Saturday, 2nd January, 2010.

Home Thoughts From

     As I drove, I had to listen to BBC Radio
Four, from
London, on Long Wave.   With a bad
signal just the other side of Offa’s Dyke, even Radio Wales on AM failed
me.   And I heard a strange item.

     There are, according to the report, people
in Mother England who are quite happy to pay £2.50 for a loaf of bread.

     I’ll repeat that:  two-pounds-fifty for a loaf of bread!

     That’s because it’s “special bread” (by
which the English voices meant it was a status symbol).

     The same voices tried to justify the
expense by telling us that, though cheap bread bought by poorer families will
fill their children’s bellies, it is not as nutritious – nor as tasty – as the
two-and-a-half-quid stuff which they buy.   Ah – so that’s alright, then.

     We in Wales buy lots of “cheap bread”.   Our economy does not allow us the
choice.   I can just imagine those same,
middle-class English voices asking the Festive Season question:  “I wonder how the poor people spend Christmas
. . . ?”


Early Sales

     Well, most of the poor people went to the
Sales over the Christmas break.  
Retailers are reporting good results –
Cardiff has, apparently, had a bumper time.

     The main reason why so many people have
gone shopping is simple:  VAT goes back
to 17½% as from January.

     Of course, there is another reason which
has been taught to us:  buy things you do
not really need while you can get them cheap.

     One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to use
charity- and pound-shops as much as I can (no change in my lifestyle there,
then!), and to encourage other people to do the same.   Yes, I know that you can’t get everything
you need in such establishments, but you can pop in and find out if they can
supply your needs.


Message From On

     Rarely do I find a cleric who comes up
with words which appeal to me.  
Organised religion, it seems, has lost its way quite a bit (bishops
living in palaces when the Son of Man had no place to lay his head is an

     So how good it was that Barry Morgan,
Archbishop of Wales, gave such an interesting sermon on Christmas Day.

     The Archbishop does not like cosy and
sentimental versions of the Nativity, nor cuddly donkeys.   Such things, he told us, hide the true
nature of Jesus.

    That there is no Biblical reference to Mary
having to change her infant son’s nappies does not mean that she didn’t do
so.   And – despite the carol which
encourages us to believe the baby didn’t cry – I’ll bet poor old Joseph had a
few sleepless nights.

     I say that not to mock Christianity –
goodness knows, Christians themselves do a good job of that – but to point out
that we seem to have prettified the whole Nativity story into something akin to
a pretty fairy-tale.

     Thanks, Dr. Morgan, for bringing such
things to our attention.   Will you
continue to live in a posh palace, though?


Don’t Panic!

     The recent Wintry weather had effects all
over our country.   This post-Christmas
snow and ice seems to have caused more chaos than the one earlier this month.

     I heard that, in our bigger conurbations,
there was a sudden shopping surge.   The
one I mention here was not caused by the imminent – and iniquitous –
re-introduction of the higher rate of VAT.  
It was mainly men who created this rubbing of
hands by shopkeepers.

     It seems that, with icy roads which slowed
traffic on their way to work, they expected that the same – or worse – could
happen on their way home.   So they spent
their cash on things to put in their cars in case they were stranded in
inclement weather conditions.

     In fact, most of the money was spent on
chocolate, scarves and gloves, it seems.

     Now then, good people of Wales, is it not about time that we
stopped doing spur-of-the-moment spending to prepare ourselves for
emergencies?   In my car, I carry a pack
to help me deal with unforeseen events all the
year round
.   It doesn’t take up much
space, and it contains food (not all chocolate!) to last me a couple of days, a
very small gas-stove to make a brew, and a spare pair of socks and the like.

     Let us set the example to the rest of the
people living in these Isles and show ‘em that we in
Wales have made preparations – in our
homes as well as our cars – for things we are not expecting.   Should you need more info on how and why to
do this, contact

     Have a good 2010.

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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