The Piano Player

Playing like a man with no arms
Frank Jacobs playing the piano

The scene depicted here goes back in time during the period the last war. The Victoria close to the George street Bridge. Granville Square area corner. It has now been pulled down and only the ghosts of the past of men who supped Hancock’s or Lloyds beer and sang the night away to the tune of the old Joanna.

Played By Frank Jacobs who had been born with no arms and played the piano.

Frank lived at Maesglas Road not far from the author. The Jacobs family home was struck by a lightening thunder bolt, which blew off roof tiles and chimney-stack. Frank overcame this disablement for those days not much disablement help was available. Frank often played at the Victoria on a weekend nights. Frank never complained and was a good trooper. Frank Jacobs did appear on the Empire music hall I believe.

Only the painting and memory of this scene of my youth remain.

Recalling how I went one evening with several lads we were very much under age for drinking.One mate in a whisper said Frank would play soon. I Witnessed Frank hooking a pint pot onto his big toe.
He drank his portion and then commenced playing. Plonking the ivories of the piano with great gusto.What a night this became of simple singsong. Enjoyable to hear and live through I treasure those time past.

I dedicate these pages and images to Frank Jacobs Memory.

In my harmless innocuous childhood day’s my playmate and girl friend was Frank’s young sister.

Oil on Canvas 36 x 24

Donated To the Red Cross for Land mine victims. Auctioned by Jefrey Archer.

Also exhibited at St David’s Hall tenth anniversary exhibition

The Royal Albert Maindee

The regulars at the bar

The Royal Albert Maindee.With its prompt serving and friendly barmaids. Terry Williams and pleasant crowd of good ale drinkers supping instead of jabbing needles in parts that are not reached by a good pint of beer.Tony Titcomb the then landlord was of the breed of good and friendly landlords of this era. Which made for packed bars in these drinking water holes. No drugs or smoking bans prices cheaper than drugs. Making for anyone depressed could drown ones troubles in beer not drugs. One could rely on seeing a certain persons or character at ones local water hole as sure as day followed night. Jet Morgan beam me up Lemy. If I had a wish to be able to be transported back to the past.

If I were God chancellor

I would reduce the hop made fairy liquid and make it so much cheaper to get oiled up for a pound or two. Getting slightly intoxicated could be a lot more benefit than the permanent effects of hard tack drugs.

A Hangover doesn’t last forever.

Of course one must be sensible there is a difference in scratching ones arse and tearing it to pieces. Open longer hours in it self is not a good thing for our culture. Open for limited time with cheap ale buy one another a round or two of drinks and head for home with a guts poking out like a barrel. Makes for our friendly past way of life that existed before some meddling super whiz kid with a peak cap and silk underpants. With a wish to advise us how to eat oranges. He Joins a party receives his appointed power by creeping and pushing and spinning his ideas.

Bengy our Wonderful Bull

Bengy our wonderful Bull.

Benny the Bull Terrier

In his fourteenth year He suffered with his heart. My wife who was also ill and on medication. Our loving concern that he is on tablets also not very well to see him ill I did my best to make him comfortable by a warm radiator on a mattress of a Deck chair I would warmly tuck him up. Carry him to do his toilet. Why oh! god is not swifter than that long sufferance that racks the mind of those that survive. Ben was soon to depart, a decline of our happy Years. Our sons flying the nest of those sad times that come to us all, soon I myself Victor was to be alone, at the loss of my faithful wife Joan.

What a mind battle of grief, but! God do sometimes work a in merciful way. Eve! a lady friend in a fate meeting Eve helped me to go on. I will be ever grateful in my heart. Sadly life does not always work out the way we want it to be. Ever with my affection for Eve for the help given to my grief torn soul. Sadly Ben Passed Away Thursday January 13th 5.50pm 2000. With sorrow in our hearts we have to face the lonely path ahead.

Dear old friend you and I will never again ramble these fields and woods again.

A dog in a million.

Real tears of grief. MY life has lost its sparkle. One can never go back in time —Only in the memory of one’s own mind — Live and live then for today–to hell with tomorrow– or Heaven—
Sorrows come and sorrows fade——– Like angry clouds across the sky—- They Fade—–And soon will come a time when we learn to laugh and smile again — As sorrows Fade——.

Robin in the garden with a blaze of red. Frost on the windows—-Cold out side.– winters here and I’m inside.— No shinning sun or blossoms red–or bright fresh green. Save the berries red of holly and green of Ivy– When early morn the frost is white and all around.– Our Bengy lies out there in the ground.— My body racked with pain of grief— Sorrow– sorrow— and no relief memories of Ben I will always keep.

No more we walk in the morning light– And accept the end of a day a fading light.– The coming of evening tide and stars that glint. The long dark night begins its stint.– Against darkened clouds that race on high. On dark cast sky. Some streak of light Grey to Color from long chill night. Rising sun of golden dawn. No song of bird in early morn .– Shed Tears are dry and nearly gone. Sorrow turns back my mind to memories. Memories of past happy years– moments of love. That will remain etched in our thoughts forever. Another day— times span short in hours.–speeds itself to another long dark night.— And fading grief but “OH!” what a memory of our faithful Ben. We will always keep.

The Mates of Town

History does not belong to the most powerful or will even remember their power. I do not try to give the following written words as bull and clap trap. But many of those now forgotten men who served in our Pre 1939 and into the conflict of the 1939-45 Army or navy or air force were the gladiators of our country. My reference takes a reiteration and reference to a past conversation. Talking one day in the old Goldcroft public house in Caerleon on Usk. Chance remarks in conversation led to Afghanistan and frontier conflicts. Leading to one of our group to mention his father had served in the North West Frontier. And recounting various escapades of up the Kyber. To me it seemed to ring a bell and I mentioned if his fathers name was Reg. Surprised at my remark he said how did you know that? I then asked if is father had served and mentioned the Swabs or the later I corrected to the proper name the South Wales Boarder’s. Also a question I asked had he been a Janitor in the hot mill Office block A9. Following our conversation I questioned of also and with thought did your father have a wooden leg or limp. No! not a wooden leg but a limp that he had from a wound that had made is leg stiff.

This rekindled to recount that I had often talked to Reg of my own sparse frontier experience compared to the times that when he had served and an that can only be described by any old comrade of a band of brothers including Reginald William Hagett who served when they were needing warriors. Not feeding them so much as when I Myself served. Often would see Reg in Our Town of long ago. The water holes were many the conversation long when ever I saw Reg. Living near by in York Place in our Town. Reminiscing by his son Roland Haggett we again went over old times and sadly informed in conversation Reg had passed away at aged 71. Mentioning that his father Reg Haggett had always said when he had gone to take his medals and sell and get a few bob for them at a second hand shop in Town. What a sad state we have become to want a trade or buy of medals. when in thoughtless in experience of youth or grief one sells and regrets that one’s action As wishes for return of deed of lost sold medals. Walk a road of lost images of people long gone of and remember well. When the bell will toll it may toll for Ye!

Reach out to those less fortunate than yourself.

If not he! then Who?

When once to walk down High Street that once busy area with bus stop traffic and folk dashing to and from market or arcade area. With its variety of shops it being in those times past not unusual to see some friend. Be it some of our long gone characters of times past Burglar Manship: Andrew servers, Vic Spinuti; Phil Hillier; Ron Lyles; Soldier Roy Hillier who luckily survived three assault landings; Harry Gamlin; or Trevor ticker Williams Brother of Les my Comrade in escapades in India until he was demobbed in 1948 at Newquay. Lynn Helmich paratrooper and my best man. Terry Williams mate and old salt sailmaker never to carry the Andrew flag at the cenotaph ever again. Those not among us long gone too many to mention by far I could but fill a book.

The old water holes of past. The Talbot Raglan and Royal Albert hotel in town. long Gone are the Doebells. Gone along with the many of visitor character drinkers. But Murrenger house still remains in defiance. But open still the Royal Albert in Maindee a Bass houses of distinction.

The regulars at the bar

Some old friends that are left from the many. Of those treading the pavements of town. Barney Brunnock; Albert Bray and Sadly his father Bert absent who could not stay killed in action on a working day at hot mill Llanwern. Along with many absent friends galore one Len Hathaway killed again in that Mill near downcoiler. How well I wish we all could go back in time to kick a ball when on Tredegar park we played Right back for me and left back for Nobby memory I search our life behind. And still now as I walk up the now river bank alone absent friends look down from above and Protect old Morgan in his thoughts of past as tide moves by in a gentle flow we are sure to follow for life to pass

All we take with us is our memories. Bingo friends all crossing out numbers. and Dancing girl friends with fun and laughter. Pubs I think of too mention but a few, Rose and Crown of Sam Penn daughter June Penn and husband John Goman and many more Mavis Randle and Nora too twenty-one the key of the door. Brother Ray Randle together we sailed home from India when last we met departed too I do regret.

Southampton port a memorable evening-tide scene witness of cheering crowds together we viewed many loved ones united with girls galore. Home again and then ashore Crowley. Denis whom I see more often at funerals and most regular too and my long time pugilist friend Roy Jones and wife Maria. Long Gone Bryn Lewis I think about past visit to when after work his water hole Nash Constitutional club with good ale. Do a bet and stagger not drive home then but now we cannot. Harry the guard Railwayman walking ever still over our bridge of sighs. Legging to a new venue of a raped Town of polluted gum droppings that would disgust a shitting pigeon. A Dutch cap loop of steel Sculpture on a river bank where once I fire-watched in war time stint in the old buildings of the once sited Hughes Forrest and Evans business. Down River bank with an abortion building to match of breeze and white. The Newport ship may save its plight. Maybe Tom Pitt the black Smith hits the anvil in gods garden and star flour makes a ghost of its past in clouds of flour.

The Mona Liza

Liza our gentle bulldog

In my Garden I look around.
My Liza Mona I buried in Grave in ground.
Along with Chamos a dog of mine.
We played together for a long long time
No more her loving face looks up at I.

I wonder why that we cannot keep in slot of time. The body of flesh and spirit so good – Memory stays and so it should Stop the clock to stay still in time.Go the memory of grief of that passing day. Forever we remain in time that’s past. memories of loved ones will ever last – Around you look– live and die. Mortals we without that thought. Remain only in spirit.

Bengy

Gave Fourteen years Love happiness and pleasure after our Liza Mona had given her Eight years of companionship. What a love these Bull terriers gave. Your longing eyes at sight of lead. To walk, sniff and stroll some more. Oh happy days and memories. You did not die you only sleep. Your memory we will always keep. May the best of your past be the worst of your future.

Kitty Cat

Mums favorite cat

Oh what fun and shear delight to have a pussy cat that welcomes the morning daytime light. With a gentle purr turning in slow circle around one’s legs. Brushing her smooth fur gently leaning touches against. But careful not to get under one’s feet. Meows and looks to tell one its time to eat. Happy days and memories of gone past day’s when our Kitty Mog grew up so soon – Every day that went so soon and quickly by. Became the time amount that adds up to old age. Eighteen plus years. A wisp of time.

A early morning meow gave welcome to me. I gave her little body frail with age a choice feed. Purring she seemed to rally. Comes before midday I came once again attend to her tucked up by warm radiator. No gentle meow or eyes to me gone were that life She Gently slipped away to Gods garden of all creatures great and small.

Dolphin Dive St Anns Head

West Wales St Ann’s Head. Pembroke Dolphin Dive

Dolphin Dive at St Ann’s Head

Painted from memory of this under water dive scene experience at St Ann’s Head Pembroke.West Wales. Wreck of the Baraminto sunk in 1943. Later on a further dive Author worked on retrieving the engine telegraph and porthole. Diving buddy Alan Hartland. All of our happy band of pirates were Diving members of the British Sub Aqua Club. Buddy on this dive was Joe O’Brien. Joe is in possession of this Painting. Joe now lives in the Blackwood or Bargoed area of the Valleys. Retired chief fire officer.

A dive experience – In the late circa 1945 years.

Serving in the Royal Artillery in Ceylon Mog in his leisure time engage in some sub aqua swimming. One of the first lesson Mog learnt was on being told by one of the Ceylonese locals who on watching Mog and friends snorkeling with just a tube. Warned about the sucker-fish that would suck ones eyes out the fish going for the attraction of the whites of the eyes. Don’t open your eyes swimming under water was the warning given by these knowledgeable locals. With no mask the swimming underwater was abandoned. Many years later however Mog became interested and engaged actively in the snorkel diving when the progress of mask and snorkel gear became more available. The regained interest occurred while on a holiday visit to first Jersey then Spain. Being good at swimming not being his strong point or ever being the perfect example of a good diver considering the fact that Mog was in the age group of forty-three. Possessed own ski boat enabled regular use to become quite proficient at water skiing. This added to the learning process of experience of the sea conditions. Introduction to the BSAC club diving training program took place at the Maindee bathes on a Thursday evening.

Under the watchful eye of the diving officer at that time Bill Berdett It was pretty hard going at first for Mog to swim and get fit. Swimming to reduce the beer potbelly and after much training and puffing and blowing diving to the bottom of the pool and all the stipulated by the basic book procedure in progression to become a qualified snorkel diver. Mog made many friends and enjoyed the after training meeting at the Then RAF Club in Park square. The indulgent in a few drinks sometimes cancelled out the nights good training work. Eventually Mog passed out as a snorkel diver and went on and qualified to take the Third class divers test.

Training in design is laid out by Diving manual BASC book instruction. Practical Progression through each test enables one to be fit and trained to take the next test and finale to obtain a qualified diver stamp in ones log book of ones ability. Being an Hazardous sport Mog found that this proper training from a club like the BASC to protect ones life in an emergency this type of training will bring you through. Many dive trips to various locations were made over a period time with various diving club members. Mog then on a team up with Orrin and Tort a previous dive they had located a wreck at St Ann’s Head Pembroke. At that time Mog was only a novice diver. The recalled the follow up dive on this wreck was one hell of an experience.

Mog arranged to take his fourteen-foot ski boat the Tiger Shark. From Newport to Pembroke West Wales the journey took some three hours this being the early years of 1972 when Little or no motor way to the west of Wales was built or fully opened up. Mog made up the team of three divers and they made their base at Hasguards Cross an old second world war service camp which now had been made into a caravan park arriving and booking in for a short overnight stay. All decided on going out for a few refreshing pints of ale and the trip to Broadhaven with its nice wide beach with and its public house or hotel. Settled in the center of the fore shore with road and Car Park near at hand to the road, which made it hard not to miss. After our allotted agreed few jars and a quiet start. Orrin one of the trio met one of his work mate friends slowly the pace increased on the drinking Orrin was having a great time well oiled up and pissed in a nice sort of way.

Torts after discussion with Mog for both to try persuade Orrin to return to base camp but to no avail. Orrin he was happy as a frog in a pond of female frogs with no tongues swilling the ale. Orrin was friendly abusive subject to calling of a few names calling Mog Mucus and laughing like coco the clown. The name Mucus is a little tale in itself the nickname. Referring back to the early training session of swimming at the Newport Maindee baths. Mog’s philosophy for an hour swimming Breast and back stroke and float making for an hour at training. This would improve his survival factor in the open sea. With a wet suit worn one could survive and endure longer. For Mog was not a strong swimmer and this would increase his stamina. Once a week around the middle day when it was relatively quiet at the bathes Mog would meet his friends after doing an early six till two shift. One of the friends a rigger at the Llanwern steel works a big Lug of a feller with a heart of gold and slung podging spanners to match. Plus the added joking and ribbing from Rigger workmates and the like of about sharing a bottle added to the remarks of any mishap or experience no secrets were able to be from kept from workmates about ones actions at work or play.

Most steelworkers would understand this humour. Mog had dived to the bottom of the pool on coming to the surface the big lug remarked What’s That on your face Mog. Its MUCUS! Hanging on to the word that particular catch word that sometime stick out in minds like a sore thumb. Of coarse referring to the lectures on the equalising of pressures when diving of sinuses and the effect on eardrums and of coarse mucus when one has a cold came up. That name stuck to Mog like baby’s excreta to a napkin. Moc had in the past blown off the bottom half of his nose in an explosion when making bombs with carbide and water in a flagon beer bottle. On the carbide coming in contact with the water gives off an explosive gas. The stopper must be screwed down quick. The bottom half was cut into the face level but sown back on. Middle inside part of the nose was a hole and a ring could go trough like a bullring going through a bull’s nose. The abusive name calling cared not Mog and finale both Tort and he returned to the Hasguard caravan base but after and hour both were concerned that all had come has a team and we should stay together a team.

Going back to Broad haven for our friend Orrin who now was full with ale to the gunwales and true to likeness to our Celtic ancestors of drinking and cavorting Mog did not take much persuasion to join having another couple for the road to keep the party going. The finale arriving back at caravan and bed down now very late or early morning the stars were fading fast in the sky. The morning after the night of hammers in the head and all symptoms of night before mouth like an Arabs under pants the only diving Mog wanted was to dive back into bed. Some how a breakfast of fried greasy bacon and eggs was hustled up. Equipment and boat gear we made the journey to the little village of Dale and at the slipway a very nice day with little light wind. The craft launched Trailer being left at the top of the ramp spare ground. Carried and stowed our bottles down the ramp into the boat at the water edge. Mog noticed a very attractive female appeared from among the various Yacht at mooring in the bay.

What looked like a chamber pot pram dingy? Some comment spoken that it was Mills Walker on one of her attempt On an Atlantic or sea crossing at the water edge various stores of items of food were loaded. Stores for her adventure as a lone yacht woman. Surely it must have been her. Our engine started and last man ashore pushed us off and climbed aboard. We made a steady speed towards our intended dive target St Ann’s Head. Hugging the rocky coastline past Dale fort then sandy bay breaking out into open sea at the point. Selection of dive spot some twenty-five yards from off shore.
The lighthouse of St Ann’s far above our boat perched on the steep rocky cliff. Orrin let go the anchor and Mog cut the engine. Prepare to dive. We had all already dressed in our wet suits prior to launching. My buddy diver on this dive being Orrin. Mog was feeling queasy from last nights beer a few greasy bacon oil regurgitated patches floated from the breakfast on the surface of the clear blue sea calming the water.

Over the side backwards and down the anchor rope Mog’s mask-leaking Mog cleared the water by snorting through the nose. Head back the pressure of water forcing mask tight on to face. Now down to about forty feet at sixteen we bottomed out on kelp garden among large strewn rocks littered brass the ship bow and anchor chains. Trailing further into the blue darkening as the depths increased beyond view. This graveyard of many ships the rusting plates twisted and sharp. Mog ripped of a tube of copper and brass flange. Orrin beckoned to go this way we floated slowly fining over a steam winch its big end assembly brass bearing he tried to free Orrin bent it back and forth and it broke off. Moc now with the extra piece of loot and carrying Over twenty pounds of lead weight belt plus the bottle weight became low on air at thirty atmosphere signaled Orrin to surface. The beautiful sight and wonderful feeling swimming in pace to the sight those small bubbles. As the large and small bubbles slowly go to surface from ones set. Lovely sight of color blue of the last few feet as one breaks the surface. Still on air Orrin and Mog surfaced.

Mog was using a Merlin mark six-twin rubber hose mouthpiece set. Both exchanged okay signal. Orrin made off to the anchored boat. Tort had gone under off diving underwater on his own and left the boat untended No diver flag being displayed or any manned boat cover. Mog was very heavy in the water. Made to change buoyancy by opening valve on buoyancy jacket compressed cylinder blowing some air into my ABLJ spirotechnique. Okay some air in spiro jacket. Mog still clutching the scrap brass with one hand close to body. Changing to snorkel from mouth piece of Merlin set Mocs mouth just getting teeth onto snorkel mouth piece the whole mouthpiece came away from the tube falling apart at the same moment the drain plug on the spiro blows out flat goes the spiro.

I start to sink below the surface panic! Finning frantically blue beautiful water Mog was swallowing and spluttering it. The fancy valve snorkel mouthpiece in Mog’s mouth like a dummy in what seemed eternity was spit out? Mog in more panic grasps for the Merlin mouths piece of the set where the hell is the mouthpiece groping with his spare hand. But now under the surface finally the struggle still holding those bloody two brass objects. Mog snags the weight belt and flips up the flip release that had a flip release on the belt which Mog had made and designed for himself. At same time Merlin mouthpiece enters Mog’s mouth. The weight belt ditches and plunges to the bottom. Now on the surface still choking from water Mog could only try to drink to clear the mouthpiece of seawater spit farted and did everything to clear that choking feeling.

Mog now more buoyant turned on his back and the diaphragm under water pressure gave some air to clear the tubes of the Merlin set when mouthpiece held up above the diaphragm. Mog had recovered and made for the anchored boat Orrin was unaware what had happened in that short space of time and thought Mog was behind him swimming to the boat. Orrin started Helping the old feller aboard Mog still had the brass and handed it to Orrin already on-board. Mog knew Orrin wondered what had happened to the weight belt – Mo never recounted any account of that experience.