Baku Or Bust

Welsh football fans’ charity Gôl has spent eight years helping children’s causes in Wales and in cities where the team plays.
Next month it undertakes one of its most ambitious expeditions as it returns to Baku, Azerbaijan, where the whole project began.
Back in November 2002, a trip to the Azeri capital had been the focus of Gôl’s first-ever project as members visited several orphanages in Baku with gifts and cash donations. The charity now makes regular visits to orphanages on Welsh fans’ away trips, as well as helping children in Wales.
On June 6, Wales play in Baku again, and Gôl will be making the trip. This time the fans are making it hard for themselves.
Their journey starts on May 22 when Neil Dymock will lead a nine-car convoy of 27 fans from the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to Baku – by car.
They hope to get there in time for kick-off!
On the way they will be visiting and taking gifts to 20 orphanages in Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia and, of course, Azerbaijan.
If that wasn’t hard enough, Neil is driving a taxi which has 237,000 miles on the clock!
To sponsor Neil go to

A Bullet Saved My Life

I have a small number of copies of the Spanish Civil War book ‘A Bullet Saved My Life’ available for sale.

The book, which was a Morning Star book of the week when it came out in 2006, tells the story of Welshman Bob Peters and his adventures in getting to and fighting in the war.
Bob became politically active while working as a deckhand in Canada and underook an arduous journey to fight in Spain.
While working as a runner for an International Brigade commander, he was shot in the back but recovered to work as a dispatch rider.
The book features more than 30 black and white photographs and copies of civil war documents, a foreword by Rhodri Morgan and a preface by Welsh International Brigader Alun Menai Williams.

“A book that is also full of small insights into the absurdities of war”

Hope Not Hate Day

Three major events are being planned this month to commemorate those who fell in the battle against fascism in the last century.
Searchlight Cymru’s Wales Hope not Hate day on Sunday, May 17, will also highlight what the organisation describes as the “continuing threat of fascism in Wales in 2009”.
“This threat, although commonly perceived as being just against black and minority ethnic people, is actually a threat against us all,” said Searchlight Cymru.
“Everyone is threatened by the British National Party and everyone can work together to remove that threat.
“This special day will give supporters as well as Euro election campaigner’s space to come together and outline to the people of Wales just why the BNP and what it stands for is a threat to people like me and you.”
In Flint, Swansea and Cardiff, from 10.30am, simultaneous events will feature readings at the Cenotaph of 100 names of those who fell in World War 2 against fascism, a laying of wreaths and two minute’s silence.
Cardiff will also hold a similar event at the Spanish Civil War International Brigades Memorial at Cathays Park from 11.40am.

The Death of Justice – at Hay

The Michael O’Brien event at the Hay Festival has been confirmed for 10am on Saturday, May 23.
O’Brien will be talking with The Guardian’s Duncan Campbell about the book The Death of Justice and his 11 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.
I understand the event may already be sold out but there are some details here.

UPDATE: Mike will also be signing books at the Y Lolfa stall at around 3pm.

Robert Capa’s Suitcase

Rhondda-born Alun Menai Williams had two remarkable photographs in his collection.
One was a sad reminder of a friend, Billy Davies, who served in the Spanish Civil War, and was killed a few days after the snap was taken.
The other was a source of immense pride. It showed Alun marching to the front, the flag of the British Battalion in his hands.
And it was taken by perhaps the most famous photographer of the 20th Century, Robert Capa.
Alun died three years ago but his inquisitive mind would have been fascinated by the recent discovery of previously unseen Capa negatives.
It is believed that Capa handed the negatives to someone for safe-keeping as he fled France at the outbreak of World War 2.
They have now been unearthed in Mexico.
According to the New York Times they were in an old suitcase – and were virtually untouched for 70 years.
In all, there are around 4,300 negatives taken by Capa, his lover and fellow photographer Gerda Taro, who was killed in Spain, and David Seymour.
However, the discovery does not solve the mystery of Capa’s world famous “Falling Soldier” photograph which appears to show a Spanish Republican militiaman reeling backward in the instant a bullet kills him.
A negative of that photograph has never been found.
All the same, Brian Wallis, chief curator of the US-based International Center of Photography, said: “We consider this one of the most important discoveries of photographic work of the 20th century.”

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