PONTYPOOL PARK: Just under eight years ago I wrote my first item for Grassroots. I remember quite clearly that I said that I would try to stick to subjects that I knew something about.

My first article was about Pontypool Park, thinking that I have known the Park since I was a child, and since then I have seen a number of changes take place there.

The Activity and Leisure Centre is always full and the children's playground and the skateboard park are constantly in use.

However, I must admit that very little else seems to have been done to improve it in recent years.

A couple of years ago I wrote an article for Grassroots, which I called "What a Waste of Money." In this item, I complained about the fact that the council had seen fit to cover all the paths around the grandstand with a layer of what looked like coloured chippings.

These were placed on top of what seemed to be quite adequate surfaces and did not improve them one bit. In fact, I noticed recently that some of the chippings have already worn out.

One point I made was that little children would badly graze their knees if they fell on it. I felt at the time that all those thousands of pounds would have been better spent on work on the lake up near the ski slope.

I see in the Argus and the local Free Press that, in fact, in 2000 the council received a grant of £700,000 to be spent on improving the park for the use of the general public.

There seems to be some controversy about whether this money has been spent, and if it has been, what improvements have been carried out.

Our new councillor for Pontypool town, Fred Wildgust, seems to have ruffled some feathers with his remarks, and it will be interesting to see what action the council and the Park Manager take, particularly if the people making the award, the Heritage Lottery Fund, find that the work they financed has not been carried out.

I notice that the first meeting of our newly constituted council was held at the civic centre on Thursday, May 22.

At the time of writing, Saturday, May 17, Torfaen is the only authority that does not seem to have issued its plans for its membership to the Argus.

There will have to be changes with people losing their seats and the balance of power shifting. All very interesting stuff for the electorate.

THE HANDS OF THE CLOCK: You will obviously be aware by now that a vandal, or vandals, made the rather dangerous climb up the scaffolding, which is around the old Town Hall building and succeeded in tearing off the hands of the four faces of the clock.

I have thought hard and long about this exploit but other than getting some pleasure from deliberately causing damage to the clock, and therefore incurring cost to the ratepayer, there seemed to be no point in the act.

I imagine that the hands were rather heavy - and how were they disposed of?

There would not appear to be a ready market for broken, bent clock hands of that size.

However, the only good thing to come out of this is that the council has already replaced them within a short space of time.

I would think that they had to be made, as they hardly the sort of items that you can pick up off the shelf.

I was afraid that their replacement might turn into something like the Pontymoile Park Gates, which took an age to re-install.

I think it would be best if the scaffolding should be removed as soon as possible.

It does not give a very attractive appearance to the Civic Centre, and additionally I feel that there must be some yobbo out there who would want to outdo his mate and show it can be done again.

GLEEMEN'S 60TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT: This year the Garndiffaith Gleemen Male Voice Choir is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its founding.

To mark this really special occasion, they are holding a huge concert at Coleg Gwent in Blaendare College in Pontypool. This is more often referred to as the "College." As well as their own choristers they have invited along the male voice choirs from Cwmbran, Pontnewydd and Ystrad Mynach. They will sing individually, but also as a massed male voice choir in a programme of old choir favourites.

On this occasion they have invited along a wonderful soprano, Helen Stidolph. She will be accompanied by a local favourite of all facets of music in this area, John Jolley.

This auspicious concert will take place at the College on Saturday, June 7 starting at 7pm. Tickets are now available at £6.

THE LINDEN SINGERS ANNUAL TOUR: Most years the Linden Singers undertake a short tour with an appearance in company with local choirs from the area which they choose.

This must take a lot of organising from one year to the next, but this proved to be another enjoyable occasion.

Their venue this year was the little fishing village of Looe, in Cornwall. They performed under their musical director Lyn Weaver, with Kirsten Watson at the piano.

Their first concert was at the Riverside Church, and was hosted by the Looe Valley Singers, who are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.

The church was next door to their hotel, which was right on the seafront, and this meant that the choristers could put on their uniforms, walk to the church and then after the concert they could return to their hotel rooms to change out of their finery and into their own clothes.

To compound the coincidences, the club, which the local choir had hired for the reception, was on the other side of the hotel. All very convenient.

The compere for the evening was Wally Scarah and the mayor was in attendance.

Looe Valley Singers' first spot included I Have a Dream, a Welsh Lullaby and a novel version of the Lord Is My Shepherd, as performed in the TV series The Vicar of Dibley.

As a matter of interest the compere told us that Dawn French and Lenny Henry have a home quite near to Looe.

The Linden Singers then took to the stage and entertained us with songs like As Long as I Have Music, In the Still of the Night and the one that is always the sure favourite of everyone, the combination of I Believe and Ave Maria.

The second half brought back the Looe Valley Singers, who regaled us with a real mixture of songs, including Tebe Poem, A Russian Prayer, My Lady of Autumn, a local folk song and a Cornish Blessing.

The Linden Singers then finished off the concert, which was in support of the charity Breakthrough breast cancer, with some of the ladies' real favourites like Love Walked In, Gershwin for Girls finishing up with King of Swing, a medley of jazz type tunes, then it was a quick change in the hotel and off to the reception, SUNDAY NIGHT'S CONCERT: After a day trip out we were transported to the nearby town of Polperro, where the Polperro Fishermen's Choir were their hosts.

Their musical director was Phil Carrigan, with the accompanist being Maisie Hall. The compere was again Wally and he was a choir member, as was the mayor.

The Linden Singers led off with, among others the Exodus Song, Lord Bless You and Keep You, finishing their first stint with A Small Part of the World.

The Fishermen's Choir then rendered Sailing, Cavalry of the Steppes, ending with that old male voice choir favourite, When the Saints Come Marching In.

After the interval they reappeared with Sing For Your Life, a spirited version of What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor, finishing up with another song beloved of male singers, Comrades in Arms.

The Linden Singers then sang When the Sun Goes and You Raise Me Up. A lovely evening concluded with the combined choirs singing Speed Your Journey.

Both concerts were equally enjoyable and owed a lot to Lyn Weaver and Kirsten Watson.

Perhaps the hardest working person was Pam Brown, the choir's marshall - the stages were rather small and she sometimes seemed to be trying to put a quart into a pint pot in getting the choristers into position.

Everyone is now looking forward to whatever and wherever next year's tour turns out to be.

A SHOCK AT THE CHEMISTS: I had to pick up some tablets on a prescription when we were in Looe.

So used in Wales to just handing it in, and not thinking of any payment, I was shocked when I heard one of the customers in front of me asking how much that would cost her.

The answer was for quite a large amount of money. My trepidation was worsened when I saw the next chap put his cash card into the machine.

I handed mine in, and even so the assistant did ask whether I was over 60, and so could qualify for the free exceptions.

For once in these recent years I was pleased to admit that I had passed my 60th birthday.