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March 2024
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What’s on at the Met Cinema

Thursday 7th Mar 1pm  – Lunchtime Theatre presents The Final Frontier (comedy)  £6
Wed 13th Mar to Sat 16th Mar - AYDMS Juniors present Matilda £11
Sat 30th Mar 11.30am & 2pm - The Selfish Giant £10

For more information visit or Tel 01495 533195

Museum Opening Times

The Museum is open to the public, free of charge:

Thursday* to Saturday              10am – 1pm

February 100 Club

This month’s prize numbers were drawn by member Denise Ewers  and the lucky winners are:-

No.  17           Nicola Hayward              £20
No.  84           Colin Ewers                     £10

If you would like to join our 100 club and be in with a chance of winning, it costs just £1 a month. Ask at the museum for further details.

18th Century Spoon

Photograph of the spoon from the 18th century Our inventory of the museum archive continues and recently we came across this spoon pictured here which we believe to be made of pewter and may date back to the 18th century.   It was donated to us in 2007 by a B Paget who, we believe, had dug it up locally.   The spoon came to us in two halves, was acquisitioned and put away for safe keeping in the archive where it had been largely forgotten until now.   It occurred to us that perhaps the spoon, which measures around 4 inches (10cms), could be restored and to that end we have approached Cardiff University who have offered to see what they can do to repair this artefact.   The university has helped us with restoration in the past and hopefully they can work their magic again.   We will let you know how they get on.

Due to rising costs it is necessary to increase our café prices.  The new prices will take effect from Thursday 14th March 2024 

Springfest  - 23rd March

This year’s Springfest is being held on Saturday 23rd March and will run from 10am until 5pm. The museum and its café and gift shop, will be open until 5pm.  A (free) Face Painter will be sited within the museum. 

We are very grateful to our President, Mr Jack Hanbury, for his very generous donation.

CLOGS

What comes to mind when you think clogs? Well they crop up in all sorts of places.    Although footwear such as Crocs are called clogs, strictly speaking a clog is footwear which is made partly or wholly of wood. 

People in factories where explosives were packed would wear them in olden days to avoid a spark from a nail-studded shoe causing a catastrophic explosion or fire.    Workers in the Lancashire cotton mills wore them.    Farm workers wore them as way of keeping their feet dry. 

In fact in the late 19th and early 20th centuries they were widely worn in all sorts of industrial places – they were cheap and kept your feet dry or protected them from heavy or sharp objects falling on them.    The desirability of dry feet is presumably why Holland is famous for its clogs since it is understood that wooden clogs originated in the Netherlands and France.    They were functional and when their practical use as footwear came to an end, most ended up as firewood so there are very few really old clogs in existence.

Clog dancing is a form of folk dancing which is believed to have started when women wearing them in factories tapped their feet rhythmically to help pass the time.

I came across all sorts of interesting facts when browsing the internet for this article, such as that no less than 6 million souvenir clogs are manufactured in the Netherlands each year.    I can remember having my photo taken stood in a pair of giant clogs years back.    And did you know they are called klompen in the Netherlands? I assume that is the origin of the word we use when we describe a heavy footed person as clomping around.

I can see that clogs have a practical value but how do they score on the comfort scale? They certainly don't look comfortable and if I needed to wear a pair today I think I would be reaching for a thick pair of socks. 

But when I was about 20 I was one of the many people who wore wooden soled Dr Scholl sandals as a fashion item!!! Can you believe it? Looking back now I must have been mad.    Firstly because I never found them comfortable and secondly because they were expensive.    What a waste of my money.    I don't remember why they were so popular but apparently groups including Abba started the craze by wearing them.

Picture of clogs owned by member Liz Ewers

What has surprised me even more than that I was daft enough to buy a pair is the fact that they are apparently still popular today.    If I wanted a pair of Dr Scholls like the ones I had all those years ago, they would set me back well over £100; they are described as exercise sandals. 

Fashion firms Hermes and Balenciaga featured them on their catwalks in 2020.    If you fancy a pair of  Hermes clogs don't expect any change from £1000 and some models cost substantially more.

My feet feel sore just writing this.    Time to slip on a pair of comfy slippers.
Jen Price

The clogs pictured above belong to another museum volunteer, Mrs Liz Ewers, and were hand-made for her at St Fagan’s museum.  Read more about clog making at St Fagan’s using this link

Jelly Babies

Photo of some Jelly Babies

In a recent poll, Jelly babies were voted the UK’s number one sweet followed by Fruit Pastilles in second place and Wine Gums in third. My favourite, Flying Saucers, came in 29th.  Jelly Babies have been around since 1885.

SOMETHING TO READ

Photo of The Hillforts of Iron Age Wales book I was given a book token for Christmas and it didn't take long for me to decide on the book I wanted – it's called 'The Hillforts of Iron Age Wales' by Toby Driver, price £20, published by Logaston Press.  It was clearly a book I was meant to have as when I collected it from Waterstones I noticed that the photo on the back cover was of Pen y crug hillfort just outside Brecon and I had actually done a walk there the previous weekend.   

This is not a dry academic book. There is obviously a lot of information contained in it but it is packed full of photos and illustrations and Toby Driver is an excellent communicator.  I was lucky enough to hear him give a talk a couple of years back and he certainly knows how to captivate his audience.  Dr Driver is an experienced archaeologist and for those of us non-professionals he is probably best known as the flying archaeologist.  He has made many archaeological discoveries over the years flying a specialist light plane or controlling a drone and some of his discoveries in the dry summer  we had a few years back brought to light so many new sites he wondered if he would manage to capture them all before the weather broke, the rains returned and his archaeology from the skies had to be halted.  His book explain the techniques used today to scan the ground and interpret the results.  Some of his discoveries were well reported in the media and so you may well have read about them. So, with an author like that, you can be sure of a good read.

It turns out that the hillfort I walked near Brecon is one of his top ten in Wales, along with Sudbrook near Chepstow.  The same map gives a reminder that a reconstruction of an Iron Age roundhouse can be found at St Fagans Museum.  Of course there are also some Iron Age structures even nearer at St Illtyds and Manmoel but these are perhaps less obvious to the amateur.

It's definitely a book I can recommend.  Happy reading.
Jen Price

‘LOST’ IN THE POST (part 2)

Last month I wrote how, in 2009, I was expecting delivery of three cheque books, three debit cards and a DVD but then we had a heavy snowfall and postal deliveries stopped.   When deliveries resumed all I received was a few pieces of junk mail.   On the advice of my local sub-postmaster, I lay in wait for my postman….

He could tell me that his boss at the sorting office was aware that three days mail had gone missing.  They had an idea as to who might have taken it but the postman in question had a disability and his boss was afraid of challenging him lest he be accused of singling out a vulnerable man.  My mind was racing, what should I do?  That same day I drafted a letter to Post Office Headquarters with a copy to my local sorting office.   I had to word it carefully as I didn’t want to get my postman in trouble for speaking out of turn!  In the meantime the replacement ‘pin’ for my new current account arrived from Nationwide.   I had made the staff aware that while the pins had arrived safely nothing else had and they had agreed to send replacements however they also, unnecessarily, resent the pins and this time only mine arrived!  So whoever had our missing chequebooks and debit cards now also had two of the three pins to go with them!  (So glad the accounts all had zero balances thanks to us declining the switching service!)

A few days later I had a phone call from the assistant manager at the sorting office to tell me that ‘a man has been detained and post has been recovered’.  The following day I had two further calls, the first being from the manager at the sorting office who told me that they had recovered ‘so much mail’ that it would take time to find mine.  I recall him saying to me ‘you should see my office, you can’t see the floor for all the recovered mail.  He told me he estimated there to be in the region of 75,000 items.  The second call was from a lady from the Post Office ‘investigations team.  She too told me that I needed to be patient as there was ‘so much mail’ but the main purpose of her call was to ask permission to use my letter as, in her words, ‘a statement of fact of items that have gone missing’ in her interview of the suspect, to which I agreed.

By this time the replacement debit cards and cheque books had all arrived safely and I informed the Nationwide branch about the arrest and suspected theft of the earlier ones.  I was taken aback to be told by them that they had found it too incredible that six items could all go missing and they had initially been suspicious of me but, given this new information, they agreed with me that the bank accounts had been ‘compromised’ and suggested they close them and give all three of us completely new accounts i.e.  we had to start from scratch!

A week went by and I received another call from the lady from the investigation team who could tell me that none of my mail had been found, not even my missing DVD though, she told me, some DVDs had been recovered.  I was also told he was admitting to stealing mail between November 2008 and February 2009.   So, it would seem, the three days of missing mail during the worst snow we had had in years wasn’t just a one-off opportunistic moment of madness.   

Then, as if to add insult to injury, in reply to my original letter to Post Office HQ, I received a letter telling me that they had no reason to think anything was amiss at my sorting office and that they were sure my missing mail would ‘turn up in due course’.  Standard brush off, laziness in not bothering to check or simply didn’t want me to know the truth?  I replied saying that, apparently, I knew more than them to which I had a letter of apology and a book of first class stamps by way of ‘compensation’ (actually the letter said two books but only one was inside the envelope!).  I expected the incident to be in the papers once the matter came to court but I heard nothing more and I was not even allowed to know the name of the postman though I found out by accident as I knew one of his neighbours (it turned out he lived in my village).

A year passed and one day I opened my door to see the postman I had spoken to in the first instance.  I had to ask; what had become of the postman who had stolen my mail?  He could tell me that while he was dismissed, he was not prosecuted and had since been bragging to his former colleagues that he now had a better job as a meter reader!  He could also tell me that at least some of the stolen mail had been opened and some DVDs had been recovered from a ‘Cash Converter Store’.  Naturally I was furious and wanted to know why he had been treated so leniently.   I again contacted the Investigation Team only to be told the following:

  • He had only been ‘cautioned’ because he had not done it for ‘monetary gain’  - this contradicted what my postman had told me i.e.  that he had been opening the mail and passing DVDs to a Cash Converter store.
  • He had not stolen mail to use in ‘identity theft’  - how could they be sure when they never recovered any of the cheque books and debit cards?  (Three months after the theft of our post, our credit card was defrauded.     Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.)

But the most shocking thing of all was to now be told that, in direct contradiction to what I had previously been told by no less than three separate Post Office workers, they had only recovered ‘just over 1000’ items of mail from his home!

A quick search of the internet revealed to me that less than five years earlier another postman from the same sorting office had been prosecuted. That particular case did make the Argus and it was reported that the postman had been suffering from ‘panic attacks’ and had been dumping the post in his shed because he couldn’t cope with the workload which sounds less serious than in this second case. Was this second case kept out of the press due to embarrassment that it had happened again so soon and at the same sorting office?  Or did his disability play a part in his lenient treatment?  I will never know. One thing I do know is that I lost my trust in Royal Mail long before I knew about the Horizon miscarriages of justice.  As for the nice postman who had been passing me information – I never saw him again.  Just hope I hadn’t marked his card!           
Sally Murphy

If you missed part one of this story read here

 

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