Bowalean Rhapsody

Is this the Rhyl life?
Is this just Rhos on Sea?
Caught on Hay Bluff side,
No escape from Llanfair PG.

Open your eyes,
Look up to Flint skies and see,
I’m just a poor boy, from Abergele,
Because I’m easy come, easy go,
A little high in Ewloe,
Anyway the shit floats from Talacre to the sea, the sea…

Mama, just killed Ifan,
Put him on a train to Holyhead,
Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead.
Mama, he was Alltami scum,
But now I’ve gone and blown his leeks away.

Mama, ooh,
Didn’t mean to take you to Llay,
If I’m not back again this time tomorrow,
Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters.

Too late, I’m off to Cwm,
Sends shivers down my spine,
Body’s aching all the time.
Goodbye, everybody, I’ve got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face Llanwrst.

Mama, ooh (anyway the shit floats),
I really hate Menai
I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all.

I see a little silhouetto of Ifan,
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you go to Cefn Lido?

In Deeside, storms of lightning
Shotton’s fucking frightening!
(Llandeilo) Llandeilo.
(Llandeilo) Llandeilo,
Llandeilo Llanidloes
Llandudno.

I’m just a poor boy, I went to Llangefni.
He’s just a poor boy from a house in Caerphilly,
Spare him his life from Abergavenny.

Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?
Tredegar! No, we will not let you go. (Let him go!)
Tredegar! We will not let you go. (Let him go!)
Tredegar! We will not let you go. (Let me go!)
Will not let you go. (Let me go!)
Never, never let you go
Never let me go, oh.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Oh, Ystalyfera, Ystalyfera (Ystalyfera, let me go.)
Blaenau Ffestiniog has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me.

So you think you can stone me and take me to Llay?
So you think you can love me and leave me to die?
Oh, Barry, can’t leave me in Buckley,
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here.

(Oh, yeah, oh yeah)

Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters in Kidwelly.

Anyway the shit floats.

(with apologies to Freddie Mercury and Queen)

Brief Encounter #14

Ken Dodd
ken-dodd
ONE of my most pleasant brief encounters tickled my emotions in a way that was totally unexpected.
Exactly 24 years ago, while working as a news reporter for a weekly newspaper in North Wales, I was asked to attend the opening of a new charity shop in Llandudno.
It was also a labour of love because I had been working as a media advisor for the charity concerned: the St David’s Hospice Appeal.
The new shop was being opened by the king of Notty Ash, veteran comedian, singer and entertainer Ken Dodd.
Until that day I never had much time for the buck toothed comic.
The year previously he had been charged with Tax evasion. The subsequent trial revealed that he had very little money in his bank account, having £336,000 in cash stashed in suitcases in his attic. When asked by the judge, “What does a hundred thousand pounds in a suitcase feel like?”, Ken Dodd made his now famous reply: “The notes are very light, M’Lord.”
Dodd was represented by the top QC George Carmen, who in court famously quipped: “Some accountants are comedians, but comedians are never accountants.” The trial lasted three weeks and Ken Dodd was acquitted.
So when he opened the charity shop in North Wales he was rebuilding his reputation at the age of 62.
He had made his career on quick one liners and his bizarre appearance. By 1990 his 1960s stage act was already dated and his humour appeared constantly childish.
So I puzzled why he had been chosen to open the shop. I then discovered that he had recently lost his long-time partner to cancer. He had personally nursed her until the end.
So larger than life, the tatty haired comic appeared. The shop was mobbed by charity workers, fans and local shoppers.
Ken Dodd was impressive. Talking without any notes he held the audience spellbound with quips about his court case and a secret suitcase he has stashed at the back of the shop. Soon ripples of giggles turned to belly laughter before he moved on to the seriousness of the occasion: the need for a dedicated hospice for the terminally ill and dying in North Wales. His demeanour changed as he talked about love and loss and the initial task of raising £300,000.
At the end of his 15 minute talk I found myself applauding with the rest.
Next I asked for a five minute interview for my paper. With a faint smile he agreed immediately and we moved to the back of the shop to talk.
He was modest, gentle and deadly serious as he answered my questions, maintaining eye contact throughout. At the end of the interview he shook my hand warmly and gave me a personally signed copy of his single Footprints in the Sand.
It remains with me today as a memory of thoroughly nice man.