Monday, 24 September 2007

The Way of the Dragon - Memories of Youth

I have been tagged by Alwyn ap Huw to share with you and my fellow bloggers my earliest political memories so now I will launch myself into a potted autobiography and hope that it meets with approbation if not unstinting acceptance of my views and my political development.

It all began with the Dragon, that mythical, mystical creature which overshadowed my early years and still plays a subtle and pervasive part in my consciousness. I was born in the Chinese Year of the Dragon. Dragons are popular in China as well as in Wales, and dragons represent the earth spirit without which there would be no life or creative imagination. There is more to the dragon than meets the eye. In China you see them alighting on the roofs of the temples and in Wales they adorn the national flags. Can you imagine the flag without the dragon? A plain green and white flag without the red dragon to enliven it would be soul-less and quite uninspiring. In my childhood I read about dragons, in fairy tales and even in Rupert cartoons in comics and in the pages of the "Daily Express" newspaper which my Conservative parents insisted on taking for their daily read.
Everything changed when I came to Carmarthen and entered Trinity College - Coleg y Drindod - as a trainee teacher. It is there that I became radicalised. I had been learning Welsh from "Welsh Made Easy" by 'Caradar', and had read the books of George Borrow, including his book "Wild Wales". I had also read the books of a vivid writer of the time, Richard Vaughan - "Moulded in Earth", "Son of Justin", "Who Rideth So Wild", inspiring books about life in the Welsh mining valleys, on a par with the writings of Richard Llewellyn and Alexander Cordell.
It was there that I met Gwynfor Evans, an inspiring and commanding figure in Plaid Cymru, dedicated to the cause of self-government for Wales. There I campaigned for Hywel Heilyn Roberts, even travelling in the van which held the illegal radio transmitter which broadcast on the television wavelength after 11 p.m. close-down, and kept the public informed of the activities of the party, keeping the flame of independence alive. At that time Plaid was regarded by Westminster as a subversive organisation. And so it was, working assiduously against the attempts to undermine and destroy the Welsh language and drown the Welsh valleys (Tryweryn) to create reservoirs for the benefit of Birmingham and the English Midlands. Then, Islwyn Ffowc Elis published his book "Wythnos Yn Ghymru Fydd".
These were causes worth fighting for!
Another movement which played a part in my political education at that time was C.N.D.. There was a well-justified fear of the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Sixties and the clock was ticking inexorably towards a Doomsday scenario when all hell would break out, and the earth would become vitually uninhabitable following a nuclear holocaust. Bomb shelters were being built everywhere (I saw the entrance to one in Seattle), and television broadcasts were being beamed explaining what to do in the event of a nuclear explosion - hide under the table and other useless advice! There were marches from Aldermaston to London and rallies in Trafalgar Square addressed by Michael Foot MP and Bishop Trevor Huddleston.
After 47 years I returned to find a different Wales from the one which I had left. Gone were the coal-mines and unsightly coal-tips like the one which dominated Aberfan. The Swansea valley had been cleaned up and sanitised yet the unanswered question remained. How much longer does the dragon have to wait before the people of Wales reclaim their nation and vote for their own Parliament for Wales? Without that mythical beast all would have already been lost and trodden under. Wales without the dragon would be impotent. That is the reason why this symbol is so prized and valued by the people, and why the flag is flown across the nation and is a ubiquitous presence throughout the land. It is also the reason why this blog is written, for without the dragon there would be no "Independence Cymru" to nudge the reader and remind him of our noble destiny.

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