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Badger and the season of goodwill



AND SO, like a particularly obnoxious curry, December has once again come around to torment poor Badger. This, readers, this is Badger’sbadger84image least favourite time of year: scarred by decades of exposure to Christmas ‘specials’ Badger is afflicted with chronic tinselitis. The very sound of the word ‘merry’, or worse ‘merrie’, is enough to give Badger fond thoughts of emigration to climes where jolliness and holly-ness is a touch less de rigeur. Events this year have compelled Badger to cast his mind back over the years. Along that journey, Badger has tried to try to discover where it is that this seasonal disorder has its origins. And, readers, it has come to Badger that there is no one, single reason why Badger dislikes Christmas so dyspeptically that the merest scent of a Brussels sprout is enough to engender dyspepsia itself. Badger has memories of finding the tangerine wrapped in tissue paper among the games, toys and annuals that made up his presents on Christmas morning.

Those memories are fond and suffused with recollection of the thrill that Christmas brought to his childhood. Badger remembers Christmas cake iced impenetrably with the type of covering they used on space shuttles; mince pies; fruit puddings and turkey dinners that had a half-life of half a week or more. Even those, readers, even those bring Badger pin-sharp and pleasant recollections of his grandfather sitting in a rocking chair in a crowded cottage reading a Louis L’Amour western and smoking a Kensitas cigarette with nary a thought for the fire hazard caused by doing so after a carbohydrate heavy meal. Badger’s misty-eyed reminiscences are shot through with memories of execrable Christmas television. Dick Emery. Dickbloody- Emery. The great Clive James, it was, who described dear old Dick as “the man of a thousand faces, all of them the same”.

You can’t improve on that type of criticism. Badger isn’t even going to try. Badger’s childhood was, by and large, the era of three channels on the telly, all of which stuck to the same formula throughout Badger’s childhood. Badger says “by and large” because there was always a strike hovering in the air threatening to take BBC or ITV off the air over Xmas. BBC had Billy Smart’s Circus, ITV had Chipperfield’s Circus; there was Val Doonican, Cilla Black, and Peters and Lee. And these shows had viewers not in the millions, but in the tens of millions – although the nature of sampling as it was then meant that these figures were extrapolated from data provided by those taking part in a survey limited to those watching television. Badger can tell you with confidence, readers, that when people say the past was a time when they made their own entertainment, a glance at television schedules from Badger’s childhood will tell you why that was the case.

Crooners and carols and King’s College, Cambridge: these are not a few of Badger’s favourite things. But even the recollection of Dick van Dyke in Chitty-Chitty Bang- Bang, does not explain Badger’s disinclination to join in festive fun. So having discounted appalling television, indigestible food and tangerines in tissue paper, Badger decided to press on with his inquiry to get to the bottom of his end of year malaise. He peeled off the layers of the years like wrapping paper, trying to get to the issue’s kernel without losing the Sellotape that holds his Christmas reminiscences in place. The more he looked, the less he knew.

There were memorably awful Christmas presents: crimes against knitting and crochet that cannot easily be forgiven; the cigarette lighter that damned near cost Badger his eyebrows; thoughtless socks; and games of such stupefying tedium that – even now – when Badger sees a Monopoly Board he can’t wait to find someone wearing a monocle and top hat to beat over the head with one. Badger thought about religion, the root cause of Christmas. Now, readers, Badger has views on religion. Please feel free to worship how and what or whom you want, readers. Badger would rather believe in humanity (in the general, not in the particular: after all, readers, who would willingly believe in Noel Edmonds?).

But no, readers: all that holly and ivy, those little donkeys and the shepherds who washed their socks by night; Badger refuses to judge how he felt about them then by the standards of his adulthood. Neither is Badger going to jump on the bandwagon that blames consumerism and greed for why Christmas is no longer as ‘special’ as it used to be. There was less choice in the gifts Father Christmas would deliver to girls and boys when Badger was a boy, but he does not believe that children now are any more acquisitive and grasping than they were when he was young. It is only that there is a greater range of opportunity than was afforded by the Co-op, WH Smiths and Woolworths. Space-Hoppers or I-Pads: these are symptoms, not causes. And not one of these things, not a one, readers, can Badger say led him to regard Christmas with a jaundiced eye and bitter chuckle. Finally Badger decided that he was looking at the question the wrong way.

What if it was not Christmas that had changed, but Badger? And, if so, what had changed? Looking at the problem that way: Badger came to think that it could be the loss of childhood innocence that has led him to his current predicament. Was there some existential dread at his own mortality or sense of loss to which Badger could ascribe Yuletide ennui. But that, readers, is far too trite and easy. It is the kind of thing a priest or game show host might say in patronising tones to bring home just how magical Christmas is for children. That, readers, would be a cop out.

Then it came to him, readers! In a moment of perfect clarity it came to Badger that the reason he disliked Christmas was because while Badger can be persuaded he will not be compelled. It is the forced jollity to which Badger objects. Badger does not want to be told “smile, it’s Christmas.” Badger would rather find his own reasons to be cheerful, and not just for one season but for all seasons. Goodwill for one season and greed, gluttony and bigotry for the rest? Is that what we want? In Badger’s view either all seasons – all days – are special, or none are. Despite everything, Badger is optimistic about humanity (with the caveat above) and will opt for the former every time. So, this season of goodwill, readers, Badger wishes that you are all at least as happy and no less filled with goodwill towards humankind as you are the rest of the year. Or vice versa, just in case.

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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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