There was a distinct, strange, sharp metallic odour clinging to the hillside, despite the stiff breeze barrelling up the valley. Merthyr Common has been in the news lately for the extensive and unfortunate fly tipping. The tarmacadam tracks (hardly roads) leading over the treeless landscape are lined by mounds and mounds of rubbish, being all manner of dumped household goods, quasi industrial waste and household waste. Cat litter (unused), dolls, broken building materials, lavatories, wood, plaster board. Toys, sofas, fridges, clothing and other rags. A verdant hedge of plastic, cloth, metal and ceramic that is forever in bloom.
The boys are on motocross bikes, making a lot of noise having fun. Don’t take our photos’ will ya! No, no I reassure them, its ART. Landscape and ART. We discuss the town. I tell them how much it makes me angry, successive political lords and master ‘in London’ who care not one tiny jot for places like Merthyr. They agree. They are less enamoured of the place than I am. I try and persuade them that the history is amazing, incredible, something to be proud of. They complain that the council and the police don’t want them riding over the landscape up here. All around the open cast mining operations are taking place chewing up the landscape and moving mountains from one place to another. The handsome one says “To be honest with ya I can’t remember what was there before.”
They leave. Revving throttles. The one on the road bike with the L plate trailing behind. I get back into the mini, which is air conditioned, eat a bread roll, no filling, and then start the ignition. The interior of the car ends the association with the smell and the breeze and the boys on the bikes. I head off, back to Cardiff, down into the valley.