Saturday, 20 June 2009

Over The Bridge To Wales.(not CAFC related)

Earlier in the year Confidential went nostalgic (and partly for a spoken promise) took a trip back to his native birthplace, Barry, near Cardiff in Wales. It's best known for the TV show Gavin&Stacey and Barry Island and that's about it..I chose a wet weekend to feel the real flavour of the place and it didn't disapoint.As a child I remember very little about every day so the first stop was at the old council house where I grew up.The two nice young ladies puffing away on something on the side step were very pleasant but not up to showing a complete stranger with slightly mad eyes around their private house..
Back down the hill (still slightly raining)to where the heaving docks used to be,you can see new terracota herring bone laid paving and not much else. Barry used to be the biggest docks for the export of Welsh coal to the world. The yearly tonnage was staggering. The coal would be mined further up in the valleys and brought down by rail to vast, elaborate shunting yards and then transfered to waiting cargo ships and the "smokestack cutters".
So moving on (still with wipers) across the short causeway towards Barry Island the dog needed a wee and, for a variety of bizarre resons,I wanted to stop off at the old coal marshalling yards. When the coal stopped, so did the steam. There was no coal coming out of the valleys so there was no need for trains. And if there's no coal to put into a steam train, it stops...So what do you do with over 200 old redundant stream trains ? Simple,you give them a one-way only railpass back to the yards where they used to work and cut them up for scrap and take the bits away in a lorry.That was the start of a very unique contribution to British Heritage,made possible by a Welshman Mr Dai Woodham, the Barry Scrapyard owner.
The old marshalling yards quickly became a scrapyard on rails and with Dr Beeching doing his very best around the country, the yard soon filled up with trains and trucks for demolition. Luckily Dai found it much easier and more profitable to cut up straightforward trucks rather than the difficult locomotives and so,by a twist of fate, the steam locomotives were left alone to quietly rust.Then a few years later we all remembered our love of the good old days and invented Preservation Railways that needed steam. Most of the shiny machines that we enjoy on our afternoons out are restored and polished survivors from Dai's scrapyard. Without Dai's yard there would hardly be any period British steam trains left to see (apart from India, Africa and China of course. How come they can fix'em up with just a hammer and some oil? We should have thought of that..).
Nowadays the place is a perfectly flattened brownfield site with no visible takers.The rails and tracks have long gone. There is not a single trace of what was once there. Nothing except ghosts. As if giving it the final accolade my dog trundled over to the middle in the rain and did an enormous turd...
Barry Island itself is more of a bay really with a nice big sandy beach,protected at each end by cliffs and headlands. There used to be a Butlins here but now just a perfunctory amusement park surrounded by arcades,one-stops and handy take-ways.The walks along the headland are invigorating (still raining) and the whole place must be much cleaner and healthier than 60 years ago, when everything had a thin covering of coal dust..
At this point Confidential did something out of character and started a conversation with a homeless person who despite everything looked quite happy with a nice tan and all his worldly possesions in two laundry bags. There he was under the arches,out of the rain,reading a good paperback and thoroughly enjoying the story when some idiot comes along and interrupts to make small talk. oops...sorry..
I'd planned on an overnight stay but with the very fine but very wet rain still falling and the dog semi-confused,decided to go home. Job done.
The moment we drove back up onto the Severn Bridge it stopped raining. 

Monday, 15 June 2009

Blue Screen Living

I'm a great lover of action movies me...lots of slo-mo shots of baddies getting chopped up in lots of despicable ways, lots of Detroit steel getting smashed up expensively, lots of lovely beautiful women getting caught up in interesting and most unlikely situations hmm....
I recently watched Sin-City and wow what a movie. Real Art. It was only afterwards when I watched the "bonus bits or how it's all done bit" that they explained that EVERY scene was shot against a blue screen. (For those who don't know, shooting against a Blue Screen enables any shot anywhere,to be added to,deleted, superimposed, digitally added to whatever blah blah but you knew that anyway).
I have to say that knowing all this info actually made the film not quite so great..somehow the magic had gone. Still a great film though, can't wait for Sin-City2.
So here's a title for the next Government Information pack. Why don't we all start living our lives against a Blue Screen ? You could be standing there with your mate in the road talking about the usual mates stuff like "I see they've opened a new KCC" or "isn't it great that Charlton are back in the Premiership under the partnership of Curbs&Reg" or perhaps "maybe that Marcel Proust had a point after all",and be anywhere you like.
With Blue Screen,all of those stimulating and society bonding conversations could be held in much more interesting places. The Manhatten Skyline perhaps or on top of Everest or being chased down the street by Terminator 4.
Maybe we should ask Speilburg or someone to come over to sort this out.There could be some UK votes in it..Speaking as a shallow person,I personaly like the idea of sweeping down to the shops in a convertible '60s American muscle car with a woman sitting next to me who regularly inspire's oil paintings, with some Leonard Cohen sorry ...some ZZtop playing. We could lazily drive down the Santa Monica Boulevard and live our next scene in my fully equiped shining beach-house next to the sea. To make it edgy there has to be some drama so just after a late dinner overlooking the Pacific, settling down with aforsaid oil-painting, a gang of LA lowlife mutants,all of whom are completely off their tits, come crashing in through the floor-to-ceiling glass panels which I happen to know - as a DIY expert of years standing waiting to pay - will enable me to effortlessly remove the razor sharp shards with the right grade of industrial workware and cut the gang to pieces in an heroic slo-mo sort of way..and hey presto I'm a hero in my partners dreamy eyes.... sorted.
The best is, it can all be done in the living room. None of that annoying business of having to mix with other people.
Think of the benefits. No more being herded into holding pens at the airport. No more having to take your shoes off before you stand in-line with your belongings in a washing-up bowl.
Who needs a swimming pool in Marbella when we've got Blue Screen...

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