It once provided all the comforts sailors had missed after months at sea. Alcohol was the first. Shove ha'penny was another delight. But its rambling labyrinth of bedrooms provided more.
The decline of docks saw trade drop and the Waterloo fell into dereliction. It's unique round tower collapsed. With the help of Cadw and the Welsh Assembly, it's been magnificently restored. The Victorian character survives amid modern luxurious hotel accommodation.
Most Newportonians were resigned to witnessing the sad sight of the Waterloo crumbling into dust. Its posh new life lacks the rumbustious character of its seamy past. But it's a great new amenity, standing in the shadow of the city's icon the Transporter Bridge. Already, celebrities are flocking here including Maureen Lipman who slept in the £140 a night Tower room.
Did anyone explain to her that rooms here were once hired by the hour?
"Earning a living is difficult enough with competition from the big stores" one of them told me, "now that pratt is cutting the legs from under us".
He advises on how to get bargains. First ingratiated yourself with the shopkeeper. Convince him that you are a nice bloke, someone he would like to have as a friend. Admire his merchandise, tell him how much you would like to have it, then ask him him 'What's your best price.'
In Littlewood's televised episodes, he always get the price cut to a fraction of the asking figure. No wonder hordes of shoppers are trying the same gimmick and infuriating small shopkeepers struggling on tiny profit margins.
Beware Don, this seething resentment may spill over. Keep way from dark alleys near small businesses.
Ban the truth?
A reference to former Uzbekistan Ambassador Craig Murray in a comment from a blog reader yesterday brought a swift response - from Craig Murray.
In a tense select Committee session Jack Straw was under fire for banning some books by civil servants and allowing others to be published. It was a frustrating afternoon. In answer to questions Jack wittered on endlessly to avoid further questions. The only way to deal with that is to interrupt him. Here's an edited taster of the exchange:-
Paul Flynn: Jeremy Greenstock told us that all the signals about his book were that it would be okay and that you personally had intervened before you had read the book and said you did not want it published. Is that true?
Mr Straw: I had been given a synopsis of what was in the text, I had not read the text at that stage, but I took exception in principle to the idea of a very senior diplomat publishing a record of events which were as fresh as they had been in such circumstances. I just come back to the point I made right at the beginning -
Paul Flynn: Rather than repeat the point, could I carry on. Is not the difference that your attitude to Christopher Meyer's book (which was tittle-tattle and of no great consequence) was that you were happy to see that go ahead, but that you had strong objections to Craig Murray's book about Uzbekistan and Greenstock's book because they talked about the relationship between Britain and America, and that was something which might embarrass you ?
Mr Straw:......Meyer was written to on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary to explain that we were not going to seek to restrain publication, but neither were we approving it. In respect of Jeremy Greenstock's book, it was different because we judged that it did breach those criteria which successive governments have followed.
Paul Flynn: But the criteria which you were worried about, surely, was the personal embarrassment to yourself as Foreign Secretary?
Mr Straw: No.
Paul Flynn: The name of the Greenstock book is The Cost of War and would you not agree that the cost of war in Britain was born by the 102 families who lost their loved ones as a result of that decision to go to war in support of Bush, and is it not more plausible that the reason you wanted to stop the book was to prevent the full truth of the war and its aftermath being published?
Mr Straw: No, not remotely the case, Mr Flynn.....
Paul Flynn: You would agree, I believe, that Craig Murray worked in a country with an odious regime which he alleges routinely murders its own citizens At the official level he had no trouble, but when he got to your level, the political level, he was stopped and he lays the charge that he was stopped entirely by you personally. Is that right?
Mr Straw: First of all, let me make this clear in respect of Craig Murray: we supported Craig Murray in the position which he took in respect of the abuse of human rights by the Uzbekistan Government. He has been a deep embarrassment to the whole of the Foreign Office at an official level as well as of concern to ministers. I made the final decisions.
Paul Flynn: Craig Murray says he has irrefutable evidence of the detailed personal involvement of the Secretary of State, Jack Straw,... he says that you have repeatedly denied that you have any connection with the action taken against him. Is that true?
Mr Straw: I would have to see the details. Of course the Permanent Secretary kept me informed about the disciplinary processes. let me say. It is also quite important to bear in mind that Craig Murray in the end left the service on medical early retirement, he was not sacked.
Paul Flynn: He argues that the laws of defamation, libel, the Official Secrets Act, Data Protection Act, Freedom of Information Act, the lot, give enough protection to make sure that he does not overstep the mark so far as the publication of his book is concerned. His legal advisers approved the publication of the book.
Mr Straw: His legal advisers?
Paul Flynn: Yes. The only reason it has not been published is that your Department and you personally threatened to use Crown copyright against him, which would involve his publishers in an expensive legal action and effectively gag Mr Murray. Is that true?
Mr Straw: We have made our position clear to Mr Murray and that has been laid out in correspondence.
Paul Flynn: But why do they not apply to Christopher Meyer? Christopher Meyer almost certainly broke those obligations and you did not act against him ?
Mr Straw: No. As I say, there is this fine but rather important distinction to be made between, there was no point pursuing Christopher Meyer through the courts and other circumstances where the potential damage to the national and the public interest appears to be more substantial.
Judge for yourself-see the full text :