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Badger and the nature of evil



badgerdevilTHIS week, readers Badger offers you something different. Over the past year or so, you have had poetry, you have had satire, you have had parody – sometimes all three in one column. But this week, readers you have a short story. But first, readers, a few prefatory remarks: Cllr Mike Stoddart has confirmed that the opinion of Mr Bryn Parry Jones is that The Pembrokeshire Herald is ‘evil’. Strong word ‘evil’, readers. Badger cannot ever recall using that word about Mr Bryn Parry Jones: ‘Arrogant’, ‘dictatorial, ‘a bully’ – yes; several times over. But not ‘evil’. Badger checked his dictionary to check if ‘evil’ had a connotation or meaning of which he was unaware. Badger’s OED suggested ‘Profoundly immoral and wicked’ as a working defi nition. Well, readers, Badger is uncomfortable with absolutes: Immorality is a question of perspective; as is wickedness. One supposes that – from the perspective of the Spanish Inquisition – the countless innocents they tortured and burned counted as wicked and immoral.

From the point of view of the dictator, any voice of radical dissent is an evil threat. Having existed for far too long in an atmosphere where he was kowtowed to, perhaps Bryn’s skin grew thin to the barbs of criticism and the jabs of truth. Having been used – metaphorically only, readers – to having himself bathed by the eager boot-licking tongues of those willing to abase themselves for even trivial and menial powers, a short sharp shower of forensic scrutiny must have come as a nasty surprise. So, readers, in the spirit of Halloween and by a circuitous route, Badger invites you to join him in considering evil. Many years ago, when Badger was younger and sleeker, he found himself in a part of the woods he did not know.

The moonlight dipped down through the barren branches of the trees, its pale glow casting baleful shadows onto the damp leaf fall. Every one of Badger’s senses tingled; the soft acid scent of all pervading leaf mould; the soft scudding through the waste of autumn under paw; the sharp taste of creeping fear; the distant screech of an owl; and the monochrome world of hideous, reaching shadows. Under the wreck of a tree struck down by an early storm, Badger took a moment to gather his wits and look about himself. As a cloud cleared across the moon, Badger’s eyes saw a glint of something shiny tangled in the underparts of the tree he sheltered under.

Intrigued he shuffled closer, being careful not to make too much noise. While beetles, worms and small crunchy mammals like trees, Badger was even then aware that mankind was fond of traps and snares to catch the unwary and would place them in locations Badger might forage. Badger screwed his courage to the sticking place and moved towards the glimmer of metal in the gnarled and upended tree roots. Embedded there, Badger saw a short object on the end of a longer silver chain. He reached in and his claws touched something soft and shrivelled. He tugged and felt resistance, as though something were holding on to the object.

Narrowing his eyes, Badger looked deeper into the gloom, he thought he saw a pair of pinpoint eyes staring back at him. Badger staggered back in shock and with a strange sucking sensation the object came free. Badger found himself holding a small and soft leather-like sack connected to a silver chain with a clasp around the back. On the bag was a small faded inscription: Tenent me! Mentes, corda, sequar! Badger wondered at what the inscription could mean. He picked up the shimmering silver-link chain and scurried quickly back to his sett. At the edge of his hearing he thought he could hear a deep moan that slowly grew louder.

Sweating and increasingly unnerved, Badger sped on nearly falling over dead branches and slipping through murky puddles in which the moon and branches dissolved into strange shapes. Every time he hesitated to fi nd his bearings, Badger fancied he could hear a nasty, spiteful chuckle. Coleridge’s words came unbidden to Badger’s mind: Like one, that on a lonesome road Doth walk in fear and dread And, having once turned round, walks on And turns no more his head Because he knows a frightful fi end Doth close behind him tread Badger heard a footfall behind him and rushed onwards, ever onwards through the darkened wood; praying to the gods above and below in a sudden outpouring of faith that he would soon see the lamp outside his door.

There it was. A pale, yellow light calling Badger homeward. Gasping. Desperate. Terrifi ed. Badger sped forward fumbled with the lock and fell inside. Scrambling to his feet, he slammed the door behind him and slammed the bolts into place. Undoing the chain from around his neck, Badger looked again at the bag. It was soft to the touch and there was something inside – some things inside – moving around inside the fabric. Badger looked again at the inscription and stumbled over the Latin. He thought of checking his Latin dictionary when his heart leapt into his mouth at a sharp knock on the door. His chest pounding. Badger turned to face the accusatory portal.

The knock came again. Harder now. More demanding. Then the voice came. Low and wheedling it whispered through the oak and seemed to fi ll Badger’s head. “Give it to me.” Badger’s eyes widened as he saw the handle of the door turn, glad as the bolts held fi rm as the lock strained. Then the voice again. “Give it to me. Now!” The voice was greedier. More insistent. A pallid skeletal hand with long, yellow fingernails reached through Badger’s letter box, its fingers flexing, reaching. And then the voice again. Angrier and insistent. Badger looked at the wizened pouch in his paws. The chain, the motto, the strangely mobile objects in the small skin cache.

Was it worth it? The terror, the fear. Whatever was outside Badger’s door really wanted it. Thrusting his paw out, Badger jammed the thing into the entity’s outstretched hand. Badger gave an involuntary shriek as he felt the creature’s sharp nails and leaf-like skin scrabbling and then getting hold of the object of its desire. There was an unearthly howl and it seemed as though the very earth shivered in terror, as the hand withdrew clutching its trophy and the nails scraped over Badger’s fur. The voice burst into maniacal cackling. “I have it. I have it.” Slowly Badger heard dragging footsteps move away from his door and everywhere heard the sound of triumphant cackling. He woke the following morning, praying it was a dream. But, no, there on Badger’s paw was the scratch of the fi ngernail. Shaking, Badger reached for his Latin grammar. ‘Hold me! And their hearts and minds will follow!’ The motto translated as: Badger was puzzled. Years later, Badger discovered that it was Bryn Parry- Jones who had a tight hold on the legendary testicles of Pembrokeshire County Council. And by then, readers, it was too late.

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Sentencing delay for money theft case



A CROWN COURT has delayed the sentencing of a Narberth man who has admitted stealing from a local community organisation.

Lee Squelch, 37, of Caerau Farm, Llandewi Velfrey, had denied the charges but changed his plea to guilty on March 5.

However, due to over running cases at the Crown Court, the sentencing date has been put back until Wednesday, April 21 – the case was due to be concluded on April 15.

Squelch has admitted that between April 2014 and March 2018 he stole money from The Pembrokeshire Byways and Bridleways Association.

It is understood that Squelch was in a position of responsibility within the said organisation when the alleged offences took place.

Pembrokeshire Byways and Bridleways is a community focused organisation which aims to improve the bridleways around Pembrokeshire, to keep horse riders safely off the roads. It is affiliated to the British Horse Society.

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The Pembrokeshire man on the Titanic



ON the morning of April 15 1912, in the North Atlantic some 450-miles south of Newfoundland, the RMS Titanic slowly slid beneath the sea just two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg.

Stories from that night are famous, from the lookouts misplacing their binoculars to the ship’s band playing even as the sea washed over their feet, the sinking of the Titanic holds a special place in the public consciousness and continues to grab our attention some 109 years after the ‘unsinkable’ ship sank.

Over 1500 people lost their lives in the biggest maritime naval disaster at that point.

Among the dead were American and British millionaires, White Star Line employees and countless anonymous immigrants from across Europe who were all seeking a better life in America.

908 crew were on board the Titanic when it left Southampton on its fateful maiden voyage, one of the crew was a man called Charles Essex Edwards, 38, who sometimes gave himself the first name of ‘Clement’.

Charles was born in 1862 to John and Harriet Edwards of St. Martin’s Place, Haverfordwest.

He worked as a carpenter as a 19-year-old man and would end up moving out of Pembrokeshire and going to sea.  By the time he married a lady called Lavinia Ann Poulter, from Llanstadwell, in May 1892 he was living in Newport.

Lavinia, a Pembrokeshire woman herself, was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Poulter who lived on Lawrenny Terrace in Neyland.

By 1895, Lavinia had returned to Pembrokeshire following the death of her mother. Charles and Lavinia’s marriage suffered but Charles would continue visiting Lavinia and stayed at his father-in-law’s house when he was on shore leave.

Although still married in the eyes of the law, Charles and Lavinia were basically separated by 1901.

Charles signed on to work on the brand new RMS Titanic after it had completed its sea trials in Belfast Lough, he gave his address as 7 Brunswick Square, Southampton. He worked on the Titanic as an assistant pantry-man steward who earned a monthly wage of £3 15s on his previous ship the SS Zeeland.

SS Zeeland: The ship Charles worked on before the Titanic

When RMS Titanic left Southampton a massive crowd had gathered to see the newest addition to the White Star Line fleet depart. Charles Edwards was there. He was there when the ship picked up more passengers at Cherbourg and Cobh.

He would’ve been working during the day, his job entailed keeping the ship’s pantries stocked with food and wine, a vital job on a ship with such a high-class passenger list as the Titanic.

He was, more than likely, sleeping when Frederick Fleet spotted an iceberg in the ship’s path at 11:40pm on Sunday, April 14. He would’ve been woken by the noise of metal on ice and the ship shuddering as it was torn open on the starboard side.

As the ‘unsinkable’ ship took on water Charles, as a White Star Line employee, would’ve been given the unenviable task of waking up passengers, informing them of what happened and getting them to put on their lifejackets.

Once the scale of the situation on the Titanic became apparent, the command structure effectively disintegrated.

Captain Edward Smith would’ve cut a forlorn figure as he wandered around near the wheelhouse and his last words to his crew, according to reports at the time were:

“Well boys, you’ve done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you. I release you.

“You know the rule of the sea. It’s every man for himself now, and God bless you.”

This would’ve been around 2:10am, at that point Charles would’ve faced a literal up-hill battle with male members of the crew only having a 24% chance of survival and many people gathering ‘like bees’ on the stern of the stricken liner which, experts say, raised to a 12 degree angle.

The Pantryman-stewards from the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic

Many male crew members elected to stay at their posts as, according to Victorian culture it was better for men to die than to live and be perceived a coward, so the lights of the ship remained on until about 2:18am, just two minutes before Titanic broke apart and began its journey to its final resting place some 12,000ft below on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

But now you know there was a man named Charles Edwards who was born in Haverfordwest and who died when the Titanic sank in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. His body, if it was recovered, was never identified and we don’t even have a picture of him.

When news of the disaster broke, The Pembroke County Guardian described the tragedy as ‘one of the most appalling calamities in the long history of shipwreck’.

Four men from Maenclochog, it was later revealed, had a lucky escape as their plans to emigrate that April on the Titanic were thwarted by one of their number being unable to travel, so the group decided to wait for their friend. That decision saved their lives.

Pembrokeshire responded to the sinking by raising money for the Titanic Relief Fund, Pembroke Dock raised £12 2s 0d through a collection at the Royal Dockyard and, in Haverfordwest, Sidney White, who would later go on to own The Palace Cinema, hosted benefit performances to packed houses which raised £5 15s.

Lavinia, after a legal battle with Charles’ brother William, was given £192 in compensation for Charles’ death and went on to look after her father at Railway Terrace, Neyland until he passed away.

Lavinia went on to move to Middlesex where she lived until 1934. She left her estate to her chauffeur.

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Marloes pensioner in child abuse images case



A PENSIONER has been bailed to attend Swansea Crown Court by magistrates sitting in Haverfordwest Law Courts this week.

Derek Lister, 72, of Marloes is accused of making indecent photographs of children.

He appeared before the bench, on Tuesday (Apr 13).

Lister was represented by Redkite Solicitors.

The court heard that between June 2009 and November 2019 in Marloes, Pembrokeshire, Lister allegedly created 3 indecent category A images of a child, 14 indecent category B images of a child and 152 indecent category C images of a child.

He will now appear at Swansea Crown Court on May 11 at 10am for the next hearing after the local court declined jurisdiction.

Lister has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Derek Lister: Accused of making child abuse images
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