Saturday, 9th October, 2010.

Majoring In Flab

     “They’re getting fatter and fatter,”
observed Ianto.

     “Oh, good,” I said.   “What are?”

     “Them students,” he answered, using an
interesting adjective before the noun ‘students’.

     Ianto lives quite near to a branch of the
University College of Wales.   For many
years, he has been a great observer of the activities – or otherwise – of the
students who attend his local establishment.  
So, when Ianto says something about that section of the community, you
can bet that his comment comes from some well-applied observational study.

     “I was out and doing a proper job when I
was that age,” he went on, “helping my old Dad to earn a crust to support Mam
and the kids.   And there were precious
few crusts for us to share, I can tell you.”

     It’s best to nod when Ianto’s in this sort
of mood, so I nodded.

     “It did us no harm.   And these poor students are always
complaining that they can hardly manage on the pittance they get – or what
their parents shell out to keep ‘em from starving.”

     He paused for breath.   Then the tirade continued.

     “If they’ve got no money, how do they
manage to get fat?   And why do they all
seem to have cars instead of walking to the pubs.   A bit of easy exercise is walking.   That’d trim them down a bit.”

     “Well, perhaps it’s just here at your Uni
that it’s happened, Ianto,” I suggested.

     Ianto paused in his flow.   “Well,” he said, “it may be that you’re
right.   Tell you what – you wander
Wales a fair bit, don’t you?   You just check in all the University towns
you go through and see if the students there are getting fatter.”

     So I did.  
And they are . . .

Travelling In Hope

     As I travel through our land, I need, from
time to time, to use local amenities.  
It happened recently when I was on business in Laugharne.

     From all over the world, visitors come to
this lovely old town to see where one of our greatest poets received
inspiration for his work:  Dylan Thomas’s

     I parked near the shore and set out to
find a public toilet, for I had been on the road for quite a while.   The Boathouse is clearly signposted.   It stands overlooking the tidal estuary and
one can imagine the uplifting view Dylan would have from that spot.

     I walked past the statue of the great
man.   I can but guess what sarcastic
comment he would have passed had he seen his own effigy – scathing, I bet, for
it is not the finest sculpture in the world.

     Still no sign of a public toilet,
though.   I asked a couple of blokes –
obviously locals (for they wore proper trousers rather than the silly
almost-shorts beloved of male visitors) if they could give me directions.   They did so and, with cheery grins, advised
me that I needed twenty pee to get in.

     I assured them that I needed just one –
but they meant twenty pence.   So I had
to go back to my car to see if I had change.  
Fortunately, my glove-box yielded up a handful of shrapnel, so back I

     The words on the slot of the toilet-lock
informed me that it took twenty-pence-pieces only.   I scratted through the money I had and,
mercifully by now, found such a coin.

    Inside, it was clean and cosy with a slot
in the wall in which users could deposit their hypodermic-syringes, razor-blades
and even their safety-pins;  a most
useful idea by the Town Council.   I
shall recommend a visit to Laugharne to all the druggies I meet . . .

     I’m sure, too, that in Laugharne after
dark the stream which passes beside their new facility is used instead – now
that is a real convenience!

     The scourge of “pay to pee” public-toilets
seems to be about to make it big time in
I had a similar experience up in Machynlleth recently – though there is
a man there who’ll take your cash and give you change.

     Perhaps we rebellious Welsh should start a
protest-movement before it is too late and the use of public-conveniences
becomes the privilege of the idle rich!    

My Admiration For
The Tories

     Prime Minister Cameron, Leader of the
Tories and of the ConDem government in Wasteminster, told me – and you, of
course – that my country needs me.   He
was reflecting the words of General Kitchener, a man who sent millions of men
to their deaths in the trenches.

     Perhaps we should remember our history a
little better so as not to be confused at quotes made by
Whenever I see a War Memorial in any – most – of our Welsh cities, towns
and villages, I try to pause and read the names of those killed “to keep us

     From that, you may think that I do not
like the Tories much.   However, credit
where credit is due.   For this week I
watch the Tory-website Controller (an ominous title) being interviewed on
telly.   And what a performance from Tim
Montgomerie!   For upwards of five
minutes he stared near-enough straight into the camera – and
never blinked at all!

Well, we are talking about the part which brought you John Redwood here
. . .

Archie Lowe


About Archie Lowe

Though not born in Wales, I have lived and worked here for many years now. I love the place and love that mercurial thing "Welshness". I have been accused of being "a Taffophile" - which is pretty near the truth. The question I ask whenever some idea comes up for the whole of the UK is: "What's in it for Wales". I believe in an independent Wales and am so pleased that our Assembly is a big step on that road.
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