‘Wooden trumpet’

Nihao/How do/Hello/S’mae,

Congratulations to Aberystwyth Town (founder members of the League of Wales in 1992) on avoiding the bottom two for 29 straight seasons. Alongside Newtown FC, both have remained ever present. Good luck to the Robins of Newtown as they chase a place in Europe. Further congratulations to Andy Morrison’s Connah’s Quay Nomads on retaining the Cymru Premier (previously Welsh Premier League/League of Wales) title. The Nomads ensured the title did not cross the border to England-based The New Saints.

To decide on something, as an individual is easy. To decide as a group, lesser so. As the world and its dog takes on China over various sensitive issues, I sit in relative freedom of Dongguan, thinking of the week ahead. I’m lucky. I’m working. Others around the world are not. Those last few sentences were written almost two months ago. They still apply now. They may still apply to some regions as variations of COVID-19 ravage and unravel around the globe. Good luck to all in the battle against the pesky persistence of coronavirus.

“This is how a democracy works. We talk to each other.” – quote from the dialogue of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

On April 11th 2020, Saturday Night Live featured Alec Baldwin playing Donald Trump. He was drinking COVID juice based on Clorox bleach talking as Covfefe-19. It referred to Donald Trump’s former Twitter account and a message he posted on May 30th 2017 (‘Despite the constant negative press covfefe’). Now the world has staircase-fearing Joe Biden. Since Trump departed (on his own free will, with graciousness of course), President of the U.S.A. Biden has given a new hope to growing East and West closer together whilst keeping Russia and the European Union sweet. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are also cosy with U.S.A. after distancing itself from floundering Trump’s administration and its death throes.

I was born in a member state of the E.U. Now, I am a national of an independent U.K. in a world that seems to be simultaneously getting closer yet fragmenting. Our shared fate may be staring at the abyss making predicted violent struggling motions showing great pains but it doesn’t have to be this way. Instead of having a standing competition to see who can urinate higher than the other, Biden’s administration could have headed to Alaska to talk to China constructively. Instead, a confident Chinese delegation showed no weakness. Across the table from Team America World Police, angry signals could be seen from the world’s 3rd of 4th biggest country (surface area) – depending on your source. Anyway without Trump, the world, even during COVID-19 and arguments between countries seems a much more pleasant place. It’s made me long for the path of optimism. Pumped up on my first vaccination against the 2019 version of the plague, I think borders will re-open sooner or later, and Euro 2020 football will join the Tokyo Olympic Games of 2020 in 2021. With City claiming the EFL League Cup and the Premier League on their march to Istanbul Wembley Villa Park Porto in the UEFA Champions League final, why not have a cause of feeling positive? The Estádio do Dragão may be a stadium of dragons, but isn’t 2021 the year to banish beasts? And, I’ll be joining Shenzhen Blues at 3am one Saturday night-Sunday morning to hope that City banish their quest for Europe’s biggest title…

“Please take my hand. I give it to you as a gesture of friendship and love, and of faith freely given. I give you my hand and welcome you into my dream.” – Wonder Woman, comic episode 167

Banishing beasts takes determination. Much like realising a dream. My dream of playing a musical instrument successfully is now. Now, I’ve paid for some classes, and I have two tools here. Terre World Instruments sent me my wind instrument. The didgeridoo (also known as a mandapul) can be found in plastic, redwood, yellow wood, bamboo and other wooden forms. Mine is made of Eucalyptus (a yellow wood). It’s tuned to D, I believe but can be tuned in other notes. It’s 180cm long and came in packaging longer than my body. The dense sound characteristics are fantastic. It booms from lineseed oil-finished wood, both inside and out. Luka, my teacher, also helped me get a wooden Didgebox .

“…don’t raise your hand at all until you’ve first extended it.” – Wonder Woman, comic episode 25

The spiritual instrument has always intrigued me. Stephen Boakes from The Levellers calls it a ‘wooden trumpet’. The former Klanger and the Soupdragons band member has featured over the years for folk rockers The Levellers yet not one mention of the lad can be found on their Wikipedia page (a reliable place of purity and facts). This is a travesty. Nor can the word didgeridoo be found. Boakes is a punky player of the norther Australian Aboriginal people. It’s been around roughly 1500 years and carries haunting spiritual sounds. The touring electrician from Brighton has fitted his take on the yiḏaki* wind instrument into the ethos of the band since at least 1993’s Levellers album. The mako* sounds at home on song, This Garden.

Djalu Gurruwiwi, Ondrej Smeykal (Czech), Ganga Giri, David Hudson, Mark Atkins and Shibaten may not be household names. Indeed to most, they’re just a list that I prepared for my journey into the spirit of the didgeridoo sound. Possibly one of the world’s oldest wind instruments doesn’t have a reed, finger holes or other hand-eye coordination pieces. The voice box is the key. Practice will be needed. I’m far, far away from kookaburra sounds or other Australian wildlife but David Hudson and Luka are explaining things and giving me techniques to help along the way. And it can also be a drum. I’m learning control before speed. Dubravko Lapaine has ample amounts of speed in his training instructions and technique tips but highlights the need for slow learning. That, and I need to get some beeswax to make a smooth rim. That will seal in the air better.

Sharp raspberries are needed for this instrument that has probably been around 1000-1500 years or so. Softly blowing the musical piece (with about 45 names) is needed. Twangs and wobbly tongues too. Every time you b low out, your nose must suck in air, which is not easy! And relax, that’s the advice. Each day means more practice and more air being pushed into the lungs and not just in the cheeks! It is hard! All the while, I am practising to inspirational combinations such as the Australian Youth Orchestra with William Barton (Spirit Gallery Didgeridoos).

Maybe in the future I’ll buy one of Charlie McMahon‘s didjeribones. These sliding version is closer to a trombone. He invented this instrument which has a modern twist on an ancient tool of sound. Early Jamiroquai song When You Gonna Learn featured a didgeridoo.

“I’m asking: Oh, when you gonna learn? To stop it goin’ on?;
Now when you gonna learn? To stop it goin’ on?” – Jamiroquai song When You Gonna Learn

With that, goodbye, zai jian and ta’ra! I’m off to confirm that the 2005 British Medical Journal study about playing the didgeridoo has health benefits or not.

Hwyl fawr!

Bryan Pugh Jones

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The name Bryan Pugh-Jones is one that should be known throughout Welsh football. He has long been associated with the old black and green of Aberystwyth Town F.C.

A true Green Legend of Aberystwyth Town F.C. means much to fans and the community of Aberystwyth. They engage those around them in ways that others cannot replicate. Whilst ATFC haven’t been seen as professional, one amateur player and club representative has been nothing but professional in his attitude. Having bled black and green over decades of football, few have had a connection with the Seasiders longer. Bryan wore the captain’s armband for 12 years. He carried on with the reserve team, long after others sought retirement.

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I was told Bryan arrived in Aberystwyth from Penparcau via Bont – and never left Town. Indeed, on meeting him in person, he delivered many witty yarns in ways that I found belly laughter the only way to respond. From those early days as a student to my departure from living in Aberystwyth I found Bryan Pugh-Jones was always a friendly and kind man. He’d answer every question and point me in the right direction.

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A self-confessed tone-deaf player would hum hymns as others sang. Listening to his stories it was hard to imagine this gentle man being a formidable adversary on the football pitch. Those who played against him told me he was strong and direct, yet not dirty. So much respect awarded him the first ever ATFC testimonial. A certain Geoff Hurst featured amongst the opposition.

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For any player to have come up against him, they would have learned much from that experience. In 1974 Bryan Pugh-Jones became ATFC’s first ever player to be awarded a testimonial – the opposition featured Geoff Hurst.

It is fitting that on the day football legend George Best was laid to rest, another legend Bryan Pugh-Jones was honoured for his services to football from the FAW. The 3rd of December 2005 was one of many honours, and on 23/6/16, I read in the Cambrian News, whilst I lived in China, of Bryan Pugh-Jones being honoured by the RNLI. His services to lifesaving were celebrated alongside others in receipt of awards at Aberystwyth’s National Library of Wales. So, the Green Legend joined was made Honorary Life Governor of the RNLI. 57 years of voluntary work for Aberystwyth RNLI marked his varied tasks. In those years he was a crew member, tractor driver, station mechanic, and deputy launching authority.

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I recall one day talking with the late David Hides and Bryan Pugh Jones, stood by the tractor that Bryan had set aside. They both discussed in great length the potential of Aberystwyth Town as a club, the history of the region and the weather. It seemed idyllic and eventually we noticed a few hours had passed, and we were all late for our various arrangements of the day.


From 3/12/2005:

Bryan Pugh Jones was recognised by the FAW in the John Charles Lounge. Players from the FAW amateur XIs, Bont, and ATFC teams that played alongside Bryan were present. Bryan’s one-time ATFC captain Howard Madley made a short speech, followed by team-mate Alan Blair (who told us how much fun the team was then, and that arguments did not happen), and Dr Gethin Jenkins spoke of the bravery and tenacity Bryan added to football. Bryan always played football with a smile on his face. The step-over was apparently invented by Bryan Pugh-Jones under the name of the alley shuffle. Bryan was always referred to as the laughing entertainer within his changing room. Tegwyn Evans handed Bryan a long service award on behalf of the FAW, and thanked him for his continuing services to football.

The then ATFC Chairman, Donald Kane, first joined Aber through the reserve team. Donald’s first training session ended with Mr Kane landing on his rear-end, taken by a steady and experienced Bryan Pugh-Jones. Bryan lifted Donald up and said, “You’re not the first and you won’t be the last.” Donald Kane added that as a groundsman working with hard conditions (as verified by Dr Jan Hides in a letter to Bryan, read by MC Glan Davies), “he has done wonders, and Bryan could not be replaced.” ATFC’s Honorary Life President, Glenda Charles, presented Bryan with a gift from all members of ATFC. The fans of Aberystwyth gave Bryan Pugh-Jones a framed and signed artwork of Liverpool players Ian St. John and Roger Hunt, from an FA Cup final win in 1965.

MC Glan Davies spoke next about the times Bryan played for Cwmderi (The S4C Pobl-y-Cwm team). Bryan was acting-Chaeufer following an accident Glan had thus preventing Glan from driving. In the end, the TV stars rang Glan up (not asking if Glan was available to play) enquiring if Bryan was available for games. One such game was in Waterford, Ireland against a local fire station crew. In the changing rooms afterwards avrey primative mobile phone rang (Glan said it was the size of a small car?) and Bryan went to pick it up. The players listened in, “Yes, yes, carry on,” said Bryan. He repeated himself again, “Yes, yes, carry on.” And for a third time. The players within the changing room queried, “Who were you speaking to?” Bryan replied, “Someone just rang to check if she could spend some money on a new jumper, so I said Yes, yes, carry on. She then asked if she could get a new car, so I told her Yes, yes, carry on. When she asked for jewellery from a local jewellery store I said, Yes, yes, carry on. Whose phone is this?” Bryan Pugh-Jones was not the only one presented with a gift of thanks, Tony Bates handed Her Indoors a bunch of flowers for putting up with Bryan. The night finished with a comedian, Bob Webb from Swansea, a buffett, lots of drinking and being merry in celebration of a great man: Bryan Pugh Jones.


As a former editor of ATFC.org.uk, I want to share this gallery to honour Bryan Pugh Jones. The flags at Park Avenue and the RNLI lifeboat station in Aberystwyth are at half mast.

My sincere condolences (Pob cydymdeimlad) to the family, friends and those who knew Bryan Pugh Jones.

Wherever you are Bryan, yes, yes, carry on.