MODERN FADS: In recent years I have noticed that there are certain items that particularly younger people really have to have with them.

The most obvious one is their mobile phone - We used to check that we had cigarettes and matches before leaving home, but now fortunately smoking is almost a thing of the past.

But, yes, the one thing that they cannot live without today is the mobile phone.

My own mobile is about five years old and nestles comfortably in my car to be used to call the emergency services in case of a breakdown or an accident.

By contrast, my son seems to change his phone almost every other day, as new and more modern versions come onto the market.

Of course, I do realise that the memory containing all the numbers of their friends and relations is the most valuable thing to lose if the instrument is lost or stolen.

I was on holiday over the start of the new year and had a quiet drink in a pub in Hemel Hempstead, where we were staying. A chap, not particularly young, was playing a game of pool.

After each shot he returned to his table and picked up his phone and studied it then put it down, apparently with no result that he wanted.

I would have loved to have asked him what it was that he was expecting to show up on the screen.

Another thing that has appeared in recent years and seems to be with us permanently is the water bottle. Wherever you go there are people drinking out of their bottles.

There was an outcry when the supermarkets indicated that they needed to increase the price of milk. It turned out that the farmers were being short changed with their milk prices and some were even making a loss on their product.

It was said that the public would not pay any more for their milk. Then someone mentioned the fact that millions of bottles of water is sold every day, and no one seems to notice the cost of that commodity, that they could get for nothing out of their own domestic taps.

I must admit that my mouth gets very dry, perhaps due to some medication, and I use a bottle on a regular basis.

My third little fad is the blackness of ladies' clothes nowadays; Each morning a lot of young girls park their cars in Trosnant and walk up into town.

It is almost spooky to see that almost every one of them is dressed completely in black skirts, trousers and coats.

I wonder who will be the first one to have the nerve to break the trend and wear something that is of a different colour and perhaps look a bit more attractive than that horrible dead looking black.

DEBATING GROUP: I have just received a poster from this organisation announcing its next meeting.

This is to take place on tonight, January 15, at Trosnant House in Pontypool, starting at 7.30pm.

The speaker will be Phil Norman, and his subject will be The Myth of a Million Years. Where did this figure come from?' It is anticipated that Phil's talk will take about an hour, and this will be followed by a question and answer session from the audience.

All age groups will be made welcome.

For further details you can contact Graham or Jill, by telephoning 01495 764835.

A VERY SAD LOSS INDEED: It was with great personal regret that I heard of the sudden death of Mrs Eileen Busoustow.

On the previous Friday evening she had conducted the Apollo Singers in their Christmas extravaganza, and had joined in the dressing up in Victorian costumes for the show.

I have written a number of articles about the Apollo Singers, and Judy Burgess, a committee member who supplies me with all the information about the group, brought Eileen over to introduce her to me.

Eileen has been a life-long supporter of the Pontypool Rugby Club, and while she uses the stand at home games and I frequent the bank, we see one another regularly at away games and had indeed become quite friendly.

It was good to see her again and we thoroughly enjoyed what proved to be her last concert.

She was very much a local girl, having been born in Abersychan as Eileen Elizabeth Ann Chivers. She followed her natural musical bent attending London's Trinity College of Music, and met her future husband, Bill.

I had always thought that her surname was East European, but it seems that it had Cornish origins.

On returning to Wales her husband founded the Gwent Police Choir, which is still going strong today and for years Eileen was their accompanist. She taught school in this area and became the head of Victoria Village.

Some years ago she helped in the founding of the Apollo Singers, taking them from scratch to over fifty choristers.

Their performances certainly gave a lot of people a lot of pleasure, but I always thought that the singers got just as much fun out of their programmes as their audiences did.

Her son, Richard, has long been associated with rugby in this part of the world and at one time was the steward of the Pontypool Rugby Social Club, which unfortunately is no more.

At the moment he is serving as the secretary of Pontypool United Rugby Club, and both they and the Youth Side, are going along quite well.

I saw Richard at the Pontypool away game against Beddau, on the Saturday after Eileen's death. I was able to extend my condolences to him on his loss. He assured me that she had not suffered in any way before her death.

Last year Beddau absolutely hammered Pooler, but on this occasion the tables were turned and Pooler won well and scored four tries for a bonus point.

This was a game and result that Eileen would have thoroughly enjoyed.