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Badger and the pick of the pops



badgerOVER the last couple of weeks, even by his own benighted standards, Badger has been a gloomy soul. However, readers, this week Badger resolved to strike an altogether lighter and less sombre note; with what is, admittedly, variable success.

As Badger was listening to the wireless the other day he slipped back into a time warp. There he was, Tony Blackburn, who sounded as gruesomely cheery as Badger remembered from his childhood. Tone was playing the top twenty selling singles from 1985. At that time it took significant sales to get into the top twenty, let alone the top ten, and it was not uncommon for singles to sell in the hundreds of thousands.

For those of Badger’s readers who are not familiar with the concept, a swift history lesson is in order. In a world before CD’s, and long before downloads, the purchase of seven inch disks of vinyl to be played on a Hi-fi turntable – or even, if one was lucky enough, a music centre. In fact, music centres gave one the option of just recording the top forty and adeptly editing out the disc jockey banter between records: particularly useful for avoiding Bruno Brookes.

Anyway, Badger digresses. There Badger was, back in 1985, with Tony Blackburn doing the top twenty-selling singles of the year.

1985: The year of The Smiths, The Cult, The Cure, The Style Council, Bruce Springsteen, Prince. Badger settled down for a treat.

Oh dear, readers, oh dearie, dearie, dearie me.

Badger listened aghast.

Apparently, when Morrisey sang the lyrics ‘the devil will find work for idle hands to do’, the thing the devil found for idle hands to do was to buy singles perpetrated by Jennifer Rush, Barbara Dickson & Elaine Paige, and Foreigner.

Asbestos-lunged American power-ballad diva, Jennifer Rush bellowed The Power of Love to five weeks at the top of the chart in October. As Badger discovered to his horror when researching this article – La Rush had recorded the UK’s best-selling single by a solo female artist until overtaken by something equally interminable by Whitney Houston several years later.

Memory, not the most reliable of mediums at the best of times, had somehow preserved for Badger the memory of Walls Come Tumbling Down, Between the Wars, and Close to Me, but erased Easy Lover, and the knuckle-whitening horror of Frankie.

Now, Badger is many things but he is no musical elitist. He can be found a-shuffling his paws along to tunes – if you excuse the pun – of any stripe. But the discovery of precisely what had been a hit when the world was young and green came as a mortifying surprise to Badger. 1985 was no golden age of popular music, it was an age right up there with the horror of times when young girls chanted for the Bay City Rollers or David Cassidy.

Readers, it was an age of Phil Collins.

Phil-bloody-Collins. I mean it is not as if Genesis was not quite bad enough, Phil had to distil its essence, cube it and record it. Those are not only musical crimes, readers: they are crimes against humanity. Phil Collins constitutes the final proof of the proposition that the only band in which the drummer was the most talented member was Nirvana.

And it came to Badger that much of the mid-80’s had been erased from Badger’s mind by a combination of Phil Collins and Margaret Thatcher. Shaken by the sheer awfulness of the period, musically and politically, Badger had expunged its recollection and retained only the memory of little shafts of light to illuminate the gloom.

On reflection, the whole period from, say, 1982 to the end of 1990 seems a little hazy. Not so much never glad confident morning again, as an abrupt break in cultural transmission that only picked up again a long time later. Lager and despair might have had something to do with that, readers.

But still Tony Blackburn endures: we are now past post-modern irony – way past Smashy and Nicey territory -and into the realms of complicity.

We know he is corny, we know he has hung around longer than a fart in a freezer, but Tony Blackburn is a reminder to us of a time when what went to the top of the charts had a certain cultural currency.

Popular music is less a sign of our times than a diary marker in our memories. If pressed to remember a specific day or month, you might fail. But people always remember what they were doing when they first became aware of a certain song, or a certain artist.

The old joke about innumerable progeny being conceived to the melodic rumbling of Barry White probably has a certain ring of truth about it; although in Pembrokeshire in the 1980’s, Badger is pretty sure that it was more likely to be to the strains of Hi Ho Silver Lining leeching through the windows of the village hall into a darkened car park at the end of a disco. Or possibly to the apparently endless long version of Freebird if you ventured out to The Old Rectory near Nash of fond Badgery memories.

The truth about the eighties, is that like Auden’s 1930’s, they were a low, dishonest decade. Their altitude and dishonesty is worse than some and better than others. (Don’t get Badger started on the 1970’s and the type of modern comedian who asks the audience whether it remembers Spangles.)

For all the gleaming newness of the now, and in the knowledge of its gloomier corners, the past still has its pull. Even now, even after Badger has discovered the unfortunate musical truth about 1985, his memory insists that for the portion of the year that Little Red Corvette was not number one, She Sells Sanctuary was in its stead.The thing about nostalgia, readers, is that nothing can kill it. Not even the truth.

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Pembrokeshire residents can quickly check symptoms for variety of conditions on NHS 111 Wales online



NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker can save Pembrokeshire patients time by helping them find the right NHS service for treatment. Symptoms can be quickly checked for a variety of conditions and advice given on the best way to treat them by visiting which is hosted by the Welsh Ambulance Service.

The way we access NHS services has changed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with more options now becoming increasingly utilised, including the NHS 111 Wales online service which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be used for both health information and advice and to access urgent primary care in Welsh and English.

In a recent YouGov survey, a third of Pembrokeshire residents had not even heard of the NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker and only 19% had used it during the past 12 months.

Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “We are asking everyone to help us by reconsidering the way you access NHS services. The methods available have changed but we are still here for you. It is worth getting to know the different ways you can access the NHS so you can be seen and treated quicker with your first port of call being NHS 111 Wales.”

According to the YouGov survey, carried out for the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign, only 67% of Pembrokeshire residents had heard of the NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker. However, 86% said they felt it was important to have access to the service.   

NHS 111 Wales online can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do. The way it works is: You answer questions about your symptoms on the website and depending on the situation you will:

  •           Get self-care advice
  •           Be told how to get any medicine you need
  •           Find out what local service can help you
  •           Be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
  •           Get a face-to-face appointment if you need one
  •           Be given an arrival time if you need to go to A&E – this might mean you spend less time in A&E

For those who don’t have confidence going online to seek advice, there is the NHS 111 Wales phone service. This is also a free service where patients can contact the NHS by dialling 111 to receive advice on the best way to manage their issue or gain further assistance if needed. The bilingual telephone service is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Eighty-four percent of Pembrokeshire residents had heard of the NHS 111 Wales phone service when asked for the recent YouGov survey but only 20% had used the telephone service during the last 12 months.


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Trial date for son accused of killing mum



THE SON of Judith Rhead, 68, who was found dead in her home in Market Street, Pembroke Dock on Feb 20 will now appear in Crown Court again in October.

Dale Morgan, 43, said to be a scout master, appeared in court only to confirm his name, date of birth and address – which was listed as Honeyborough Green, Neyland.

A plea and trial preparation hearing date was set for March 26 with a provisional trial date set for October 4.

He was remanded in custody.

In court papers it stated that the alleged murder took place between December 10, 2020 and February 21, 2021.

The paperwork demonstrates that the police are unsure of the exact date that Ms Rhead died. The large date range, two months, points to the likelihood that this will be a challenging case for all those involved.

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Launch of Haverfordwest Castle Conservation Management Plan



MEMBERS of the public are being asked to help shape the future of Haverfordwest Castle as a draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) is launched.

One of Pembrokeshire’s most important historical assets, the Castle is owned by Pembrokeshire County Council, which has produced the CMP.

The plan:

▪ sets out the significance of the castle and describes how the building will be protected with any new use, alteration, repair or management; 

▪ will help with the planning of maintenance, conservation and repair work and adaptation of the site to meet new or changing uses; 

▪ will help promote understanding of the site and look at improving public access and activities for local people and visitors; 

▪ will support proposals to conserve the castle and adaptations of the site in response to climate change; 

▪ and underpin funding applications to support improvements

An engagement exercise has been launched alongside the Plan, giving members of the public with an interest in the historic and/or environmental significance of the castle an opportunity to comment on the document and share their views.

To take part in the engagement exercise, please click on the following link:

The deadline for responses is Sunday, March 28, 2021.


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