Saturday, June 28, 2003

Blaenavon, is a miserable and deprived town stuck in the Welsh Hills, nowhere very near anywhere else. It existed souly for the purpose of coal and iron, and when they went so did hope and civilisation frankly. It is a hell hole, I know, I spend half my working life there, dealing with the casualties of 20 years of neglect and decline.

Due to its history it has been awarded world heritage site status, which astonishes me. It is a shithole, there is nothing there, all the shops are boarded up, it is known as Plywood City.

Yet there is hope. There are plans to turn into a sort of little brother to Hay on Wye, and 9 bookshops have all opened there today, with more to follow, probably, hopefully. The local council, my local council, in fact, in return for ten grand, will give you a shop, shelving and shopfitting, along with a few thousand books to start you off. I have a brilliant idea for a bookshop actually, but I am to gutless to pursue that particular dream.

It would be nice if it worked, and I really hope it does, but I can't see it. There is nothing there, nowhere to get any decent scoff, or even crap scoff. No decent pubs, but plenty of indecent ones. And, unfortunately, the people. The town has been spruced up and painted for todays grand openings, and there is a day of events going on, but everybody I know fully expects everything to be vandalised and graffitied, probably tonight. I can't see where the staff will come from; the locals, to a man are surly and aggressive and will not want to lose their welfare benefits. The town is so isolated it will not be practical for people to come in on the bus, but I hope I'm wrong.
In the local paper the sort of unofficial spokesperson echoes my thoughts and suggest that the best they can hope for from it is a few more coppers on the beat and some cctv cameras, which says it all really.

Worst of all, the best second hand bookseller I know, from Abergavenny market, appears to have relocated there.
I will pop up there next week some time and report if I see any activity.

While we are on a literary bent, a beautiful poem by Mikey Delgado
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