Dodgy oyster

I WENT to a meeting of a local history group on Monday. I was hoping to find out something to help my family research project, and stayed to listen to a talk about the Mumbles Railway.

It was the world’s first passenger railway, but it was launched in 1840 to haul limestone from the quarries at Oystermouth to the docks at the other end of Swansea Bay.

The speaker had brought along two small limestone rocks. “Hit them together and smell them,” he said. A pungent odour filled my nostrils.

He explained how the limestone was created over millennia by dead sea creatures sinking to the bottom of what was then a tropical ocean.

The pong I was smelling came from 300million-year-old shellfish.

One man’s noise

Better news about the Springsteen book. A chapter on the ideas behind the tracks on his Born To Run breakthrough album prompted me to take it down from the shelf, and put it on the kitchen CD player.

Listening to Jungleland (played loud), while relaxing in the sun on the patio with the doors wide open, was very enjoyable. I’ve apologised to the neighbours.

Shut that door

Walking back from the newsagents on Thursday morning, I bumped into a Labour activist acquaintance, who was just coming out of his house by the entrance to our local park.

I complimented him on the fine display of Vote Labour posters in his windows, but could not help noticing that none of them had any mention of Jeremy Corbyn.

He is unhappy about this airbrushing of the Labour party leader. “He was elected democratically. You stick to your principles,” he said.┬áThen he added, somewhat mysteriously: “You don’t burn down your house because you don’t like the colour of the front door.”

If the Labour party is the house, and Corbyn is the door, it strikes me that what is happening in this election campaign is more a case of putting up a screen in front of the door, in the hope that everybody looks at the house instead.

Problem is, if you can’t get past the door, you can’t enter the building.

Don’t know what to think

The Current Mrs Feeney and I went shopping for an upcoming trip to Spain. In Primark, she picked up a silver, see-through beach bag, and asked me: “What do I think of this?”

It turned out that she had no idea.


Shopping done, to the cinema to watch Jessica Chastain turn in a fantastic performance as a Washington DC lobbyist in Miss Sloane. Fans of TV shows like The West Wing or The Good Wife will enjoy the dialogue-rich experience.

But while the tv shows were 60 minutes per episode, the film is over two hours long. For the first time, I found myself wishing for a commercial break.

Here we go (again)

MY football team, Swansea City, has survived in the Premier League after looking doomed to relegation for most of the season.

Huge relief. Now I can start worrying about next season.


Once more, with feeling

I AM continuing my journey through American playwright August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle. Joe Turner’s Come And Gone, the second of Wilson’s ten plays charting the black American experience through the 20th Century, amply demonstrates that the richness of Wilson’s writing was not confined to his poetic dialogue. How is this for a stage direction:

“Bynum enters from the yard carrying some plants. He is a short, round man in his early sixties” . . so far, so straightforward . . “he gives the impression of always being in control of everything. Nothing ever bothers him. He seems to be ┬álost in a world of his own making and to swallow any adversity or interference with his grand design.”

Any ideas what these may be?

The first part of last week was busy with outdoor tasks in the continuing dry, warm weather. Standing on top of a stepladder, helping erect two replacement panels on our next-door neighbour’s back fence, I noticed these strange objects sticking up from our house roof.

Posting photos of them on Twitter and Facebook, in the hope that somebody can tell me what they are, has not yielded anything more useful than the suggestion that they fell off a passing jet airliner.

Where do screen turkeys go these days?

WASTE OF TALENT: not even Arkin, Freeman and Caine can save the day.

THE Current Mrs Feeney and I went to see Going In Style at the cinema on Friday evening. Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin play three former ex-colleagues who decide to rob a bank when their old company moves production to Vietnam, and closes the pension fund they rely on to pay for their modest retirement.

On paper, it had a lot going for it. Three veteran movie stars with exemplary action credentials, and a topical plot about the way predatory and socially irresponsible international companies and banks treat their customers and workers.

But on screen, it was terrible. The comedy set-ups were predictable and limp; the action sequences were so awful, it was embarrassing to watch.

We were about 30 minutes in when TCMrsF whispered to me: “Should have gone straight to video.” Do turkeys like this still do that?


Just play me a song

I HAVE started reading Born To Run, the Bruce Springsteen autobiography I was given for Christmas. I like his music very much, but am finding the minutiae of his musical development, and the series of bar-bands that the emerging ‘Boss” played in, less than enthralling.

I think this confirms that I am not natural ‘fan’ material. I’d like to believe this is desirable in a journalist, but suspect my lack of interest in who the young Springsteen played, fought or slept with means I would never have been a success as a celebrity reporter.

I can live with this.

Close call

On Saturday morning, I collected from a local art gallery the painting I had bought at a recent show. There was a new one-man exhibition at the gallery, and the owner gave me a catalogue. I was about to say that I didn’t like the work, when she introduced the man standing next to her as the artist.

I said something non-committal, and left.