My wife, in typically stoic fashion, returned to work just six weeks after giving birth to our first son. Back then Sarah was manager of a group home for two Down’s adults on the outskirts of Swansea, so had to do shifts, which included sleep-ins.

I was working as a part-time lecturer at the local college and also as an ad hoc draftsman for an engineering company in Llandeilo. This meant I was out three days of the week, but home every evening. …


Born towards the end of New Year’s Eve of 1963, I managed to save my mother’s blushes by not quite being a New Year’s Day baby. She would have hated having our photograph in the newspaper, as was the tradition back then.

It’s a weird day to have a birthday (not that I have anything to compare it with). I swing between the opinion that everyone celebrates my birthday, and that no-one does. …


I hate it,

I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it,

I hate its fucking squeak, its clunks, its lurches.

I hate it when it’s cold. I hate it when it’s hot.

I don’t much like it when it’s temperate.

I step on. Grudgingly. Set the timer and off we jolly well go.

Christ.

The squeak kicks in immediately, despite repeated oilings.

Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak.

I block it out, knuckle down, break a sweat, plan my day.

And daydream. Weaving little stories in my head.

I build imaginary new worlds, then dissolve them with reality.


He was escorted the short distance across the glistening tarmac from Swansea Central to the new sports shop he was about to open.

My grandmother took me. Come on boy she said and lifted me as high above the buzz as she could manage, which wasn’t much for a dumpy little woman in her fifties. I patted him on the back as he went in. I remember a huge head with thick brown hair and the smell of aftershave. It was like he had his own gravity the way people pressed towards him.

Gran shoved me through the steaming, overcoated…


Ian ‘Jungles’ Jones was a one off. I first got to know him when he over zealously pogoed out of a window to the Skids on the jukebox at the Half Moon Inn in Garnant. He picked himself up and carried on pogoing outside in the beer garden until the song finished. “Into the Valley”, I was impressed.

He was a natural clown, the first you’d call when arranging a night out, assured to be doubled over with laughter. But sadness also followed him around like an evil ginger twin. …


My roles in life in chronological order

Being, infant son, apple of their eye, grandson, nephew, cousin, citizen, Cymro Cymraeg, enforced Christian, toddler, mother’s chocolate pudding, patient, small boy, wonderer at the world, dog owner, watcher with mother, visitor, learner, little artist, reader, playmate, passenger, Bampa’s little horse, schoolboy, cinema goer, chapel goer, third wise man, friend, dirt collector, bychan Arthur Goss, singer, reciter, Barbara Goss’ boy, Gran’s little bugger, football fan, owner of treasured Geoff Hurst autograph, street games afficionado, den builder, Auntie Maria’s nose borer, Tufty Club member, day tripper, televison watcher, European Citizen, reluctant choirboy, horse rider…


Confessions of a Boot Boy

While cleaning my wife’s little boots yesterday I began thinking of how much I’ve always loved the task. It’s a satisfying process to scrape off mud and detritus, to brush vigorously before applying polish, waiting for it to soak in for a few minutes, then buffing to a high shine with a soft brush and cloth. I sometimes indulge myself further by applying a layer of Dubbin, a greasy salve that helps waterproof and further shine and protect the shoe.

When my four children were little it was my Sunday afternoon job to polish their…


Faded pictures in the hallway. Which of them brown ghosts is he?
Aisling, Shane MacGowan

One of my favourite photographs of my mother is of her smiling, alone in a windswept pac-a-mac and headscarf in front of a rocky outcrop. On the back it says “Snowdon Summit. Sept 58” in her clear handwriting that is still so familiar to me. She obviously liked the photo enough to have labelled it, anchoring it in time and place.

It comes from a battered biscuit tin full of old photographs. The box is dark green with a leaf and fence pattern that reeks…


As the intro began I caught a deep, unmistakable whiff of 1982.

The innocence of sleeping children
Dressed in white and slowly dreaming
Stops all time

“Primary” by The Cure. When I hear it now, I am transported to the back bedroom of my parents’ house that looked out over their lovingly tended garden and my dad’s greenhouse.

It was a bright, airy room I’d decorated myself — buttermilk walls with salmon pink woodwork and a frieze of tulips around the window. What was I thinking? But then I’d also installed some blue spotlights that gave the room an eerie…


Read the graffiti about slashed seat affairs
(Paul Weller, The Jam, That’s Entertainment)

All through my childhood I travelled by bus. My father was a very reluctant driver, so if we were going anywhere far (over ten miles) we took the bus. As my mother didn’t drive we went everywhere by bus if my dad was working. We took tortuous journeys to Swansea, shopping trips to Ammanford or just down the road to my grandparents or my aunties if it was raining.

Apart from these everyday journeys we would also have gone on the annual summer ‘Club Trip’ from the…

Simon Goss

All this, and Welsh too.

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