Saturday, 25th September, 2010.

Clearing Up The
Mess

     I hear that one of my favourite rivers is
to be cleaned up.   The Rheidol – short
though it is after beating the
Severn and the Wye to the sea – travels through
Ceredigion via some of the prettiest scenery in
Wales.  
And that’s saying something!

     Up there in Old Cardiganshire, the Cwm
Ystwyth lead mines produced much wealth in days gone by.   In those times, nobody really bothered too
much about “ecology”, that buzz-word now used by nearly every advertiser in the
world.   All those old miners wanted was
to earn a crust to feed themselves and their families;  all the mine-owners wanted was to make a
grand profit.

     Pollution from the mines has been going on
for a couple of centuries, and, even after the closure of the mines early in
the last century, pollution from lead has continued to flow into the Rheidol
and down to the sea.   It still kills
fish and other wildlife.

     So money is about to be spent on stopping
that pollution at source.   And, at last,
I have found something on which I do not mind Those-Who-Know-What’s-Best-For-Us
spending my money.

 

First, The Good
News

     A Morrison’s supermarket is one of the businesses
to open on a newly developed site up in Connah’s Quay.   Eleven other shops will open there, too.

     This will create much needed jobs in the
area – three hundred of them.   It will
bring hope to families in these difficult financial times.   And hope is a commodity which is much needed
in
Wales, a land used to the hardships of life over the
centuries.

     Maybe those hardships have produced the
stereotype of a Welshman being darkly brooding who, when the sun is shining,
will remark: “We shall suffer for this.”

     So let us be grateful for small mercies –
and build upon our hopes for the future.

 

Now, The Bad News

     “Earmarked for closure” is a buzz-phrase
beloved of the boss-class.   What they do
– as I’ve mentioned in this column before – is to undermine the confidence of
their workers in the continuity of jobs.   Then, many of the workers go off and take up
new jobs.   Then, the firm which is
closing does not have to pay so much out in redundancies.

     Down in the Neath Valley, TRW Automotive
has been “earmarked for closure”.  
Whatever the reasons given for this, it will affect the lives of its
two-hundred-and-twenty-five employees, their families and the local community.

     Ieuan Wyn Jones is quoted as saying the
closure will be “very disappointing”.  
Quite so . . . especially if
you’re one of those who is about to lose their job.

 

Send Out The News

     Meanwhile, back in Ceredigion, I noticed a
recent headline which told me that there are “plans for more Welsh on station”.

     Straightway, I thought Aberystwyth railway
platforms were to be populated by crowds of local born and bred folk.   But it turned out that Radio Ceredigion
(based in Pembrokeshire!) is simply to use more of the Welsh language in its
programmes.

     Originally, the station was set up by a
group of Nationalists to slow the demise of the language.   I have to say that its output in the initial
stages was pretty dire.   The ability to
speak Welsh was more important than talent which could be used on radio.

     Over the years, the output improved (it
had to!).   It has served as a training-ground
for young broadcasters to learn their trade and move on to greater things.   And there are some very talented
broadcasters on air these days.

    But the question is that, if its output of
Welsh language programmes increases, will not its listening figure go
down?   Perhaps those in charge have not
realised the extent of non-Welsh-speaking immigrants who have made their homes
in the county since the station’s beginning.

 

What’s Afoot?

     Amazing what you find when you start
heaving about with a shovel.   During the
National Trust’s restoration of a three-hundred-year old ruin up in Snowdonia,
ninety-eight shoes were dug up.

     That wasn’t forty-nine pairs
of shoes.   It was ninety-eight
individual shoes, left-foot or right-foot!

     Surely not the left-overs of a one-legged
man back in Victorian times?

     It’s said that shoes of dead people were
kept in times long past to ward off “the evil-eye”.   Perhaps that could be an explanation.

     But here’s your chance, dear reader,
to have a guess at another explanation – make your guess as eccentric as you
like:  I promise to publish the dafter
ones . . .

Archie Lowe

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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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