WHILST OTHERS RESOLUTELY REFUSE TO!
I was recently reminded of an incident that occurred on a summer bank holiday some 9 years ago before my ops. and it all seems so very long ago.
It did however add a smile or some ire to the breakfast tables of Telegraph readers of the time 😉
Not quite far enough back to have made it into this photograph which is thought to be a Guild parade through Chepstow to commemorate Queen Victorias funeral, though I incline to believe it more likely to be that of Edward VII – it shows my home of the last26 years in the background.
There was much to do when first we took it on – floors were missing, the roof was all but useless and there were squatters in a part of the building that had been walled off across a passage!
The first thing to do was chip off all the lead based Russian Green paint that had been ‘acquired’ by a previous tennant from The Army apprentices at Beachley!
Probably at about the same time that Percy Palmer retiredas Skipper and Skipper Groves had retired to watch the River Wye flow by whilst Ben Brown the last of the skippers on the Severn Ferries left to run The Five Alls on the opposite side of the road to me!
I found the roof one of the hardest parts of the task never having built a roof with slates nor on the curved timbers salvaged in the late 1400s from ships being broken in the Docks at the foot of the hill – as do remember Chepstow has built and launched over 600 ships in its day and between 1790 & 1795 handled a greater recorded tunnage of cargo than Newport and Cardiff put together and was to its last days the centre of the entrepot trade for Bristol, Gloucester & Hereford.
The roof now has some 8 inches of insulation, but is double glazed at the back for Lee’s studio.
The work was conducted, as you can see, under an anti EU banner which The Council & The National Ass for Wales spent some 5 years trying to make me remove! That I had registered The Welsh Assembly as a Company rather wrong footed them and eventually they had to enact an act of Parliament to change the name to its present ones!
We must have done quite a good job as it frequently apeared in art magazines – though I must remind myself artists also seem to favour painting ruins! Sadly as health precludes and not working is not condusive to paying for maintainance it is likely to be a new tennant who will finally restore it!
One has to admit The River Wye at the bottom of the hill is quite spectacular as it passes below the 300 foot cliffs of Windcliff and the double horseshoe bend.
We had eight rooms of books open to the public – it is astonishing how often the illiteratte and the jealous will refer to a book shop as a junk shop in their ignorance! We carried around 60,000 different titles and at one time we had around 20 items in excess of £1,000 in value.
My personal fascinations in terms of print and language were Cuniform Tablets, Parchments pre1300 and incunabulla
You may enjoy this article from The Telegraph:
Wales: The old terror lingers here
Byron Rogers gets lost in the back lanes and historic byways of Border country
Last Updated: 11:30AM GMT 05 Feb 2001
‘HENRY MARTEN was in the chancel once but they moved him, for they still thought him dangerous in death’
I do not know his name. All I know is that he was a priest and one May morning, six centuries ago, he stood in front of a small army, assuring the soldiers that all those who fell would that evening sup in Paradise. This was just outside the town Usk in the last war between the English and the Welsh.
Britain at War: There was the danger of exploding shells and unspent bullets flying in all directions
Man attacks pregnant partner with hammer to claim inheritance
Historian Dr David Starkey causes anger by branding Scotland ‘feeble’
Britain at War: I became aware that all hell was let loose on the beach
Italy earthquake: survivors found but death toll risesBut the day, as usual, turned against the Welsh, and the priest was seen slipping quietly away. He was taunted by the soldiers who asked why he was not waiting with them to share the celestial banquet. And this remarkable man responded by saying that it was one of his fast days.
It is a moment of such black humour, you know it happened: men shouting, horses squealing, the arrows coming out of the sky. Which is why, on a hot September afternoon, I am climbing a steep hill on a lane out of Usk that leads up past the castle. I am looking for someone who had his finest moment on the battlefield of the Yellow Pool (Y Pwll Melyn).
It was a turning point in the rising of Owen Glyndwr, when in May 1405, the defenders rushed out of the castle to overwhelm his besieging army, killing his brother and taking his son prisoner. It was, according to local folklore, some kind of running battle. But where?
Some place names survive, such as Monkswood, on the outskirts of Usk, where Glyndwr’s son, trying to escape, was taken. But where was the Yellow Pool? The castle was the clue. A surprise counter-attack, the besiegers falling back to the nearest strongpoint to make a stand. Of course, the hill behind the castle itself . . .
It is a beautiful afternoon, Usk falling away beneath us, the castle in the trees, the town square a mass of flowers, and, beyond these, the grim Victorian outline of the jail which is still a jail. We come to the old farm on top of the hill, but the lady renting the farmhouse says she has never heard of a Yellow Pool.
We walk on for about 30 yards and stand, looking at the hills behind the hill. On our left is a thicket of trees, so dense I do not at first notice the dark hollow in their midst. But when I walk round I see this patch of mud in shadow, at the centre of which is a small pond. My daughter picks up a stone and throws it, and there is more of a slapping sound than a splash.
“Grab her,” I shout, but it is too late, for we have forgotten that one among us would follow a stone into the mouth of hell. The Jack Russell is already in the mud.
“We’ve got nothing to clean her with,” I say. The dog is covered in mud, an odd mud, a very light colour. My wife says nothing, she is pointing. “Don’t you realise where we are?”
We were in that strange Border area which people forget about, where the lower Wye forms the frontier between England and Wales, and which motorists skirt at speed, on the A40 in the north and the M4 in the south. For 40 years I’ve done this myself, wondering where the turn-offs went. Only this time I had followed them.
And we were walking through the streets of Chepstow, an old town torn apart by a modern bypass which has left its lower streets a wasteland of traffic and car parks. But the most remarkable bookshop in Britain survives, as does its owner, Greg Lance-Watkins, pigtailed and embattled. Mr Lance-Watkins of Glance Back Books is a man who hates church bells, the European Union and the Welsh Assembly.
But in change-ringing circles men talk of him with awe, for this was the man who stopped a peal of bells. He climbed above the ringing chamber and held on to the ropes like Quasimodo, something which might have brought the bells down on his head. The fighting starting on the belfry stairs, spilled out and into his bookshop, and then into the streets of Chepstow as the “anoraks”, as he calls them, tried to effect a citizen’s arrest.
But this is also a man who stocks Rupert annuals, and on his shelves has ones you normally see only in catalogues, books no children coloured in, which cost upwards of £100 to the rarest of all in four figures. Mr Lance-Watkins has passed into the private mythology of my family.
Little has changed – I still hate the destruction of our Country, our membership of the odious and undemocratic EU, the idiocy of pretence that is devolution and the ghastly intrusive clatter of church bells which have absolutely no musical merit and might as well be replaced by a siren or a messuins tower to call the superstitious to their pennance!
The greatest change has been the closing of our shop, the destruction of the town as it was made more erzats by Councillors seeking to display their bad taste and impramature with other peoples money in the pretence of EU Grants and ‘regeneration’ – one only needs to see the outcome both visually and in terms of commerce, both for tourists and for residents to understand just how destructive and vile was their DEGENERATION of our town.
“In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.”
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821),
Greg Lance – Watkins,
c/o Glance Back Books,
Cynulliad i Gymru – The Welsh Assembly [trans.],
17 Upper Church Street,
Tel: 01291 – 62 65 62
‘The arrogance and hubris of corrupt politicians
will be responsible for every drop of blood spilt
in the Wars of Disassociation, if Britain does not
leave the EU.
The ugly, centralised, undemocratic supra national policies being imposed by the centralised and largely unelected decisionmakers of The EU for alien aims, ailien values and to suit alien needs stand every possibility of creating 200,000,000 deaths across EUrope as a result of the blind arogance and hubris of the idiologues in the central dictatorship and their economic illiteracy marching hand in glove with the idiocy of The CAP & The CFP – both policies which deliver bills, destroy lives and denude food stocks.
British Politicians with pens and treachery, in pursuit
of their own agenda and greed, have done more
damage to the liberty, freedoms, rights and democracy
of the British peoples than any army in over 1,000 years.
The disastrous effects of British politicians selling Britain
into the thrall of foreign rule by the EU for their own
personal rewards has damaged the well-being of Britain
more than the armies of Hitler
and the Franco – German – Italian axis of 1939 – 1945.
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Until we gain our liberty, restore our sovereignty, repatriate our democracy and reinstate our Justice system and our borders – defended by our Police and Military armed with sustainable and obtainable weaponry:
Treat every election as a referendum.
Don’t waste your vote on a self serving Politician
Make your vote count
Write on YOUR ballot Paper
LEAVE THE EU