Welsh Icons - About Wales and all things Welsh - www.welshicons.org.uk

Sunday, 28 June 2009

OPEN LETTER - To the BBC at Glasto

I'm proud to introduce the first of our series of open letters.

This is by Norman Tupwitt and is addressed to the BBC production staff at Glastonbury.

  • Sound guys - remember that with today's modern digital effects (24 bit over-sampling etc) you can still make the whole event sound like it is recorded in a public lavatory.
  • Vision Mixers - always cut to the pretty girl with the pert breasts, sitting on her boy friend's shoulders mouthing the words to a song she has never heard before when you are at a loss for the next shot
  • Camera Men - Especially the one who no one likes with the long zoom, the shot of zooming out from Glastonbury Tor back to the field is a classic
  • Presenters - Make sure you have the gamma (colour balance) right. It should be one photogenic whitey and one photogenic darky. It does not matter where you are from but always remember to use a fake regional accent
  • Editors - You have at least 30 minutes to edit so why don't you?
  • Other Crew - Remember to get your expenses in before the end of the month
read more... “OPEN LETTER - To the BBC at Glasto”

Friday, 26 June 2009

When we were (slightly) younger

I cannot understand the hype about the death of a certain 'pop star' in the last 24 hours. Here in Wales, Question Time (for those outside the UK it is a political panel discussion programme) is about 30 minutes later than the England version. It was interrupted last night to report on the death of a 'pop star'.

I assumed that the Newsflash was reporting at least a terrorist attack or the death of a major Royal.
This morning I woke up to reports that certain Internet services had been overloaded and even at only 140 characters per post the mighty Twitter had experienced an outage. After all the publicity about Twitter and democracy in Iran, I find this hard to believe.

The last time I saw a musician's death slow down Internet traffic was the news of the demise of Jerry Garcia (August 9th, 1995). The web was in its infancy and most of us 'nerds' using Usenet were hardcore Dead Heads. How times have changed in just 15 years.
read more... “When we were (slightly) younger”

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Unclean, unclean, ding ding, unclean

I feel like a leper. What is wrong with the world? The other night I asked the landlady of my local hostelry to phone a cab for me (a luxury I can rarely afford). On its arrival I was asked by the driver if I was a Muslim - He'd picked me up from a boozer for Christ's sake! He then proceeded to try and convert me to his way of thinking.

Last night I went out to meet an old friend. As the evening wore on I told him that I had a warm dog awaiting me on my return. He seemed shocked. "You let him sleep in your bed?" was his response.

What is wrong with the world when man can't enjoy a pint and share his bed (not in the biblical sense) with his hound?

Now off to share that bacon butty with my best friend.
read more... “Unclean, unclean, ding ding, unclean”

Quote of the Day

I have for the past few weeks been obliged to sign on at the Job Centre every week rather than every fortnight. Today I plucked up the courage to ask why.

I was told:

"Well, if we had more time we would help you to look for a job"
read more... “Quote of the Day”

Monday, 22 June 2009

Quote of the Day

My good friend Cynical Dragon has inspired me to post the occasional Quote of the day.

Now, I do not normally like Cheese Munching Surrender Monkeys, but for once this one seems to be talking sense - Sarkozy that is not the Cynical Dragon who always speaks sense ;)

Sarkozy speaks out against burka

"We cannot accept to have in our country women who are prisoners behind netting, cut off from all social life, deprived of identity," Mr Sarkozy told a special session of parliament in Versailles.

"That is not the idea that the French republic has of women's dignity.

"The burka is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic"
read more... “Quote of the Day”

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Digital Britain

One of the proposals announced this afternoon in the 'Digital Britain' paper would appear to be a £6 a year tax on landlines. That's right - 50 new pennies a month for those in possession of a Plain Old Telephone System (POTS). Way to go!

There used to be a time when most people in this country accessed the GPO telephone system via a series of kiosks placed at the end of their streets (AKA Phone Boxes).

Later, if you had the money the GPO/BT would install a connection in you house, usually placing the hardwired connection in your hallway. Sometimes you even had to share the line with you neighbours (anyone remember party lines?). If you had your own line or shared line you had it made. Your family and friends could call you at their leisure and providing it wasn't to cold/hot in your hallway and that your neighbour did not interrupt, you could chat away through the night.

These days every 5 year old and their dog seems to have a mobile phone. Why tax the the old and the vulnerable who rely on their landlines for the occasional call and the comfort of knowing they can phone for help in an emergency?

Has anybody bothered to think this one through?

read more... “Digital Britain”

Procrastination and the Strange Case of the White Powder

After weeks of finding 'important' things to do I have finally got around to giving my office a spring clean.

After about an hour of sifting which would have made the Time Team proud I began to see the surface of my desk. This desk has been with me for years and is large enough for three old fashioned 21" CRT monitors and has a large solid piece of plate glass placed on a 1.5" solid wooden surface to facilitate easy cleaning - when I can actually see the surface.

Having eventually uncovered the glass surface I noticed curious white powder sprinkled liberally around my working area. Ten years ago it would have been obvious to me what this was. I did use to work in the City (of London). These days things are very different.

Like a rookie police officer I licked the end of a finger, dabbed a small quantity of the power and touched the tip of my tongue. The powder had a sweet taste with 'tangy' unidentifiable overtones. This was the challenge I had been looking for.

Motivated now I continued my excavation and came across a half eaten packet of Rowntree's Jelly Tots - Mystery solved.

read more... “Procrastination and the Strange Case of the White Powder”

Sunday, 14 June 2009

In loco parentis

Scary Old Doghouse

Yesterday I received this email:

"Hiya My Names Sxxxxxxx I'm 18 & a student studying photography in Cardiff & I've decided to try & look around to see if any photography based company's are interested in taking on myself for some kind of work experience, obviously not paid I'm just looking for some kind of insight into what people like yourselves do & how you got there.
If you could kindly get back to me either way.
Thank you,

I thought about it for a while and responded:

"If you really want to see what it is like at the sharp end, you are welcome to follow me on a shoot. I take it you are busy today - but, if you are interested I'm covering the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival at the CIA this afternoon/evening then shooting a band called Sicknote later this evening.

You are welcome to join me if you like."

She then replied that she would be available and would be able to join me. It was then I began to worry. Re-reading her email I realised she was only 18. I wasn't sure about 18 year old girls at beer festivals and punk gigs. I ascertained that her mother would be driving her into the city centre, suggested that we meet in the Vulcan and that her mother would come and meet me and have a chat with Liz (the Landlady of the Vulcan) who would give me some sort of character reference.

Now, you might think I'm being a little paranoid here but from experience I can tell you that there are a lot of seedy people out there who use the excuse of photography to 'impress' the young - I'm not one of them, as some of you will know I'm just a cynical old fashioned 'tog.

I then popped into the Cardiff International Arena (CIA) to get her a guest pass and we met at the designated time. Her mother, though wary seemed to approve of the evening's plan of action and it was arranged that she would be collected at 10:30pm.

She certainly knew her way round her camera and was not at all fazed by the bizarre lighting conditions inside the CIA. The Jug Band were on form as always providing many opportunities for photographs.

We then moved on to the Sicknote gig. Sicknote have quite a reputation and have been banned from playing in most of the venues in South Wales. The gig in fact was for the silver wedding anniversary of two of Sicknote's biggest fans.

I introduced Sxxxxxxx to Doghouse and Flapsandwich (of Sicknote) and was mildly surprised by their paternal attitude to Sxxxxxxx. We then telephoned her father and arranged for her to be collected at 11:00 from outside the venue.

The evening went well until 10:50 when I lost sight of Sxxxxxxx. This was when the real panic set in. Where was she? What would I say to her parents? Why did I ever agree to this?

After a few minutes of frantic searching I spotted her on stage with the band. Her response "Well you told me to get closer to fill the frame".

Relief. We departed at the designated time and her father even gave me a lift home. The photographs are good and the whole evening got me thinking.

At 18 Sxxxxxxx is an adult. What was I doing at 18? Thinking back I was playing in a band, drinking beer and running round with a camera. Plus ca change.

The thing that worries me most is that there are currently more students studying photography in Britain than there are working photographers in all of Europe. Somehow I feel that Sxxxxxxx will make it.
read more... “In loco parentis”

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Three wise Otley Monkeys

Think of real ale and beer festivals, what comes to mind? Beards, socks and sandals, beer guts, lack of personal hygiene?

Well, the boys from the Otley brewery have certainly done much to dispel these myths. Their infectious enthusiasm has made the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival memorable for me this year.

Their love of their products (congratulations on winning Second place for the OG and third place for their Porter in the Champion Beer of Wales Competition) is clear to all.

Yesterday it was hats, today face painting and tomorrow they are turning up in their pyjamas.

It hurts me to say this at a mere 44 years old, but it is great to see young people so passionate about real ales. Cheers boys!
read more... “Three wise Otley Monkeys”

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Welsh Bloggers

Welsh Bloggers, originally uploaded by Welsh Icons (Dom).

No point in blogging this because the only people who read my blog are getting p*ssed together

read more... “Welsh Bloggers”

Duck eggs and a pint

Duck eggs and a pint, originally uploaded by Welsh Icons (Dom).

I've been attending a poorly computre network in the Torfaen area recently. After a good few hours of staring at Wireshark captures and tring to decode MAC addresses I was in need of a break.

Driving around the endless roundabouts of Cwmbran we chanced upon the Queen Inn in Upper Cwmbran.

What a great pub. Real ales, good food, running stream, ducks etc and run by Gareth and Jane Edwards - great people. They even sell their duck eggs for £1:20 per 1/2 doz.

Looking forward to going back and trying their Sunday lunch.

read more... “Duck eggs and a pint”

Monday, 8 June 2009


I received a message today from an old friend, let's call him Mike, for that's his name, asking me if I could have a look at a computer network he had setup some years ago. Mike now lives in Spain and the network is in Cwmbran, South Wales.

Mike phoned me after I responded to his message and gave me the low-down on the equipment he had installed and the software the company was running.

I readily agreed to have a look, and a very nice lady at the company contacted me this afternoon to provide more details. After the initial pleasantries, she asked if Mike had explained about the X3.

I though for a minute, recalling X25, X500 etc and trying to think if there was something new that may be this mysterious X3. Remember, there have been a lot of new buzz-words flying about recently - Bing, Natal, Palm Pre etc.

Nothing came to mind and I had to reply that the X3 was something I was not familiar with. She burst out laughing and told me that the X3 is the number of the bus that travels between Cardiff and Cwmbran.
read more... “X3”


You would think I was against repatriation, but let me say that in certain circumstances I'm all for it. For instance would it not be kinder for all concerned if English Nature were to return Nick Griffin back to the rock he crawled out from under in Barnet?

How's this for a track record:

  • In 1980 he became a member of the National Front governing body, the National Directorate.
  • Writing in Nationalism Today in 1985, Griffin praised the black separatist Louis Farrakhan, saying, "white nationalists everywhere wish [Farrakhan] well, for we share a common struggle for the same ends: racial separation and racial freedom".
  • In 1997, he was editor of The Rune, an anti-semitic weekly, in which he praised the wartime Waffen SS and attacked the Royal Air Force for its bombing of Nazi Germany.
  • In 1998, Griffin, he was convicted of violating section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986, relating to incitement to racial hatred for publishing material that denied the Holocaust.
I'm sure that many of the people who voted for the BNP last Thursday are not intrinsically racist, just as I'm very sure that a minority of them are. The problem is that so called minority parties such as the BNP have polarised issues such as immigration to such an extent we can no longer engage in debates about such things with out being smeared by their filth.

If I were to say "Economic Migration is not about race", would it make me a racists?

Stands back, fuse now lit.
read more... “Repatriation”

Friday, 5 June 2009

How Poor Am I?

Sitting here without the where-with-all to even buy a loaf of bread (I get my Jobseekers allowance on Monday), I decided to try and work out how poor I really am.

I the great scheme of things, I'm not doing too badly. I have a roof over my head, running water and electricity and, even an Internet connection - though the 8 year old computer on which I'm writing this is on its last legs. Most of the sources I looked at were concerned with child poverty in the UK and the Government's attempt to eradicate it, which is to be applauded, but I am a single man and I have needs as well.

The standard definition of poverty in the UK is "a household income that is 60% or less of the average (median) British household income in that year".

The last figures I can find for median household incomes are for 2006-07. The 60% threshold was: £112 per week for single adult with no dependent children; £193 per week for a couple with no dependent children; £189 per week for a single adult with two dependent children under 14; and £270 per week for a couple with two dependent children under 14.

These figures are calculated after income tax, council tax and housing costs have been deducted, where housing costs can include rents, mortgage interest (but not the repayment of principal), buildings insurance and water charges. They therefore represent what the household has available to spend on everything else it needs, from food and heating to travel and entertainment.

Well at just over £60 benefit a week and as a single person it would appear that even using the 2006-2007 figures I am very poor indeed

Fuel Poverty
Another definition often bandied about is that of fuel poverty. A household is said to be in fuel poverty if it needs to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel to maintain a satisfactory heating regime (usually 21 degrees for the main living area, and 18 degrees for other occupied rooms).

The “Fuel poverty ratio” is therefore defined as:

Fuel poverty ratio = fuel costs (usage x price) / income

This would appear quite straight forward - if I spend more than £6 a week on keeping warm, then I'm in 'fuel poverty'. According to my thermometer, I'm sitting typing this blog at a comfortable 27 degrees and apart from the computer on which I'm working and the wireless relaying Radio 4 in the background I have no other electrical appliances switched on apart from the clock on the boiler downstairs. It's June though and things are very different in the winter. Anyone who has to use token meters for gas and/or electricity will tell you that £6 a week on fuel will go nowhere in the winter months.

So there we have it. I live well below the poverty line and experience fuel poverty when the weather gets cold. As the Russian Meerkat says in the advert "Simples".

If anyone wants to hire me as a web developer, photographer or just a writer for the minimum wage, just drop me a line.
read more... “How Poor Am I?”

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Save the Vulcan

I was delighted to be asked to write a guest piece for the Save the Vulcan Blog. You can view the results here.
read more... “Save the Vulcan”

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Signing on

I was meant to go to the Fees Office, sorry I meant Sign on today at 11:40am. Feeling unwell I telephoned the Job Centre I was due to attend via a tortuous series of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) 0845 numbers over an hour before my appointment. These numbers are NOT free and if called from a non-BT line can end up costing a great deal of money.

I explained I was feeling 'under the weather' and asked it was possible to sign later in the day. If not I was certainly prepared to keep the appointment and had left enough time to get to their office.

I was told that this was 'not a problem' and to attend at 4:00pm.

Still not feeling 100% I left the house at 3:00pm leaving a hour for the walk into the city centre. I arrived at 3:45 and waited to be called to Desk G.

At around 4:00pm a sign was sellotaped to Desk G by someone I can only describe as a 12 year old who looked like he had just wandered of a beach. I enquired as to whether there was a queueing system or if it was first-come-first-served.

He took my signing card and fortunately I was the first person seen.

He then produced a letter warning me that if this happened again an adjudicator would have to decide if I was still eligible for benefit. I explained that I had telephoned earlier to ask if my appointment could be delayed (as I stated above I was prepared to attend at the original time - but I may well have soiled their telly-tubby styled furniture).

He then told me 'the system' had no trace of my earlier phone calls.

Counting (quietly) to ten, I replied that my telephone provider issued me with itemised bills. His supervisor/elder sister/mother then intervened and my claim for the next week was processed as normal.

Having been involved with many blue chip companies over the years I despair at how, even when you try and do the right think you still get treated like cattle. Who is the mysterious adjudicator they keep threatening people with? Are they related to the Banker in 'Deal or No Deal' (a programme I saw once by accident)?

With more and more people losing their jobs isn't about time JobCentre Plus began to act more professionally?
read more... “Signing on”

Welsh Bloggers

I have written a piece for the Cynical Dragon's excellent "Welsh Bloggers" site.

It can be read here.

read more... “Welsh Bloggers”

Monday, 1 June 2009

Sleeping with Rob

An American joke I am putting here for the benefit of a friend:

Sleeping with Rob

The guys were all at a deer camp. No one wanted to room with Rob, because
he snored so badly. They decided it wasn't fair to make one of them stay
with him the whole time, so they voted to take turns.

The first guy slept with Rob and comes to breakfast the next morning with
his hair a mess and his eyes all bloodshot. They said, "Man, what happened
to you? He said, "Rob snored so loudly, I just sat up and watched him all

The next night it was a different guy's turn. In the morning, same thing,
hair all standing up, eyes all bloodshot. They said, "Man, what happened to
you? You look awful! He said, 'Man, that Rob shakes the roof with his
snoring. I watched him all night."

The third night was Fred's turn. Fred was a tanned, older cowboy, a man's
man. The next morning he came to breakfast bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
"Good morning!" he said. They couldn't believe it. They said, "Man, what

He said, "Well, we got ready for bed. I went and tucked Rob into bed,
patted him on the butt, and kissed him good night. Rob sat up and watched
me all night."
read more... “Sleeping with Rob”

Benefit Thieves be warned...

Still trying to be politically agnostic....

.... but they make it so easy for us to hate them all
read more... “Benefit Thieves be warned...”

Has anyone seen them both in the same room at the same time?

read more... “Has anyone seen them both in the same room at the same time?”