Over the years my dear friend and neighbour Beth Clarke has raised thousands for the ‘Better Life’ appeal supporting the building of the much-needed All Wales Cystic Fibrosis Centre at Ysbyty Llandochau. On July 7th at the Look Out Café Bar in Cardiff Bay, Beth and her husband Lyndon held the ‘Inhale the Music’ festival, featuring 12 hours of live music and performances. It was a memorable day and night in the sweltering heat, bringing in another £4,000 towards the CF appeal. I was delighted to be a small part of the line-up, reading a sonnet I composed especially for Beth which I reproduce here for posterity. Beth has had CF since childhood and my recent lung collapse has made me more aware than ever of her struggles as well as Cardiff’s pollution. From the top of our street we can see the scary pipes of the Tremorfa steelworks, telling us which way the wind blows…
When icy northern currents rule the flow
The chimney’s dirty plume drifts Devon way,
If from the English east brute breezes blow
The smokestack’s toxins head to Swansea Bay,
Wild western winds bring rain and storms to brave
And gift the noxious blight to Bristol folk,
But the balmy southern wafts we so crave
Just dump the poisons here for Splott to choke.
Such is the view from our ramshackle street,
A weather vane to measure how we breathe,
Yet you are always bright and strong and sweet,
While I can only rant and rave and seethe.
This, my lovely Beth, is how we dovetail:
I huff and puff; you, calm and wise, inhale.