Monday, 21 November 2011

Can you believe this pool has been empty for over 20 years, and just left to disintegrate? It's right in the centre of town - the heart of the war memorial park, which is my favourite haunt.
The changing rooms, shelter and other surrounding buildings are Grade II listed.

Presently, the shopping centre is undergoing a very expensive facelift. The giant concrete cuboid, formerly 'Taff Vale Shopping Precinct' has been demolished. 

The tax office which was encased in this architectural masterpiece is slowly being taken apart (good old asbestos). 

 Plans for Next, Debenhams and other such retail giants to open stores here in 2012, promise to lure cash-splashing shoppers back to Pontypridd.  

The precinct used to house 'Rainbow Records' "no love, I haven't got that top 20 album, I can get it by Monday?" (Monday never came, though I did buy some great stuff from there in the early nineties)

The barbers was by far the jewel in the precinct's crown though.
The couple who owned it won the pools in the 70's, and went on an intensive hairdressing course before they bought the shop. 

The same apron was used for every customer, they only had 2. The 'gold'fish were suspended in slime, like a smaller, rotten version of Hirst's Cow

The couple offered no small-talk to customers, never decorated the place, or took down the 70's posters, and never gave anyone a decent haircut. It was always busy though, I think the price structure had a lot to do with it.

The ultimate insult to throw at a boy would be "did you have your hair cut in the precinct?"

gone, not forgotten

The design template for most of the departmental buildings in Pontypridd (built post 1950) follow this pattern: get a ruler, draw a straight line, then another, and join up the sides.

Only 2 floors left to demolish now, this was September.

The other major re-development currently under way is the building of a Sainsbury's supermarket on the former Brown Lenox site.

Brown Lenox was a chain/anchor works, constructed in 1816. 

In junior school, lessons in  local history  tended to feature two things; coal-mining, and the chainworks. The image of Isambard Kingdom Brunel standing in front of the giant chains is iconic for me.

We walked through the indoor market on Saturday, the boys love it in there.

I bought 2 bras for £1 each from the beautiful stall Shapemakers - take a look, and imagine what shape you could create. 
The second-hand book stall is chock-a-block with working-class favourites; My Life Has Been Utterly Shite, I Met a Nice Man and he DIED, I am a copper and I DRINK NEAT WHISKY all day - you get the picture? I didn't buy a book.

However, I will mock the market no more. It's improving month by month, and  I remember getting excited about going shopping there as a child.

I'd buy a few ounces of coconut mushrooms ("why do you always choose the heavy sweets Lucy?") and look at the toy stall. I once bought a little doll inside a matchbox from there, it seemed  a perfectly sensible purchase.

Recently, four ladies my age  opened stalls, one (the market owner's wife) has a lovely delicatessen/butchers, another sells hand-made cushions, bags and  decorative items, the third - an organic fruit and veg stall,  and finally, a stall selling paper goods. 
Tasteful, contemporary, quality, maybe things are looking up?

If we stay in Pontypridd, I hope the boys won't remember it as a dump. It's  home. 

My parents aren't from Pontypridd, neither is Rob, but I feel settled here, even when some of the sights get me down.

I was discussing 'inspiration' the other day;  it recently dawned on me that you don't need to go far or be surrounded by stereotypical examples of beauty to feel inspired. 

I do feel a change of scene is important to keep your mind fresh and add intrigue, but when you're in the right frame of mind, a walk down a well trodden path, one you've frequented all your life, can feel new and exciting.

I refuse to feel depressed about a supermarket and various chain stores taking over the town.
I'm on first-name terms with the lovely elderly ladies at the 'Truck Stop Cafe' in the market, and the young ladies starting new ventures. There's room for optimism, as well as dismay (though, I revel in the latter).

What makes 'home' for you, and why?

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A 'No News' week...

A sweaty week on the sofa with the family. For me, swallowing was agony, every time, it felt as though I was attempting to gulp a whole tangerine coated in glass beads. Head colds for Rob and the boys.

I drifted in and out of consciousness, dreaming I was choking, before waking to find a child telling me he needed a drink, meal, entertainment or help to get his Spiderman or Hulk costume off to have a wee.
My neck was swollen, I dribbled, my ears stung and my head spun.
The gas man came, why do they always arrive at such times?

I'm nearly recovered, but feel rather fragile, I just want to get out and do things, but slight activity leaves me exhausted. This is my winter mode, every year since my early teens, it's the same. Please -  no suggestions of vitamin tablets.

Blogging material has been limited to the confines four walls surrounding me. An impromptu visit from a couple, whilst in the throes of illness, was most unwelcome. This duo usually arrive with chutney in early December, a tradition of which they're very proud. The chutney is ghastly, I'm not a fussy eater at all, to which any family member will attest. This red onion chutney, however, tastes like rubber bands steeped in wine and strawberry jam. I will donate it to the school, part of the Christmas hamper raffle prize.
They were doing the chutney round early this year, the reason is long and boring.

I tried  fobbing the grinning couple off at the front door, hoping my swollen, clammy, pasty face coupled with nightwear at 4 pm would be enough proof that I wasn't feeling well. It mattered not that I was potentially host of a SARS-type virus which could exterminate them before they get to the next lucky recipient of chutney.

I managed some half-hearted small-talk, made them a cuppa, and very efficiently 'swept' them out of the house when I could stand no more 'useless-doctor-at-the-hospital/surgery' talk.
I was racked with self-loathing and guilt when they left. Why can't I just be nice?

Anecdotes are so thin on the ground, days have passed, and I've yet to finish the post.

I ventured  out this evening, to Tesco Express in Treforest - home to the University of Glamorgan. It's always really busy, and not very big. There's a Pizza Hut, KFC and a bar all crammed into a space only big enough for one of these establishments. Students are always to be found in large groups, using their measly funds to stock up on essentials like boxes of wine and buckets of chicken wings.

I filled a basket with packed-lunch supplies quickly, the handles chewed into my palms. A lady who seemed to have the mental age of a ten year old kept getting in my way, well, everyone's way.
Sandwiches reduced to £1 were drawing a crowd, you really can't beat stale bread, cheap ham and some rubberised cheese for an evening snack, can you?

The lady getting in my way (I decided to call her Bertha) was with an equally charming male companion who had  a penchant for denim (he can be Shakin' Stevens or 'shaky' for short). Shaky took one look at the queue and decided he was too cool to wait, he picked up at least 4 big bars of chocolate and strutted out of the shop. Bertha huffed and puffed behind me, she had 8 cans of cider, loads of reduced sandwiches and 2 huge bags of value ready salted crisps - they should work up a thirst.

Bertha and I were served at the same time, she looked like a lady with not a lot on her mind, I noticed a key ring swinging from her hand, it was festooned with cartoon character trinkets. As I had more shopping, Bertha left before me.

I was keen to see where Shaky had got to, so I hurried out of the shop, to witness Shaky sitting in the passenger seat of a brand new Ford (typical girl - don't know the model) EATING the stolen chocolate, and DISPLAYING a disabled badge. I know lots of disabilities are hidden, I'm not about to have a rant about any of the thoughts which came to mind.

I got into my shed, and followed Bertha and Shaky out of the car park. Shaky had cracked open a can, Bertha was force-feeding herself a sandwich (maybe livers are fetching a good price at the moment? Bertha is following the foie gras method to plump her liver to maximum size. "Cash your liver TODAY!" "".

How the other half live eh?

Anyone remember 'Bertha'? I loved it. Rob always says he's not surprised I don't watch much TV now, I was completely addicted as a child:

Hope you all have a lovely week, I enjoyed everyone's blog posts while I was marinating myself in a Streptococcus sauce. Commenting was sometimes hard, my phone was thrown in anger on several occasions.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

When I was at junior school, I decided I was going to become an actress. I can't remember the exact moment, but I do remember starting to internally narrate my actions. 

I had a nightie which I adored, it was knee-length with 3/4 sleeves, a boater neckline and it depicted a scene comprising two rows of telephone booths fading to a vanishing point. Men on one side, women on the other (all identical) there were palm trees too, and everything looked like bright metallic car-paint. The women were wearing tight jeans, denim jacket, giant hoop earrings and stilettos. They were 'me'.

If I was preparing a Marmite and Dairylea sandwich for myself, which was possibly a daily ritual, in my head I'd be building my part up. "Yes Peter, I'm just making some sandwiches for us. What time are you picking me up? 7:30? OK, beep the horn".  I'd go upstairs and pretend to put on stilletos and ankle socks, just like on ZZ Top's 'Legs' video. 
I don't know who Peter is, but it was always Peter, which happens to be Rob's middle-name.

This internal narration took over everything, even having a bath became an episode of my own personal Truman Show-esque life. I 'spoke' about myself in the third person.

Everyone does this to a certain extent - don't they? Maybe not.

I had a stressful evening last Thursday. 
I took all three boys for a haircut and it was a nightmare (I may blog about it once I've recovered). Next, I bought jeans for my 12 year old, the type which look as though they've been designed for someone with severe rickets. 

That was  also a horrendous experience, not helped by the  crude music in the shop which could be described as "a migraine interpreted through the medium of Gabber techno" being blasted from a cheap stereo.  I love electronic music, so you can imagine how awful it was if I'm moaning. 

To cope with this unpleasant evening (did I mention the torrential rain, and toddler who refuses to have the rain-cover on his pushchair?) I narrated the scenes in real time.

"Now, she's buying some jeans for her son, they're not what she'd choose for him. It's difficult saying no sometimes. He really wants these jeans, and he doesn't get many treats from his mum. She spends half her life living out of a suitcase, so likes to spoil him on the rare occasions they get together".

Don't ask why I "live out of a suitcase" maybe I'm a top Kleeneze rep in my 'other' life or something.

We rushed home in the rain, only pausing to look at The Gruffalo's house. This house is being renovated, it's so creepy because it looks filthy and stuck in a time warp, yet a middle aged woman lives there (it really does look uninhabitable). 
The 70's curtains catch my eye, "oh, the things Vix could make with these".

When we got home, I didn't see the mess and disorder. I live in a large house, just as described in this post.

I think it's time to start living my life. Properly.

forward to 3:49 - dream footwear

A fiver to anyone who can listen to this in it's entirety without wanting to slice their ears off

A Gruffalo, why -  don't you know?