The Strengths Revolution

David Ivor Davies (1893 – 1951) is better known as Ivor Novello, and is one of the famous sons of this once world renowned maritime city of Cardiff, as well as giving his name to some prestigious songwriting awards. Now he sits in quiet contemplation as an important figure in Cardiff Bay. Strolling down his way the other day I happened to notice that our Ivor had become very distracted, so being an inquisitive cat I took it upon myself to check out what it was that so commanded his attention.

Ivor distracted

To my delight I could see that it was the advancement of a revolution that had occupied his attention… a ‘Strengths Revolution’. Wales having for so long been home to a notoriously dour race of introspective people, pre-occupied by the rise and fall of their industrial heritage… with canals overgrown, docks lying derelict and empty, coalmines closed and winding gear dismantled, and the steel industry owned by foreign investors with little sentiment for the old Welsh workhorse. All of this to be replaced by the inevitable late 20th century and early 21st century drive for a love of bureaucracy and shallow entertainment, monolithic edifices to shopping and service industries, with depths plumbed through the cult of celebrity.

To the untrained eye, my daily slumbers and preoccupation with whatever I can eat looks like the usual and expected life of a simple cat.Juno eyes Meanwhile, all along I have been projecting positive vibes through a talent for x-ray vision into the ‘resident scribbler‘, with the added threat of a fury right hook if they deviate from the task of focusing on what is good in life. Now the fruits of my vision are beginning to emerge in the wider world, as my home becomes the studio for one of the latest additions to the world of the podcast. As of 22nd April 2014 The Strengths Revolution weekly podcast show arrived on your world dominating iTunes Store. So now you to can become the recipient of my pearls of wisdom cunningly dispensed through the ‘vacant organism‘ that shares my home. All you need to do is click on:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

Of course, it goes without saying you should then subscribe to this wonderous Ivor Novello distraction, and even leave the occasional review of episodes that blew you away with their subtle wit and wisdom. All of this will be like the NHS, free at the point of need! But, for those of you who like to read

Microphone and canswhat you have been listening to, the book will be out on 12th May (‘Working with Strengths’ published by Pavilion Publishing & Media in Brighton)… but there are no current plans for the film just yet.

Until we speak again I am going to purr into my Blue Yeti microphone and don strange cans for the future benefit of you all.

 

 

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Spin the wheel

Despite my vehement remonstrations my human ‘emotional roller-coaster‘ insists in hanging on to the hopey-changey thing. Just because their team managed to fluke a win away to Southampton last week doesn’t bear any relation to a swallows and summer vibe… I quietly suggest. As a less cool cat than me once said: “It’s the hope that will kill you… in the end.” So it’s the ‘turn’ of The Potters from Stoke City FC to roll into town to torment the local faithfuls at the Cardiff City Stadium. ‘Turn’… potters… get it!? I guess I just can’t suppress that cool creative streak on these auspicious occasions.

I am guessing that the visiting artisans will be arriving with kilns all fired up, ready to apply the heat to any unsuspecting Purple Dragonbirds. And with recent appallingly bad home form, and a season drawing rapidly to a close, it is time the locals took some advice from George Michael… get spinning the wheel. This is shaping up to be a bull in a china shop affair, with plenty of crockery throwing between less than friendly rivals. Stoke City bring a quick return to the Cardiff City Stadium for Peter Odemwingie, who managed a less than auspicious few months in a Cardiff shirt, but seems to be a reborn goalscorer and provider since arriving in the potteries. We also have yet another Welshman managing a Premier League team with aspirations to put a further wobble in the Cardiff City FC pot spinning abilities… but what better incentive for the local deluded dreamers than a good motto:

It is 3.00pm on a Saturday afternoon, and the teams line up…

City v Stoke [1]

… but the question in the minds of all cultured fans is whether they will be witnessing an array of Wedgwoods and Royal Doultons, with a holding midfield of Burgess & Leigh and William Brownfield, Spode & Copeland out wide, with a front three of Toft, Minton and Moorcraft [they all happen to be makers of pottery by the way… nothing gets past this cat]. Alternatively, are the home team still staring down the pan of an Armitage Shanks or Twyfords? There will be no time for a return of the Porcelain Ponies that pitched up against the Palace on the last home outing… note: the word ‘played’ does not apply to that previous performance!

The home crowd need not worry, as the 5 changes to the last team witnessed in this hothouse don’t seem to possess the same feet of clay that their demoted team-mates offered. But for all the careful kneading of their trade they seem to be offering the same final product… a lack of stoneware in the form of goals. Then wouldn’t you know it; not a penalty seen in these parts all season, but suddenly deep into added on time at the end of the first half the referee (aka everyone’s favourite guy… not!) sees things that nobody else seems to see. One converted penalty later and half-time arrives: Cardiff City 0 Stoke City 1, and suddenly the home fans are desperately searching for the inspiration to fix their shattered pot.

   As the second half begins the sunshine of 3.00pm has dissipated as the home team face the need to fire up their season or find they get rapidly fired out of the league.

City v Stoke [2]

Within minutes of the restart an unexpected truth emerges as the ceramic arts serve up a new twist in a season that sends most heads spinning. You don’t see a Ming vase for ages and suddenly two arrive within minutes of each other…

    a Stoke penalty on 46 minutes, then…

… a Cardiff penalty on 49 minutes      and Peter Whittingham doesn’t give up rare chances like these:

City v Stoke [3]

Suddenly the home team are all fired up, and even manage to score a disallowed goal shortly after. But as both teams labour away at their craft the minutes ebb away towards the draw that does little to disturb Stoke City’s middle table safe season, but does very little for the home fans still languishing in the basement showroom. Passionate Bluebirds are left broken and dispirited by a score that reads:

   1 – 1   

As the season draws towards its inevitable close the spinning of each wheel becomes more anxiously watched… it is a time of the year when art slides away as mathematics takes over. Three points from safety with three more games left to play, and the only remaining home game is against one of the contenders for the title. So until we speak again I am a Juno talking in foreign tongues at home not to let the hyper-one get the drift of my prophecies… as they say in France: je ne pas une pot chambre pissoire… or words to that effect! Sting puts it succinctly on his The Last Ship album: “When he’d hardly got two halfpennies left, or a broken pot to piss in?”

[This post includes a few Google images to illustrate points made, used with thanks to the original providers]

Dreaming of The Hamptons

My ‘surrogate nomad‘ tends to go off on rather strange trips, and thinks it is funny to ask me where I have been immediately when they return home. Even the menacing laser look doesn’t seem to stem the flow of nonsense from the failed comedian…

The eyes again

Chillout cat

So, the best I can do is curl up and dream of exotic places based on the incoherent mutterings of the ‘resident worker bee‘ with these destinations attributed to me despite the fact I haven’t left home. Forgive me on this occasion for dreaming of life in The Hamptons… the exclusive summer home of wealthy Manhattan cats amongst others. Exotic food immediately comes to mind, after all what am I supposed to do with this nouveau plastic cuisine?

Cat Mate

Meanwhile, my ‘culinary torturer‘ is happily socialising with fabulous company in somewhere called Dangs Vietnamese Restaurant

Dangs Vietnameseeating sumptuous salmon complete with green stuff and a side dish of white stuff, and a decorative pineapple (which should be a feast for a more deserving cat stuck here in Guantanamo/Cardiff Bay).

I am dreaming of a dramatic and welcoming skyline…

 

   … but then find I am engaged in a bit of the cognitive dissonance thing, as the best Cardiff can offer is the dreaming spires of the Millenium Stadium:

City centre skyline [2]

But this is nothing compared with the reports from the ‘lost wanderer‘ who speaks of such a warm welcome in The Hamptons, only for the dominant vision to be one of a prominent middle finger to the world!

Northampton skylineMy dream comes to an unexpected close with the realisation that the middle finger is the iconic message from middle England… I had been vaguely remembering that my primary  ‘comfort provider‘ had droned on about visits to Southampton in recent months, and was now returning from Northampton… it was all a bit Hamptons-lite in the end!

Until we speak again I intend being an inquisitive Juno, wondering what Northampton has that keeps my so-called ‘intelligent one‘ returning for the last 17 years.

Shootout at the KO Corral

Tombstone, Arizona relocates to Cardiff, South Wales for 90 minutes as the infamous 3.00pm shootout is reprised by a bunch of misfiring Premier League gunslingers at the Cardiff City Stadium. With a Marshall as the last line of defence Cardiff City FC are looking to put the visiting Eagles on the road to Boot Hill. Scoring three goals in each of their last two games the home team are shaping up more as Earps rather than the mis-firing twerps of the previous few months. Crystal Palace FC travel to the wild west, but who is going to need a Doc, and who will be looking to a Premier League survival Holliday?

This is a shootout between two of the teams who drifted into Premier League town this season, and both have been eyed up and carefully measured by the local undertaker as favourites to be driven back out of town, one way or another. My ‘resident outlaw‘ despairs at a situation where the Eagles are five points ahead of the Bluebirds as they shape up to face each other at either end of the corral.

City v Palace [1]

“It’s a crime that a team so far behind us at the end of last season, and so far behind us earlier in this season, are now ahead of us entering this gunfight” says the disgruntled one. But the previously floundering Eagles arrive with a new backbone of former Cardiff cowboys, and a former supporter in Tony Pulis as head outlaw.

For 30 minutes there is a distinct impression around the onlookers that they are witnessing a contest of firing blanks, then a poor spectacle is briefly illuminated by an unexpected Crystal Palace goal.

Half-time arrives with Eagles soaring…       

Cardiff City 0 Crystal Palace 1.

 

Taking the roof off

With the second half about to start, the questions are largely about the tactics of the home team, can they make home advantage work and get their supporters to raise the roof? They seem to be getting some help from other sources…

City v Palace [3]

The home team hardly seem to have had any injection of urgency, with their Colt 45’s functioning more as water pistols. Without any great exertions the away team score a second goal inevitably by one of their old boys, so celebrations on the pitch take the now ridiculous customary mute tone as some fake demonstration of respect for scoring against a team they used to score for.

The Cardiff sheriff makes some changes to personnel, but onlookers are muttering something about too little too late. Then the killer blow as Crystal Palace score a wonder goal out of nothing. Cue a mass exodus by home fans, and the now customary chant from away fans that are in a clear winning advantage… “Is there a fire drill?” The final score is wildly celebrated by the away fans, as the home fans make their funereal march home…

        0 v 3      

There is no doubt that if the Earps and Holliday combo of 1881 had performed anything like the home team today that Boot Hill cemetery in Tombstone would be welcoming different corpses. In the meantime, my ‘deadbeat supporter‘ accepts that suicide would be getting off lightly, and the only sentence for a current supporter of Cardiff City is to keep watching them! Until we speak again I will be Juno trying not to taunt Wyatt Twerp with a slow goodbye to Premier League football in this household.

[Some of the images have been downloaded from google images, with thanks to the suppliers for their contribution to the making of this story].