Thursday, 4 February 2010

The Crachach - Does Wales Need Them?

So just who are 'the crachach'?

By Carolyn Hitt 
Journalist and broadcaster
Coastal path in north Pembrokeshire
The Crachach: Weekend retreats in Pembrokeshire...
They are the elite who look after one another - the powerful, great and good of Wales. Somehow the Senedd opening just would not be the same without their presence - the crachach.So with tongue firmly embedded in cheek, social commentator Carolyn Hitt ponders the status of crachach in today's Wales.

So what does it mean to be crachach in modern Wales?
In an outrageous slur on my character, I was once accused of being valleys crachach because I grew up in a house with bay windows and my parents had a three- piece suite from Leekes.
But Rhondda was never a hotbed of crachach society.
The term used to denote local gentry but 21st century crachach is the Taffia, the largely Welsh-speaking elite who dominate the arts, culture and media of Wales and to a lesser extent its political life.
Rhodri Morgan reckons there's no place for stuck-up sorts down the Bay. "Cynulliad y werin, nid Cynulliad y crachach," as he once famously declared - "An assembly of the people, not an assembly of the establishment".

If in desperate need, they can usually be spotted here...

But the crachach just think most assembly members are a bit thick. See the recent Arts Council of Wales rumpus for details.
You don't necessarily have to be rich to be crachach, a direct bloodline to writer Saunders Lewis will do nicely.
Their natural habitat can range from the Gorsedd of the Eisteddfod to a Welsh National Opera opening night. They have their names inscribed on chairs in the Wales Millennium Centre and take over Tier One of St David's Hall.
They are never short of a committee to chair nor an international rugby ticket complete with canapés at half-time.

 If the crachach had a coat of arms, the motto would be that old chestnut: 'It's who you know not what you know and make sure you're belonging to someone on the committee' 

The Vale, Pontcanna and Whitchurch are crachach property hotspots while barn conversions in Llandeilo and cottages in Newport, Pembrokeshire, provide weekend retreats.
Supremely confident in all social situations, you can spot them by their habit of looking over your left shoulder as they scan the room for someone more important than you to talk to.
While they may be vicious about each other in private they rarely fall out publicly unless they are fighting for position in the queue for the latest Kyffin Williams exhibition.

Older crachach can be fiercely Welsh nationalist yet not averse to receiving gongs from the Queen. Younger arty crachach will always get their projects funded, however rubbish they may be.
Media crachach are perhaps the most obnoxious members of the species, especially when misbehaving at the crachach bacchanalian extravaganza that is the Bafta Cymru Awards.
Crachach society is not a meritocracy. If the crachach had a coat of arms, the motto would be that old chestnut: 'It's who you know not what you know and make sure you're belonging to someone on the committee', albeit written in medieval Welsh in cynghanedd metre.


I'm one of them!


Anonymous said...

the people who run Wales are not Welsh and rarely Welsh-speaking. They're usually English - maybe Caroline would like to make an FOI and ask how many of the higher echelons of civil service and quangos were raised in Wales? Not many. But hey, that'd be racists and dangerous.

Why pick on the Eisteddfod - what there are 100,000 crachach in Welsh-speaking Wales?! Why not Hay Festival? Why not Labour's £1,000 dinner with Pickering and co?

Media types ... well, they're not popular in Welsh-speaking society either. You could sort the problem out by not having any Welsh language media - that'd get rid of the media crachach ... and modern Welsh culture? Look, it's worked very well for the Bretons, they're language is thriving because they have no crachach!

Welsh-speakers = the voluable minorty. Bit like picking on Jews.

James D said...

Yes, the crachach are good for Wales. At least they're not Englishmen who have been parachuted in by the government. At least they have some appreciation of our language, history, and culture (and yes, that does include the National Eisteddfod). Wales needs leadership and enterprise, not self-hatred and more of the inward investment disaster.

Or maybe I am crachach just for saying that...

Anonymous said...

getting rid of the 'crachach' is Labour's policy (Caroline's a Labour luvvie) way of undermining Welsh language culture.

If crachach is anyone in any position of responsibility, you 'need' the crachach to run any state. Unless of course you have some kind of wishful anarchy ... or you get another state (and set of crachachs) to run your country.

One way of getting rid of the Welsh 'crachach' would be to get rid of any semblence of Welsh identity or language - then you'd have no crachach ... and a much-weakened Welsh culture in Welsh and English. This, of course, may be Labour strategy or Caroline's wish.

But you'd still need someone to run the country. Better have it done by Westminster and no Welsh bodies at all eh?

Who the hell is crachach in Wales? Was the late Hywel Teifi one (spoke Welsh, academic, father or Huw Edwards?) ... spend decades giving lectures, free of charge in dank village halls, before any one thought of works like 'community inclusiveness' or communities first or other such nonsense.

Crachach at the Eisteddfod? What's Caroline trying to say, that, what she'd prefere that the people who run Wales, and especially Welsh-speaking Wales, don't turn up to the Eisteddfod and just spend a week sunning themselves in France? About 125,000 people visit the Eisteddfod every year - are all of them crachach, is it not a sign of a healthy society that the 'crachach' interact with the people who visit the eiteddfod? Where you can actually have a cup of tea next to the First Minister or Presiding Office - and yes I have. Would that happen in London? What the hell is Hitt trying to say?

Rugby - Caroline's obsession ('cos it's not a political Welshness) is more crachach than the Eisteddfod. Tickets for Wales's international matches - the cheapest are about £40. That'd pay for two adults and two kids to visit the Eisteddfod for whole day!

But, unlike Caroline, I'm glad to see the 'crachach' of Wales go to the Eisteddfod and rugby match. If some want to go to an executive suite, then fine. Yes, there are 'crachach' at the Eisteddfod, but you can't think yourself too high above the hoi-poloi when you're wearing wellingtons and queuing in the same bog! If that's our 'crachach' then hurray for Welsh society, it's more democratic than France, America etc. That doesn't happen with the British crachach which Caroline seems very happy with, or is voting for a party which is happy to keep the British state.

As I said, there's a simple way to get rid of the crachach - get rid of any Welsh culture and Welsh civic society. That's what Caroline and other Labour apologists want it seems.

alanindyfed said...

Interesting comments and a very valid point of view.

The word to use is "solidarity"-
all sections of society coming together for the good of Cymru.

Like Lech Walenska in Poland exhorting the people before the collapse.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the vast majority of the Welsh I know are crachach. They are better than anyone else because they are Welsh. If they are from Pen Llyn, so much the better, they are even more superior. They go to university and study Welsh because they are Welsh, not because they have an interest in the Welsh literature or language. They rely on their superior instincts when it comes to grammar. Granny Welsh says it, so it must be correct. They don't care if it actually is correct, why, or why not. They despise Welsh authors who didn't or don't speak or write in Welsh. Dylan Thomas? Forget the wanker, he took the mickey out of the Welsh. S. Dafydd? Can't write, but prizes don't depend on that; it is important that said writing is in Welsh not English. They get jobs not because they are good at what they do but because they know the right people and because they speak Welsh and make a hoo-ha about it. Being a member of the right family is imperative. If you are in any way related to Gwynfor Evans (your granny's cat mated with his neighbour's cat once), you will be sainted. They are members of the Cymdeithas yr Iaith. They don't bother speaking Welsh to people who learn Welsh. In fact, they resent other people (English, Polish or anything else) learning Welsh. But if you graffiti a shop, glass a non-Welsh speaker, or go to prison in the name of the Welsh language, you will be venerated for years to come.

God help Wales, the way things are and the way the Crachach ru(i)n it.