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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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Fr. Liam Bradley to become Lead Chaplain for Dyfed-Powys Police



THE CATHOLIC CHURCH in Haverfordwest will see some changes over the coming weeks as Father Liam Bradley, who has been the parish priest for seven years is to move from his post to become the Lead Chaplain for Dyfed-Powys Police.

From Cardiff, Archbishop George Stack said in a statement: “Fr. Liam Bradley has given outstanding service as volunteer chaplain to the police in Haverfordwest over recent years.

“So much so, that he has been seconded by the Diocese of Menevia to become Lead Chaplain for Dyfed-Powys Police with responsibility for a team of volunteer chaplains. He will be engaged in this work of spiritual care and pastoral support of police officers and civilian workers for a period of three days each week. He will be based at Dyfed-Powys Police Headquarters in Carmarthen.

“Whilst this means that Fr. Liam will have to stand down as parish priest of Haverfordwest, I am pleased to say that he will continue to have responsibility as chaplain to the staff and patients at Withybush Hospital for two days each week. In addition to this, he will also offer his services to the Cistercian community at Holy Cross Abbey, Whitland.

“I am grateful to Canon Pius Valummelmalayil for his invitation that Fr. Liam should take up residence at St. Mary’s Presbytery, Carmarthen.

“I have asked Fr. Matthew Roche-Saunders to assume pastoral responsibility for the parish of St. David and St. Patrick, Haverfordwest and the Immaculate Conception, Narberth, for the foreseeable future. These changes will take place after Easter.

Writing of this appointment, Fr. Liam said on the parish’s social media page: “Whilst I am sorry to stand down from the role of parish priest at Haverfordwest and Narberth, I give thanks for serving the community for the last seven years. The huge need for spiritual and pastoral support of those who work at the front line in serving our communities and keeping us safe lies behind this appointment. My voluntary work with the police has taught me how much they value such support.

“I offer it on behalf of the Catholic Church to those of all faiths and none”.

Fr. Matthew added: “I wish Fr. Liam every blessing in his new role of bringing the service of the Church to the wider world. His gifts for such outreach have been recognised in this appointment. I am pleased that he will continue to remain in contact with parishioners in Haverfordwest through his work as hospital chaplain.

“I am grateful for the mutual support and friendship we have enjoyed over the last two and a half years and look forward to it continuing”.

“Please do keep me and Fr Matt in your prayers. Pray also for each other, and treasure in each other the may gifts that each brings to our community of faith.

“This is the closing of one chapter, but beginning of something new and exciting too.

“In all things let us give glory to God who guides us by his divine providence, and supplies what we need to complete his work.”

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Failures over use of ‘filthy’ barracks for asylum seekers – inspectors



THERE were “fundamental failures” over accommodating asylum seekers in former military barracks, parts of which were “filthy”, inspectors have said.

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons visited Penally Camp in Pembrokeshire and Napier Barracks in Kent. They said both sites were “run-down”.

In a preliminary report seen by The Herald the inspectors said at both locations residents described feeling trapped in poor conditions. They feared that if they moved out they would jeopardise their only source of support and possibly their asylum cases, it was concluded.

Inspectors added: “We met many men who described feeling depressed and hopeless at their circumstances. In our resident survey, all of those who responded at Napier and the vast majority at Penally said they had felt depressed at some points.

“At both sites about a third of respondents said they had mental health problems; about a third of respondents at Napier said they had felt suicidal.”

Home Secretary has been asked by Plaid Cymru to consider her position (Image: File)

However, Home Secretary Priti Patel and immigration minister Chris Philp have both previously defended the use of such sites.

There have been repeated demonstrations in both Pembrokeshire and in Kent by people from both ends of the political spectrum, and by local residents, causing security costs to spiral.

On Monday evening (Mar 8), the department repeated its assertion that “it is wrong to say it is not adequate for asylum seekers”

Naomi Phillips, director of policy and advocacy at British Red Cross, said: “These sites are completely inappropriate and inhumane as housing for people fleeing war, persecution and violence.

“The people we’ve spoken to in Penally have told us that they didn’t receive health screenings, were given little or no information about what was happening to them, and simply do not feel safe in the barracks.

“Our worst fears about the impact on people’s mental health have been realised.”

The cost of policing the camp has been higher than expected, running into millions of pounds (Pic Herald)

The BBC is reporting Labour has said the findings are “utterly unbelievable”, and Plaid Cymru called for Home Secretary Priti Patel to “consider her position”.

Inspectors said both sites – which witnessed protests over living conditions in January – were “run-down and unsuitable”, but particularly criticised Napier.

They said given the cramped, communal conditions, “once one person was infected with Covid a large-scale outbreak was virtually inevitable” at the site.

Many men said they were depressed, and a survey found a third of respondents at both sites had mental health problems, while a third at Napier had felt suicidal.

Reacting to the findings, Detention Action director Bella Sankey said: “This is the sort of report that should make decent people consider their positions.”

She called for the barracks to be closed immediately and for “those responsible fully held to account”.

Police and protestors in stand off in Penally in 2020 (Pic: Herald)

Yvette Cooper MP, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “At a time when the Home Secretary and Permanent Secretary have told us they are making major changes to improve the culture and the humanity of the department in response to the Wendy Williams Windrush review, this report shows they haven’t yet learnt the lessons.”

Shadow immigration minister, Holly Lynch, said: “The Home Secretary has recklessly put the lives of all those staying at the sites, those working there, and the surrounding communities, at risk during a pandemic.”

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts said Ms Patel “must consider her position” in the wake of the report, which highlighted “fundamental failures of leadership and planning by the Home Office”.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: “During these unprecedented times we have met our statutory duty to provide asylum seekers, who would otherwise be destitute, with suitable accommodation and three meals a day all paid for by the British taxpayer.

“We expect the highest possible standards from our service providers and have instructed them to make improvements at the site.”

The Home Office has said people should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach rather than making the crossings, and has said illegal migrants are being returned to safe countries.

The Home Office also said it had instructed service providers to make improvements to both camps. The government department has also said it is winding down use of the camps. In Pembrokeshire the policing costs alone have exceeded a million pounds.

Rooms in the camp were said to be too small for social distancing (Pic: Camp user)


Penally camp: Unsuitable in its current condition, said inspectors

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Eligible unpaid carers encouraged to register for COVID-19 vaccine



UNPAID carers in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire who are not already registered as a carer with their GP practice are being asked to complete an online registration form if they wish to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that unpaid carers are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine as part of priority group 6, subject to certain eligibility criteria.

Revised national guidance from the JCVI describes unpaid carers as those who are eligible for a carer’s allowance, or those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable.

Those clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 include children with severe neuro-disabilities, those who are designated Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV), adults who have underlying health conditions, and those who need care because of advanced age. Eligible carers should be vaccinated in priority group 6.

Anna Bird, Assistant Director of Strategic Partnerships at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Unpaid carers play a vital role offering care and support and it is in everyone’s interest that they are supported.

“For many years now, the health board has built strong links with unpaid carers across our three counties through initiatives such as our Investors in Carers scheme, designed to help organisations focus on, and improve, their carer awareness and the help and support they give to carers.

“There are over 10,000 unpaid carers registered with GP practices or the local authority across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire but we know there are many more people out there who may not recognise themselves as an unpaid carer and are unaware that support is available for them, including their eligibility for a COVID-19 vaccine.”

If you believe you may be eligible, are aged 16 or over and are not registered as an unpaid carer with your GP, please complete this online form to register your details. People without internet access can contact the health board on 0300 303 8322.

Those already registered as an unpaid carer with a GP will be contacted directly to receive a COVID vaccination and do not need to do anything further.
Please wait to be invited for your vaccination and do not contact your GP or health board to ask about your vaccine appointment. You will be contacted when it is your turn, thank you for your patience and understanding.

To find out more about the support available for unpaid carers in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire please visit

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