Saturday, 12th September, 2009.

The Wonderful World
Of
Wales

     Last week, I revealed to the entire
Internet that I am struggling to learn Welsh.  
Straightway, I had a response from a new friend here in
Wales.  
That, good people, is how our nation is being built:  mutual help and neighbourliness.   I do not know where Gareth, who sent me the
following, lives except that it’s in our country.   But what does that matter?   We who love
Wales are here to help each other;  we are community.

     Gareth says:  You
described yourself in a recent post as a "struggling" Welsh
learner.  I’m sure you’re being modest here, but, if you haven’t yet come
across it, the site
saysomethinginwelsh.com offers 20 free downloadable Welsh lessons
using the Michel Thomas-type methodology (i.e. focus on teaching the key
structures of the language and making sure the learner has thoroughly grasped
each one before moving on, and looping back regularly to revise.  The idea
is you listed and repeat but do not strain to remember, do not have to write or
swot in any way).   I learnt Welsh myself 20 yrs ago the hard way,
but everyone says SSIW is very effective.  They have over 4000 people
signed up already
.”

     So there you are,
fellow learners (or, in my case, fellow strugglers) – join me and visit the
site Gareth recommends!   And let me know how you get on, for I shall
keep you appraised of my progress.

 

Who’s Helping Who?

     I meet, as I travel through Wales, many retired folk who are totally
dependent on the State Pension.   They
were once working-people, but were unable to make arrangements for private
pensions during their working lives.

      It is not easy for them to make ends
meet.   They are too poor to have what
the wealthy call “a life-style”!

     Now, their struggles have worsened due to
the unfairness of the capitalist system which, in their younger days, taught
them to put their trust in British banking.

     A friend of mine has just been told by the
Alliance & Leicester that he will be charged two quid a time each time
he takes some of his own money out of their vaults!   For years, he has had his meagre State
Pension put directly into the savings account he set up with the company.   He once believed the myth foisted on him
that one could trust British banks.

     The rotten news was broken to him not by a
formal letter, but as quietly as possible.  
Fortunately, he still has all his marbles and has, he tells me, worked
out a Cunning Plan.   (Details of that
Plan on request!)

     If Wales was not one of the many lap-dogs of
Mother England and our people could make their own laws, I’m pretty sure that –
with the long tradition in our communities of decency and caring – we could put
an end to this blatant immorality.   We
could tell any system – banking or otherwise – that, to trade in our land, they
must run a fair, decent and honest business.  
And there would be no small print in either Cymraeg or English to
ensnare the unwary.

     Meanwhile, let us continue to set Mother
England a good example.

 

Creating Ecological
Balance

     The Dyfi is one of our most lovely
rivers.   It glides through some mainly
unspoiled countryside.   Now, the
pleasures of that river have been enhanced.

     At Ynyslas, right on the Dyfi Estuary,
sand-lizards have been re-introduced.  
These creatures had all-but disappeared from
Wales.  
Recently, a batch of ‘em was released into the sand-dunes at Ynyslas,
that excellent stretch of beach at the South point of the estuary.

     As they’ve been released during the final
weeks of the holiday season, I wonder if they’ll pick up the speech-patterns of
the many visitors who enjoy that part of the world – our lizards could end up
chirping to each other in Brummie accents!

     Further, a friend of mine who lives up
that way told me that he and some of his (equally loony) pals are hoping to
reintroduce the kind of horse which used to live round there.   It was of a breed capable – as we know from
the famous story – of leaping from somewhere near Ynyslas, right across the
estuary and landing on a hillside above Aberdyfi with King Arthur on its
back.   The hoof-mark made on landing is
still there for all to see.

     My goodness, Geraint – Wales could breed a few Grand National
winners in future!

 

Beside The Seaside

     Plaid Cymru, in common with English
political parties, is holding its Conference in the pleasant town of
Llandudno.  
The party now boasts that many of its members are not Welsh-speaking,
by the way.   Playing the “inclusivity”
card, see?

     My spies tell me that, whilst having their
early morning paddle, Plaid’s members have started to run a book on which
speaker uses the word “
Independence” the least number of times.   Funny game, politics.

 

Damned By Faint
Praise?

     This morning – it being Saturday – I was
looking forward to my radio-alarm awakening me to Radio Wales’ “Girl Talk”, the
show which I plugged in this column recently.

     Alas, the voice which greeted my waking
ears was that of Mal Pope whose early morning music show had been extended by
half-an-hour.   Mal’s a great broadcaster
and entertainer.   But listeners were not
told the reason for the lack of “Girl Talk”.  
I hope it wasn’t because I praised the programme!

Archie Lowe

archie.lowe@laughingdragons.co.uk

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About Archie Lowe

Though not born in Wales, I have lived and worked here for many years now. I love the place and love that mercurial thing "Welshness". I have been accused of being "a Taffophile" - which is pretty near the truth. The question I ask whenever some idea comes up for the whole of the UK is: "What's in it for Wales". I believe in an independent Wales and am so pleased that our Assembly is a big step on that road.
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