La Binacherie…

•August 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Yves Deschamps is one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life… He lived a very simple life in a little village called La Binacherie, which is just outside Poitiers in France. I stayed there for a while in 2006, helping my Auntie and Uncle build a garage to the beautiful barn they had converted. While there Yves and I became fond friends. In the evenings I would go over to Yves little stone cottage and we would jam together on his guitars, we would drink fine red wine, with a little cheese and put the world to rights far away from the hustle and bustle of the chaotic outside world. Then Uncle Michael had to go back to Britain due to the sudden death of his mother. Before he went he challenged Yves & I to write a little song about La Binacherie. Yves spoke a little English and me very little French, but what we had in common was the love and appreciation for the nature and world around us.
During this time and what I didn’t know was that Yves was terminally ill and had very little time to live, he never showed this and was such a brave person. When we would look at the stars together and on sunny bright days, he would say ” La Binacherie was the centre of the Universe” Yves god bless you, I totally agree with you!
To my shock, he died a year later, I never had chance to say farewell my friend….

The Rugby Star and the Wild Women of Wongo

•June 4, 2009 • 2 Comments


A CULT Hollywood movie starring a rugby player turned actor from Cross Keys will finally receive its British premiere 50 years after it was made.

Rex Richards played for Wales and Cross Keys but left for Hollywood in the 1950s to seek fame and fortune.

He had a number of roles, including a part as the King of Wongo in “Wild Women of Wongo” in 1958, since voted by film buffs as one of the 10 worst films ever made.

It has never had a public screening in this country, but is a cult hit on YouTube, with clips getting more than 6,000 hits.

Bill Richards

Now, a local man has finally arranged a showing at Cross Keys RFC on May 9.

Viv Huskings, of Groundwork Caerphilly, has researched the life of Mr Richards, who was 55 when he died in 1989.

He said: “He played for Cross Keys until 1955, was the last player there to be capped for Wales but after one season he went to America.

“Dai Thomas of Cross Keys RFC tried to screen Wongo two years ago to celebrate 50 years since Mr Richards was capped, but he couldn’t get the rights.”

Mr Huskings contacted the films distributors in America, told them about how well thought of Mr Richards was and has finally been given permission.

Wongo Poster

The premiere will be held for close friends and family of Mr Richards, including his nephew Julian who was born in Newport and has gone on to be a film director.

There will be a further screening for the public.

Inspired by his uncle’s acting, Julian Richards has worked with Steven Spielberg and is currently in Brazil promoting his latest movie “Summer Scars”.

Julian’s father Bill Richards is the administrative controller of Handiland in Mill Parade, Newport.

Bill Richards said although Wongo is generally considered a turkey, his brother narrowly missed out on at least one role that would have made him internationally famous.

He said: “Just before he came home he auditioned to play Tarzan and out of 1,000 people he got down to the final two, just missing out to Gordon Scott.

Mr Richards said: “He was nicknamed Tarzan when he played rugby at home, but when he got back he received a letter from America which said the name Tarzan was copyrighted and he should stop using it.”

Believe Nothing……..

•February 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment


In Life You Have Two Choices……

•July 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

A True Story

Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say.

When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would

be twins!”

He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to

restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude.

He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee

how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, “I don’t get it!

You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”

Jerry replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you

have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can

choose to be in a bad mood.’ I choose to be in a good mood. Each time

something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to

learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to

me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point

out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.”

“Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested.

“Yes it is,” Jerry said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away

all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to

situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to

be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how

you live life.”

I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant

industry to start my own business.

We lost touch, but often thought about him when I made a choice about

life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never

supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one

morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While

trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off

the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was

found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center. After

18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from

the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.

I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how

he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my

scars?” I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone

through his mind as the robbery took place. “The first thing that went

through my mind was that I should have locked the back door,” Jerry replied.

“Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I

could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live.

“Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked.

Jerry continued, “The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was

going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and

I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got

really scared. In their eyes, I read, ‘He’s a dead man. ” I knew I

needed to take action.”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said Jerry.

“She asked if I was allergic to anything. ‘Yes,’ I replied.

The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I

took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Bullets!’

Over their laughter, I told them, ‘I am choosing to live. Operate on

me as if I am alive, not dead.”

Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his

amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice

to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.

You have 2 choices now:

1. Save this, or

2. Forward it to people you care about.

Hope you will choose No. 2.

~~Author: Francie Baltazar-Schwartz~~

Promise Yourself…

•December 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment
Promise yourself to be strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best and expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

Author: Christian D. Larson

Gibson J-200 Originally owned by Rex Richards

•October 25, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Gibson J-200

Short Memoir of a Cardiff Bastard…

•August 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

To be continued

Rex Richards Newspaper Article…

•August 9, 2009 • 2 Comments…/the-incredible-story-of-wales-tarzan-91466-24352172/

ONE man’s quest to uncover a village’s history led him to discover the amazing tale of a Welsh movie star and sportsman dubbed the ‘Tarzan’ of Cross Keys.

Charity worker Viv Huskings helps communities spend European funding to improve their area with projects reflecting their history.

While working in the Gwent villages of Crosskeys and Pontywaun he was looking for something beyond the usual tales of life down the mines.

“I was stuck for ideas until I spoke to my 83-year-old aunt Ivy about there not being anyone renowned or famous that had a connection with Crosskeys.

“I explained all I really wanted was some juicy info to pass on to artists involved in doing art commissions in the area. Aunt said: ‘What do you mean? Tarzan was from Crosskeys!’”

She was referring to a man named Rex Richards, a man who has gone down in local folklore for his rugged good looks, amazing sporting prowess and adventures across the globe.

Viv, who works for Groundwork Caerphilly as an environmental coordinator, explained: “This guy was a championship diver, strong swimmer and fitter than a butcher’s dog. He played rugby for Wales and auditioned for a part as Tarzan in America.

“The more I learnt the more I wanted to know but there was very little to go on and I needed to investigate further.”

Viv’s initial research on the internet found although Rex Richards had failed to get the part of Tarzan he had been cast in a low-budget film called the Wild Women Of Wongo.

He also had a nephew, Julian Richards, who was inspired to work in the film industry by his uncle and is now a respected film director in his own right and has produced a number of successful low-budget horror films. He had also worked for Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks company in America.

After sending out e-mails to people he knew in the village Viv was contacted by lifelong Crosskeys Rugby Club member Dai Thomas, who remembered seeing Rex play for the club.

“As a young boy Dai used to sell match programmes and can recall streams of women flocking to the ground just to see Rex play on the hallowed ground of the Pandy,” said Viv.

“Dai used to make quite a bit of profit as these groupies would ask if Rex was playing, when he said ‘yes’ they would be in such a rush to get to the best seat they wouldn’t wait for their change.

“Rex was one of his all-time greats, he loved watching this larger-than-life character play.

“He knew about the Wongo film Rex made and had a few years earlier attempted to screen it at the club to celebrate 50 years since Rex got his Welsh cap. He couldn’t get past the film industry red tape in screening for public viewing. So unfortunately he had to cancel.”

At an art workshop Viv had arranged with sculptor Michael Johnson he had the chance to meet with a lot of the older generation from Crosskeys. It was here he discovered Rex had been given the nickname Tarzan long before his audition for the film.

He revealed: “All of them had fond memories and admiration for the way he played rugby, carried himself in society and also his physical stature.

“One lady told me she was absolutely besotted by Rex and used to melt when he came into her father’s café every Tuesday night after training.

“She said she had never set eyes on anyone since who could come close to Rex in looks and body.

“Women used to flock to Pandy Park on a Saturday, not to watch the rugby, but just to gaze in lustful adoration towards Rex.

“I was also told Rex used to high dive in aqua shows during the summer months and a few of the locals had paid for a trip to see him in Bournemouth.

“When I asked the group about his nickname, Tarzan, many said it came from a combination of his diving background, rugged looks and muscular physique.”

Dai Thomas discovered Rex had a brother called Bill who still lived in Wales, so they went to meet him at his home in Newport.

Bill Richards explained during the 1930s the Richards family lived at One Crown St, Maindee in Newport.

Five brothers and one sister were born to their milkman father and a business-minded mother. Rex was born on February 4, 1934 and as a boy was sent to Stow Hill school with the rest of his brothers.

From a young age Rex took an interest in diving at the local pool and would spend hours perfecting his technique.

In the 40s and 50s aqua shows at lidos and open-air pools were extremely popular and, when one arrived in Newport, Rex and his brother Bill were transfixed, so much so Rex disappeared with the show when it left.

Despite being found and returned home by the police, Rex ran away with the show four more times before he was eventually allowed to leave by his parents.

When he finally got back to South Wales Rex was called up to do National Service and was enlisted into the South Wales Borderers, stationed in Crickhowell. While in the army he got involved with every sport that came his way, including swimming, water polo, boxing, rugby and his beloved diving.

It wasn’t long before Rex became the inter-services diving champion, making him the best diver in all the Armed Forces.

He also started boxing and at around this time Rex reputedly fought and beat a heavyweight boxer by the name of Dick Richardson, who was also from Newport. In 1960 Dick became the European Heavyweight Champion when he beat Hans Kalbfell.

Viv continued: “A regular visitor to the family home was Jack Woods, an Arthur Daley sort of character, who had done a bit of business with Rex’s mother. Jack had his fingers in many pies including being a scout for Crosskeys RFC.

“When he visited the house on this occasion, he noticed a picture of Rex on the wall and his eyes lit up when he saw how big, fit and awesome he had become, and immediately enquired to the mother when Rex was being released from his army service.

“No sooner had Rex returned home Jack persuaded him to start pre-season training and he took to rugby like a duck to water and was installed straight into the first team. Rex enjoyed the physical contact and clearly had the edge over other players because of his stamina and fitness.

“He told his brother Bill, ‘Rugby is quite a simple game to play, you just get the ball and run straight towards the line.’

“I have heard many accounts of Rex in a lineout in his own half, leaping like a salmon to take the ball and then running almost the whole length of the pitch to score a try. There was no doubt from reading all the press articles of that era that, when Rex was playing, Crosskeys were a force to be reckoned with.”

In 1956, at the age of 21, Rex was noticed by the Welsh Rugby Union and despite not playing a full season of club rugby he was chosen to play for his country. He was picked out of position at prop forward for a match against France and the local papers ran with the headline ‘Tarzan picked for Wales’, which led to an American lawyer trying to sue him for the use of Tarzan’s name.

It would be Rex’s one and only game for Wales but he remains the last player from Crosskeys to have gained a cap, which was donated to the club and now sits in a glass cabinet behind the bar.

At the end of the season he decided to move to America in search of new challenges, leaving behind the prospect of a successful rugby career in Wales.

He headed to California, the home of beautiful people, sun, sea and surf. But it was not long before he had run out of money.

Rex started to live off the fish he caught in the sea and the coconuts from the tree he would sleep under and earned cash by selling his homemade suntan lotion to sunbathers.

He soon made his way down the West Coast and across the border into Mexico in search of the clavadistas (cliff divers), a fearless group who dive from heights of 130ft into water just 12ft deep.

Rex quickly joined them and enjoyed hurling himself off the highest points and gaining notoriety for his feats.

He was also making connections in the entertainment and film industry.

After joining a travelling aqua show which went all over America, Rex became one of the top 10 divers in the country.

Rugby was still a big part of his life and in 1957 he represented Ontario against the touring Barbarians side. His job that day was to mark the towering English forward RWD Marques. Cliff Morgan was also playing and the Barbarians won 52-0, and they didn’t lose a match on the whole tour.

Years later, Rex started his own team in New York and along with a few other ex-pats used to play teams around America.

“The film industry soon beckoned and Rex auditioned along with another 1,000 candidates for a new colour Tarzan movie,” said Viv.

“He was shortlisted down to the final two but in the end Rex lost out to Gordon Scott, who had experience of playing Tarzan a few years before.

“While auditioning he was spotted by another director, who offered him the part as King Wongo in The Wild Women of Wongo. This is now regarded as being in the top 10 of the worst Hollywood movies of all time.”

Viv, who has added all of his research to an online blog, added: “When he became more financially secure he settled on the east coast in Miami.

“He made frequent visits back home to Wales to visit family and friends, he would drive up to Crosskeys in a big Cadillac, dressed to the nines in the latest fashionable attire, he certainly stood out among the working class fraternity.”

His life in Miami was idyllic and he always kept in good shape by pumping weights on the beach.

The nightlife was full of entertainment along with dashing girls in abundance. Rex had never drunk alcohol or taken illegal drugs, although he was diagnosed with diabetes as a young boy and always had it in his mind that it was passed on genetically.

Due to this belief he never wanted to have children.

Viv said: “His family occasionally visited him for holidays and Bill said every time he went over the water; Rex would have a different girlfriend hanging out with him.

“When his nephew Julian was a youngster he paid visits to Miami and Rex used to tell him stories of the film industry. Julian had a super eight cine camera bought for him and used to run around filming shots like a big Hollywood director. Rex certainly planted a seed and use to give him advice on the best camera angles and lighting for close-up shots.”

In 1989 during a visit from his mother Rex suffered a massive heart attack while in the shower and died.

When the family cleared up his estate, they discovered boxes of money and assets all over the place, totalling nearly £750,000.

His funeral was planned for back home in Newport and arrangements had been made for his burial at Christchurch Cemetery.

But his funeral had to be cancelled at the last minute due to the fact that the airline company lost his body during transit.

He was eventually found, and laid to rest in an unmarked grave. This was his wish, as he had no strong religious beliefs. There was only one flag that was ever going to drape his coffin, his beloved Crosskeys Rugby Club.

Welsh Axe Man…

•July 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Welsh Axeman


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