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Badger and the nature of evil

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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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Three kayakers assisted by St Davids inshore lifeboat crew

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WHILST on exercise, Tuesday (June 22), St Davids In-shore Lifeboat was tasked by the coastguard at 3:15pm to assist three kayakers off St Davids Head.

The volunteer crew made way to the casualties and once one scene could see that one of the kayakers had made their way around the headland to the safer waters of Whitesands Bay.

The party had paddled out from Whitesands Beach when the tide had been ebbing and made there way North around St Davids Head. When the tide turned a wind against tide situation occurred on the headland causing 1.5m choppy seas and 5 knot current preventing the other two kayakers from returning back into Whitesands Bay, a member of the public had spotted the situation and called the Coastguard.

The crew assisted the remaining two kayakers around the headland one at a time by taking them on-board the lifeboat and around the headland. Once the party was reunited in the safety of Whitesands Bay they were escorted back towards the beach where RNLI lifeguards were informed and expecting their arrival.

The crew returned to exercise and complete its crew assessments with the on board assessor before rehousing at around 4:30pm.

When going out on kayaks always wear a lifejacket, check tides and weather, and bring a means to call for help, on 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

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Green hydrogen electrolyser and car refueler arrive at Milford Waterfront

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL says it is leading the way in renewable energy with a collaborative £4.5 million project exploring the vital role hydrogen could play in a decarbonised energy future.

Milford Haven : Energy Kingdom (MH:EK) is a two-year ‘detailed design’ project, completing in 2022, exploring what a renewable energy based Smart Local Energy System could look like for the Milford Haven Waterway – including the concept of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (HFCEV).

The aim is to gather detailed insight into the whole energy system around the Waterway, looking at how to make, using and distributing hydrogen financially viable within the different energy sectors of buildings, industry, power and transport.

The MH:EK team will investigate the potential of local renewable energy, including solar, onshore wind, future offshore wind and biomass for decarbonised gas transition.

One element of the project involves a consumer trial of two Riversimple ‘Rasa’ HFCEV’s. The MH:EK team is building a green hydrogen electrolyser and refueler on Milford Waterfront – and this will be used to produce green hydrogen on site to fuel the two trial HFCEV’s.

The project will demonstrate the practical application of hydrogen technology. The aim is to test the feasibility of two hydrogen powered Rasa cars. They will be built by Welsh company Riversimple, and operate as fleet cars in and around the Haven.

Pembrokeshire County Councillor Cris Tomos, Cabinet Member for the Environment and Welsh Language, said: ‘We welcome the progress made by the partnership, particularly in view of recent news that new petrol and diesel cars will not be sold in the UK after 2030. This innovative approach will help us to switch to a low carbon future and promoting sustainable transport as we respond to the climate change emergency.’

Work is underway and should be operational for the trial in July. A hydrogen-ready smart hybrid heating system is also being designed and will be installed and tested in an operational Port building.

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Council’s building maintenance teams to resume non-emergency responsive repairs

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THE HOUSING Building Maintenance teams within Pembrokeshire County Council are now able to re-commence non-emergency responsive repairs to customers’ homes around the County.

Lockdown has prevented tradesmen and women from entering homes to carry out anything other than emergency repairs for many months but the PCC Contact Centre is now able to take calls from customers to request a non-emergency service in their homes once more.

The Contact Centre receives around 38,000 building maintenance related service requests each year and even throughout lockdown Building Maintenance have proudly maintained a 99.2% success rate in responding to emergency repairs within 24hours since restrictions came into force.

Covid has caused a large disruption to the service and while the authority is now in a position to re-open phone lines to routine responsive repairs, a delay in providing that service is inevitable as the backlog is worked through but the authority is working hard to meet the demand.

Backlog is likely to take several months and is dependent on a number of factors including the numbers of repair requests received, availability of materials and contractors.

PCC currently employs 64 tradesmen and women directly and has a considerable number of contractors on its framework to undertake a wide range of maintenance works and Building Maintenance are in the process of tendering a New Minor Works Framework.

All maintenance employees and contractors will continue to work under strict guidelines in people’s homes to ensure that all safety and social distancing measures are adhered to.

The Housing Building Maintenance service is also in the final stages of implementing ‘Repair Finder’ which will enable Contact Centre staff to diagnose the faults in customer’s homes far quicker and more accurately than before, which will in turn ensure that Building Maintenance are better informed and resourced ahead of arriving at the property to carry out the repair.

This is expected to reduce the length of calls to the Contact Centre and subsequently reduce call-waiting times.

The ‘Repair Finder’ tool is expected to be available later in the year and will soon offer residents direct access to an online version which will enable them to report responsive repairs themselves.

Once trialled and released, service requests can be logged by the tenant via the Council’s ‘Housing Online’ portal.

When residents report a problem within their home via the Call Centre or ‘Repair Finder’, they will receive text message alerts informing them of the timescales within which they can expect the repair to be made.

Cabinet member for Housing, Cllr Michelle Bateman said: “We’re under no illusion that lockdown measures have caused a major disruption to the building maintenance service.

“We’re receiving new requests now on top of those that have been on standby during the Covid restrictions. Pembrokeshire residents have shown tremendous patience and understanding of services that have been stretched throughout the crisis so we’re counting on their ongoing support and we hope they appreciate that it will take a period of time to get back to where we were.

“People can be assured that we are working very hard to bring back the outstanding levels of service we provided before Covid and it’s things like ‘Repair Finder’ that will help make this possible going forward.

“With one in every six employed people in Pembrokeshire working for the local authority, it’s important to remember that we are very much in this together”.

If you wish to report a repair to your home you can call the Contact Centre on 01437 764551.

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