‘He Loved Light, Freedom and Animals’ by Mike Jenkins

An inscription on the grave of one of the children who died in the Aberfan disaster of October 21st, 1966

 

No grave could contain him.

He will always be young

in the classroom

waving an answer

like a greeting.

 

Buried alive –

alive he is

by the river

skimming stones down

the path of the sun.

 

When the tumour on the hillside

burst and the black blood

of coal drowned him,

he ran forever

with his sheepdog leaping

for sticks, tumbling together

in windblown abandon.

 

I gulp back tears

because of a notion of manliness.

After the October rain

the slag-heap sagged

its greedy coalowner’s belly.

 

He drew a picture of a wren,

his favourite bird for fraility

and determination. His eyes gleamed

as gorse-flowers do now

above the village.

 

His scream was stopped mid-flight.

Black and blemished

with the hill’s sickness

he must have been,

like a child collier

dragged out of one of Bute’s mines –

a limp statistic.

 

There he is, climbing a tree,

mimicking an ape, calling out names

at classmates. Laughs springing

down the slope. My wife hears them

her ears attuned as a ewe’s in lambing,

and I try to foster the inscription,

away from its stubborn stone.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from Empire of Smoke


Not so Fun facts: This poem refers to the Aberfan disaster the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip at 9.15 am on 21 October 1966. The tip had been created on a mountain slope above the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil and overlaid a natural spring. A period of heavy rain led to a build-up of water within the tip which caused it to suddenly slide downhill as a slurry, killing 116 children and 28 adults as it engulfed the local junior school and other buildings. The tip was the responsibility of the National Coal Board (NCB), and the subsequent inquiry placed the blame for the disaster on the organisation and nine named employees.

I’ve been to the town and it’s still a very quiet place to this day as a generation of the community was lost in that disaster. Where the junior school once stood there is now a memorial garden.

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RSPCA Pets & Creatures Trading Cards

200 cards to collect

£1.00 per pack

9 cards per pack

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By purchasing these cards you are supporting the RSPCA. The RSPCA helps animals in England and Wales. Registered charity No. 219099

Two special edition cards per pack (Ratios represent average allocation per box and are not guaranteed for every box).

collect 16 of each: ‘Feels like fur or feathers’, ‘3D’, ‘Gold’ and ‘Diamond’

Collect 200 cards: Featuring dogs, cats, horses, ponies, birds, reptiles, invertebrates, fish,furry friends and RSPCA stories.

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Review:

The quality of the cards is exceptional! These are well suited towards aiding children in developing their reading skills with their short, basic English, descriptions of the animals with their location represented by a flag (for the most part but where the animals habitat is across a continent and not a specific region) short ‘did you know?’ fact sections and ‘care tips’ for domesticated animals and ‘did you also know’ sections for wild ones. The photos are very clear and high quality of each animal represented. I have no doubt any random pack will appeal to children curious to learn with information on the back helping to spark discussion of how to treat different animals, the enviromental differences of other countries and the world around them. The collection is divided into seperately coloured groups to aid in this differentiating.

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In my pack the two ‘special editions’ I got were a ‘fur’ beagle and a ‘diamond’ European adder. The fur seems to have flaked off since I had them although it was a long time between opening the pack and reviewing it so actually it might have been like this already as there is no evidence anything fell off except the ‘fur’ is a little sparse in one area. The ‘diamond’ is your usual ‘holographic foil’ card underlay with the animal printed on top of it.

If they do another series of these (these being from series 2) of these I would highly recommend purchasing them. They donate toward the RSPCA and the cards themselves are of an incredibly high quality standard compared to everything else you can get in trading cards and stickers aimed at children nowadays. I am not sure why they advise that these are not for under 3’s (well apart from the obvious) but take care if leaving them around children of that age I guess. Maybe they are just covering themselves in case a child somehow injures themelves with the cards. A shame they have to but that is the world we live in. I highly recommend these if you can find them.

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Do you have collector’s packs? See in-store for details or visit: www.atlasbrands.co.uk

Warning: Choking Hazard – small parts. Not for children under 3 years old.

Official licensed product of the RSPCA. (2015).

Manufactured by Atlas Brands Pty Ltd.

Granya Grove, Mount Eliza, Victoria, Australia, 3930.

All rights reserved. ABN 73 138 587 934

Designed in the UK. Made in Taiwan.

Batch code: 249176

For more information please visit: www.atlasbrand.co.uk

or email hello@atlasbrands.co.uk

Distributed by: Dracco Ltd t/a Dracco, registered in England and Wales number 05804422. Glenfield Park Two, Blakewater Road, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 5QH.

Email: sales@dracco.co.uk Phone: 08 45 365 3030