Let's be steely in our resolve to save the Port Talbot plant
I spent the weekend in Swansea. I, like so many tourists and politicians, drove right by the steel plant in Port Talbot on my way to south west Wales's premier city.
I was born in St Mary’s Hospital in Portsmouth and did most of my growing up in Scandals and South Parade Pier. But, for a few – too few – years, I called Wales my home.
Even now, six years and two weeks since I moved back to Pompey, I consider Wales my second home. In fact, so much so that one of my good friends assumed I came from Welsh stock, despite the fact my accent is more Pompey Jack than Swansea Jack.
I couldn’t help but glance over to my left as I drove down the M4, looking over at the Tata steel works in Port Talbot which, if you’ve ever driven down the relief road around them, actually go on until the end of time.
It’s becoming a political football, in the run-up to the EU referendum, with talk about how Europe managed to allow China to flog cut-priced steel to the rest of the world.
Whatever. There are at least 4,000 very good reasons why the lights at Port Talbot’s steel works need to keep on burning.
There are villages at the heads of the valleys that are almost ghost towns. They have no industry and they have no purpose.
Rightly or wrongly, the industry they were built to support disappeared.
I’m finding it quite hard to describe what’s left.
There are villages made of these amazing stone cottages, turn-of-the century – 20th, obviously – if not older, that have been built specifically to house the colliery workers.
For some, the coal mines run right under their houses and I must admit it was a bit of an eye opener having to ask the coal board whether the house I bought in Pontypridd was likely to fall into a mine shaft or not.
The people of south west Wales see a continuing policy of shutting things, losing things and making those tiny valley communities completely redundant.
So, politicians, let’s not continue that. And let’s be steely in our resolve.
SOME PEOPLE TOUCH OUR LIVES EVEN THOUGH WE HAVEN’T MET
I don’t know about you, but it seems that for most of 2016 there seems to have been a roll-call of talented entertainers called up to the heavenly stage.
The latest, of course, is Ronnie Corbett. In the Judd household, The Two Ronnies were second only to Morecambe and Wise in terms of top comedy viewing.
At the beginning of this year I went to the funeral of a family friend. It was held at Crookhorn and I suspect a few readers of this column will have been there too.
One of Uncle Roy’s requests for his funeral service was clear: to play the Two Ronnies’ Fork Handles sketch. I’ve never been to a funeral where people laughed so much.
There are some people who touch our lives, even though we’ve never met them.
WHEN SOMEONE FINDS THE REAL THING, YOU HAVE TO BE HAPPY
I’ve been spending the weekend shopping for wedding dresses.
No, not for me, but for one of my best friends.
I spent the weekend in bridal houses in Swansea, talking about styles and colours and all things girly.
Regular readers of this column will know I’m divorced – one of those statistics that get rolled out to show the institution of marriage is this, that or the other.
Do you know what? Just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean I’m not going to dissolve into girlie giggles when my mate asks me not only to be her bridesmaid but also to give a reading for her. I’m so excited I could burst.
Love’s a weird thing: it strikes and there’s nothing you can do. So when someone finds the real thing, how can you be anything but happy?