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The latest Phil Evans column

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Comedian Phil Evans is from Ammanford. He is known as the man who puts the ‘cwtsh’ into comedy. This column appears in the South Wales Evening Post, Carmarthen Journal and Llanelli Star. Website – www.philevans.co.uk


When I was a lad, I barely heard anyone talking about Death.

It was a taboo subject, whispered about by elderly relatives behind closed doors over glasses of sweet sherry and a shared packet of pork scratchings several months past their sell-by date. (Yes, I do come from aristocratic stock. I just can’t hide it)

But how things have changed!

If you spend any time at home during the working week, when The World & His Wife (is MrsWorld an ex-MissWorld?) are out earning a living, and tune into the appalling cheap and cheerless guff that TV schedulers believe daytime viewers deserve, you’ll find the Grim Reaper hiding between every commercial break, waiting to pounce on you before you can switch channels.

A while back, I pointed out that numerous daytime telly commercials are for life insurance and funeral plans.

At the time, these products weren’t really on my personal radar.

But recently, someone somewhere found out I’ll no longer see 39 again and has bombarded me with junk mail about those ‘Final Expenses’.

To persuade me to respond, they always contain the ‘tempting’ offer of a free pen.

If there’s one thing I don’t need is a free pen – provided my bank keeps forgetting to chain theirs down.

Funeral companies regularly announce the Top 10 favourite popular songs which for many families have replaced traditional hymns, adding a more personal touch to the service.

“My Way” by Frank Sinatra, the Number One choice for a long time, has been replaced by “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, while hovering close to the top are “Unforgettable” by Nat ‘King’ Cole, “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen and “Highway To Hell” (!) by AC/DC

I think I’ve spotted a marketing opportunity.

As daytime telly often features ads for CD collections of old pop hits, the next logical step is a CD of favourite funeral songs!

In a few months, watch out for me appearing in the middle of “Countdown” flogging the triple CD “HITS TO DIE FOR”.

As you might guess, it won’t be available in the shops!


This week’s column has come to you from the top of a glacier in Alagna, a beautiful part of Italy.

Now this is where technology makes life easy for me and allows me to operate without any of the stress of meeting my editor’s deadlines.

The views are breathtaking and this puts me in the ideal mood to come up with some creative writing without too many distractions.

We are 3,000 metres above sea level, snow has fallen almost every day for the past month and continues to do so.

Transportation is good, buses and cars are running as normal.

The local shops are well stocked with fresh food.

Bread and milk are in abundance and there is no sign of any panic buying.

The temperature here is well below freezing, but the local residents and visitors alike are thoroughly enjoying the winter season and all that it brings.

Clearly, if this was happening back home, we would all be in ‘shut down’ mode and a state of chaos and panic.

Right, that’s enough taking the piste, I’m off to build an igloo!


You can follow Phil Evans on Twitter @philevanswales and www.philevans.co.uk

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Werner Kruger takes over Scarlets captaincy for Kings clash 

Posted By Robert Lloyd

South African international Werner Kruger takes over the captaincy for the Scarlets’ Guinness PRO14 clash with Isuzu Southern Kings at Parc y Scarlets on Sunday (5.15pm).

With centre Steff Hughes sidelined because of a shoulder injury picked up during last weekend’s defeat Edinburgh, the experienced Kruger takes over the armband for the first time this season.

The Scarlets starting XV shows three changes from the 14-9 defeat to the Scots.

Corey Baldwin has recovered from a rib injury to take his place on the right wing, while Paul Asquith comes into midfield to replace Hughes in the only other change behind the scrum.

Up front, Wales international Samson Lee has been given more time to recover from a calf issue so Kruger again packs down at tight-head alongside hooker Taylor Davies and loose-head prop Phil Price.

Fijian international lock Tevita Ratuva comes in to partner fellow Pacific islander Sam Lousi in the second row, while the back row is the same as last weekend.

Aaron Shingler is the lone player released from Six Nations duty and he will slot in alongside Macleod and Uzair Cassiem.

On the bench, hooker Ifan Phillips, who has linked up with the squad on a short-term loan deal from the Ospreys, is named among the replacements; prop Dylan Evans comes in for Rob Evans, who is on the bench for Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, while back-three player Tom Rogers is set for his first PRO14 appearance of the season.

Going into round 12 of the competition, Scarlets sit in third place in the Conference B standings.

Scarlets forwards coach Ioan Cunningham said: “We had a lot of territory and possession against Edinburgh and we have learned a lot from that match – how to finish close to the tryline and being clinical in those areas, little details which we have put right this week and we’re looking forward to getting on the field on Sunday to make those changes.”

Looking ahead to the challenge of the Kings, Cunningham added: “We have done a lot of work looking at them and they are a tough side, they bring a lot of physicality, but they also have a lot of variation in their play. Their coaches are smart with different ploys and if you give them a sniff they will take advantage. They have athletes who can cause damage if you give them time and space.”

Scarlets v Isuzu Southern Kings (Sunday, February 23, Parc y Scarlets; 5.15pm ko)
15 Angus O’Brien; 14 Corey Baldwin 13 Kieron Fonotia 12 Paul Asquith 11 Steff Evans; 10 Dan Jones 9 Kieran Hardy; 1. Phil Price 2 Taylor Davies 3 Werner Kruger (capt) 4 Tevita Ratuva 5 Sam Lousi 6 Aaron Shingler 7 Josh Macleod 8 Uzair Cassiem.
Reps: 16 Ifan Phillips 17 Dylan Evans 18 Javan Sebastian 19 Steve Cummins 20 Dan Davis 21 Dane Blacker 22 Ryan Conbeer 23 Tom Rogers.

Unavailable due to injury
Jonathan Davies (knee), Rhys Patchell (shoulder), James Davies (back), Daf Hughes (knee), Blade Thomson (concussion), Samson Lee (calf), Marc Jones (calf), Steff Hughes (shoulder), Lewis Rawlins (shoulder), Steffan Thomas (knee), Joe Roberts (knee).

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Six signs your vehicle may be about to break

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Sudden jerking, strange noises and bumpy journeys are all signs that there might be something seriously wrong with your vehicle.

Motoring experts from LeaseCar.uk have revealed six signs that a vehicle might be breaking, and what may be the problem.

As vehicles become more technical there are more warning lights than ever, but these systems still miss common problems which could prove costly if left without seeking any help.

A spokesperson for LeaseCar.uk said: “Some of these changes, although easy to ignore could mean you end up spending hundreds trying to rectify the issue, or even thousands on getting them fixed if left for too long.

“As soon as something changes in your vehicle it’s important to go and see a reputable mechanic. Even if it is only something small, it could end up becoming quite major if not fixed.

“You know your vehicle better than anyone else, so if it feels like something’s not right, it probably needs your attention.”

These are LeaseCar.uk’s six signs your vehicle might be about to break:

1. Noises

If your vehicle suddenly starts making strange noises that you haven’t noticed before it probably means there’s been a change and something has gone wrong. This can range from a squeaking noise reminding you to buy some new windscreen wipers, or a rattling noise in the engine which may be more serious – and costly.

2. Smoke

This is a pretty big tell-tale sign. There is never supposed to be smoke coming out of a vehicle, so as soon as it does it’s time to pull over and get it checked out. It could be that your catalyctic converter has broken, which is an expensive but nifty piece of kit that reduces the harmful emissions the vehicle creates.

3. Jerking

If your car starts jerking when you’re touching the accelerator it’s time to see a mechanic. There are several reasons this could be happening, including spark plugs which need replacing, a damaged acceleration cable or blocked intakes in the engine.

4. Vibration

If your vehicle has suddenly become an uncomfortable ride and passengers are also commenting on it, there may be something wrong with the suspension, which could ultimately cost thousands to resolve. If you continue to drive with a broken spring it may cause the whole vehicles alignment to change which will prove costly when trying to get it fixed.

5. Biting point

A new clutch can easily set you back £500 so it’s important to know as soon as possible if something’s going wrong. You should feel your vehicle “bite” just as you begin to lift your foot off the clutch – your foot shouldn’t be nearly off the pedal.

6. Smell

If you can smell something strange when you’ve been on a journey it could be your break pads burning through. As with everything, they will need replacing when they’ve been used for a certain length of time – they won’t last for ever. If there’s a strong smell of petrol you may have a leak in the fuel tank, or even the engine.

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Robert Lloyd

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The latest ‘On Song’ column from the Carmarthen Journal and Llanelli Star

Posted By Robert Lloyd

The talented Corran Singers will feature in a special concert at St Peter’s Church, Carmarthen, next month.

The Laugharne-based choir will be singing to raise much-needed funds for Carmarthen’s historic church.

The concert is on Friday, March 27, at 7pm. Tickets are £7.

The Corran Singers choir was formed in 1994 by people who loved choral singing.

In October 2005, the choir went on their first choir tour to Pipriac, in Brittany, singing in Pampont Abbey, and Pipriac Church.

Membership currently stands at 43.

In the 26 years of the choir’s history, their philosophy has remained unchanged – they sing for the joy of singing, they give their services free of charge and have raised thousands of pounds for charitable causes along the way.

The choir has built up a varied repertoire. Aiming to appeal to all ages, their music ranges from the Faure – Cantique De Jean Racine, The Trumpet shall Sound, a choral anthem, to songs from West End musicals and more traditional Welsh items, Y Tangnefeddwyr, Gwcw Fach to the Teddy Bears’ Picnic and the African National Anthem.

The Corran Singers are led by musical director Heather Jenkins.

They have produced two CDs, entitled Every Morning When I Wake and Evening at Sundown, both named after words from the writing of Dylan Thomas, the world famous poet, who lived in Laugharne.

In October 2008, the choir toured France, visiting Paris and on to Caen, giving two concerts, one in St Catherine’s Church in Honfleur and the other in the Eglise Reforme Church in Caen. In 2013, the choir visited Cork, Ireland, singing in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral and St Anne’s Church Shandon. In 2016, the choir visited Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and the Welsh Church of London and St James’ Church Paddington.

Tickets for March 27 are available from the Church Wardens at St Peter’s, A Dean Carpets & Flooring (by the train station) or by phoning 07974 772393. Tickets can also be purchased online at https://www.ticketsource.co.uk

The choir will be helping preserve the rich history of St Peter’s, the much-loved church in the centre of Carmarthen.

St Peter’s is first recorded in the Chronicles of Battle Abbey, when it was donated to Battle Abbey, along with a monastic house known as Llandeulyddog, in about 1110.

Llandeulyddog was founded in the 6th Century and it is thought that St Peter’s is the sole survivor of a number of churches, associated with the monastery, which once stood within the walls of the old Roman town of Moridunum.

St Peter’s would have been a simple timber church in this period and not the impressive stone building it is today. As a church, it has served Carmarthen for more than 1500 years.

The church is home to the tomb of Sir Rhys ap Thomas, who was instrumental in the accession of the Lancastrian Henry Tudor to the throne when he became King Henry VII in 1485.

There is also an interesting story behind the organ at St Peter’s.

The organ was ordered by King George III (1760-1820) and was intended for Windsor Castle. It was built by George Pike England but was never installed in the Castle for reasons unknown.

It was bought for St Peter’s Church by private subscription and erected in the south end of the gallery in 1796. In 1851 it was moved to the north transept, which involved the destruction of the medieval arch between transept and nave. In 1865 it was rebuilt by J. W. Walker and moved back to the north end of the gallery.

It was finally placed in its present position in 1886, although the present casework dates from a rebuild of 1896.

The organ underwent a major reconstruction in 1958 when the detached console was fitted and the action was electrified. The rebuilding in 2001 was undertaken as a result of the subsidence that was affecting its foundations and the opportunity was taken to update the action with electronic components and add additional stops.

In other news, musical links which have been developed between Carmarthenshire, Cardiff and Hungary took a novel twist earlier this month during Welsh Language Music Day.

A popular café in central Budapest, Hungary, surprised guests with a new name – Y Tair Cigfran – Welsh pop music and a bilingual drinks menu on the fifth annual Dydd Miwsig Cymru (Welsh Language Music Day).

Having hosted Welsh Language Music Day events with live bands in previous years, Budapest café Három Holló (The Three Ravens in English) went one step further, adopting a Welsh-language name and a specially curated music playlist for one night only.

Visitors to Y Tair Cigfran were invited to enjoy a “coffi” or a “cwrw” as they browsed a special edition bilingual drinks menu.

To the surprise of locals and tourists alike, the venue featured Welsh-language hits throughout the night, with a range of songs from the likes of Super Furry Animals, Cate Le Bon and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci playing in the background.

Those ordering food and drinks at the counter were also encouraged to put their language skills to the test, thanks to basic Welsh phrases and a Hungarian phonetic guide by Welsh-Hungarian information hub Magyar Cymru.

The unusual “rebrand” was arranged by Welshophile music fan and record collector László Záhonyi, in partnership with Három Holló café and Balint Brunner, Editor of Magyar Cymru.

László Záhonyi, who has been organising Welsh Language Music Day events in his native Hungary for several years, said: “I fondly remember the moment I came across the Welsh language for the first time.

“I was reading The Pendragon Legend, a novel by Hungarian writer Antal Szerb, and he claimed the Welsh language had a wonderful sound, like something from another world. Before I knew it, I’d fallen in love with Welsh culture and boasted the biggest Welsh-language record collection in Hungary.

“I don’t understand much of the lyrics, but that doesn’t stop me. I just listen to the tune and let the words stay a mystery – a story from another world, just like Szerb said it!”

Next month, Hungarian and Welsh families will come together in Cardiff for an annual celebration of their close cultural ties.

Held in the Urdd Hall of the iconic Wales Millennium Centre, the fourth Welsh-Hungarian Concert and Folk Dance Event is set to take place on March 14, to tie in with St David’s Day and one of Hungary’s national holidays.

The concert series is organised by Hungarian-born classical singer Elizabeth Sillo and the Kodály Violin School of Carmarthenshire, directed by Dorothy Singh.

Over the years, many acclaimed Welsh and Hungarian folk artists, the 1st Hungarian Hussar Banderium UK and members of the National Chorus of Wales have all joined the initiative.

Három Holló (The Three Ravens), in downtown Budapest triples as a bar, an art gallery, and a concert venue. Named after the favourite watering hole of Hungarian poet Endre Ady, it is renowned by Hungarians and tourists alike for its variety of events.

Magyar Cymru is a hub for Welsh-Hungarian news, events and stories, launched in 2019 by Editor, Balint Brunner. You can follow Magyar Cymru on Facebook and Twitter (@MagyarCymru).

  • If you have news about the choral or concert scene in Llanelli, email robert.lloyd01@walesonline.co.uk or rlloydpr@btinternet.com
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Three changes to Scarlets side for Cardiff

Posted By RobertLloyd58

Scarlets will take on Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park on Friday evening (7.35) showing three changes to the side that took the field against the Ospreys on Boxing Day.

All the changes come up front with Werner Kruger replacing Samson Lee at tight-head prop, Fijian international Tevita Ratuva coming in for Sam Lousi at lock and Uzair Cassiem taking the place of Blade Thomson at No. 8. Lee, Lousi and Thomson are named among the replacements.

Head coach Brad Mooar has given a vote of faith to the same match-day 23 that registered a record 44-0 victory over the Ospreys.

With Johnny McNicholl still nursing an ankle injury, Leigh Halfpenny, Ryan Conbeer and Steff Evans continue in the back three.

Evans’s derby double took his try tally to six in the Guinness PRO14 this season and the winger now has an impressive strike rate of 44 tries in 108 appearances in a Scarlets jersey.

Steff Hughes remains the one ever-present this season and again links up with Wales international Hadleigh Parkes in midfield.

Angus O’Brien, on the back of successive man-of-the-match performances, partners Gareth Davies at half-back.

Kruger joins Wyn Jones and skipper Ken Owens in the front row, while Jake Ball packs down alongside ‘Tex’ Ratuva in the second row. Aaron Shingler and Josh Macleod start alongside Cassiem in the back row.

Scarlets sit third in the Conference B table, four points ahead of the Blues after nine rounds of action.

Scarlets forwards coach Ioan Cunningham said: “It’s a massive challenge, we had a difficult time at the Arms Park last year so we know how tough it is going to be.

“They are a good side, well coached, but we are excited by the challenge and the prospect of playing in front of a packed crowd in the capital. The Conference standings also add an extra spice to it.”

Scarlets team v Cardiff Blues (Cardiff Arms Park, Friday 7.35pm ko)
15 Leigh Halfpenny; 14 Ryan Conbeer, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans; 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ken Owens (capt), 3 Werner Kruger, 4 Jake Ball, 5 Tevita Ratuva, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Josh Macleod, 8 Uzair Cassiem.
Reps: 16 Phil Price, 17 Ryan Elias, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Paul Asquith.

Unavailable because of injury
Jonathan Davies (knee), Rhys Patchell (shoulder), James Davies (back), Rob Evans (neck), Johnny McNicholl (ankle), Dan Jones (ribs), Tom Phillips (hand), Kieron Fonotia (calf), Tom Prydie (hamstring), Dan Davis (foot), Joe Roberts (knee).

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Blooming great plants for autumn

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Crocus, cyclamen and pansies have been named amongst seven of the best plants for blooming autumnal gardens.

The gardening gurus at GardeningExpress.co.uk have revealed their top plants for brightening up autumnal days.

Others include heather, dahlia, winter aconites and aster.

Whilst spring and summer are the seasons most closely associated with gardening, British households can still enjoy thriving backyards throughout autumn and well into winter if the right plants are chosen.

From delicate pansies to bold and low-growing heather, these are the plants you should opt for to keep your garden looking fresh and inviting as the temperatures drop.

A spokesperson for GardeningExpress.co.uk commented: “As the days start to get shorter and a little bit colder, this doesn’t mean that we have to stay cooped up in the house and neglect the outdoors – at least not just yet.

“There are some tough little plants and shrubs that can survive the changing weather, braving the cold and wind to bring a splash of colour and brighten breezy autumnal days.

“Choose the right plants, and autumn gardens can be a spectacular sight.”


With pink, white or purple petals, heather is a brilliant plant for low-growing texture and it looks great in pots too. They handle bad weather particularly well and have a long flowering season, from November to March.


The autumn weather forces crocus blooms out through the fallen leaves among the lawn and their upright, cup-shaped flowers look great in pots and borders. Still, occasionally they can be spoiled by autumn weather so plant them beneath trees and shrubs where they will be protected from heavy rains.

Winter aconites

These cheery plants look a lot like buttercups with their lovely yellow flowers and are suited to growing underneath deciduous trees and shrubs. They prefer rich, moist soil in shady parts of gardens.


Pansies are a gardener’s staple all year round. Many varieties stop blooming when it gets really cold, but then you can opt for special winter-flowering pansies which will keep going until late spring. These are ideal for filling pots and window boxes for a flash of colour to be seen from indoors.


The striking blooms of these plants start to open in summer, but are at their best from August to September, bridging gaps in borders as other perennials begin to tire. Dahlias are best for working in borders and as they come in a range of sizes and exotic colours, they’ll work with almost any colour theme.

Aster ‘Little Carlow’

Sprays of small lavender-blue daisies throb in late summer and autumn, particularly in evening light. They like lots of sun and good, well-drained soil.


Cyclamen are well-loved heroes that can be brought to flower from autumn all the way through to spring. The flowers come in red, pink and white shades and look fantastic in pots or planted under trees, but cyclamen hederifolium is the usual choice for autumn flowers. Its silvery, marbled leaves follow the sugar pink and white blooms, remaining unscathed through winter weather before dying back for a dormant summer.

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