Friday, 6 May 2011


You will not have heard of her but when Rebecca Osborne died a bright star went out of our firmament. Someone told Lloyd George, “I thought you would have been taller.” Lloyd George replied: “In Wales we measure people from the neck up!”

By those standards Becky was the only giant I ever met. In size she was no bigger than an agate stone on the forefinger of an alderman. A crippling illness meant that she was only three feet high and weighed just 40 lb. She suffered from Werding Hoffman syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes wasting of the muscles.

Suffered? Not Becky. Although almost totally paralysed, with only slight movement of the head and hands, she was a successful novelist and short story writer, a painter, a maker of exquisite miniature rooms and a gardener, though her garden was a toy wheelbarrow. She made jewellery and greetings cards, lace and tapestries on tiny canvases with a miniature needle and very fine thread.

She also made friends like Princess Anne, the writer Celia Haddon and the actor Anthony Andrews, who took her to lunch and gave her his prized “Brideshead” teddy bear.

She was an indefatigable charity worker. With her mother Jenny she turned their garden at Foxbrush, Port Dinorwic, in North Wales, into an award winning member of the National Gardens Scheme.

She was 28 when she died. Even in that she was a record holder because no one else suffering from the disorder, including her sister Vicky, had ever lived beyond the age of six. Nor, it should be said, have many fit people packed so much into so short a time or extended so much love and friendship to so many people.

She once said to me: ”I am long past my sell by date but I cannot let something as silly as a disability stand in my way. There is no point in letting it beat you.”

It never did. She exhibited her tiny 3D model rooms at National Eisteddfods all over Wales. She had sell-out shows at Oriel Ynys Mon, Anglesey, for which she won the North Wales artists development award; Oriel Bangor and the Beaumaris Festival in which she competed successfully against hundreds for a showing in the festival exhibition.

She lived with her parents Jenny and Brian at Foxbrush, a converted 17th century mill. Devoted parents who every night for 28 years took it in turns every half hour to turn her over in her tiny bed; who tirelessly supported her, were her ardent followers in everything she chose to do and were broken hearted and bereft at her loss.

Becky was never able to go to school. Teachers came to her but she had to take whatever teacher was available. For a year it was a music teacher; for two years she learned nothing but maths. She enrolled at the Gwynedd Technical College to do A level English. More accurately, the College enrolled in Foxbrush. A tutor would arrive with five fellow students who became her devoted friends. Needless to say, she passed with top grades.

But nothing in life became her so much as her manner of leaving it. She had been deteriorating since 1997, when she was told she had only three weeks to live. In contemptuous response she joined the Sealed Knot, went to a dozen musters a year, researched the Civil War in exhaustive detail and cozened her parents into a frenzy of costume making and creating cameo roles.

For ten weeks before her death, she bravely battled against excruciating pain which became worse over the Christmas holiday. Even then she was building 3D rooms for her next exhibition and when her hands became totally paralysed used her mother's hands.
When she died there was a Memorial Exhibition of her works although in truth she needed none. Becky is her own memorial which she erected in the heart of anyone who was privileged to know her.

IT'S A PUZZLEMENT..........................

I do not wish to rain on anyone's parade but in the matter of Overcoming Osama how does the Arab, a desert dweller, acquire a tradition of burial at sea? I know the camel is the ship of the desert..........
From the Nazis down to Sad Saddam the tradition has been to bring monstrous criminals to trial and execution. So why kill the pyjama clad binned Lada? He was surrounded by wives and unarmed. They said they shot him to prevent him committing suicide Either wasy he is jusy as dead and a murdered martyr has the edge. Thpmas a Becket's death by asprin butty would not have had quite the resonance How much greater the humiliation of bringing him to public trial than to shoot him in the presence of his children, a practice universally condemned when done by the IRA? We got terribly upset when America invaded Grenada without telling us. How would we feel if the S.E.A. L's raised an angry flipper raiding a terrorist cell in London?
And while we are in questioning mode, who were the two nuns who were sitting the best seats opposite the winning post at the Royal Wedding? I am not saying they had no right to be there but I am puzzled that none of the so-called commentators saw fit to explain their presence.
When I covered Royal Visits or any great occasion I always wore comfortable shoes because it involved a certain amount of pavement pounding. The ladies whose job it was to mingle with crowds at the wedding wore shoes with heels so high they could scarcely totter. The three principal commentators demonstrated a total inability to Dimbleby (senior, not the dreadful brothers). I do not think that Huw Edwards, BBC man in the hot seat, should have needed the teleprompt to which his eyes nervously strayed. Would never have caught Wynford Vaughan Thomas, Vincent Kane, Hywel Gwynfryn orAlun Williams, Welsh presenters and my old chums on such occasions, allowing one in their presence.
You may have heard how at the Glamorgan match Edward Bevan, veteran BBC Wales commentator, continued his commentary as a cricket ball smashed the window of the commentary box, hitting him in the back. That was the THIRD time it had happened to Bevan. They don't make commentators like that any more.


A GIANT orange pumpkin will loom large over a historic market town if tourism campaigners get their way.
They believe a 131ft high structure in Gwydyr Forest above Llanrwst would rival Gateshead’s iconic Angel of the North as an attraction.
ARC, a group set up in 2004 to boost tourism in the Conwy Valley through cultural regeneration, claim the eco-friendly sculpture, designed by New York artist Steven Brower, would bring in visitors.
ARC member Megan Broadmeadow said: “It’s at the planning stage at the moment, but we'd like to hear people's views and involve everyone in developing this landmark structure.
“It will be not only a visual icon, but so large that educational, arts and green activities can happen inside it. It will be built from recycled materials and be eco-friendly where possible.”
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Police seized £300,000 of cannabis plants in a huge drugs raid - then had the haul stolen from under their noses.
Detectives boasted about the giant drugs bust and even posed for pictures with the massive crop of illegal plants.
But, as police stood guard at the front of the cannabis factory, thieves broke in through the back.
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Council staff in South Wales have spent the equivalent of more than 888 years on sick leave last year.
A combined total of 324,431 days were taken off sick by staff employed by councils.
Stress, neck pain, headaches and viral infections were among the reasons given by staff for time away from the office and tucked up in bed.
Bridgend council staff took off sick most frequently, with every employee (equivalent) taking 10 days and seven hours off work on average during last year.

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Northumbria Police spent £1,775,996 on “corporate communications” in the last financial year. This includes £458,602 on “media services”, with the rest going on public consultation, internal communications, marketing and the force website.

The Sunday Post monitored press releases between 9am on Friday, March 11, and 9am, on Monday, 14 March.
During those three days, the media services department released: a minor road accident; a robbery at a shop; a stolen car; a stolen dog and an appeal regarding an assault from a week earlier.
However, a request under the Freedom of Information Act revealed there were 4,665 incidents, including 674 crimes.
These included 55 cases of grievous bodily harm, 20 other assaults, one armed robbery and three other robberies, five rapes, 12 other sexual assaults and 69 burglaries.
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A chief fire officer who retired with a payout of £425,000 returned to work soon after to do the same job with a salary of £75,000.
Peter Holland, from Lancashire Fire and Rescue, has even claimed that the deal has saved taxpayers a 'fortune'.

Not even my old chum Ken Ashton could make that lot up!!!!!