The latest Phil Evans column from the South Wales Evening Post
Comedian Phil Evans is from Ammanford. He is known as the man who puts the ‘cwtsh’ into comedy
We’re well into the time of year known as Wint-umn. Well that’s what it’s called in my house.
Winter and Autumn meld into one long dark season that’ll hang around our damp, cold, street corners until March comes along and says in an authoritative voice “Oi! You! Stop annoying everyone and clear off out of it!”
It’s around now that pensioners start receiving their winter fuel allowance to help towards their heating bills.
I’m not going to get into the rights and wrongs of whether so-called wealthy pensioners should receive the same allowance as those who just scrape by on their State Pension, but if they paid their taxes and N.I. for 50/60 years, why the Hell shouldn’t they?
Oops! I just fell off the fence then...
I won’t qualify for it for many years, but £100 given to each individual towards heating their home through the coldest months of the year doesn’t seem a lot to me.
My heating bills from October to March are phenomenal – and I’m not particularly susceptible to the cold. Plus,when I’m out working several nights a week, my heating’s not on.
But my security lights and burglar alarms are – so be warned!
And if your attitude is “Why should pensioners get any heating allowance?” here’s a fact that might melt the ice-berg that occupies the space where your heart should be
Every winter around 25,000 old people die of hypothermia-related problems. Not in Omsk, Tomsk or Vladivostok. In Great Britain!
Because of Government and local council cutbacks, many day centres where pensioners could meet, have tea, coffee and a hot meal in a safe warm environment, are closing.
Think about what initiated these savings and cutbacks (here’s a clue - the banks) which affect the most vulnerable instead of the people who created them, and if you’ve got a social conscience you’ll go and bang your head against the wall with frustration.
While you’re at it, bang a banker’s head against the same wall.
Last Friday, once again generous Britons gave millions to the BBC’s annual Children In Need event in which well-heeled celebrities selflessly gave up their time to promote their new album...single...tour...West End show...or TV series.
That’s all well and good, although one newspapers allegation that the charity is sitting on £90 million accrued in previous years, is worrying.
But while the TV studio was packed with people handing over giant cheques on which the name of their company was WRIT LARGE, in the real world, thousands of pensioners didn’t tune in, because they’d gone to bed early to save on heating.
What should be the most respected section of society are choosing whether to have a hot supper or put their gas fire on for a few hours.
It’s almost Dickensian
Old people have knowledge, experience, patience... and don’t take themselves or the world too seriously. So I’m thinking of starting a new charity.
Not Pensioners In Need. That’s too patronising. I was thinking....
Pensioners In Charge!
Form an orderly queue....
My coffee shop encounter last week was with the wonderfully talented Principal and Musical Theatre Choreographer of the Limelight Performance Academy in Port Talbot, Jo Abraham.
This gifted young lady teaches pupils between the ages of 3 to 24 and promotes musical theatre, contemporary dance, performing arts, drama, singing, free running .... is there no end to this lady’s talents?
The Academy is currently working on “We Will Rock You” - a show to be performed in December at Port Talbot Community Centre. They also have two elite teams going to Kent on the 23rd November to take part in the finals of the Street Performing Championships.
It’s extremely refreshing to see an up and coming performing arts company nurturing and developing young talent that will form part of TV and stage in the future. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing performers from Limelight entertain at Wales’ biggest talent show, Welsh Factor. They are not to be missed.
If I had my way there would be a funding grant available for every child to attend a performing arts academy. What a brilliant way to build confidence, social skills and prepare them for a much brighter future.
Technology is not for everyone and many refuse to change with the times and explore the opportunities. Last week, I spoke with Gareth Isaac of GI Carpets in Bury Port, who told me about a conversation he had with the local butcher.
Brian Budenis of Brian's Butchers is also from Butry Port. He is 73. He wasn’t at all interested in promoting his business on Facebook, but Gareth persuaded him and took charge. His Facebook page was born.
Very soon Brian started posting and to his amazement he had quite a following!
Its early days for him but he definitely got the basic idea of how to post photos and engage with his customers and the importance of how to make his page more interesting and informative. How to “meat” their needs... so to speak.
Two new customers came into his shop in the first week, one didn't even know he had existed until Facebook and he also gained an order for a Christmas turkey! He’ll be stuffing the competition before he knows it!
More and more customers have been calling in. Brian is now hooked.
Who said that you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
You can follow Phil Evans on Twitter @philevanswales