Monday, 31 December 2007

Stat Summary, since June 2007

Page Loads - Unique Visitors - First Time Visitors - Returning Visitors
Total 15,505 - 8,459 - 4,662 - 3,797
Average 15,505 - 8,459 - 4,662 - 3,797

Year - Page Loads - Unique Visitors - First Time Visitors - Returning Visitors
2007 - 15,505 - 8,459 - 4,662 - 3,797

Continue your loyal support for Cymru and the blog Independence Cymru os gwelwch yn dda!

The State of Latvia vis-a- vis Wales

I encountered a political pundit who manages a private Latvian university yesterday and was given a three-hour exposition of the inside story on the state of Latvian politics and economy. Prices are high and yet wages and salaries are low, meaning that it is a struggle for people to make a living and afford the high cost of living. Living accommodation accounts for approximately half of take-home pay. Prices are similar if not higher than in the UK and availability of produce is limited. Road infrastructure is poor and suffers badly in comparison with its Lithuanian neighbour where the roads are very satisfactory and where internal funding was provided without reliance on the EU coffers. In Latvia European money is being leached out of the economy and is being directed in an easterly direction, and money laundering is practised on a wide scale. Politicians are under the sway of big business and corruption and corporate crime is rife. Wales should count itself lucky in a comparison between the economies of these two nations. Things could be a lot worse.
Meanwhile Cyprus and Malta join the Eurozone on January 1st.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Welsh History Online

Century of history made available online

Dec 27 2007 by Karen Price, Western Mail

MILLIONS of people from around the world will now have access to a landmark exhibition at the National Library of Wales after it went online yesterday.

In This Place features exhibits relating to Wales during the past 100 years. Visitors can turn the pages of Dylan Thomas’s passport – the one which came home to Wales following his death in the US – or see Welsh recruitment posters from World War I.

The website also features pages from Welsh newspapers, including the Western Mail, as they reflect the changing face of Wales and the world from 1907 – which is when the National Library was awarded its foundation Royal Charter.

There is news on the Senghenydd mining disaster of 1913, the formation of the Urdd in 1922, the Spanish Civil War and World War II.

The exhibition, which was displayed at the National Library earlier this year, has been described by organisers as a treasure trove of information in photographs, correspondence and newspaper.

The website includes cartoons by the Barry-born cartoonist Leslie Illingworth and literature from the 1979 and 1997 devolution referendums, as well as archives from Charlotte Guest and her interest in the Mabinogi legends.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Day School Announcement - Celtic Cousins

Cymdeithas Carnhuanawc

Ysgol Undydd

Dyma'r newyddion am ein Hysgol Undydd, dydd Sadwrn 16 Chwefror 2008 . Bydd gwasanaeth cyfieithu ar y pryd ar gyfer y ddwy darlith yn y bore.Bydd Brynach Parri , golygydd 'Brycheiniog' yn cadeirio.
Croeso cynnes i bawb . Buasai'n hwyluso ein trefniadau pe gallech anfon y tal cofrestru [£10 y pen ] erbyn 9fed Chwefror at ein trysorydd Hywel Davies 8 Forest Oak Close Cyncoed Caerdydd CF23 6QN
Edrychwn ymlaen i'ch weld a dewch a'ch cyfeillion

Day School

Here's the news about our Day School Saturday, 16 February 2008. There will be a simultaneous translation service for the two morning lectures. Brynach Parri the editor of 'Brycheiniog will chair the day school.
Everyones welcome . It would help us with the organisation if you could send your registration fee [£10 a person] to our treasurer Hywel Davies 8 Forest Oak Close Cyncoed Caerdydd by the 9th February .

Looking forward to seeing you and your friends.
Alan Jobbins
029 20 623275

Rhaglen Programme

Cofrestru / CoffiCroeso Taith Carnhuanawc i Lydaw Mary-Ann Constantine(Canolfan Uwch-Efrydiau Cymreig a Cheltaidd Prifysgol Cymru)Y “Jailtacht” - Adfywiad y Wyddeleg yng ngharchardai Gogledd IwerddonDiarmait Mac Giolla Chriost(Prifysgol Caerdydd)Cinio (trefniadau unigol)Y Gernyweg Heddiw (yn Saesneg) Jenefer Lowe(Swyddog y Gernyweg, Cyngor Cernyw)Dyfodol Gaeleg mewn Alban ddatganoledig (yn Saesneg)Robert Dunbar(Prifysgol Aberdeen) 09.4510.0010.1511.1512.3013.4515.00 Registration / CoffeeWelcomeCarnhuanawc’s Journey to BrittanyMary-Ann Constantine(University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies)The “Jailtacht” - Revival of the Irish language in the jails of Northern IrelandDiarmait Mac Giolla Chriost(Cardiff University)Lunch (individual arrangement)Cornish Today (in English)Jenefer Lowe(Cornish Language Development Officer, Cornwall County Council)The future of Gaelic in a devolved Scotland (in English)Robert Dunbar(Aberdeen University)

Mae Mary-Ann Constantine yn Uwch-Gymrawd y Ganolfan Uwch-Efrydiau Cymreig a Cheltaidd yn Aberystwyth ac yn Arweinydd y Prosiect ar Iolo Morganwg a’r Traddodiad Rhamantaidd yng Nghymru. Datblygodd ei diddordeb yn niwylliant Celtaidd pan fu’n astudio llenyddiaeth Saesneg yng Ngholeg Clare, Caergrawnt. Symudodd i Aberystwyth ym 1995 lle bu’n ymchwilio’n helaeth ym meysydd ieithoedd a diwylliannau’r gwledydd Celtaidd, gan gynnwys baledi Llydaw, cyn ymuno รข phrosiect Iolo yn y Ganolfan yn 2002.

Mae Diarmait mac Giolla Chriost yn Uwch-ddarlithydd yn Adran y Gymraeg, Prifysgol Caerdydd, ers 2004. Mae ganddo ddiddordeb arbennig yn y perthynas rhwng iaith a gwrth-droi cymdeithasol a hefyd mewn iaith mewn sefyllfaoedd dinesig.

Mae Jenefer Lowe yn un o’r gweithwyr dycnaf dros yr iaith Gernyweg. Mae’n Rheolwraig Ddatblygu dros Bartneriaeth y Gernyweg, corff sy’n ymdrechu i gryfhau ac uno’r gwahanol fudiadau iaith yng Nghernyw. Yn 2006 fe’i hapwyntiwyd yn Swyddog y Gernyweg cyntaf Cyngor Cernyw.

Yn enedigol o Ganada, mae Robert Dunbar yn Ddarllenydd yn y Gyfraith a Chelteg ym Mhrifysgol Aberdeen. Mae’n arbenigo yn y gyfraith a lleiafrifoedd ieithyddol ac ethnig, a chanddo ddiddordeb arbennig yng Ngaeleg yr Alban.

Mary-Ann Constantine is a Senior Fellow in the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies and Leader of the Iolo Morgannwg and the Romantic Tradition in Wales Project. She developed her interest in Celtic culture whilst studying English Literature in Clare College, Cambridge. Mary-Ann moved to Aberystwyth in 1995 where she held a succession of Research Fellowships and taught various topics in Welsh and Celtic Studies and continued her work on the ballad tradition in Brittany, before joining the Iolo Morgannwg Project as leader in 2002

Diarmait mac Giolla Chriost has worked as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Welsh in Cardiff University since 2004. His research interests include the nature of the relationship between language and conflict and also language in city contexts.

Jenefer Lowe is one of the most tireless supporters of the Cornish language. She is a Development Manager for the Cornish Language Partnership, an organisation which seeks to strengthen and unite the different language movements in Cornwall. In 2006 she was appointed as Cornwall County Council’s first Cornish Langauage Officer.

Originally from Canada Robert Dunbar is a Reader in Law and Celtic in the University of Aberdeen. He has expertise in the law and ethnic and linguistic minorities and a special interest in Scottish Gaelic.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Forget Party Politics - Think of Wales and its People and the Future of the Nation

Plaid put Wales before politics, says leader

Dec 22 2007 by David Williamson, Western Mail

PLAID Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones yesterday summed up 2007 as the year when the party put the interests of Wales above political ambitions.
Describing the unprecedented One Wales coalition between Labour and Plaid, he said, “2007 has been a landmark year in the history of our party; the year when we entered government for the first time.
“It will also be remembered as the year when the interests of the people of Wales were put before narrow party political concerns.”
Mr Jones used his Christmas message to say he was “filled with hope for the future of Wales”.
“These next 12 months will also be crucial as we take the next step in the devolution process,” he said.

Christmas Message from Independence Cymru
This is the line taken by Independence Cymru. All Welsh politicians should make clear where their true interests lie, in the preservation of the Union or in the prospect of future independent Wales - not "New Labour" but "New Wales" - Cymru Fydd. This view of what can be must be uncompromising and non-negotiable - Wales has waited too long for this. The time has come to make the dream a reality. We in Plaid have chosen the political means to bring this about but we cannot wait forever - life is too short, and many lives have come and gone in the course of history in relentless struggle and aspiration for what many other nations, including the Baltic States, have already achieved.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Welsh Window to the World

Breaking news - Microsoft Windows Vista and Office 2007 are now available in the Welsh language.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Our New Year's Resolutions

Let us now turn these campaigns into New Year's Resolutions for the sake of Cymru Fydd.

The Campaign for an independent Cymru

Campaign - to fly the flag of Wales and not the Union flag
Campaign - to celebrate Welsh national holidays
Campaign - to give recognition to Welsh battle sites
Campaign - to rectify the wrongs in the constitution
Campaign - to bring in a new Welsh Language Act
Campaign - to demand a Parliament for Wales
Campaign - to review funding issues for Wales - Barnett
Campaign - to revert to the true place-names of Wales
Campaign - to reject "Britishness" and all its forms and disguises
Campaign - to spread the word and inspire Welsh people to support their homeland
Campaign - to work towards the May council elections and ensure victory for Plaid

Green-eyed Goddesses of Impressive Stature

Green eyes are the product of moderate amounts of melanin. They are most often found among people of North and Eastern European descent, and to a slightly lesser extent, in Southern Europe, and parts of Central and South Asia. Green eyes are the rarest eye color; only 1-2% of human population possesses this trait. Hungary is the country with the highest percentage of green eyed people, about 20%. In Iceland 88% of the population have green or blue eyes.

It seems that in Latvia and Lithuania green eyes predominate. I have noticed that a great number of people here have green eyes. They also exchange girth for height as there appear to be virtually no obese people but many women are slim and over six feet in height and when they look towards you their green eyes focus on a point way above your head. Possibly the lack of sunshine accounts for this phenomenon as a plant tends to grow tall and straggly in its effort to reach the light.
Alan in Dyfed

Return from One Spell to another spell in ......Latvia.

Lithuania was something else and caters for every fantasy and I won't go into details but just say that today I was high-tailing it on the straight and narrow highway cutting its way through the flat and frosty landscape. Vilnius is renowned for its amber jewellery among other things as well as babushka dolls. The young woman sitting next to me spent half the four-hour journey on the mobile phone. I could have continued my journey on to Taillinn but the winter is not the best time to venture farther north. These two Baltic nations in the EU and Estonia have just this week been freed of the need for border checks and are a part of the Shengen Agreement giving free access across national borders. They revel in freedom from the yoke of Soviet domination and one wonders when Cymru will take a similar place in Europe and decolonise itself! Back in Riga Old Town I think to myself : I haven't seen sunshine since I left Wales a week or more ago!

Friday, 21 December 2007

Gas Pipeline Cuts Through Wales

Plaid MP wants work halted for inquiry
Dec 20 2007 by Martin Shipton, Western Mail

Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price last night called for all further commissioning work on the pipeline to be halted pending a UK Government investigation.
Mr Price said, “Very serious safety concerns have been raised and it is essential that before the pipeline is used to transport gas, the people of Wales can be confident that it is safe.”
Meanwhile opponents of the pipeline will today present their case to a meeting of the European Parliament’s petitions committee in Brussels.
The protestors claim the pipeline is ill-thought-out and dangerous, and that the scheme breaches several European directives.

Furthermore, were the people affected by this consulted, not only regarding possible dangers, but also about the disturbance and upheaval to the environment?

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Part II : Whatever Happened to Obesity?

As I look around me in the streets of these two newly independent nations I see no sign of obesity whatsoever. The national dishes are healthy, appetizing and sustaining. There in Britain the hospitals are overflowing with patients suffering the symptoms and effects of obesity, tobacco, alcohol and self-abuse. Here there does not appear to be a problem. What is required in Wales is an enlightened education to bring about a revolution in caring for the body, physically and mentally, as the body is, it is said, the receptacle of the soul. This would vastly improve the health of the nation and virtually eliminate obesity, and also drastically reduce the burden on the NHS. So much money is wasted on treating the diseases that arise from neglect and abuse of the body, when a change of attitude is what is required so that the body is seen to be a holy chalice and not a garbage bin for the disposal of trash.

Wales Could Learn a Lesson from the Baltic States

Since I have been in Latvia and Lithuania I have not seen a scrap of litter on the streets and everything is kept fastidiously clean and tidy. It is ingrained in the consciousness of the people. The people themselves are exceedingly smart and well turned-out, especially the women who walk like fashion models in their winter furs and boots, looking regal and statuesque as they stride along. What a stark contrast they present to the street sights of Britain. It is very noticeable and quite startling to observe the differences. In Britain what is needed is a social revolution in attitudes of mind and a pride in appearance and demeanour. I do not know if this will happen in my lifetime, but I am giving myself another 30 years, so who knows, it might!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Rhodri Makes a Stand for Cymru

‘Wales won’t stand for further Olympics raids’

Dec 19 2007 by Tomos Livingstone, Western Mail

Wales won't stand for further Olympics raids on lottery cash.
The Assembly Government will not stand for any further cuts in lottery funding as a result of the 2012 London Olympics, Heritage Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas said yesterday. Mr Thomas said Wales was already effectively £70m down as a result of decisions to Thomas became the first Plaid Cymru Minister to give evidence at a Westminster select committee yesterday, and was questioned on issues as varied as registration for tourist operators to whether Wales should have its own time zone.
He said he had been in talks with a major nation’s Paralympic team with a view to them using a Welsh site as their base for the 2012 Paralympics. If that deal is concluded it could bring £2m into the Welsh economy, Mr Thomas said.
The Wales Tourism Alliance has already presented evidence to the MPs that the Olympics will have “little or no direct benefit” to the tourist trade in Wales.
Mr Thomas said, “I can understand what the Tourism Alliance have said, and it’s difficult to find the direct benefit.
“As I’ve already alluded to, the negatives tend to be far greater than the positives at the moment, and our strategy is to maximise the positive as much as we can.
“The fact of the matter is the Olympics are coming to London in 2012, we are going to lose £70m in terms of lottery funding. We have to live within that reality.
“If we put a sustained effort into it, we can reap a number of benefits.”
London tourism chiefs are known to be concerned that a number of visitors may decide to shun the city during the Olympics, and have studied data from previous hosts Sydney and Athens that suggests residents tend to leave during the Games.
Mr Thomas said Wales could benefit. “We will be looking at people who want to get away from the Olympics,” he said. “Not everyone likes sport, and not everyone likes a situation where there are lot of people in their area. We can offer them something different.”
Asked if putting the clocks back an extra hour in the summer – so-called Double Summer Time – would help boost tourism, he said, “Traditionally in Wales the industry and sector has been supportive of this move, but ultimately this is a matter for the UK Government.”
Ministers were looking to introduce a compulsory registration scheme for those offering tourist accommodation, he said, but would be happy to look at how such schemes had worked in other countries before pressing ahead.
Speaking about his historic appearance after the hearing, Mr Thomas said, “If you had any kind of political aspiration you wouldn’t have joined Plaid Cymru when I did nearly 40 years ago, and you wouldn't have stood for Plaid in the 1999 elections expecting to be in government.
He said he was enjoying “the opportunity to take decisions that affect the future of Wales”.

Plaid Cymru Llanelli Constituency asks : Why not have a Welsh Lottery for Wales, and for the benefit of Welsh needs and projects? They also question why the winnings are so high and why they cannot be distributed more widely with smaller gains. Alan in Dyfed

Back on the Road to .......Lithuania

I have dismounted from my Latvian horse and have exchanged it for a Lithuanian steed, then pounded through the desolate wet countryside dotted with forests of spruce and birch to the Old Town of Vilnius, there to have accommodated myself in a local hostelry, naturally with internet access provided. I will now begin to acquaint myself with the attractions of this capital city, a quaint old town hemmed in by vast areas of featureless and uninspiring high rise apartment buildings - affordable housing?

Monday, 17 December 2007

Questions on the Future of Welsh Politics

Question: do you consider Plaid to be an independence party, a devolutionist party, or both?
Question: following independence would Plaid's raison d'etre be over or should it continue as a nationalist political party?
Question: who would make the best President/Prime Minister for Wales?
Question: as the other parties would cease to be unionist would they all continue their role in Welsh politics?
Question: which party do you foresee as having the majority vote?

Sunday, 16 December 2007

A Campaign for Cleanliness and Pride in the Nation

Bitter about litter!
Posted by Sion Barry on November 29, 2007 5:41 PM | Permalink

Rubbish, garbage, litter, call it what you like, but it bugs the hell out of me.
Walk down any street in Cardiff, and no doubt any city in the UK, and it wouldn't take long to come across it: discarded bottles, fish and chip papers, burger trays... you get the picture.
This green and pleasant land is fast becoming the cesspit of Europe. Steady on Sion, aren't you being a bit melodramatic here?
Well, perhaps a tad, but litter, or garbage! as Sir Terry Matthews likes to call it, is a growing problem in the UK.
I am fortune enough to be able to walk to work and the amount of rubbish I come across en route to the centre of Cardiff is incredible.
Why do people drop rubbish, surely it cannot be that difficult to hold onto until they come across a bin?
Civic pride, something which was often seen by other countries as a great British virtue, seems to be on the wane.
And it's no point just laying the blame at the door of local authorities, as it all comes down to responsible citizenship.
Sir Terry once described Wales as a "garbage dump" and he went on to tell me that companies would not invest in Wales if they came across garbage everywhere. The garbage is being dropped by locals, he added, so why would anyone want to invest here as they would be taking on "garbage employees?"
At a time when most regions in Europe are pretty much offering the same inducements to potential inward investors, it is the intangible factors which are becoming more important.
So let's not underestimate the damaging impact of litter on our streets. I for one would rather invest in a city where the streets were clean, as it says something positive about the mindset of its inhabitants.
So come on Wales let's reclaim the streets and kick litter into touch!

Do the people of Wales really care about their nation, and where is their civic pride? Do they deserve a free and independent litter-free Cymru?
Alan in Dyfed

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Back in the Saddle - the Horse is Latvian!

Alice leads the way for Welsh learners
Dec 15 2007 by Abby Alford, South Wales Echo

A CANTONESE speaker is so taken with the Welsh language that she is starring in a TV commercial to promote it.
Former restaurateur Alice Cheung , 48, a mum of two from Whitchurch, Cardiff, will be seen in the Welsh Assembly Government’s Welsh for adults advertising campaign, We’ll Bring Out The Cymraeg In You.
Originally from Hong Kong, Cantonese is Alice’s mother tongue. She also speaks Mandarin and is learning Welsh with a private tutor and by practising with her Welsh-speaking daughter Jin, 21, and son Wing, 22.
“I’m really enjoying learning Welsh,” said Alice.
“It’s a fascinating language and, although it’s quite difficult, particularly the pronunciation, I hope one day to be able to converse with local people in Welsh.”
Alice, who now works as a freelance interpreter, added: “I’m at quite a basic level at the moment but I’m really enjoying the experience.”

Do you think that all ethnic immigrants to Wales should be given free Welsh lessons and encouraged to learn the language and send their children to Ysgolion Cymraeg?

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

The Road Ahead

I will attempt to post if and when I have the opportunity but I suggest that you take time to peruse the archives in which there are more than 250 postings dating from last June. All that needs to be said has been said, for the moment. Alan in Dyfed

The End of the Road

The road to Independence ends with the reality of Independence without a doubt.
It is only a matter of time as the process of devolution is the process of evolution in Cymru and in the other nations which are still tied to the coat-tails of John Bull. The times they are a-changing and nothing will be the same as the political complexion of Europe assumes its multi-faceted identity. Within most of the nations of Europe, particularly those which are the most developed, will be found an ethnic diversity comprising people of assorted cultures and traditions. Provision will have to be made to accommodate the new conditions so that tolerance and acceptance prevail. At the same time minority languages, as well as national customs and festivals, must be preserved and encouraged to avoid society becoming a faceless stereotype devoid of colour and variety. This is the way of social and political evolution in the emerging union of European nations. YMLAEN!

Monday, 10 December 2007


A Child's Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen.
It was on the afternoon of the Christmas Eve, and I was in Mrs. Prothero's garden, waiting for cats, with her son Jim. It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats. Sleek and long as jaguars and horrible-whiskered, spitting and snarling, they would slink and sidle over the white back-garden walls, and the lynx-eyed hunters, Jim and I, fur-capped and moccasined trappers from Hudson Bay, off Mumbles Road, would hurl our deadly snowballs at the green of their eyes. The wise cats never appeared.
We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows - eternal, ever since Wednesday - that we never heard Mrs. Prothero's first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden. Or, if we heard it at all, it was, to us, like the far-off challenge of our enemy and prey, the neighbor's polar cat. But soon the voice grew louder.
"Fire!" cried Mrs. Prothero, and she beat the dinner-gong.
And we ran down the garden, with the snowballs in our arms, toward the house; and smoke, indeed, was pouring out of the dining-room, and the gong was bombilating, and Mrs. Prothero was announcing ruin like a town crier in Pompeii. This was better than all the cats in Wales standing on the wall in a row. We bounded into the house, laden with snowballs, and stopped at the open door of the smoke-filled room.
Something was burning all right; perhaps it was Mr. Prothero, who always slept there after midday dinner with a newspaper over his face. But he was standing in the middle of the room, saying, "A fine Christmas!" and smacking at the smoke with a slipper.
"Call the fire brigade," cried Mrs. Prothero as she beat the gong.
"There won't be there," said Mr. Prothero, "it's Christmas."
There was no fire to be seen, only clouds of smoke and Mr. Prothero standing in the middle of them, waving his slipper as though he were conducting.
"Do something," he said. And we threw all our snowballs into the smoke - I think we missed Mr. Prothero - and ran out of the house to the telephone box.
"Let's call the police as well," Jim said. "And the ambulance." "And Ernie Jenkins, he likes fires."
But we only called the fire brigade, and soon the fire engine came and three tall men in helmets brought a hose into the house and Mr. Prothero got out just in time before they turned it on. Nobody could have had a noisier Christmas Eve. And when the firemen turned off the hose and were standing in the wet, smoky room, Jim's Aunt, Miss. Prothero, came downstairs and peered in at them. Jim and I waited, very quietly, to hear what she would say to them. She said the right thing, always. She looked at the three tall firemen in their shining helmets, standing among the smoke and cinders and dissolving snowballs, and she said, "Would you like anything to read?"

Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, the English and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode the daft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed. But here a small boy says: "It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea."
"But that was not the same snow," I say. "Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards."
"Were there postmen then, too?"
"With sprinkling eyes and wind-cherried noses, on spread, frozen feet they crunched up to the doors and mittened on them manfully. But all that the children could hear was a ringing of bells."
"You mean that the postman went rat-a-tat-tat and the doors rang?"
"I mean that the bells the children could hear were inside them."
"I only hear thunder sometimes, never bells."
"There were church bells, too."
"Inside them?"
"No, no, no, in the bat-black, snow-white belfries, tugged by bishops and storks. And they rang their tidings over the bandaged town, over the frozen foam of the powder and ice-cream hills, over the crackling sea. It seemed that all the churches boomed for joy under my window; and the weathercocks crew for Christmas, on our fence."
"Get back to the postmen"
"They were just ordinary postmen, found of walking and dogs and Christmas and the snow. They knocked on the doors with blue knuckles ...."
"Ours has got a black knocker...."
"And then they stood on the white Welcome mat in the little, drifted porches and huffed and puffed, making ghosts with their breath, and jogged from foot to foot like small boys wanting to go out."
"And then the presents?"
"And then the Presents, after the Christmas box. And the cold postman, with a rose on his button-nose, tingled down the tea-tray-slithered run of the chilly glinting hill. He went in his ice-bound boots like a man on fishmonger's slabs.
"He wagged his bag like a frozen camel's hump, dizzily turned the corner on one foot, and, by God, he was gone."
"Get back to the Presents."
"There were the Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o'-shanters like patchwork tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all; and once I had a little crocheted nose bag from an aunt now, alas, no longer whinnying with us. And pictureless books in which small boys, though warned with quotations not to, would skate on Farmer Giles' pond and did and drowned; and books that told me everything about the wasp, except why."
"Go on the Useless Presents."
"Bags of moist and many-colored jelly babies and a folded flag and a false nose and a tram-conductor's cap and a machine that punched tickets and rang a bell; never a catapult; once, by mistake that no one could explain, a little hatchet; and a celluloid duck that made, when you pressed it, a most unducklike sound, a mewing moo that an ambitious cat might make who wished to be a cow; and a painting book in which I could make the grass, the trees, the sea and the animals any colour I pleased, and still the dazzling sky-blue sheep are grazing in the red field under the rainbow-billed and pea-green birds. Hardboileds, toffee, fudge and allsorts, crunches, cracknels, humbugs, glaciers, marzipan, and butterwelsh for the Welsh. And troops of bright tin soldiers who, if they could not fight, could always run. And Snakes-and-Families and Happy Ladders. And Easy Hobbi-Games for Little Engineers, complete with instructions. Oh, easy for Leonardo! And a whistle to make the dogs bark to wake up the old man next door to make him beat on the wall with his stick to shake our picture off the wall. And a packet of cigarettes: you put one in your mouth and you stood at the corner of the street and you waited for hours, in vain, for an old lady to scold you for smoking a cigarette, and then with a smirk you ate it. And then it was breakfast under the balloons."

"Were there Uncles like in our house?"
"There are always Uncles at Christmas. The same Uncles. And on Christmas morning, with dog-disturbing whistle and sugar fags, I would scour the swatched town for the news of the little world, and find always a dead bird by the Post Office or by the white deserted swings; perhaps a robin, all but one of his fires out. Men and women wading or scooping back from chapel, with taproom noses and wind-bussed cheeks, all albinos, huddles their stiff black jarring feathers against the irreligious snow. Mistletoe hung from the gas brackets in all the front parlors; there was sherry and walnuts and bottled beer and crackers by the dessertspoons; and cats in their fur-abouts watched the fires; and the high-heaped fire spat, all ready for the chestnuts and the mulling pokers. Some few large men sat in the front parlors, without their collars, Uncles almost certainly, trying their new cigars, holding them out judiciously at arms' length, returning them to their mouths, coughing, then holding them out again as though waiting for the explosion; and some few small aunts, not wanted in the kitchen, nor anywhere else for that matter, sat on the very edge of their chairs, poised and brittle, afraid to break, like faded cups and saucers."
Not many those mornings trod the piling streets: an old man always, fawn-bowlered, yellow-gloved and, at this time of year, with spats of snow, would take his constitutional to the white bowling green and back, as he would take it wet or fire on Christmas Day or Doomsday; sometimes two hale young men, with big pipes blazing, no overcoats and wind blown scarfs, would trudge, unspeaking, down to the forlorn sea, to work up an appetite, to blow away the fumes, who knows, to walk into the waves until nothing of them was left but the two furling smoke clouds of their inextinguishable briars. Then I would be slap-dashing home, the gravy smell of the dinners of others, the bird smell, the brandy, the pudding and mince, coiling up to my nostrils, when out of a snow-clogged side lane would come a boy the spit of myself, with a pink-tipped cigarette and the violet past of a black eye, cocky as a bullfinch, leering all to himself.
I hated him on sight and sound, and would be about to put my dog whistle to my lips and blow him off the face of Christmas when suddenly he, with a violet wink, put his whistle to his lips and blew so stridently, so high, so exquisitely loud, that gobbling faces, their cheeks bulged with goose, would press against their tinsled windows, the whole length of the white echoing street. For dinner we had turkey and blazing pudding, and after dinner the Uncles sat in front of the fire, loosened all buttons, put their large moist hands over their watch chains, groaned a little and slept. Mothers, aunts and sisters scuttled to and fro, bearing tureens. Auntie Bessie, who had already been frightened, twice, by a clock-work mouse, whimpered at the sideboard and had some elderberry wine. The dog was sick. Auntie Dosie had to have three aspirins, but Auntie Hannah, who liked port, stood in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a big-bosomed thrush. I would blow up balloons to see how big they would blow up to; and, when they burst, which they all did, the Uncles jumped and rumbled. In the rich and heavy afternoon, the Uncles breathing like dolphins and the snow descending, I would sit among festoons and Chinese lanterns and nibble dates and try to make a model man-o'-war, following the Instructions for Little Engineers, and produce what might be mistaken for a sea-going tramcar.

Or I would go out, my bright new boots squeaking, into the white world, on to the seaward hill, to call on Jim and Dan and Jack and to pad through the still streets, leaving huge footprints on the hidden pavements.
"I bet people will think there's been hippos."
"What would you do if you saw a hippo coming down our street?"
"I'd go like this, bang! I'd throw him over the railings and roll him down the hill and then I'd tickle him under the ear and he'd wag his tail."
"What would you do if you saw two hippos?"
Iron-flanked and bellowing he-hippos clanked and battered through the scudding snow toward us as we passed Mr. Daniel's house.
"Let's post Mr. Daniel a snow-ball through his letter box."
"Let's write things in the snow."
"Let's write, 'Mr. Daniel looks like a spaniel' all over his lawn."
Or we walked on the white shore. "Can the fishes see it's snowing?"
The silent one-clouded heavens drifted on to the sea. Now we were snow-blind travelers lost on the north hills, and vast dewlapped dogs, with flasks round their necks, ambled and shambled up to us, baying "Excelsior." We returned home through the poor streets where only a few children fumbled with bare red fingers in the wheel-rutted snow and cat-called after us, their voices fading away, as we trudged uphill, into the cries of the dock birds and the hooting of ships out in the whirling bay. And then, at tea the recovered Uncles would be jolly; and the ice cake loomed in the center of the table like a marble grave. Auntie Hannah laced her tea with rum, because it was only once a year.
Bring out the tall tales now that we told by the fire as the gaslight bubbled like a diver. Ghosts whooed like owls in the long nights when I dared not look over my shoulder; animals lurked in the cubbyhole under the stairs and the gas meter ticked. And I remember that we went singing carols once, when there wasn't the shaving of a moon to light the flying streets. At the end of a long road was a drive that led to a large house, and we stumbled up the darkness of the drive that night, each one of us afraid, each one holding a stone in his hand in case, and all of us too brave to say a word. The wind through the trees made noises as of old and unpleasant and maybe webfooted men wheezing in caves. We reached the black bulk of the house. "What shall we give them? Hark the Herald?"
"No," Jack said, "Good King Wencelas. I'll count three." One, two three, and we began to sing, our voices high and seemingly distant in the snow-felted darkness round the house that was occupied by nobody we knew. We stood close together, near the dark door. Good King Wencelas looked out On the Feast of Stephen ... And then a small, dry voice, like the voice of someone who has not spoken for a long time, joined our singing: a small, dry, eggshell voice from the other side of the door: a small dry voice through the keyhole. And when we stopped running we were outside our house; the front room was lovely; balloons floated under the hot-water-bottle-gulping gas; everything was good again and shone over the town.
"Perhaps it was a ghost," Jim said. "
Perhaps it was trolls," Dan said, who was always reading.
"Let's go in and see if there's any jelly left," Jack said. And we did that.
Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang "Cherry Ripe," and another uncle sang "Drake's Drum." It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird's Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.

A Seasonal Ditty for Welsh Pensioners

Christmas is coming,
The goose is getting fat.
Please put a penny in P. Hain's hat.
If you don't have a penny a ha'penny will do.
If you don't have a ha'penny then God help you.

A certain former Tory A.M. suggests that these
contributions had better be declared.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Successful Commemoration Despite the Weather

Around 100 people, mostly die-hard nationalists from as far afield as north Wales, Cardiff and the valleys of south Wales, attended the commemoration ceremony on the death of Prince Llywelyn in the year 1282. It was a very wet day and we stood in the rain sheltering under umbrellas after attending a memorial service in the ancient church and joining a procession along the road with the the flags of Cymru, Glyndwr and Dewi Sant flying in the wind and a band playing. Then we all had a good meal in the local pub and listened to musicians playing bagpipes,whistles, and mandolin.
We learned that Llywelyn the Last was not killed in a minor skirmish as we are led to believe but was treacherously murdered while on his way to parley with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the story does not cast the Church in a very good light. On hearing the news of Llywelyn's death his supporters gave up the fight and were rounded up. More than 4000 Welsh combatants had their hands bound behind their backs and their throats cut. They are now buried beneath the present football field.
King Edward I died exactly 700 years ago. Now that is something to celebrate! 700 years of struggle for Welsh independence and it is not over yet.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Dewch i Gyd - Come All to Cilmeri

Cefn y Bedd [Cilmeri - Cilmery] is a name which has great meaning for Welsh patriots. It is the place where Edward I’s conquest of Wales succeeded and Welsh spirit was broken. Yet in spite of that, and all the other crises that our nation has faced since 1282, in the 700th year of the death of Edward I [7th July 1307], our country again has the ability to restore the independence which was lost on that dark, winter’s day.

This year’s meetings: 10.30 Saturday 8th December and 10.00 Sunday 9th December.

For many who do more than just love Wales, Cilmeri is its most hallowed and saddest spot, for it is here, in a quiet meadow just outside the town of Builth Wells (Llanfair ym Muallt) that Welsh-born native prince Llewelyn the Last (Llewelyn ap Gruffudd) was slain. To understand the significance of Cilmeri, we must turn back in history to the Edwardian Conquest of Wales during the latter part of the l3th Century. The ambition of King Edward was to unite the whole of the island of Britain under his kingship, and this meant he had ultimately to conquer Wales and Scotland. Prince Llewelyn had somehow manage to form a unified Wales under his leadership, but faced formidable problems in holding together all the quarrelsome parts of his kingdom. This mean that Edward's task was much easier than perhaps expected, considering the early defeats that the Welsh armies inflicted upon the invading English, not used to fighting in mountainous terrain. There was much resistance to Llewelyn's authority among many of the minor Welsh princes (forever quarreling among themselves) as well as from the semi-independent lords of the Marches. It was therefore not too difficult for Edward's much larger armies to eventually wear away the forces of Llywelyn through attrition and to impose harsh restrictions upon the Welsh leader. At the Treaty of Aberconwy in l277, Llewelyn was forced to accept humiliating terms and to give up most of his recently acquired lands keeping only Gwynedd west of the Conwy River. Edward followed up his successes by building English strongholds around the perimeter of what remained of Llewelyn's possessions and strong, easily defended castles were erected at Flint, Rhuddlan, Aberystwyth, and Builth, garrisoned by large detachments of English immigrants and soldiers. Though Edward was now firmly in control of his Welsh territories, yet Prince Llewelyn was not yet finished. During a period of peace between the two leaders, his wedding to Elinor at Worcester was honored by the attendance of the English king. It was a period in which the Welsh leader bided his time and pondered his options. When the people of Wales, under his brother Dafydd, eventually rose in a massive revolt at the loss of control over their customs and their law and the restrictive and oppressive English rule, Llewelyn was the unanimous choice to lead their cause: "The gentlefolk of Wales, despoiled of their liberty and their rights, came to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and revealed to him with tears their grievous bondage to the English; and they made known to him that they preferred to be slain in war for their liberty than to suffer themselves to be unrighteously trampled upon by foreigners." (Brut y Tywysogion, l256). At first, Llywelyn's revolt was successful, the castles of Builth, Aberystwyth and Ruthin falling into his hands, and a large English force was utterly destroyed in the Menai Straights in Gwynedd. Edward was forcedto devote the whole of his kingdom's resources to deal with the "malicious, accursed" Welsh, yet it was a mere chance encounter in a meadow at Cilmeri that ended the Welsh dream. At Cilmeri, in the quiet green meadow on the road from Builth Wells to Llandovery, you will see a tall granite monolith. At first glance, It looks like one of the ancient standing stones erected thousands of years ago by our neolithic ancestors, yet a closer inspection reveals it to be a monument erected in l956 to the memory of Prince Llywelyn "our last ruler." (Ein Lliw Olaf). Llywelyn, separated from his army, found himself in a minor skirmish in which he was killed by an English knight unaware of the Welsh prince's identity. Upon discovery, Llewelyn's head was sent to London for display as that of a traitor. Edward's troubles with the rebellious Welsh, for all practical purposes were at an end. Henceforth, Wales was to live under an alien political system, playing a subordinate role as an integral part of the kingdom of England. A poignant ballad by modern Welsh songwriter and nationalist Dafydd Iwan expresses the grief of the Welsh nation at the loss of their beloved Llewelyn: "Collir Llywelyn, colli'r cyfan" (losing Llewelyn is losing everything). Cilmeri is indeed holy ground.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Another Nation with Wales in the European Union

I will not be in Wales over the Christmas and New Year holiday. I will be in Latvia which shares many similarities with Wales. I am not leaving for a week or so and will keep up the blogging in the meantime.
- Alan in Dyfed

Wales and Latvia

Wales and Latvia, lands of a similar size, history and tradition, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 12 May 2004, soon after Latvia joined the EU. The First Minister of Wales Rhodri Morgan and the Latvian Minister of Economy Juris Lujans signed it at the time of the President Vaira Vike-Freiberga’s visit to the UK. The agreement is based on four pillars - economic co-operation, education and culture, EU issues and political/governance matters.

Cooperation with Wales

On 13 May 2004, as part of the visit of the Latvian President to Wales, the then Minister of Economy, Juris Lujans, and Rhodri Morgan as First Minister for Wales signed a Latvia - Wales Memorandum of Understanding. Its goal was to review the existing areas of co-operation and to identify those for further co-operation. Latvia is the first EU member state, which has executed such a document with Wales. Coordination of implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding is carried out by the government of the National Assembly for Wales in conjunction with the Latvian Embassy in London. The Latvian Honorary Consul in Wales, Mr Andris Taurins, also makes a significant input.

Since execution of the Memorandum of Understanding co-operation has developed successfully; various projects have been implemented, including

* in July 2006, the Latvian Minister of Economy Aigars Stokenbergs visited Wales. Simultaneously, Latvian-Wales Business Forum took place.
* in August 2005, the Latvian Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks visited Wales;
* trade missions of the Welsh businessmen in Latvia in 2003 and 2005;
* traineeship of Indra Freiberga from the Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIDA) in the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) in April 2005;
* establishment of academic contacts between the University of Wales and the University of Latvia;
* joint project by the Latvian Academy of Culture and Glamorgan University Digital Cities and Other Stories;
* visit by representatives of the Wales Tourist Board to Latvia in July 2004 and participation in a conference organized by the Latvian Tourism Development Agency. Participation of representatives from the Latvian Tourism Development Agency in the Cardiff Holiday and travel show in February 2005;
* several seminars for sharing experience arranged by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) on management of EU Structural funds have taken place;
* a joint project by the National libraries of Latvia, Wales, Estonia and Finland is currently in the development phase;
* in 2005 a number of concerts by Latvian musicians took place in Wales;
* in October 2004, 11 representatives from Latvian local governments visited Wales. The Welsh Local Government Association is looking for local governments - co-operation partners in Latvia.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

A Bolt from the Blue

Another idea that came drifting by:

The secret of Happiness is not to find Happiness; it is to share your Happiness with someone else.

The Miseries of Cornwall, our Brythonic Neighbour

Over the last three centuries Cornwall has gone from being on the leading edge of the industrial revolution to being one of the poorest regions of Europe receiving objective one funding from the EU as a result. In the October 2001 Business Age Magazine Kevin Cahill, an author and investigative journalist for the Sunday Times, wrote the “The Killing of Cornwall”. He notes that the London Treasury extracts £1.95 billion in taxes out of Cornwall's GDP of £3.6 billion. The Treasury returns less than £1.65 billion, so there is a net loss to Cornwall of 300 million pounds, where the total earnings figure is 24% below the national average, is this some form of negative Barnet Formula? Low wages, unskilled Mac Jobs, poverty, social problems, and rocketing housing prices are the often hidden face of the optimistically named “English” Rivera. Coupled with this we have seen the centralisation of services, institutions and government (followed by the skilled jobs they entail) out of the Duchy much to the benefit of various undemocratic and faceless ‘South West of England’ quangos.

Due to a complex nexus of factors over recent years there has been an increase in Cornish ethno-regional awareness. In parallel to this development little respect has been shown by central government for Cornish territorial integrity or the Cornish identity, this is a phenomenon which sadly has a long historical precedent within the UK. Take for example the recent debate about the Union flag; not only are the Cornish excluded from the Union Jack but it is not so long ago that you needed planning permission to fly a Cornish St Pirans flag in Cornwall. Following government regulations one could have flown the flag of North Korea in the Duchy with no problems but not the Cornish flag.

Considering recent developments within the Duchy i.e. death threats sent to Cornish activists, the targeting of symbols of English identity for vandalism / protest and the creation of clandestine Cornish nationalist groups, I think it worthwhile posting the finding of a study on interethnic violence undertaken by M. Lim, R. Metzler, Y. Bar-Yam of the New England Complex Systems Institute.

Global Pattern Formation and Ethnic/Cultural Violence, Science 317, 5844 (2007):

Saturday, 1 December 2007

There's a Place for Them, Somewhere a Place for Them

I don't know where good ideas come from but one came drifting by and caught my imagination. That is, that the people in Wales, Welsh or otherwise, who consider themselves British Nationalists, Unionists, Union Flag-wavers and their supporters and hangers-on should be given a place where they may wave and salute their flag to their heart's content. This proposed British paradise and sanctuary is the Falkland Islands, and it could well be named "New Britain". Though rather barren, it has plenty of spare land which could be utilised for redevelopment where they could set up Military Academies for example, complete with flagpoles, as well as British Legion halls, Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs and even Masonic Halls, where they could organise rallies, garden parties, flower shows,marching bands, investiture ceremonies - the list is endless!
The British national anthem could be played through loudspeakers mounted at strategic locations around the island as well as in the cinemas once more. At noon a 21-gun salute could be fired to raise the moral of the inhabitants. Statues could be erected in commemoration of Lord Kitchener, Winston Churchill, Lord Beaverbrook, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Who knows, under the right guidance and jurisdiction it could become another "Singapore"?
Serious and thoughtful comments appreciated......

What is the Purpose of the Wales Office.............

..........except to interfere with the governance procedures of the Welsh Assembly?
........and to obstruct and delay the advance of devolution to ultimate independence?

The purpose of the Wales Office is to scrutinise the Legislative Competence Orders from the Welsh Assembly, and to funnel them through Westminster in order that approval may be given to the Assembly decisions which have already been agreed within Wales. Thus, all laws passed by the Assembly have to be given permission by Peter Hain and the Westminster government before they are granted and the policies delivered to the people of Wales.
All this is quite unnecessary, as the government is now conducted competently by the Welsh National Assembly. This was the intention of devolution in any case. There is no need for the Wales Office to interfere in the governing of Wales, and it is quite superfluous. By almost doubling the amount of funding it receives the Treasury is wasting taxpayers money, which could be better spent by providing services within Wales, particularly as money is tight, due to the excesses and mismanagement of resources during the ten years that Labour has been in office. In my opinion the Wales Office should be preparing the ground for a full Parliament for Wales. Otherwise it should be abolished and its funding used for the benefit of the Welsh people.

ADDENDUM : Peter Hain made "an administrative error" and another, and another and another - by failing to declare a number of donations to his bid for Deputy Leadership of the scrupulously transparent Labour Party.

See Today/Saturday's Western Mail - Readers' Letters