Category Archives: monmouth

The Monnow Bridge, Monmouth

The Monnow Bridge, Monmouth

Found this in the Monmouth group on It’s the medieval bridge over the Monnow River at Monmouth shortly before it joins the River Wye (hence Monnow-mouth…Monmouth…geddit?).

It certainly looked picturesque that day. Why is it never that pretty when I walk past?!

Welsh, Waxed Jackets and Close Harmony

Autumn is here. I know this because I have started wearing my waxed jacket and turning on the heating in the car during the morning drive to work. Oh, and I suppose nature is sending the obvious signals too, like turning leaves a different colour. I expect the Wye Valley will be glorious in a week or two. I don’t resent the onset of Autumn with its leaden skies and winds as I used to: the landscape around here is still beautiful.

K and I have signed up for a thirty-week course of evening classes in Welsh, on Friday nights (yes, Fridays!). Not sure why my lovely wife is doing it: probably to humour me. I’m doing it a) to get me out of the house b) to stimulate the little grey cells and c) (this is the really pretentious one) because I’m trying to make a connection with the language that used to be spoken in these islands before the Saxons arrived. My colleagues and elder daughter think I’m mad, but I insist I’m not trying to be pretentious. A possible d) might be because, as an immigrant to Wales (by quarter of a mile or so) and as a sometime linguist, I think it’s only polite to try learn the language of the country one inhabits.

Oh, and I’ve started a course in barbershop/acapella singing with a local male chorus on Tuesday nights. I am singing “bom, bo-bum-bum bom bum” so much around the house that little A. thinks that particular phrase is one she should add to her vocabulary. The latter, incidentally, has now, at K’s reckoning, about a hundred words. Little A. will soon start putting them together in two’s! Most charming is the way Little A. says “goodbye” which varies with the person concerned. “Goodbye Daddy” is “Da-da-da-da-da-da Daddy”, while “Goodbye Granny” is “Na-na-na-na-na-na-nanny”. “Finished” is “finith” and “Here, take this” has become “fankoo”.

We are looking for a place to buy in Monmouth. Hard work as we don’t want to compromise and Monmouth is pricey. British houses are so small and overpriced! If you ever visit us and you come from another country, yes, small houses with low ceilings and tiny front lawns are the norm and no, we don’t like it either.

The slings and arrows of outrageous adolescence

Monmouth town centre, Agincourt SquareImage via Wikipedia

I was walking through Monmouth town centre last Sunday when three boys aged around twelve, I estimated, approached me on bicycles. This wouldn’t have been unusual except that they were on the pavement and were going to have to swerve to avoid me. As they did so, in my most conciliatory tones, I said to them, “You should really be on the road, guys”. The eldest boy turned round to me and angrily yelled “F–k you, you f—ing t–t!”.

I clearly pressed a button there.

A few minutes later, I approached a group of girls, again, aged no more than thirteen, standing at the corner of Woolworths. The smallest, dressed like a prostitute, (high heels and a pointlessly small skirt) was smoking. As I passed within a couple of feet of her, she spat on the ground, narrowly missing my feet.

Now I’m not going to make the conventional complaint that kids were never like that when I was young, as I’m pretty sure every generation gets its share of uncouth youth. I would be curious, though to meet the parents of these kids to see if they know and more importantly care that their children are behaving in these ways and if they condone or encourage it by the examples they set.

This is all very topical, with Tony Blair announcing measures even as I write to tackle “yob culture“, but it seems to me no top down approach can have the desired effect. Change will need to come from communities (remember them?) and families (remember them too?!) not tolerating delinquency and promoting respect for everyone, not just grumpy 36 year old blokes.