Saturday, 4th August, 2012.

Where Is Wales?

     As I wander about Wales, I get to know places – villages, hamlets, even individual farms – which are often overlooked by visitors.   I suppose my love of this country helps me to find out more about each part of it:  it’s way of life and the accents of local people, for instance.

Apart from my fairly new dog, Muff – an animal of doubtful pedigree and even more doubtful temperament – for company, the car-radio is my main companion.

Shocked I was, then, to hear a comedy-programme on the BBC which was set “in the shadow of the Long Mynd” and brimming with diverse Welsh accents.   It’s called “Four Joneses and a Jenkins” or some such and is produced in Y Gogledd (North Wales).

Now the Long Mynd is a prominent hill in Shropshire.   And Mynd is an Anglicisation of “Mynydd”, the Welsh word for the English “mountain”.   So, if the village those five people and their neighbours inhabit is in the shadow of that mountain, there’s a very good chance that they live to the East of Offa’s Dyke.

So why have they Welsh accents?   Even if they lived just over our Border in Powys, they’d surely have the local burr in their voices.   But no:  the Beeb in its wisdom use mainly South Walian voices with the occasional North Walian thrown in.

Does this mean that, when Wales achieves independent status, we can claim part of Shropshire – including the lovely Long Mynd – as our territory?   And do so with the full backing and propaganda-machine of the BBC?!

How Big Is Wales?

     A few decades ago, a friend of mine emigrated to our land from the English Midlands.   He and his wife had done their homework well over the years so, when they and their young family moved here, they knew what to expect in the rural part of Wales to which they’d come.

They knew that it was (and still is) a Welsh-speaking area.   They knew that their family would have to learn Welsh at the local village-school.   They understood a lot about the area’s past history.   And they quickly integrated into their chosen community.

That “homework” is something which many incomers never do.

After a couple of months in their new home, they went for a quick visit to relatives in the vast conurbation of the Midlands.   In the home of one of their relatives there was a friend of the family who was visiting at the same time.   She was a local Midland born and bred lady.

They mentioned that they had recently moved to Wales.

“Oh!” exclaimed the lady.   “My brother lives in Wales now.   D’you know him – he lives in Chapel Street?”

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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