Friends, colleagues, actors, and all good people of our ancient town of Llandovery, formally the Roman town of ALIBUM,  lend me your ears!

It is I, Horatio Nelson, Theatre Cat of Llandovery calling to you from my celestial star to answer the question above. 

Like many Theatres, all over the country, LLANDOVERY THEATRE was forced to close due to the pandemic, though we were not inactive, as we love our Theatre and with the help of friends kept it safe and beautiful.

In the past year we have been working to be able to be active and welcoming to the visitors to the Urdd Eisteddfod when tragedy struck! 

A blistering hot summer last year, followed by torrential rain and in November ‘the ice age’! The roads and pavements so dangerous that no self-respecting cat would venture out, but when the ice melted – DISASTER!
The WALL outside the Theatre in STONE STREET collapsed into the road; described as sounding like two strikes of lightning , as first the innards of the wall fell like an avalanche, and then the lintel crashed down after. Mercifully no-one was hurt! But I have to say Jacky had, what might be termed a grade 6 nervous breakdown at the news.

There followed weeks of search for professionals to rebuild, while we examined and reassessed the damage and how to put it right.

We stared and stared at the debris and the wreck when suddenly it dawned on us. 
Did we actually own the WALL in Stone Street? We examined the early deeds of the BRITISH SCHOOL, (now Llandovery Theatre) when in 1867 the Llynwernwood Estate gave a field of 851 sq yards for the building of a school for adults and children of the poor in the Parish of Llandingat. 

The Stone Street WALL is around 200 years old, built in stone (what else!) with lime mortar, it’s foundations are in Stone Street and it is built against four feet of soil,  It is a HOLDING WALL!
Stone Street is marked on the Surveyor’s drawing of 1867, and, therefore the WALL in Stone Street, holding up 4 feet of ground, predates the gift of land from the Llynwernwood Estate to build the British School in 1867. Ergo, the WALL does not belong to the Theatre.

We have written to our County Council and explained that the WALL in Stone Street was the property of the Carmarthenshire County way before 1867 and they are the owners today on behalf of the good people of Llandovery and Llandingat, and not forgetting Llynwernwood, the home of King Charles 111 when he was our Prince of Wales.

We theatre people are obedient folk, and when the County Council told us to mend the wall, and get it rebuilt before the Urdd Eisteddfod, we obeyed!
If you know Stone Street , go and have a look at the restoration.  It is the work of Dylan Thomas! No, not the actor poet but certainly an artist in stonework!

We expect to hear soon from our County Council and patiently await their response.

In the meantime Llandovery Theatre can turn attention to creative projects, plans for a film on the history of the building from its early days and what about a FEMALE VOICE CHOIR?  Stand up comedy? A production of UNDER MILK WOOD – these are just some of the dreams we dream of.

So friends, if you are interested to be involved and help us re-open our building and make our theatre available for all to enjoy, please, please contact us – go on our Web page Llandovery Theatre.com and Facebook and leave us a message , tell us what you can do for us, and what we can do for you.

Thank you, and here’s hoping for a wonderful spring and warm but gentle summer.

Horatio Nelson
Theatre Cat
Stone Street and Victoria Crescent 

P.S.   What are you doing?
The drawing is by Gwennie aged 6, daughter of Charlotte Turtle , the caption is by Gwennie’s Dad , age unknown to the writer! 

Horatio Nelson Theatre Cat – In Lockdown

Writing from my starry window-sill!

Hallo Again!

Yes, it is really me, Horatio Nelson; emerging from my lock-down to write to you of something wonderful I have been observing from my star.

This is me, Horatio Nelson, imprisoned in the Tower of London in one of my earlier lives! So you see, I too, know what it is to be locked down!

Over the past six months CINDERELLA has been doing our weekly shop.  Last week she went on holiday for a few days so it fell to her understudy to take over. So successful was she in this that I, Horatio Nelson, have decided she should be immediately promoted to a more important role – and she is now our FAIRY GODMOTHER. 

What a pair of darlings Chloe and Jill of the Llandovery Youth and Community Centre, are! So attentive and kind to so many, from the very young to the really old! 

To Chloe, and Jill – on behalf of the Llandovery Theatre and our very own ‘ugly sister’   I say – Thank you ! Thank you!

Horatio Nelson

Theatre Cat

27th August, 2020

Difficult Times for All


From my celestial windowsill.

Dear Actors, Artists, Patrons and Friends,

I am finding it difficult to send you future plans of the work of the Theatre, in the light of all the problems with coronavirus – specially as many of our kind supporters and friends are of an age when they are being asked to confine themselves to home! But creativity always continues for actors and writers, be they alone or on stage, and we will be keeping the theatre safe for the day we are allowed to fill it with friends and performance again.

Darkly Flows the Taff

In the meantime, please don’t forget us, and let us all seek to find at least five good fun ideas a day to help lift our spirits. In line with this aim, may I suggest you have a look at Simon Barnes’ comic novel DARKLY FLOWS THE TAFF.

The book – a satirical comedy thriller set in 1986 – pays homage to Hitchikers Guide with a mix of Lucky Jim and James Bond (shaken but not stirred) and echoes a landscape as bizarre as Clochemerle.

Rupert Courtney Morgan, a young inexperienced ‘agent’ is sent to Wales to investigate the death of a government inspector found dead on the Brecon Beacons – with a copy of Under Milk Wood and a deflated rugby ball by the body. The culture of Wales is most emphatically rugby – it reigns supreme over all other arts and crafts, so here must be a clue!   Follow Rupert is his quest to unearth the truth and avoid death in DARKLY FLOWS THE TAFF!

Simon Barnes, Actor/Writer, founded Llandovery Theatre, writing plays and directing professional and youth actors from 1975 for over 35 years!

REVIEWS AND COMMENTS – Llandovery Theatre.com

For information and totally unbiassed editorial on Darkly Flows the Taff go on: Llandovery Theatre Web page or the Theatre Face Book page, and read some of the amazing reviews and comments on our books. All books are obtainable in paperback and ebook and can be ordered via Amazon.

Darkly Flows the Taff: £7.99 Ebook 3.98 and profits go to the theatre.    

‘I am blind so my husband read this witty and amusing book to me – sometimes I laughed out loud! We both loved the book…. Hope and Richard Booth of King of Hay on Wye Bookshop.

Do read Simon’s book!

Writing from my starry window-sill!

Kind Friends!

In all my years as a theatre cat, I confess to one serious failure! I resist and cannot work Facebook, Chitchat etc. I have been given a variety of these outlets and my opinion is that cats need someone to do the social media for them – we are the creaters not the executioners of our work.

I can work an email on our computer – what cat can’t control a mouse! But my theatre friends are all on smart-phones – yes, they may read my email but they tend to respond by facebook and today I discovered a message that has been lurking there since 2018 – from a friend I really love, and now how to contact – he probably thinks I’m dead!

I also think that because of the smallness of the smart phone, reading an email is difficult, and once the gist of the message is gleaned – it is deleted – so the farewell, the final summing up – the late remembered anecdote is never actually reached or read!

‘I feel at times rather isolated! ‘ Following my recent report on the Theatre and its needs (a fire alarm system being one) I finished with this somewhat plaintive cry. Five wonderful friends responded by return, writing to me – four of them are writers – Oh I do love writers! And one came to visit me the next week. Fantastic! Incidentally, two live in France – no wonder Jacky voted ‘remain’.

So I advise her – First: sort out the gallery – get it mended and you will feel better. I will ask friends to look at our web page, and see the books we have there – it’s no good having a dream I say, if the stuff you write is never read and Simon Barnes’ wonderful spoof James Bond novel DARKLY FLOWS THE TAFF is a hoot! It is quite a slim volume – easy to handle by all cats of discretion who love a good read! – it is set in Wales, some of it quite near our home town!

Now Jacky tells me we are also on ‘linked in’! Together we gaze and gaze at the computer – trying to discover what it is about – and then decide – escape is best! We are not looking for work, we are looking for a piano – a piano, yes a piano, not any old piano, but one that makes you dance…’ Sorry – got a bit carried away remembering our production with Llandovery College pupils of Salad Days! You see, we had the piano tuner in recently and he diagnosed wood worm in the base section of the theatre piano!!! So another add to our list of needs!

Do explore Llandovery Theatre web site – go on Home page and scroll down – there you will find four books lined up – you can click on any one of them, read details and there is a link to buy via Amazon, if you wish. Let us know what you think – we welcome comment and views – you can always send it to us by email! Royalties on the book sales go to the theatre, so that can’t be bad!

Oh dear! Jacky says – we need a fire alarm system before a piano – it is drop dead urgent! I tell her, I prefer a piano – you can’t play ‘kitten on the keys’ on a fire alarm system!!

Horatio Nelson

Horatio Nelson Theatre Cat

Writing from my starry window-sill!

Hallo Friends,

I have been having an interesting time these past weeks since we last met; I have been listening to the wisdom of friends.

You will know – especially if there is one of my species in your life – that cats are very good listeners. We may appear to be sleeping on our window-sill but many times have I overheard conversations, tales of joy or pain – and as I collect the data (you see I am still in the 21st century of internet communication) – as I collect, select and reject, I very often discover a new piece of wisdom – a new truth!

Two strangers meet – the two know each other – well, let me put it this way, they know each other by sight.  It is Stone Street, Llandovery – both have parked their cars one behind the other, so they both emerge more or less at the same time.  One turns to go away up the street, the second calls out – ‘Hallo – how are you?’

He turns, puzzled, and there follows an introduction by her – ‘I’m from the Theatre!’ she says – she is referring to Llandovery Theatre.

Enlightenment! He advances, he asks – ‘How is the Theatre?’

‘Well’ she says – ‘it is causing some concern – so difficult since Simon died and recently we’ve had so many new fire precautions installed, and there is still more to do – and it is costing so much and I am getting very old!’

He reveals he too is getting old, but he is still younger than her!

‘I think’ he says ‘that the Theatre was Simon and Jacky’s child – and you don’t ever abandon a child’.  She agrees.

‘I think’ he adds  ‘you should start a new dream!’

Later that night, she was talking to another friend – this time on the ‘phone.  Did that ‘phone call really last 4 hours? Yes it did! He said – amongst a lot of other stuff –

‘Everyone has a dream and he quoted Exupery’s ‘The Little Prince’ .

‘Oh that book is the actors’ bible!’ she replied (she is an actor – amongst other things!)

‘Read it!’ he ordered! Yes, it was something of an order, but she is an obedient person and she was happy to read it, well she loves the book. And then he quoted Exupery – ‘Don’t stand on the shore worrying about the ship, look to the horizon!’

She did read again Exupery’s The Little Prince – she did as she was told, she read it all through – there is no such quote!  But it doesn’t matter because by now she has listened to two friends – and neither were saying ‘lay down your sword, surrender ‘ both were saying ‘start a new dream’.

‘At my age?’

‘At any age – live your dream! Everyone has a dream!’

So she picked up her pen and started to write again.

Horatio Nelson

Writing from my starry window-sill!

Most dear friends,

You may have noticed that you have not had a letter from me recently!  I hope, selfishly, that you have missed me, one does like to feel appreciated – for there have, as a Judge might say, been mitigating circumstances for my neglect of you! The Theatre may have looked dark and solitary over the past few months – but believe me – inside there has been tremendous activity as we laboured to install new fire doors, fire cladding under the rake, new push bar exit, not forgetting to mention maintenance and repairs in order to provide you with a comfortable building to enjoy.

It is so good to meet with writers and poets, and wonderful, too, to see our ex youth actors, even if it is just bumping into them in a Supermarket like Tom Starnes who played Jack Worthing in The Importance of Being Earnest or when they just turn up on our doorstep like Beshlie Thorp – Katharina in the film of The Taming of the Shrew. Beshlie is in her final term (MA in acting) at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School  – having essayed the role of Mrs Beeton in a new Musical Mrs Beeton Says – and is now in rehearsal for Nicholas Nickleby (Dickens) in which she plays Madame Mantalini. 

But, in the darkness, there is often light; and a meeting with a poet the other day has triggered new hope and expectation as – dear friends – he said he ‘always enjoyed reading Horatio Nelson’s blog!’ And, he followed this remark with ‘I have read your book!’  Well, it’s Jacky’s book actually – What Country Friends is This? – about theatre life and the building of Llandovery Theatre, a love story – and what’s more – the most kind poet added – ‘I have read your book twice!’ Well, with such a kind response to our writing definitely merited me getting off my celestial windowsill and writing to you all.

My, that did bring back memories for Jacky – who claims she read Nicholas Nickleby seven times when she was young!  Questioned how this could be, she says she fell in love with Nicholas! The power of books and reading – for, to my certain knowledge she has been in love with Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, as long as I have known her – but as this was at a later time of life, perhaps one should not censure her for infidelity!  She didn’t, as some have claimed, fall in love with Mr Darcy via the film and Colin Firth’s engaging performance – she fell in love by reading the book, written by Jane Austen

Next to reading books, is the joy of writing them.  Yes, it is absorbing and engrossing to be in charge of a story, sometimes not even knowing how it will end – except that in many cases – an abrupt – back to reality – shock on trying to get your creative ‘masterpiece’ published and read by anyone other than your kind friends. Jane Austen has trouble getting her work published.  Can you believe it?  Her book Northanger Abbey was bought by a publisher for £10 but he never printed it – and when years later she tried to get the book back, the publisher insisted she pay him £10 – and she didn’t have it!  Northanger Abbey was published – but only after her death! Wonder what Jane Austen would think of her picture on the £10 note today!

Another youth actor we ‘bumped’ into is Kerry Dainton. Kerry played Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, the stage version, and is now directing the Towy Youth Actors.  She will be bringing them to Llandovery Theatre in  a Variety Show performance 20th July next.  If you would like to see her young performers, put the date in your diary – there will be a warm welcome here for you.

Horatio Nelson  June 2019

Like to contact us:  Llandoverytheatre.com    
email: jacky.barnes@btinternet.com

If you would like to read What Country Friends is This?   It is available on Amazon.

Horatio Nelson Theatre Cat Writing from my starry window-sill!

Dear Friends,

40 years of performance at LLANDOVERY THEATRE.

We are celebrating with  an OPEN DAY – followed by a performance of the film of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.


About the Film:

The Taming of the Shrew first began as a youth stage production, with filming started around 2002 – it was completed 2005 and we began editing. Then Simon Barnes, Director with Jacky on the film, died, and since then we have been trying to complete edit and technicals. It has taken 13 years!

The film is made as an Introduction to Shakespeare for young people, and some of the cast are very young, 10 years or less, some playing considerably ‘meaty’ parts.  We filmed in wonderful areas, including the magnificent Aberglasney Gardens, and the Brecon Beacons, it was our first film, so we made plenty of mistakes, but the acting is always watchable, and at times, brilliant.

Beshlie Thorp, who plays Kate (the Shrew!) will be with Jacky introducing the film, and maybe relating some of the crazy scenes that happened off camera!!

We welcome all past youth actors, friends and supporters to join us for this celebration.  If we do not have your contact details and you would like to be with us, email jacky.barnes@btinternet.com and we will book you in.

Watch Llandovery Theatre Web page and also The Post, for updates.

Do join us for this day. we are making history!


Taming of the Shrew

Horatio Nelson Theatre Cat – Writing from my starry window-sill!

Most dear Friends and Theatre lovers,

So sorry to have missed writing to you last month – Jacky was somewhat involved in matters of consequence, and though I am perfectly capable of writing my blog on my own, she does just like to oversee my letter, and I don’t like to disappoint her.

Much important work has been going on at the Theatre – with several splendid new fire doors installed and much carpentry work of great excellence, we have been very busy!

August 2016 is the 40th year anniversary of the Theatre, and we are planning to bring together past friends and youth actors to have a celebration. Already by way of the Theatre Memoir  – What Country Friends is This? we have been contacted by friends from the past, from France, Canada, Australia and other good places, and we have recently met up with actors from the 1981 youth production of Romeo and Juliet: Romeo who arrived at the theatre – the evening of the launch of the Memoir, Mercutio who was actually performing with us on stage that day, Paris who has visited us twice now from the far off land of Liverpool – and we are ‘linked in’ (whatever that may mean) to Friar Lawrence! (Practically a full cast list here! Well perhaps not quite!).

The Taming of the Shrew
Also Chris Thomas, our Editor, is currently working to ‘rescue’ the youth film production of The Taming of the Shrew, so that we can show it on the Theatre screen. Filmed in the Theatre, and at Aberglasney Gardens, it has been awaiting rescue these past 10 years or more!  We really think Chris has success on the way! Watch this space!

If you were involved in the theatre at any time in the past 40 years – as actor, artist, professional or as a volunteer and you are not currently in contact with us – do let us have your email, so we can let you know the days of our 40 years ‘celebration’ and send you an invitation. And if you are new to Llandovery, you are equally welcome to contact us. PLEASE HELP US TO MAKE 2018 A THEATRE YEAR TO REMEMBER!

Horatio Nelson
Theatre Cat

email:  jacky.barnes@bt internet.com

Horatio Nelson Theatre Cat – Writing from my starry window-sill!

Dear Friends

They tell me that a cat has nine lives. Well, my friends, I have travelled a long journey and am now settled in a new world and the start of my second life – my first having been lived, in what I believe to be an almost perfect paradise – the Theatre world.

Theatre folk are a family – not blood related but joined by creativity, by dreams, by shared success and – yes – sometimes by failure! I have shared all, enjoyed all and loved long, for we Thespians know that total dedication and love is an absolute requirement for the aspiring artist and actor. He that chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath – so says Shakespeare.

To be or not to be!
In these difficult and confusing times it is hard to remain positive about the future, especially when our town of Llandovery seems to be reflecting a general loss of energy; we have lost our children and their secondary school, our shops are mostly empty, to attend a bank we have to queue up in the car park and our wonderful post office is about to close.

As actors, we are aware that the Thespian life is often precarious – but Llandovery Theatre is about to reach its 40 year anniversary, it is named in a recent Review of the Theatre memoir *What country friends is this? as ‘possibly the most beautiful small theatre arts centre in the Kingdom’ – surely a good time for renewal of hope, a time for celebration! If you would like to know more – go on the theatre Web page and click ‘contact us’ and leave us a message – we read everything and we will respond.

The Sleeping Beauty
Llandovery is a Conservation Town, it has a proud and exciting history linked to its Roman and Ricardian connections, with a landscape setting in the shadow of the Black Mountains that cannot be equalled for beauty – but Llandovery sleeps – and a Sleeping Beauty is no use to anyone – though, come to think of it, we do have a Prince living in the area!

Horatio Nelson

*copies of ‘What country friends is this? are available via Amazon and the Post Datum Office, Llandovery

HORATIO NELSON THEATRE CAT – From my new window-sill!

They tell me that a cat has nine lives.Horatio the Theatre Cat Well, my friends, I have travelled a long journey and am now in a new world and the start of my second life – my first having been lived, in what I believe to be an almost perfect paradise – the Theatre world.
Theatre folk are a family – not blood related but joined by creativity, by dreams, by shared success and – yes – sometimes by failure – I have shared all, enjoyed all and loved many, for we Thespians know that total dedication and love is an absolute requirement for the aspiring artist and actor. He that chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath – so says Shakespeare.
There are many plays and ideas and much talent that I leave behind, some published, some not – and I hope, maybe, you will look into Poems of Love and Loss and see the poems I have inspired, some even written about me! One such is called My Cat is not a Beauty. A title that puzzled me, until I was assured that it was a poem of love and affection towards me – and of course I believe that now!
I love starry nights, especially when it is cold and frosty, and one can see the stars above so clearly and if you raise your voice to cry out the name of the one you love, then the Black Mountains will send that name reverberating around in a brilliant medley of sound, echoing that name back to you again and again! Try it – we are in mid-winter! Maybe I will hear you from my new window-sill on my star! I will be listening!
Please be kind to my beautiful theatre and the folk who run it. They want only to give pleasure and create exciting performance work. We need new friends to help us thrive into and beyond 2018. Will you be a friend? If you go on the theatre Web page – read all about us – then click on contact us – we read everything and we will respond – and – if you are looking for a Christmas gift for a friend, try Simon Barnes’ comic novel – Darkly flows the Taff – it is set in Wales, not far from here – and is a happy read.
Thank you for reading my message – May you all have a Happy Christmas and Peaceful New Year!

Horatio Nelson
www.llandoverytheatre and Facebook
All books available in paper/back or ebook via Amazon.