Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Merthyr pont rhondda

Helo. Well I'm here today in the field as it were, or the town as it is, and on tour and live if you will or won't. I'm doing a little round the Wales, like that Iolo, but not as far as yr hen ogledd, which has fallen to our English friends so I'm told. Men went to Catraeth. But this man has gone to Merthyr pont rhondda, ugly-lovely success story of the 1800s, to see just how far things have progressed since full employment.

With me for the elucidations, is an ambitious young man, Dafydd Williams. Dafydd is the third generation of his family to be on the sick and never worked. But Dafydd is different. He has big plans to be the first in his family to break the chain of valium-temazepathy and sickness benefits, and to go on the dole. Croeso Dafydd! -

DW:- Diolch! -

REJ:-Indeed. Now tell me Dafydd, of your unrealistic and futile plans -

DW:- Well Richard, my father was on the sick. And his father before him. And Auntie Mair and cousin Rhys and my sister Dilys, and my butties from Cwm Llwch high, and -

REJ:- Ok, we'll rule out journalism then -

DW:- And I looked around me, and thought 'there must be better than this'. A better world for my children bach. And so I made up my mind that it wouldn't happen to me. Anymore. Not for another twenty years. So I decided there and then to try to go on the dole and become a job-seeker.

REJ:- Wel boys bach, da iawn chi isn't it? Bread on the table, bring home the cig moch, arian in the pocket, there you are, lovely tidy gwych. Yes. -

DW:- It was hard at first – there were a lot of forms to fill in, but I kept my eyes on the prize, filled them in as best I could, sent them off to pont rhondda dole office, and if I'm approved I'll get £20 less a week. Twenty pounds! -

REJ:- Fantastic! Now what are the criteria for this non-post?

DW:- I have to prove myself fit and available for work, read the classifieds, and make 2 applications a week. Or I'll get £50 less. -

REJ:- Fifty pounds! -

DW:- You have to be in it, to un-win it! -

REJ:- There's one in every family -

DW:- The lady said they'd send it off to Neath for adjudication – it should only take a few weeks – and if all goes well -

REJ:- fingers crossed! -

DW:- Diolch. If all goes well I'll be a real live job-seeker! Although they did say they've had to stop the rent while they think about it, and we're being evicted next wednesday -

REJ:- Well just think of the less money. But it hasn't all been plain-sailing has it now? A little bird tells me that you have met with some opposition to your plans. Some stormy weather one could say, some rocky reefs, some doldrum-seas, some here-be-dragons, some -

DW:- That's correct, Richard. The office of national unemployment bullshitstics. They sent me to the Abergwastad careers office, and they assessed my talents and abilities -

REJ:- And your ambitions -

DW:- Yes, and my ambitions - on their new 'dream-weaver' careers program they bought for 3 billion pounds. Then they matched me to the jobs database -

REJ:- It was harder in my day - you had to get on your unicycle, cross the mine-fields, juggle 6 bears with chain-saws, -

DW:- And they decided it would look better if I went on a macrame course for 6 months. Since there were only 3 positions in the Pontypridd front row, and they were taken.

REJ:- Beaten to the ball! Well and truly rucked!

DW:- etc

REJ:- etc. Yes. Well Jeremy Kyle's come on and so Dafydd has had to leave us. But up next, after a short perambulation, there - that was it - is Owen Gruffudd, Welsh Assembled Member for Cynon valley taffy. Now Mr Gruffudd, you've heard Dafydd's story, a man with ambition to go on the dole, and the problems he has faced. Have you got any better news for him? And his ilk?

OG:- Yes indeed I have Richard! Only first I have to send this stern letter to Mugabe, expressing our disapproval of his actions in the Welshest possible terms. -

REJ:- They'll be celebrating in the streets of Harare tonight! -

OG:- Not quite tonight, Richard, I haven't managed to put the stamp on yet. There's something about the picture on it...

REJ:- You're worth every penny! Nawrte, about the plans for our Dafydd. And his ilk -

OG:- Yes. First of all, we have successfully awarded Cynon valley taffy 'area zero' status -

REJ:- Ardderchog! - And what does that mean? -

OG:- Named after the net worth of voting in places like Cynon valley taffy, 'area zero' status means we are able to erect some blue signs. Namely two. On either exit off the A470. -

REJ:- Oooh! and what do the blue signs say? -

OG:- 'Keep going'. And 'Partially funded by the European Union' underneath.

REJ:- Is that it?

OG:- No, of course not. We have also achieved free prescriptions for temazapam and methadone, and there is an exciting plan to bull-doze the mountains on top of them, to make a park-and-ride for Cardiff. And free toothbrushes. I nearly forgot about the toothbrushes.

REJ:- They'll need re-training -

OG:- Yes, wrth gwrs. That is why we are committed to spending £10 million pounds on a national programme of toothbrushing technique education, with additional monies projected to be available from 2013. For toothpaste. That's if the tax-payers over the border aren't on to us by then -

REJ:- They're not the sharpest -

OG:- Now, now, Richard! Lets not be having any of that nonsense. At least keep it to yourself. We've got the Royal Mint you know -

REJ:- Yes. Now in the interest of balancing, I have also the gentleman very much chasing your seat, Plaid Cymru prospective assembly whatever-they're-called Welsh person, Efnisien ap Clwyd.

EapC:- Prynhawn da -

REJ:- Prynhawn da. Now Efnisien, we'll skip all the history, as that has happened, and instead ask you what you would do if you got your hands on Owen's seat -

EapC:- People like Dafydd have been abandoned by the Westminster overlords for too long. We in Plaid Cymru would set in place a package of measures - see how I do the lingo - to ensure both the opportunity and the guarantee and even the right, that he can be unemployed in Welsh. And we'll change the speed limit to Kilometers per hour. And plant some daffodils on the roundabout. And make all playing cards out of slate. And -



  1. I love it - the predicament of the poor facing these idiotic and expensive "initiatives' treated with irony and comedy. Wonderful, idiosyncratic and original treatment. Writing superb as ever.

  2. Vicious, horribly on the money, and delivered in the honeyed tones of a smiling, soothing Welsh Kafka.

    Have I mentioned the need for a Radio4 series for REJ yet?

  3. Absolute class.

  4. Love this, Bendi. You might come back to this theme in the future as there is so much to ridicule about what goes on in what is labelled 'regeneration'. Congrats.