Friday, March 16, 2018

The voice of the Valleys

Every city centre has them: colourful, eccentric and utterly unique characters who, over time, earn themselves legendary local status. Nottingham, for instance, had Frank Robinson aka Xylophone Man, one of the people to whom I ended up dedicating my thesis.

When we first lived in Cardiff 12 years ago, Queen Street boasted not one but two such characters. Ninjah remains a very familiar face around the city - on the day of his new album launch in Spillers, I saw him pacing up and down in the bar area at Chapter, wearing his golf visor and what could only be described as a policeman's utility waistcoat, chuntering away about kneecapping people with the Hammer of Thor.

But what of Toy Mic Trev, the cheerful chap who used to belt out crooner classics on Queen Street with the aid of a plastic kids' microphone but had disappeared without trace? The widespread assumption was that he'd died - but after a bit of detective work and a few lucky breaks, David Owens of Wales Online managed to track him down to his home in Pentre, up in the Valleys. The resulting interview and short film are heartwarming stuff.

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