Saturday, 31st October, 2009.

A Whiter Shade Of .
. . What?!

     David & Ann Blanchard own an hotel up
in Llandudno.   It’s a smart place, and
currently its

looks bright and cheerful.     A photo
sent to me shows it to resemble a nicely iced cake:  pink and white and interesting.

     But Those-Who-Know-What’s-Best-For-Us have
decided, in their wisdom, that those colours simply won’t do.   Conwy Council have ordered the Blanchards to
cover the pink bits with white paint.

     Of course, knowing the aesthetically great
taste of Councils all over
Wales, I am not surprised that
Jacks-in-Office have been appointed to judge what shade of white must be


     Yes, that’s what ratepayers are funding
them to do:  decide on the shade of white.   Surely these Council experts can only judge
the greynesses of life . . .


A Famous

     Cymraeg is not the easiest language to
learn.   The effort, though, is a
mind-stretching experience and should not be missed.   I have mentioned efforts in this column
before.   And, thanks to readers’ advice
and suggestions, my mastery (not quite the word!) has increased lately.

     There’s been a fair bit of information
this week about J.R.R. Tolkien who lectured in Medieval Welsh.   Apparently, some to the languages he used in
“The Lord of the Rings” were based – loosely – on Cymraeg.

     So make a note in your 2010 Diary that
there’s to be a “Festival Of The Shire” in Machynlleth next August.   Could be all sorts of odd folk turning up (I
may well be there, for instance) and it will be an opportunity to promote the
learning of what is, after all, our native language.


Funding And Our NHS

     It is a small hospital.   The area it serves is nearly totally
rural.   The nursing staff is dedicated
and caring.

     The wife of a friend of mine had to go
there for a “routine operation” this week.  
On the morning of the op, she and her husband had to get up at
6 a.m.  
That was so that they’d be ready to make the 7 o’clock call to ask if
there was a bed available, then – if the answer was “yes” – to drive the
half-hour journey and be there at 8 o’clock.

   The answer to the question “Is a bed
available?” was something like “We’re not sure yet, but come in anyway.”   So, being of a generation where punctuality
was a virtue, they arrived at the Ward a few minutes early.

     They were asked to sit in the
waiting-room.   They sat, and they sat,
and they sat.   For seven hours they
sat.   They sat on basic, bog-standard,
wooden-seated chairs.   The lady who was
to have the operation had been told to fast from the previous
Her husband managed to take a few strolls while his wife remained in the
waiting-room.   Neither of them are in
the first flush of youth, that’s for sure.

     During their wait, only one person came to
speak with them:  the cheery girl who
filled in the admission forms.

     Finally, just before three in the
afternoon, the Bed Manager came to them and said the operation would take place
shortly, and that a bed had been found for the lady to spend the night at the
hospital.   The understanding and smiling
Manager agreed that, due to lack of staff, being left to just sit without
anyone coming in and seeing if they were alright was not a good thing.

     Everyone to whom they spoke in the
hospital that day – patients and staff – agreed that, if
Westminster decided to start a war in a foreign
land, the money would be found right away.  
But to fund our NHS properly – cash for more facilities, cash for extra
staff – is not a political priority.

     Here endeth the lesson on that topic,
except to say that the operation was a success, and hospital staffs cannot
be blamed in the least for NHS inadequacies.

     And this very week, our dear Assembly
Health Minister, Edwina Hart, revealed that five million quid has been
allocated to upgrade the Welsh Ambulance Service.   A drop in the ocean, perhaps, but it’s a
welcome start.

Archie Lowe

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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