Thursday, 30 December 2010

'Keep faith with people and they will join you'

Back in the summer I attended a day-long workshop at Toad Hall (T'owd Hall) and The Medicine House, home of Alan and Griselda Garner and their Blackden Trust.

The Medicine House is a Tudor apothecary's house from Wrinehill which the Garners had dismantled and rebuilt up at Blackden to save it from demolition. It's been on their site now for 40 years.

Griselda Garner took us on a tour of the house and related the story of how Ced', one of the workmen, heard 'voices' within the walls and later discovered something which inspired one of Alan's best known novels. She used a phrase which struck a chord with me, 'Keep faith with people and they will join you.'

I only wish our politicians would stick to that one.

I later wrote a poem about the incident which Griselda was kind enough to comment on and to circulate around members of the Trust. It's called 'Voices' and I've reproduced it here:


'I'm in me own time, in me own time.'
He finds Ced' furtive, without tools, without tea,
distracted like a Tudor servant disturbed
too close to the beef-box in the chimney.

They have kept faith with him and he with them.
And all follow the sequence, pattern
and placing of the numbered timbers.
There are voices. They murmur in the beams,

in the panels, layered, soft and distant,
like breezes. Ced' heard them first, dismantling
this section, and dismissed them - there are knots,
and cracks and creaking. He hears them now

as he resets each joist and cross-beam.
'Keep faith with people and they will join you.'
They keep faith with him and he rewards them,
releases the memories within the walls.

I don't know what 2011 is going to bring. But I reckon if we all keep faith one with another then we won't go far wrong.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Times of our lives

Who'd play the sound track to your life?

We'll be down in South Wales for Christmas.

We'll visit my Gran in the nursing home. It'll be the first time she's stayed there over Christmas. Previously, she's been able to come over to our Mam's for Christmas Dinner.

That's the way of it, I suppose.

The last time I visited, the news of the Royal Wedding had just been announced. Large screens broadcast the future Wales-es and their broad smiles. Old folks sat slumped in chairs, dribbling or slurping their tea or custard. Some seemed to vaguely comprehend what was happening.

The old girl who sits next to our Gran was in tuneful mood.
'You are my sunshine, my only sunshine ...'

Then a string of Sunday school hymns. 'A sunbeam, a sunbeam ...', 'What a friend we have in Jesus ...'

I wondered what the tunes would be when it's our turn?
Those of us who lived through the Punk era, what would we be singing in our dottage?
'Babylon's Burning, Babylon's Burning ...'?

Or the Sid Vicious version of My Way?
'And now, the end is near,
And so I face the final curtain - wah ha ha ha -
You ...' - already know the rest ...

My eldest has just transcribed all my old Punk and New Wave collection onto her I-Pod ... apart from the material that's still on vinyl in the attic.

So perhaps she'll recognise the songs when she visits me in a home somewhere?
The Wales's offspring may be announcing an engagement and I'll set down my bowl of apple crumble and custard to mumble through toothless gums, 'God Save The Queen ... it's a fascist regime/There is no future in England's dreaming ...'

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Where will they take us, The Singing Waters?

It's close to home

I'm calling my business venture Candwr Marketing.

I'm naming it after a stream back home in South Wales, The Candwr Brook. Candwr is Welsh for 'Singing Waters.'

There's lovely. Lyrical. 'Praise the Lord,' said the Reverend Eli Jenkins, 'We are a musical nation!'

But it's no vague, Celtic twilight. What I'm saying is that you can have marketing communications that are 'on song.' Communications that strike a chord with your customers. Make them want to linger and do business with you.

Words that resonate and remain with you. Campaigns so smoothly orchestrated that they flow.

I've picked up some market research projects in Further and Higher Education. And I'm talking to consultants and agencies who deal with that sector. It's the one I know best. But I'll also be talking to private training providers and charities, smaller enterprises of various kinds.

Where will the Singing Waters take us? Not always to places that are lush and pastoral. But always, I trust, to places where the water chuckles over the pebbles, where hard work can be fun and memorable. Where good impressions resound and linger, ever after, in the mind.

Let's off-road!

Remember the Fast Show?

The first characters that caught my attention were the Off-Roaders. Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson with a 4x4 at the bottom of a muddy bank or heathery slope. They'd psych themselves up in anticipation, geekily gloating over the tyre treads, the throttle and the gears. There was always an uncharted waste to cover, an expanse of bog or blasted moorland. They'd gabble excitedly and conclude that all was, 'gripped, sorted. Let's off-road!'

Then they'd jump into the vehicle, rev it up ... only for the wheels to spin, for it to slip back, get stuck. They were going nowhere.

I've gone off-road. But I'm expecting progress. I'm setting up my own business, launching out on my own.

This afternoon, in the snow, I left a familiar track and headed off into the woods. It was great. Bare, snow-laden trees, whiplash branches, iced-over ditches and ponds. It was Frost's Stopping By Woods, it was The Road Less Travelled. It was cold and wet. I climbed over a barbed wire fence and jumped across an icy stream. It was gripped. Sorted. I was off road.

I got a wet pair of socks but views of my adopted town from angles I'd not seen before. I exchanged pleasantries with dog walkers and dads and kids on sledges. It was worth the wet feet.

This is it. I'm doing it. Let's off road!