Saturday, 19th April, 2014.

Out Of Copyright?!

     I heard a startling – and disturbing – item on radio as I went about my business this week.

There was a great tradition here in Wales of quilt-making.   We used our home-grown wool, our own patterns and our own styles.   It was a cottage-industry and, in centuries past, brought in a little money to keep families going in those difficult times.

Alas, soon after the start of the Second World War, the production of Welsh quilts faded away.   Perhaps a few dedicated makers kept going for a while, but you’d be hard to find a Welsh quilt-maker these days.

But the tradition did not die.   The making of “Traditional Welsh quilts” has become a production-industry in – of all places! – Ethiopia.   And the people making them use the age-old techniques and patterns.

Now then, Wales:  we are not in happy financial times these days.   We have no major industries in our land.   Jobs are hard to find.

So just imagine what an upsurge in quilt-making could do for Wales and its people.   We could sell ‘em, at good prices, in all sorts of places and to all sorts of people.   “Here on holiday, is it?   Well, why don’t you take home a real souvenir of your visit, and something to be proud of?   A genuine Welsh quilt made right here in Cymru Cymraeg!”

And, these days, we could copyright our designs and methods of manufacture, thus ensuring higher values to these lovely creations!

Where Am I?

     As I wander about our land, listening to my car-radio, I often hear a weather forecast broadcast from London.   Such forecasts lump a lot of the British Isles together and tell us what weather that lump can expect.

But statements such as “North Wales will be wet, but it will be brighter in the South” tell me nothing.

For where does North Wales end and South Wales begin – or vice versa?

That strange long-distance walker, George Borrow, had the same difficulty.   Whilst doing his long-distance walk in 1854, he had to ask someone how far he had to slog to get into South Wales.   He was told that he was already there, because he had crossed the Dyfi.

Is the Dyfi still considered the marker-line between North and South Wales?   Or is it at some point where the Welsh language is no longer spoken from the back of the throat and has a softer sound?

I await a reply from some academic in one of our universities – either in North or South Wales . . .

Wales On The Air

    I was delighted to hear a Welsh voice on Radio 4 UK last evening.   And moreso because Elis James was the speaker – and a very comical man he is!

This was on ‘The Now Show’, and Elis’ act let people know just what it’s like to be Welsh and to live in our land.

Please try to hear the repeat today – Saturday – at about 12:25 p.m. on the station, or you can Listen Again online.   You will really enjoy his act and feel even prouder to be Welsh (even if you haven’t a drop of Welshness in you!).

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Saturday, 12th April, 2014.

Quotable Quotes

     Who said that Offa’s Dyke “has become the line between life and death”?

Sounds like some Prophet of Doom, doesn’t it?   Maybe it was.   For that was said, among other things, by David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the “United” Kingdom when speaking at the Welsh Tory conference up in Llangollen.

He was banging on about the state of the NHS in Wales.   “One in seven people in Wales is on an NHS waiting-list,” he claimed.   He blames, not unexpectedly, the Welsh Labour Party.

Addressing Tories and saying such things is bound to receive applause.   But we who are non-Tories see that Cameron’s lot haven’t exactly gained a reputation for helping the people of Wales!

Indeed, we must wonder if anyone in Wasteminster – other than MPs from our land – knows anything at all about Wales.

Certainly many moons ago when Tory John Redwood was Wasteminster’s Minister for Wales, he did an interesting Welsh radio interview in which his ignorance of Wales and its people glowed clearly!   And Mother England’s imperialistic views on our land have not changed since.

But There’s Hope!

     Freedom from a ruling power has never been give freely.   It usually has to be taken by those who want that freedom.

So it was heartening to hear that our Welsh government down in Cardiff Bay is going to start calling itself “The Welsh Parliament”!   And that’s without going cap-in-hand to Wasteminster or, I suppose, Lizzie Windsor.

Scotland has its Parliament, and the Isle of Man has had a Parliament for centuries.   Now Wales wants – and shall get – the same status.   And with that status must come the right to have our own affairs run by people who live in our land and understand their neighbours’ needs.

More Attempted Erosion

     The Citizens Advice Bureau is something we take for granted.   Most of us don’t use its facilities, but those who do are very grateful for its help on a wide range of matters.

I understand that it is mainly the less wealthy among our people who use it the most.   That’s as it should be, I reckon.

Now Aberystwyth’s CAB is under threat – because funding is being withdrawn.   And that Bureau has a very wide and diverse catchment area.

Let us hope that the petition to keep it open is successful, and that – wherever we live in Wales – we keep an eye on our own, local CAB.

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Saturday, 5th April, 2014.

Changes In High Places?

     A Minister in the Wasteminster government has been accused of not being very helpful in an investigation into her expense claims.   It must be pointed out, though, that she did spend half-a-minute apologising to “The House” for her apparent unhelpfulness.

There are cries from various quarters that Mr. Cameron should drop her from his Cabinet (I shall make no pun there).   And it’s been suggested from similar quarters that she been sent to work in The Welsh Office.

So I wonder if it’s a case of Wasteminster’s cast-offs being dumped on Wales because Wales, to the people in Mother England’s capital, doesn’t really matter?

On My Travels . . .

     . . . I had cause to travel through the more-or-less centre of our land recently.   And I found a technical hitch in one of our central towns.

I think you should be advised, in case you ever need to drive that way, that Newtown, Powys, has one main road running through it from end to end.   And that, in that short distance, there are six sets of traffic-lights!

I came to the town at about three-thirty in the afternoon.   And the traffic was horrendous!   Long, long tailbacks were being caused by those wretched lights, some of which are pedestrian-controlled.

Now then, Newtown is a neat little place.   The people there are as friendly as anywhere in Wales.   But visitors heading towards our West coast will certainly be irritated by hold-ups like I experienced.   That irritation may even cause some of them never to return to Wales.

We – our nation – cannot have such silly hold-ups on our roads.   Especially in the hole-diggery season (there were many temporary traffic-lights all over Mid-Wales when I was driving there).

So come on, Newtown – get your traffic problem sorted!   It’s gone on for far too many years.

Wales Leads The Way (Perhaps)

     I am a born-again non-smoker.   I broke myself of the habit many years ago, but I know what an addictive thing tobacco is.

I know several people who are trying to give up.   And many of them are using e-ciggies.

Now, our Assembly Government are proposing to ban e-cigs in public places.   Apparently, the sight of them being used will encourage younger folk to take up smoking tobacco.

Personally – and I might be wrong – I reckon young people are generally bright enough to take heed of the anti-smoking facts which are publicised generally.   So I don’t know what the fuss is about – can someone please tell me?

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Saturday, 29th March, 2014.

A Pleasant Surprise

     I listened to Ollie Hydes phone-in show on Radio Wales yesterday.   It was the first time I’d heard it and I found it really interesting (though Ollie still needs to do more listening than talking – sorry, Ol).

The people ringing in had a variety of views.   It was good to hear what the People of Wales think – well, some of those People.   Alas, most people in our land are conditioned to listen to radio stations which churn out endless “popular” music.   Another opiate of the masses?

Anyway, the man who first hooked me on Radio Wales called in (or did Ollie ring him?).   And it was so good to hear Chris Stuart’s voice on air again.   For me, Chris became the radio-voice of Wales a few years back.   And he never spoke to his audiences in a patronising way.

Thanks, Chris.

School Report

     Three inspections have been made by Estyn – the body which keeps an eye on education in Wales – to see is Cardiff schools are keeping standards of education high.

They are not.

The inspectors claim that our capital’s education services need “significant improvement”.   Our capital city, then, is not showing a lead in its education of our youngsters.

Cardiff Council, of course, says that it has a cunning plan to sort things out.   The question must be, though, why did the school-system get into its present state in the first place.

If the Council is responsible for the standards, they I suggest its members be given a hundred lines each – “I must value education higher” – and, if they don’t do something quickly, they must be given detentions until they do.

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Saturday, 22nd March, 2014.

A Dangerous Place Saved!

     There used to be a question which was often asked:  “What is the most dangerous place in any town?”   The answer was:  “The free public-library.”

You will not need me to tell you that its danger came from the fact that ideas were stored there and everyone had access to them.   And some of those ideas did not and do not fit in with what we are taught to believe in our schools and by the media.

So it’s great to hear that, in the little town of Newquay on Cardigan Bay, volunteers have stepped in to take over the town’s library after it was threatened with closure.   Its place would have been taken by a mobile library service, a system which works well in many of our Welsh rural areas.

But there’s nothing like sitting down, surrounded by books on all subjects, and having a good old browse.

“Love Does Not End At The Grave”

     A bunch of tulips and a love-letter were left at a bus-shelter in Neath.   Nobody seems to know who left them there, but the note with them says everything:-

Joan and I met right here in this shelter 2-3 weeks before Xmas 1950.   We married two years after.

Joan, my beloved, passed away on 9-3-2013 and broke my heart for ever!

Rest in peace my darling.   I’ll see you soon, I’ll be 87 soon so I will not be long . . . God Bless.”

And I’ll leave it at that this week and let you ponder.

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Saturday, 15th March, 2014.

Getting The Job Done

     I was in Aberystwyth just after the terrible storms had ripped its sea-front to pieces.   It was – as most of my readers will know – a complete mess.

Now, Ceredigion Council has got on with it and the whole prom will be fixed before the visitors come to the town at Easter.   No-one is a bigger critic of Councils and Governments than I, but I praise the work Ceredigion is doing to put things right.

It is not a cheap job, either.   So far, half-a-million pounds have been spent on the work, and there’ll need to be more spent to complete the job.   Who said Cardis are tight-fisted.

(If you don’t know the reputation of the people of Old Cardiganshire, it is said that a Cardi can buy from a Jew and sell to a Scotsman at a profit!)

It must be pointed out that, with the wonderful almost-Summery weather we’ve been having, that stretch of Cardigan Bay has been well-served by visitors.   They came – and still come – not to view the debris left by the storms, but to enjoy a lovely part of Wales.

And that bit of the coast near Borth, just north of Aberystwyth, where the storms revealed more of the local and ancient petrified forest has become another tourist attraction.

It’s an ill wind . . .

On The Move . . .

     . . . but which way?

S4C, our Welsh-language television station, is about to relocate its HQ, probably to Carmarthen.   It’s been based in Cardiff for thirty and more years.   So one must ask the question “Why move?”

Rumour has it that the station needs to go easy on its spending, and Carmarthen would work out cheaper than our capital.   That rumour goes on to say that the financial situation of S4C is not an easy one, and that may be due to dropping viewing-figures.

There has been a struggle for decades now, a century perhaps, to protect and promote the Welsh language.   It was felt that, when S4C was launched, there was a need – and an audience – for programmes in Cymraeg.

So why are there fewer viewers?

Could it be that fewer born-and-bred Welsh people are bothered about protecting their language, their heritage?

Certainly, I hear less Welsh spoken in towns and villages in parts of Wales which used to be strongholds of the ancient tongue.   That is due, to a very great degree, to the growing numbers of immigrants to our land.

As an incomer myself, I chose to move here because Wales had – and has – the kind of community which appealed to me.   I am not yet fluent in the old language, but I am a keen learner.

And I know from personal experience that many of the immigrants from our Eastern neighbour a surprised to find that a language other than English is spoke here.   Clearly, they have not done their homework.

We have to ask ourselves what can be done to reverse the trend – and get and do it!

A Well-Deserved Award

     Katherine Jenkins has a lovely voice.   And such a genuine sunny smile.   So congratulations to her for being awarded an OBE.

She received the award for her service to charity-work as well as he service to music.   “Handsome is as handsome does” is an appropriate quote.

And Katherine entertained the troops serving in Afghanistan last year, too.

This is no time for me to comment on the fact that, as there is no longer a British Empire, the Order of it is a bit vague.   This is a time for me to give praise where praise is due.   And it’s due to that Welsh girl from Neath.

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Saturday, 8th March, 2014.

The Future Of Wales

     I can do no better this week than to report on and express my feelings about the words of Leanne Wood, the Leader of Plaid Cymru.

Speaking at the Party’s Spring Conference in Cardiff, she claimed that Plaid is the only party which can really have influence for Welsh matters in the European Union.   That’s pretty obvious to even the casual observer of Welsh politics.   Plaid Cymru is based in Wales, its candidates – in local, national and EU elections – live and work in Wales, and whichever member of the party is elected, she or he will have Wales at heart.

Ms. Wood herself loves the land and, I believe, is a keen learner of Cymraeg.

She advised that voting for UKip would be a vote against Wales.

Of course it would – as would voting for any party other than Plaid.   Those parties have their roots firmly in Mother England – so why would those who lead those parties be over-bothered about this special land of Wales?

She urges us, the voters of Wales, to make our voices heard and make those voices count.

So there you have it:  if you live in Wales, vote for Wales.   And Plaid Cymru is the Party of Wales.

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