As well as a poet I am chair of Rhymney Valley Literature and Arts Festival 2016. It has been a very busy time with judging RVLAF poetry competition and setting up the RVLAF anthology. Lots of reading, going through emails, sending emails and making many phone calls. Setting up readers lists and times. Debbie Price of (BBTS Baarbaar the sheep publications) been sat at the computer for 3 days. Along with open Poetry open mic at the Capel and working …. I needed a culture day away from the bloody computer.
Took the 8 15am train to Cardiff. Spent the morning at the Museum of Wales. At the Mamazts Woods, Somme exhibition. Very interesting but sad. Showing a true account through using poetry, letters and drawings from Welsh soldiers. Who were used as cannon fodder. For a war that should have ended all wars but did not.
The antidote to war is PEACE I like peace gathering, talking and discussing. Not bombing, using Drones and using rhetoric to bamboozle the masses or having the monopoly all essential commodities. I like pro anything not anti anything
Later I made my way to the Old Library which is now a centre for Welsh culture. I asked the man behind the desk of authority if he would put my poster of RVLAF.
He looked at the poster and replied no. I asked why. He replied the poster is not in Welsh. I looked at his desk of authority and there before me was information on display in English only. I guided the man to this information. He stared at me with disgust then told me to see the man who was standing at the side of the foyer. I walked over and I explained about the poster and the events that were taking place and how this was opening up the Welsh Valleys to culture. He looked at me as if I was mad. So I pointed to a gap between posters and asked could the poster go there. He looked at the poster and said. “If you put that poster there I will take it down when you have gone” “What, why ? This is a free festival highlighting the Rhymney Valley through Literature, music and storytelling. I thought this building represented Welsh culture” He walked away from me. I stood in bewilderment.
Through email I made arrangements to meet with Tom Cheesman at the Story telling Centre. To discuss Cameroon poet Eric Ngalle Charles, having platform at events that I run. Tom Cheesman invited me to Cameroon poets book launch at Story Telling Center. (Unbeknown to me the Story telling centre was in the old library) Saw Tom Cheesman outside the building I just left. He was smoking a fag. I recognised him from a photograph. We greeted each other and I relayed the event of my RVLAF poster.Tom laughed in a kind way and said the storytelling centre is in the building where I banned myself. Red faced I plucked up the courage to go back into the building. I quickly walked down the stairs. Met Eric, Bevin and others. I was still hyper from my ordeal with the two men from upstairs and I did not give a good impression. Tom, Eric and a photographer from Roath (Not Dave Daggers) thought I was barking mad and they said this to me too.They also mentioned an open mic with RARA poets. I asked could I perform a poem. Eric told me to ask Tom, Tom said ask Eric. I was refused a slot.
Ironic moment I created RARA and established RARA. I left RARA in March 2015 and gave RARA to Dave Daggers and others. After speaking to John Gower and giving John my RVLAF poster. I did not want to accept the behaviour in the room from others who were rude towards me, so I quietly left the building.
Walked towards Bute Park hid behind a tree and cried. I caught the eye of a homeless man I quickly wiped my eyes when he said “It is alright love I will not hurt you I am looking for dogends” I looked at his sad overly tanned wrinkled face (Tanned through living out-doors) and said. “Sorry I do not smoke other wise I would give you a cigarette” He walked away towards a bench, I sat opposite him. He took off his shoes. I noticed they had holes, he looked so desperate. I sold a copy of my latest book “Healing Garden” at the Imp in Merthyr on the Thursday. I gave the homeless man the fiver from the book sale. His frown grew a smile and my spirits rose.
I made my way to the Sherman theatre and Poet and Playwright Patrick Jones play “Before I Leave” I like the Sherman it is more open than the Chapter. I ordered humus sandwich and bara brith. The staff was very helpful and friendly. The main entrance cum dinning room soon filled up with people and chatter. I noticed Actor Dafydd Hywel he sat behind me chatting to others. The last time I was at the main theatre was to see Brian Friel’s play “Translations” I sat next to two sisters Carrie and Jill. The three of us knew Patrick Jones through the literature world.
The Play “Before I Leave” is about a choir with people who have Alzheimer’s. The choir is based in a library in Merthyr. The play opened with singing. Then it showed us the tragedy behind Alzheimer’s. Through singing, black humour and past political history especially from the character of Rocky. Also late 70s music (A blast from my past) threaded through the play. Play showed how people with Alzheimer do not like change and how they can deteriorate when change does happen. Showed how Alzheimer’s affect families and there is no age limit to this sad disease.
Patrick Jones brought the disease Alzheimer’s from behind the sofa into the light. He made what some people think is ugly and should be hidden away beautiful and gave the disease an understanding. We wept, we sang, we laughed. All the performers were excellent. All gave a raw honest, sincere performance. “Before I Leave” was one of the best plays I have ever seen. I left making friend with Jill and Carrie they are coming to the Capel July 11th to hear Patrick Jones read from his new book.
I walked back to Queen Street station with humanitarian warrior Ray Davies’s lovely widow Wendy.
(Today in my real job I work with people who have Alzheimer’s)
What my day of culture taught me. That sometimes good intentions get lost in other people ignorances . At the end of the day we all want to be understood including the homeless man.
What do you do when you are in a room where others think you are a mad women. You rise above it and say to yourself “I alone am enough” Then you hug the tree you cried too.