a vape and then returned to the bar. And there she was. Sitting in the front row was a lady I hadn’t seen since 2004. My heart sank. This woman was the precipitator of one of my suicide attempts. But who was she? I have forgotten her name but she was an OT assistant at the local Psychiatric Unit I was on. She was loud and bossy and believed you could get better by pulling yourself together.

Back in 2004 I was in my final year of a Social Work Diploma course in Manchester University. I had been unwell since January and falling behind with my work. In June 2004 I found myself admitted to hospital. I had to make a serious decision. Was I going to try and catch up with the year or re do the second year. I had been communicating with my head of department for a couple of weeks. She gave me a deadline to decide my future and asked that I send her an email to confirm my decision. I decided this particular day to send the email from my friends house and I went there as I wasn’t sectioned and was free to come and go as I pleased. When I returned having decided to re do the year I met this OT Assistant who proceeded to tear a strip off me as I had not been at the mornings OT session. She said she had arranged creative writing which I had asked for and she wasn’t interested in my explanation. Having made a decision about the rest of my life I was stressed and also suffering from Major Depression. I was completely heartbroken with the attack and this unthinking act resulted in a suicide attempt.

Tonight I was back there. Back with the hurt and frustration. Back to the desperate darkness. This woman did not recognise me but I recognised her it was like a portal to the past and I was shaken to my core.

Ghosts can rear their heads at any time……………….but she was only a memory a bad memory. I am shaken……..but will not be stirred.

 

You Get Your Kids Back from a Rottweiler

Last night I stood on a stage. Last night I stood on a stage that has had the great and the good of comedy on it. John Bishop, Sarah Millican, Johnny Vegas and Peter Kay. Last night I stood on a stage and tried to Beat The Frog.

Beat The Frog is an Open Mic Comedy night at the famous Frog and Bucket Comedy Club in Manchester. New comics get an opportunity to step into the arena Gladiator style and try and deliver 5 minutes of standup to an audience armed with cards without getting honked off. Last night the Frog and Bucket was my nemesis. Having failed to negotiate the steep staircase to the stage I launched into my act. I had managed to memorise five minutes worth of cutting edge observational comedy but two minutes into my set the horn was sounded and I was off. I never got to share my Angela Eagle joke or my tirade about getting older. My spot had been cut down on its prime. Was I disheartened? Hell no? Was I scared into not coming back hell no.

As I climbed off the stage all I felt was the belief that I would do better next time and this was just the beginning. I was the only woman on last night and the only thing it showed me was the process was arbitrary. I was proud I did it and it made me even more determined. Despite being voted off I stayed in the audience. I cheered as a fellow Social Worker took to the stage. He looked straight at me and pointed and asked the age old question “What’s the difference between a Social Worker and a Rottweiler?” Quick as a flash and without drawing a breath I shouted “you get your kids back off a Rottweiler” to howls of laughter from the audience and an incredulous look from the comedian. It was a super heckle but I genuinely thought I was helping out!!!! Moral of the story……..in a room full of comedians………write your own bloody jokes!!!!

Would I do it again? Hell yes. When? 26th September. Will I Beat The Frog? I have no idea. Am I giving up? Hell no. Things can only get better……….Nia Lloyd Williams is here to stay. Last night was only the beginning………………watch this space…….

 

 

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.

 

 

 

I’m Scared

I’m scared. Really scared. For the first time since I was an anxiety ridden teenager growing up in the dark days of the Cold War in the 1980’s I am genuinely terrified. Back then I was an impressionable young woman terrified by the threat of nuclear war from Russia. I watched the Protect and Survive public information films with total terror. I lived with anxiety that my young life could be snuffed out at any time by nuclear war. I was so scared that I joined CND my life was blighted by the threat of annihilation.

Twenty years later I watched in horror as the planes crashed into the Twin Towers and I feared that life would never be the same again. The anxiety of my youth which had finally faded somewhere between growing up and moving on had returned. On September 11th 2001 I was due to attend a counselling session. This was part of an ongoing plan to assist with my depression. I remember thinking that life would never be the same again and spent the whole of my session talking about the event. The world didn’t end but was forever changed.

Over the last few months I have watched in horror as people are set against each other to divert attention from those who are really corrupt namely the establishment and the government and I have been concerned if not outraged at the evil rhetoric spouted by the government and the press about immigrants and benefit claimants.

America seem on a collision course to elect Trump as President and it is truly terrifying. Then came the shootings in Orlando in a Gay club. Things were hotting up becoming ever  closer to home. Then last week Jo Cox was murdered and I am truly afraid again. I am afraid for all of us, fighting amongst ourselves destroying our own. Life will never be the same again.

I would like to think we will learn from this ,I fear we will not. I pray for the strength to live in peace and tolerate our enemies so that it becomes the politics of love not hate. I am a Christian and I seek the strength of my beliefs to share love not hate so that I am not frightened anymore.

i will pray because I believe in prayer and I don’t know what else to do…………..I wish us all peace and love, we need it now.

 

 

Death Of A Friend

On the 27th April this year I lost a close friend. She was a year and three days older than me and she died a month before her 47th Birthday. I attended her funeral, even did a tribute, but I have, as yet, shed very few tears. I am still in shock that her death was so sudden, if expected and still can’t believe she’s gone. I hadn’t seen her for a long time but I spoke to her most nights on the phone and eight days after she told me she was dying she was gone. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, I avoided it and now it’s too late.

Tonight watching Holby City I witnessed the death of a fictional character in the drama and I cried, I cried a lot. Why was it okay for me to cry like this for a fictional character yet not shed a tear about my friend. Shouldn’t it be the other way round? Was this some kind of displaced grief? Was it safer to mourn the death of a stranger than a close friend?

My friend has made me question life. How is it possible to be here one day and gone the next. What are we here for? What’s the point? As yet I haven’t found the answers and I still sit in a daze that my friend has really gone, there will be no more pot noodle for breakfast or late night phone calls. She is gone, she is gone, she is gone and I guess I must go on…………………………I miss her!!!!

Small is the new Big

This past week has been a myriad of activity for me and Sarah, my partner in crime. Being students of all things comedy we had a couple of opportunities to indulge in our new found passion.

On Friday last week we travelled to the beautiful town of Llangollen and our monthly fix of comedy at the Llangollen Comedy Club. This monthly fixture is usually compered by Leeds based comic Silky.

This month I was particularly excited to be in Llangollen as it was the first tour date for Canadian Comic Tanyalee Davies. I had previously seen this diminutive mirth meister on Live At The Apollo and had laughed till I cried so to be a ble to see her live was a joy.

Also on the bill that evening was Johnny Pellham and he entertained us with tales about his third (or was it his fourth?) nipple and the strange affliction of walking on tiptoes all the time.

The star of the show was Tanyalee Davies. She came on to the stage full of life and proceeded to deliver 20minutes of observational comedy that made me chuckle and she also challenged people’s preconceived ideas about ‘little people’ the list of no no’s included don’t pat us on the head and don’t pick us up!!! My favourite line was her announcing she was mixed race…….a white woman with a black woman’s booty…complete with actions!!!!!

Tanyalee Davies challenges you and dares you. She challenges you to look again at your prejudice and she dares you not to laugh.

i had the good fortune to meet up with Tanyalee after the show and found her to be a positive and thoughtful person who was quite willing to chat with a fledgling standup like myself. If you get a chance go see her………..she’s a Big Deal and the real deal.

 

Mwddrwgimage.