Two Words Cwmbran 2

Well Done.

So, the rubbish isn’t completely gone and the over-riding sense of doom hasn’t entirely been cast-off BUT, since I last visited at the start of the year a shift has definitely occurred.

There was much less rubbish around – until you get across the chems, of course, and then there still is an inordinate amount of garbage (and random household garbage too) floating about by the fence between the old cricket field and the stadium.  Beyond that, there was just a regular amount of rubbish – still not brilliant but so much better than last January when it appeared that it was the desire of the council for Cwmbran to become newly twinned with “The Tip”.

A complaint – the Flower Gardens.  They aren’t anymore, are they.  Poorly mown and poorly sown.  Still, at least a bit of green in the burbs, isn’t it.  One wonders why the fish-pond can be maintained as a flowerbed but not the flowerbeds themselves…

Anyway – on to the real reason for this post:

The Boating Lake.

Four things:

The new housing estates are soulless and awful.

The bridge is still as magical as it was when I was a boy – my daughter called it “mysterious” because it disappears into the trees – still such an evocative sound.

The park – magnificent – I simply cannot praise the park enough – alright, I can praise it in two ways, actually: one it’s been superbly brought back to life and the actually play-items are awesome (brilliant that they kept the helicopter!) – secondly, the amount of people using it.  We were there on a Saturday afternoon, and you had to queue for the attractions.  We were there on a Sunday morning and we had the pleasure of watching the “boys” with their remote control boats and the dog walkers and, specifically, the families out using the park and bringing life to it.  – Full marks too to Cwmbran Council for the way in which the park is being maintained – the rubbish collectors out on Sunday morning were a pleasure to see.  Brilliant.

The park, the lake, the cafe, the atmosphere.  A pity – I’m given to understand – that it can be a magnet for thieves and vandals – perhaps use and reputation will keep the detritus away?

There’s still much to moan about re Cwmbran – town centre is a monstrosity, simply ridiculous and other words that mean the same things – but the change from then to now is noticeable and to be commended.

Da iawn.


There’s Others Here With Us

Dust gathers.

Eyes survey paint.  Circles on the wall.  An empty cage.  Echoes.

Mustiness pervades and lifelessness.

The golden ticket.

“Look at those smiling faces!  That’s what we want to see.”(1)  The queues, the purple. The starfish.  The coffee.  The group, right?

A faded white building stands empty.  An industrial park once the grants have run out.  A false-funded scheme that brought output to an area where output of its kind was out of the ordinary.  A cobweb gleams and dew-drops hang tears on strands of silk.

A sweaty urban establishment.  It hasn’t changed much in thirty-three years.  The stage is cramped and compulsive.  The lighting is purple but not as artfully arranged as it once was.  There is an element missing.

“Hurry!  Purchase your tickets now!”(2)  Exclamation points always indicate insincerity.  There is no hurry.  He’s dead now.  He’s gone.  There was hurry.  When he was alive, when he was here.  A hurry for the next song, a hurry for the next show, a hurry for the next idea.  There is no hurry now.

Melancholy spits and twists in the first of the songs.  There is a ghost here.  The notes sound right.  The notes sound the same but, there is something missing.  Once, before, the spark, the element that was missing was acknowledged by a prop.  The prop was there, tuned and ready for use, just in case the missing appeared.  He didn’t.  The prop is there again.  Now it can only be used by those who are there.  The missing is missed.  Is mist.

If you are in the desert around Vegas you can see the beam of light from miles out.  It points straight into the sky; straight into the heavens, if you are that way inclined.  The beam of light comes from the top of a pyramidal structure.  In Chanhassen there is another pyramidal structure, on top of an industrial looking white building, but it is lacking the light,  “as a special courtesy”(2).  I wonder for how long.

Eyes now look in.  The dust is causing them to blink.  The dust needs to go.  The surfaces need to be clean.  The paint on the walls needs touching up.  The circles need to gleam.  The cage needs to coo.  The queues will form soon, for the “initial 2016 dates”(2).  You can now buy the merchandise.  The starfish and the coffee merchandise is now joined by the colour it peach and black merchandise and the known for the face it attracts merchandise.  There are bills to be paid and a history to construct.

The snow that April can bring now renders those that see it to tears.  And there, in that moment, comes the honesty.  The chords form and the strings sing.  The eyes, the eyes that may have once worn a mote of dust now close.  They regress.  They see memories.  They see Steve.  They see happiness and anger and jealousy and creativity.  They see adventure and a cavalier; all ruffles and feathers, lace and sequins.  They see the time of their life and they cannot leave it alone.  They have to come back and look.  And live it again.  They derive sustenance from it.  A life source but from a source which is now absent.  They keep looking and pointing skywards hoping, perhaps, to see him again.  But they never do.  And those that weren’t there first come and gather and point and look too.  They feel they are part of it, even though they joined much later or were always on the outside.  The communiality is heartfelt and embraced.

And the eyes, dry as dust, push away tears and look firmly to the future.  There is a solvent green there…and for the first time, the mouth turns to a smile.

The slowness and the indecent haste appals and collides with the personal.  And one wonders where this is all going to end.  Is it ever going to end?  And the room, full of dust, lies still empty and the others here with us shriek and howl at the conflict of it all.

The prop is used.  Those that are there go beyond the reverence of a blue angel and pluck and play a different hue.  Is this the moment?  Is this the life, or will this become just another song about it?

The elevator brought us down.

and the album gathers dust on the shelf.


1 – Wendy Melvoin – 1st Sept 2016 – First Avenue

2 – email – launch of Paisley Park tours – 27th Aug 2016


This is fiction.