Look You
every day a day at school

First time here? c.99 seconds walking in my moccasins: I was born on the sunny side of a Welsh hillside, at a place I affectionately call Big Slopes, on the 26th and the 28th of November, in the Year of the Horse....... (oops, nearly said Stallion, but if I had, a certain organ about my body would now be growing exponentially i.e. the nose).

 


My first proper view of the world would pretty much have been the one pictured right – and the words beneath are pretty much what will sit comfortably on my tombstone. Voltaire said “The first step, my son, which one makes in the world, is the one on which depends the rest of our days” – well now, my unconventional first step, as stated in the intro above, hinted, correctly, that life would be awash with “Wel-i-jiw-jiw!” moments (pronounced wellie-juju, a very Welsh expression of surprise and revelation).

I was christened Hubert, but I’ve also been called, in order of appearance, Huwcyn, Huw, Goofy, Boy (as in “Go stand outside the headmaster’s study, boy!”), Schubert, HB, H, Hubie (say Huw-bee), Hubes the Cubes, Hubet (sounds like You Bet), Mydrim Tonk, Caveman, Nogood Boyo, and whisper it, Hubie Baby. Oh, and how could I forget Will Scarlet! I answer to all of these. If I'd had any say in the matter I'd have probably christened myself Walks On Air - I'm pretty sure a female ancestor was frightened by a Red Indian Sioux Chief, possibly Chief Sitting Bull himself, and a DNA check may well confirm that I'm related to Dances With Wolves; indeed, as a child I was always happiest being a pesky injun when playing Cowboys and Indians - but all that's another story for another time.

Given that I was born in the Chinese Year of the Horse, it is probably more than coincidence that my double-star sign is Sagittarius - half-horse, half-archer - or given my presumed Native American connection, half-horse, half-brave, a state of mind and body captured perfectly by this delightful clip running like the wind alongside - well, running like a stiff breeze. Just imagine, as a youngster, I could well have been labelled a boy named Sioux! And I could have written a song about it.

Just beneath, the individual who must be my spiritual forefather, Chief Sitting Bull. Respect. And I am irresistibly drawn to that feather (as indeed in the clip alongside). Apparently, Chief Sitting Bull was a very cool, laid-back character, who never got into a flap - well, with just one feather in your hair you wouldn't get very far off the ground anyway, although far enough to crap on that poor bugger General Custer.

In fact, an unfolding tale throughout my life is my passing encounters with horses, in particular stallions, and how they always get mightily aroused (sexually, that is) as soon as I get anywhere near them. In view of the above, perhaps it all makes sense. And the "oops" following the green light in the opening paragraph above suddenly has a certain poignancy! Best to move on - and please, don't feed me Polos when you see me, 'cause it will make me want to nibble at your um, clothes......

I can turn my hand to most things, but should you need something done expertly i.e. building a rocket or opening up your brain, I am not your man. Along my sunny-side-of-the-street walk through time I’ve done a bit of this, just a tad of that - never been promoted, never been sacked, always been left alone to get on with it - but done nowhere near enough of the other.

The only real talent I have is a 20/20 instinct for survival, meaning the instant I meet a stranger I know whether I’m confronted by a dolphin or a shark, whether to step forward and embrace, or step back and be wary (it’s nature’s very own Anti-Virus system). I have never been let down by a fellow human being – correction, I have, but never been taken by surprise (occasionally you just have to take a chance in life, living in hope that the good gen[i]e will out for once). Everyone has this instinctive gift, so perhaps along the way I can help convert yours from dormant to active. After all, it is people who make our journey through life a delight or a disaster, so after good health, instinct is the golden key to contentment and a stress-free existence.

If I have a motto, it is this Welsh one: “Pob diwrnod yn ddiwrnod yn yr ysgol” – Every day a day at school – which neatly explains my inquisitively cheery way of questioning the world, indeed over recent years I’ve had such views aired in publications ranging from the delightfully gossipy local rag – all the way up to The Times stable of publications. It was Isaac Newton who said “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” presumably acknowledging that there is no such thing as original thinking. Given the company I keep, I guess I could claim “If I have laughed longer it is by sitting at the feet of characters and natural-born entertainers”. The man on the corner bar stool at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon, Doc Holliday (“If you’re happy in your work, every day’s a holi-holiday”, remembering of course that the real Doc Holliday listed dentistry, gambling and gunfighter as the day job), insists that I should gather my curious relationship with life under one umbrella, especially as I recently discovered a kind of affinity with the weird and wonderful world at large as captured through a camera lens (I'd have been right proud to have captured both Sitting Bull and the Sagittarian lady alongside).

When my last will and testament is read it will ask for a Frank Sinatra song to be played at my funeral - no, not that one, but his wonderful It Was A Very Good Year, and thus far all but three years can be described so. In a perfect world my estate will be wound up thus: Gross £whatever - Net £NIL......

However, I must not get ahead of myself. Now I don’t want to check into reception at the Pearly Gates Hotel thinking to myself “If only!” – so the mission statement of this scrapbook, together with its yet to be explored tributaries, is to round ‘em up, head ‘em in - with “400 smiles a day” the driving force. Presuming we smile in our dreams, that’s a smile every 3.6 minutes – only 1,440 minutes in a day - heaven's above, let’s get cracking.

A point of order before launch: March 1st seems a perfect place to start; my parents had me late in life (I have an older brother), and I’ve a sneaky feeling I was an “Oops!” baby – so if I count back nine months from 26/28 November, I sense my father strolling into the house after a successful St David’s night celebration, a winsome smile as wide as the Grand Canyon, doing what comes naturally - and suddenly going “Oops!”.  And here I am.

PS. The delightful 'Traffic Lights' image above is a Gail Porter painting, one of more than 60 works by celebrity artists auctioned by the charity Paint4Poverty. Gail Porter (alongside) is a television presenter; she has tended to present family-friendly television programmes, or ones aimed directly at children. She has appeared on the FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World list four times (1999–2002), ranking her highest in 1999 at number 8. In 2005 stress triggered alopecia, causing her to lose all of her body hair. She refused to wear a wig, deciding instead to maintain a public profile and raise awareness of the condition. My kind of woman. Oh to be 363 days younger.

By a curious coincidence - my life has been awash with those - the landlord at my local White Hart Inn, Paul Bennett, suffered alopecia following a hairy incident while flying a Hunter jet at low level. A fascinating tale, which I must relate one day, over on the home page......

Addendum. Oh yes, it's been pointed out that I've side-stepped any mention of things marital. Well, I've remained footloose and fancy-free, a life with no strings attached, and I guess I'm too set in my ways to change now. Truth to tell, and despite having met some real sweethearts,  I've never mastered the art of salting a bird's tail. There is, apparently, a shortage of eligible men out there. A recent article in The Times  newspaper was headlined Childish and self-obsessed: the men who won't marry. Oh dear. My excuse is that Ambivalence should have been my missing middle name: whilst I'm quite happy to ply the social circuit, I also enjoy my own company having never picked a quarrel with myself, if you follow. Perhaps the image that best sums it all up is the unforgettable still from the 1999 film The Bachelor (above) - except of course that in my case I've spent my life chasing after the birds, saltcellar in hand, but possibly a lack of conviction at heart. There again, perhaps Cornelia Parker wrapping Rodin's The Kiss  in a mile of string (alongside) strikes the right cord. Still, who knows what ambush lies around the next corner, so best to keep my salt dry......

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I’m just a country boy,
Money have I none;
But I’ve got silver in the stars,
And gold in the morning sun;
And gold in the morning sun.

Don Williams, Singer/Songwriter