Saturday, 4th July, 2015

Common Knowledge

     As I travel about this special land of ours, I hear lots of The People of Wales asking why, in the Wasteminster Parliament, are English MPs allowed to vote on matters concerning only other parts of the “United” Kingdom.

I ask that, too – and I ask it of many of my friends who live in England.   The answers are usually vague.

Plaid Cymru and other sensible organisations are pushing for reform which will give Welsh MPs the right to vote on only Welsh matters, Scots MPs to vote on only Scottish matters, Northern Irish MPs to vote on only Northern Irish matters, and English MPs to vote on only English matters.

Seems logical to me.   So why the hold up?   Have a think about the answer to that question:  you won’t have to think very hard.

 Bad News

     Sir Fon – Anglesey – Council has decided to simply cut the salaries of Teaching Assistants by anything up to 27%!

Yes, it takes some believing.   And the excuse is “to ensure that all staff are paid equally”.

OK, then – why not just up the wages of those who aren’t being paid enough?

So congratulations to the four-hundred or so people who protested at the Council’s offices this week.   Let us support their action and contact our Assembly Members about the Council’s silly idea.

Hot Stuff

     Yes, I know that heading is corny.   Yet this week has been hotter than hot.   In Ceredigion and Denbighshire, they had sweltering 26C (that’s about 79F in old money).

Certainly we have had, if I may use the phrase, unseasonable weather.   No-one I know can remember heat in Wales such as we’ve had over the last few days.

But it’s given many folk the opportunity to proclaim their Welshness by saying, bilingually, “Oooh, we shall suffer for this!”.

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Sunday, 28th June, 2015.





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Saturday, 20th June, 2015.

Wales-Wide Worry

     I had mobile-phone texts yesterday from various parts of Wales telling me not to send them anything online because BT’s broadband service wasn’t working in “their area”.

It seems that those who’d rung BT and complained about the breakdown weren’t told how widespread the breakdown was.   Someone in the Indian sub-continent just said that the problem was “in your area”.   It was not made clear – for the operator would not know – that the area concerned was the whole of our land.

They all seemed to think that it was confined to just their town, village or hillside.

And what of the areas of Wales where there is no mobile-phone signal?   There are certainly lots of those!

The problem lasted for best part of twenty-four hours.   And that makes me wonder how many of our businesses – especially the smaller ones – were affected adversely.

I wonder, too, if there is any way in which those businesses can claim compensation from BT.

May I publish the phone-number which should be used if BT broadband disappears again (from anywhere!)?   It’s 0800 032 7935.

Active Concern

     There are many excellent charity help-lines.   The Samaritans is one which I admire most, I think.

Not that I’ve ever phoned them.   I believe, though, that the volunteers who care enough to help people to talk to what is, after all, a complete stranger about their worries and feelings are special people.   When one is down in the depths of depression, it’s good to have a kind, non-judgemental listening ear.

The organisation has told us that the suicide rate for Welsh men has risen greatly.   The Samaritans are going to present their ideas which will reduce suicide rates to our Assembly Government.   And Mark Drakesford, our Assembly’s Health Minister, is right behind the presentation.

Mental health, like physical health, is nothing to be ashamed of.   Our communities must understand that fact.

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls . . .

     . . . ‘cos it’s not for hotel guests.

At least that’s what Abdul Mahfouz says about the bells of Llangollen.  He’s the boss at the town’s Royal Hotel, and claims that the nightly chimes of those bells keep his customers awake.

And he wants the disturbing noise to be turned off overnight.

The opposition to Abdul’s idea say that the bells have tolled for upwards of a hundred years and are part of the town’s history.

Both arguments have a ring of truth.   We shall see what happens, but I for one will lose no sleep over the outcome.

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Saturday, 13th June, 2015.

Few Are Chosen . . .

     We have a lot of talented people in Wales.   Some are well-known and often professional people, most are members of the community who “donate” their talents to helping their neighbours.

So it’s inevitable, I suppose, that several of our people have received recognition in the English Queen’s Birthday Honours List.   Welsh folk have been given knighthoods and “lesser” awards.

But that poses the obvious question:  why does one get a knighthood for seemingly doing what they do best and exercising their talents that way, while others behave in exactly the same way and get those “lesser” awards?

I do not mean to belittle the achievements of any of those people on the current Honours List.

Indeed, I wonder how people can be made Members of a now-non-existent British Empire and others become part of the Order of that defunct organisation.

As we have our own perfectly capable government now, would it not be a good idea to have our own, Welsh Honours List?   Perhaps there should be only two categories, too:  say, the Order of the Red Dragon and the Order of the Red Kite.   One Order could be for one sort of work, the other Order for another sort of work.   Simply – and non-divisive.

We could even have suggestions from the People of Wales regarding who should receive what.   That way, we could protect democracy, too.

And I do not write this with any feeling of sour grapes!

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Saturday, 6th June, 2015.


Our First Minister Speaks Out

     So we’d all better listen!

Carwyn Jones believes, as most to the thinking people in our land, that Wales should be given the kind of treatment as Scotland when it comes to making our own decisions.   There are two utterances of his which I’ve noticed this week.

First, I heard that he wants our Welsh Assembly Government to have the power to control our Income Tax.   That’s setting the rates and using the money collected on projects which Wales needs.   I wonder what our controllers in Wasteminster, London, will make of that idea.   Perhaps, as it so often seems, they feel that The People of Wales are less able to run their own affairs than the Scots.

If so, that is a foul slur on our nation.

The second bit of news I heard is that our First Minister wants to encourage people who live in Wales to learn the language of this country.

To that end, there are going to be centres to encourage learners right across our land.   There will be a one-and-a-half million pound grant to produce such centres.   I haven’t learned yet from whence that grant will be coming.

But, used in this way, it will show that our Assembly Government has its finger on one pulse at least.   There are still visitors to Wales – and, indeed, people from over our Eastern border who have made their homes here – who do not believe that we have our own language!   (I write that as a Welsh-learner myself.)

The more we promote our pride in the language and other things Welsh, the stronger our case for more self-government becomes.

If You Keep A Dog . . .

     . . . it is your responsibility to learn about its nature.   Because it feels – if you’re looking after it properly – that it is part of your family, your pack.

I mention this having heard of an attack by a dog which seems to have been running loose near St. Asaph causing devastating damage to local sheep.   The sheep, naturally, ran from the dog’s attack, dived into the river – where twelve lambs drowned.

That is a sad thing – but think of the farmer who was rearing those lambs.   Part of his income has gone.   And gone because a “dog owner” was being irresponsible.

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Saturday, 30th May, 2015.

More NHS News

     No, I’m not going to go on about the Wasteminster government in London planning to sell off our NHS to profit-making businesses.

But I must comment on what’s been happening at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.   In case you haven’t encountered that new name before, Betsi Cadwaladr Uni is up in Bangor.

It is being said that the Health Board is almost unmanageable.

There are terrible reports about the way patients seem to have been treated in the hospital’s Mental Health unit.   Allegedly, they have been treated like animals.

Now this is in our Welsh NHS.   I know from my own experience that we have some lovely, caring people working at “the sharp end” of that Service:  doctors and nursing staff.

So what we should be asking is “How did this situation occur?”

With so many kind people working in the Welsh NHS, surely one of them must have reported what was happening long ago.   Or was that report hushed up by those with vested interests?

A Town Of Cultural Value

     I’m often surprised on my visits to Hay-on-Wye that the little town is such a popular venue for all sorts of cultural events, many of which are internationally acclaimed.

Hay Festival is in full swing at the moment, and the town is seeming with visitors.   How about that for putting Wales on the map?!

And the Festival was once described by a President of the United States, no less, as “The Woodstock of the mind”.   I don’t know about that, and feel that little old Wales has a treasure in Hay-on-Wye greater than Woodstock and many other events!

A Celtic Controversy

     It’s not decided yet to allow Swansea Bay to have a tidal lagoon.

To create such a thing means that stone will have to be imported from our Celtic neighbour, Cernow – or, as the locals spell it “Kernow” – or as the English call it “Cornwall”.   And the Cornish people who care about their nation are against the idea.

That’s because a quarry near St. Keverne will have to be reopened to obtain the stone.   And that, in turn, will damage marine life.

Of course, the carrot of “job creation” is already being dangled in front of the Cornish.   If the quarry is opened, forty jobs will be up for grabs.   There’s no mention of how long those jobs will last.

So the question must be asked:  “Why does Swansea Bay need a tidal lagoon?”

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Saturday, 23rd May, 2015.

How National?

          The NHS is under fire.   Looks like the newly-elected Wasteminster government is going to “privatize” the Service.   In simple terms, that means it’ll be sold off to profit-making businesses whose only aim is to make money out of it.

Even here in Wales, we must be wary.   Indeed, we must work towards making the Welsh NHS – which belongs to the People of Wales – even better than it already is in our land.

Fair play, those who work at the sharp-end of the Service and deal with the patients at first-hand do an excellent job.   Even so, there is room for improvement.

My comments are brought about by hearing tales of how patients have to travel many miles to hospitals simply because the facilities they need are not available to them locally.

And instance is about to happen in the next few days.   A lady living in rural Ceredigion, slap-dab in the heart of Wales and not far from Aberystwyth, is about to have to travel over a hundred miles to Newport, Gwent for outpatient treatment.   Her treatment will be in two parts:  one at 8:30 a.m., the other at 4:30 pm.

I trust our NHS will provide something other than thumb-twiddling to help her pass the waiting time between those short sessions.

That is not the only case of such long-distance travelling for treatment.   To solve the problem, we should be nudging our Welsh Government to expand our NHS services so that every area can have local treatment centres.

The Politeness Of Welsh Speakers

          A friend has complained – again – about finding it difficult to learn to speak “street-Welsh” properly.   He arrived here from England a few years back and, wanting to integrate into his local community, he chose to learn Cymraeg.

People in his neighbourhood know that he is a learner and, when he’s away from home, those Welsh-speakers who hear him can detect his English-accent even when he uses Welsh.

So his neighbours and almost every Welsh-speaker he meets switch to English so that he won’t feel marginalised or something.   That’s due, in the main, to politeness.

But he always greets those he meets in Welsh.   So folk must know that he’s a learner – or, as he calls it, a tryer.

So, my Welsh-speaking friends, as a learner myself I would ask you to help me and others to become fluent by simply (and slowly) speaking to us in The Language of Heaven.


How COULD This Happen?!

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