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Some facts about Welsh independence, posted by Yantorbo Rob on Youtube.

Three articles also make the economic case for Welsh independence. One, by former Member of Parliament, Adam Price, in Huffington Post, explores the greater flexibility that smaller economies have over large, and a second, by Adam Price in Wales Online, suggests how an independent Wales can address its budget deficit; the third, by Gwynfor Evans, and recently republished by Bella Gwalia, argues that an independent Wales would adapt its economy to serve the needs of its people, and studies the objections that prevent that case from being made.

Meanwhile, an article by John Dixon politely destroys the false dichotomy set by Carwyn Jones between the head and the heart, while warning us that Welsh democracy cannot be safeguarded within the British state; Adam Price reminds us of Wales’s status as an English colony; an article for the London School of Economics comments on the recent growth of the independence movement, an article in Nation.Cymru argues that Plaid Cymru can only compete for votes or serve Wales if it pursues independence as a matter of urgency, and another reports on a YouGov poll that puts support for independence at over 25%.



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Click to read a short story for July: ‘A Lifting Up for Those Who Mourn,’ a story first published in Tears in the Fence, set on an island of Wales at the time of World War Two. Published in For His Warriors: Thirty Stories.



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The last few chapters of Hannah Arendt’s book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, yield ideas of value to us in Wales. First, Arendt emphasises the relationship between civil liberty and the nation state, such that the emergent Republic of France proclaimed the Rights of Man and gave equal status to its Jewish population, because the nation state bases its authority on its right to treat all citizens as equals, regardless of ethnicity or creed. Hence, nationalism is by nature civic nationalism, and to apply the term ‘nationalism’ to the racist and imperialist movements of the last century is either to misunderstand the phenomenon, or to abuse the word.

But while the nation state, says Arendt, treats all its citizens alike, it also seeks the uniformity of a single national language and culture, and cannot tolerate indigenous minorities within its borders: it seeks to destroy the Slovenes in Hungary, the Germans in Romania, either through assimilation, or through genocide. Unconsciously, Arendt echoes the language of Matthew Arnold, supporting the decision of the UK parliament deliberately and utterly to annihilate Welsh culture as a means of destroying the will of the Welsh people to rule themselves, and to better themselves — the unhappy effects of which we still suffer in our divided and uneasy country. Hence, to speak, as Rhodri Morgan spoke, of Wales as a nation and of Britain as a nation, of being both Welsh and British with disadvantage to neither, to imagine a future for Wales in Britain which is more than a cultural, social and economic slow suicide, would be, in Arendt’s view, a terrible political mistake: Wales’s act of national stupidity — Wales’s Brexit.



Brexit is not solely a product of economic or legal concerns, and is not solely concerned with the UK’s relationship with the EU or its partners. It is deeply, at least in part, a product of the desire to remake the UK, not as a union of partner nations, but as a nation in its own right, with only one parliament, in England, and with only one language, English. The desire to extirpate the Celtic countries, to sterilise them of their cultures, is deeply rooted, and Brexit is merely its latest manifestation. Hence, attempts by many Remainers to explain that Brexit will provoke in Ireland the renewal of conflict between Anglicising unionists and Celtic republicans, or will spur Scottish or even Welsh separatism, will be ignored, because this is precisely what Brexiteers actually want. They are not willing to share the European Union with the Germans, Italians, or French, or to share the UK with the Irish, Welsh or Scottish.



Regional inequality in the UK is rivalled only by Mexico, making England one of the richest, and Wales one of the poorest countries in Europe.



My retirement age is raised by three years, even though the life expectancy in Wales is a full year lower than in England: just another little flick of the whip from our Tory overlords.



As the Tories break their commitment to modernise the railway line as far as Swansea, Wales joins Albania and Moldova as the only three nations in Europe with not an inch of electrified railway: a mark of respect from the United Kingdom to the people of Wales.



The Story of Rhitta the Giant: A mediaeval tale of wars, giants, stars, beards and the need for European unity, taken from the 1862 anthology, Cymru Fu, and translated by Rob Mimpriss here.



‘A part of me thinks, why bother - it’s gone. But as it may be just the beginning, it seems worth reiterating some points about the Times editorial. This was another classic example of historical English-British prejudice and fallacy dressed up in rational liberal discourse.

‘Telling a people to restrict the teaching of their language is to tell them their culture is inferior, not worthy of the effort. This is bigotry for which the most adequate word we have is racism.’ Huw Williams at nation.cymru.



Article in The Times newspaper attacking Welsh-language education

Image from The Times newspaper taken from Nation.Cymru

We’re not being racist, because the Welsh language isn’t a race, say racists. Meanwhile a far more thoughtful, better informed reflection on the Cymraeg 2050 project by Roger Scully appears in New Statesman.



It’s sort of sweet that commentators speak of Theresa May’s sense of duty as a product of her Anglican heritage. Because we Calvinists always looked down on Anglicans as self-indulgent, as spiritual amateurs, as even worse than Catholics or the heathen.



The farmer in whose fields I walk embodies the myth of Olwen in reverse. Wherever his tread is evident, white flowers have withered and died.



I always saw Paddington Bear less as a needy immigrant, made welcome by a tolerant and inclusive society motivated by disinterested compassion, than as an existential hero in the Schopenhauerian mold, dragged from the homely darkness of potentiality into the ineluctable absurdity of the real.



The graffito on the flyover near my home, ‘Bryony & Chloe & Carla 4 evar,’ has faded, like their dreams of happiness.



Twelve months after the EU referendum: Michael Heseltine says that Brexit is not feasible because global structures no longer favour completely independent nation states; Chris Patten describes Brexit as a mess which has rendered the UK ungovernable; and Gisela Stuart and Dominic Cummings, leaders of the Brexit campaign, describes the referendum and its result as a folly; and a new poll from Survation suggests that more Britons wish to remain in the E.U. than voted to leave it.



Those for whom the word ‘Welsh nationalist’ automatically carries connotations of militarism, racism, and the hysterical love of the nation state might consider the following passage by Amos Oz (In the Land of Israel. 1983. Trans. by Maurie Goldberg-Bartura):

‘This is the place to make my first shocking confession — others will follow. I think that the nation state is a tool, an instrument, that is necessary for a return to Zion, but I am not enamoured of this instrument. The idea of the nation state is, in my eyes, “goyim naches” -- a gentiles’ delight. I would be more than happy to live in a world composed of dozens of civilisations, each developing in accordance with its own internal rhythm, all cross-pollinating one another, without any one emerging as a nation state: no flag, no emblem, no passport, no anthem. No nothing. Only spiritual civilisations tied somehow to their lands, without the tools of statehood, and without the instruments of war.

‘But the Jewish people has already staged a long-running one-man show of that sort. The international audience sometimes applauded, sometimes threw stones, and occasionally slaughtered the actor. No one joined us; no one copied the model the Jews were forced to sustain for two thousand years, the model of a civilisation without “the tools of statehood.” For me this drama ended with the murder of Europe’s Jews by Hitler. And I am forced to take it upon myself to play the “game of nations,” with all the tools of statehood, even though it causes me to feel (as George Steiner put it) like an old man in a kindergarten.’



After initial teething problems, and following a longer period of mutual adjustment, the Frisklet and I have arrived at a fair and reasonable way of living together. She is allowed to do whatever she likes, and I am allowed to give her whatever she wants.



‘Not sure what’s more upsetting: the shite Guardian article [attacking Welsh-language education as politically-motivated child abuse], the foulness it provokes, or the hurt and exhaustion of maligned Welsh speakers.’ Jasmine Donahaye.



Brexit Means Racism: And so, on the day David Davis enters negotiations on Britain’s future outside the EU, followers of a Brexit campaign group, Leave.EU, spend their time justifying the terrorist attack against Muslims in Finsbury Park.



In advance of my translation of Morgan Llwyd’s seminal religious allegory and political dialogue, A Book of Three Birds, I present two of his shorter Welsh-language tracts, written in the years 1653 and 1655, during the period of Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth. They depict a kingdom embittered and divided by war, and faced with an uncertain future as the time of the Second Coming of Jesus, fervently awaited by Morgan Llwyd, approaches:

A Cry in Wales Against Every Conscience

O People of Wales! To you I lift my voice; O Dwellers of Gwynedd and the South, to you I cry. Dawn has broken, and the sun is rising upon you. The birds are singing: awake, oh Welshman, awake; and if you will not believe words, believe deeds. Look about you and see – behold, the world and its pillars are shaking. The earth is in tumult; thunder and lightning are in the minds of the peoples. Behold, the hearts of many are quaking (because they have not confessed) to look upon the things that are coming. The great day of the Lord is searching and testing every secret thought; many are seeking a place to hide in the thickets of the self, and under the aprons of the old Adam; the wise have lost their senses, and the strong can no longer stand; the eloquent swallow their words, and those who are crafty are biting their tongues; dear friends are accusing one other, and every close man is dividing within himself. The great houses are split in two, and the small houses are in splinters. The old churches fall, and the new are in confusion; Judas is selling his master, and Peter is denying him; many have come out of Egypt, but few are reaching Canaan, for to pass through the narrow gate, they must be as small as children. Now the secrets of the chambers are spoken on the streets, and words whispered in the ear are heard by all in public. The agitation of the peoples is as though the Princes of the Air (the Fallen Angels) have swarmed like gnats into this part of the world, and the forces of darkness are more active and fervent than before, since the time of their winter is at hand. The life and time of every man is running like a weaver’s shuttle, and the great eternal world is drawing close to all, and also to you who are reading or listening to this. For this reason it is high time for you to awake from your sleep, and to search for the narrow path, and to acknowledge the truth and to follow it carefully.

Read on

A Guide for the Welsh

Oh soul, where are you going? You do not know, any more than a man on a journey knows where he will lodge, and what company he will meet. As they say in Wales, he knows what has passed, not what is to come. But as for the soul, it does not see where it came from, or where it will go. This much is clear: the flesh goes to the grave and the earth, and the breath is scattered; the body is tested in the furnace of the grave; the soul chases after the spirit (which is the heart of the tree), and the spirit goes forever to the nature it coveted most. The body is merely a tool in the hand of the heavenly spirit. The soul is only a breath of the most secret spirit. The spirit is the wheel within, which turns the soul and the body where it will, as it can. The body is like the clothing which covers a man, the soul is like the body which is clothed in dust, but the spirit is the heart of the creature.

A man runs fell pelt through this life, and those who meet him ask, Where are the soul and the spirit going? What does it benefit a man to dance and go down to the bottomless pit in a momentary pleasure? Will not God punish you for stealing your heart from Him? And do you think Eternity short, or the earthly life of a man long? Is it better for you to suffer the thunderbolts of righteous wrath forever, and the mockery of devils (for living in sin like them), or to suffer the jeering of men for a brief moment here? Is God not the best of lovers, and the worst of enemies? Why do you feed your flesh to the starvation of your soul, and indulge your soul, or your fleshly reason, to the destruction of your spirit? A fly in your way stops you from doing good, yet the Angel of God cannot keep you from sin. Has not Christ done all for you? And do you not find it in your heart to do anything for Him? The only son of God agreed to give His heart’s blood, (in which was his very life), and everything for you. Will you not suffer anything for His sake, or at least for the sake of your own soul? Will you let go of the spiritual gold from your hand, to fill your hand and mind with filth? Will you forfeit eternal life for the sake of a few fleeting nothings? What, do you say, is less than nothing? The whole present world is less than nothing, as Isaiah says, before God. And do you fear, or do you care for, a thing which is less than nothing? Do you love the world and its lusts, which altogether are less than nothing, as holy scripture says? (For the world and its lusts are passing away, and the lust of the world is the pleasant spirit of nature in which you live.) Why will you not see, while there is still time, what will become of you when this world is burnt and brought to nought?

Read on



Taken from Nigel Farage’s Facebook page following the terrorist attack on Finsbury Park Mosque

We are not required to believe that Fascist movements can only come to power in an exact replay of the scenario of Hitler and Mussolini. All that is required to fit our model is polarisation, deadlock, mass-mobilisation against internal and external enemies, and complicity by existing elites. In the Balkans in the 1990s something that looks very much like Fascism was produced by a very different scenario, a change of course by leaders already in power.’ Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism.



Tweeted by Maya Goodfellow: Grenfell survivors will be considered ‘intentionally homeless’ and denied all aid if they insist on remaining in London. Some have been told to move as far as Preston.



Sharp scissors should be banned in schools, alcohol in prisons, and votes on foreign policy in the United Kingdom.



Mike Parker's fair-minded plea to Plaid Cymru to reconsider their election performance in the light of their aims, and to the LibDems to reconsider their election tactics in the light of their principles, published in the excellent nation.cymru.



Tweeted by @Liam O'Hare: Theresa May briefly visited Grenfell Tower, but refused to meet any residents.



Brexit Means Racism: And here, members of the pro-Brexit group, Brexit HQ, express their hatred and contempt for victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire.



The Senedd voted to make sprinklers are legal requirement in new homes in Wales in 2009.



And as the UK drops to the bottom of the EU’s economic growth league, Theresa May promises to negotiate a good deal on the rope we’re using to hang ourselves.



11th June 2017: Tweeted by @AngrySalmond: Loyalists in Liverpool attack an Irish pub. DUP supporters carrying UVF flags.



The makeup of Parliament is such that Wales is powerless to prevent England from appointing a Conservative government to rule the UK, and a vote for Welsh Labour is not a valid tactical vote against the Conservatives. Rather, by voting tactically for a party which opposes further powers for the Senedd, Wales has voted to prevent the left-wing values it wants — as a new article argues in the excellent Nation.Cymru.



I remind the people of Wales that the sovereignty of Wales remains in England, that the Senedd has no legal status whatsoever, and that devolution could be abolished by a whim of parliament. Federalism would allow us to remain a member of the British family while running our own affairs, but federalism has always been resisted by England, which will tolerate no challenge to its supremacy. Two alternatives therefore remain. The first is a painful, lingering death from intermittent yet destructive Tory rule; the other is independence.



My friend and colleague Sarah Hills Wright makes the following timely remarks on the purpose of fasting and the nature of mercy in Islam, and the Muslim community’s response to the atrocities in Manchester and London. They appeared on Facebook, and are reprinted by her kind permission:

So, I go to the allotment the other day and my poorly designed, expensive portable and rechargeable radio refuses to continue to find the channel I am after. No brainer for those that know me well enough which channel I am looking for. Anyway, it gets stuck and I end up half way through planting a butternut squash realising that I am listening to Radio Islam... err... what do I do? Turn it off and listen to the slugs munching the seedlings or just roll with it for a bit? So I do. Roll with it. They talk about eating disorders in Ramadan, they talk about healthy options for breaking the fast of an evening, you know, the obvious... too easy to reach for the deep fried stuff, try something a bit less calorific and healthy etc. Anyway, after a bit an Imam comes on, talking about Islam and how it relates to the rest of the world. He says if anyone needs to be afraid of their neighbour, that neighbour is not a Muslim. It is then I understand that the the true doctrine of most religions does not propagate violence, but that it is humans that do that, misguided humans who have found a comfortable concept to justify their meanness by wrongly interpreting a doctrine that is there to create peace.


So I think on and on and think that in all my efforts to be comprehensive and understand the world around me, I forget to look from the wider perspective. I forget to engage with the truth of the existence of others, and how it looks from where they stand. I learned so much from the serendipitous moment of a broken tuner: I learned that fasting is a challenge to find peace and constance even in the face of hunger and deprivation. I understand it is an opportunity to find balance in diet and need. I learned that exercising self-discipline for the greater good is universal. I learned that I had so much to learn.

Today by choice I tuned in to Radio Islam. It was mid afternoon and I was again in the process of organising nature around me. Deweeding the patio, trimming the rude infiltration of the ever growing grass. This time on Radio Islam they were hosting religious leaders from many faiths and philosophies: a Buddhist, a Christian Priest, a Rabbi and a Sikh. Mainly they were asking in this month of reflection how other faiths saw mercy, the main focus of the first ten days of Ramadan. The language from the other leaders was slightly different. The Buddhist leader translated mercy as compassion, the Christian as forgiveness. It was interesting to listen to, even if women were conspicuous by their absence... used to that in a religious arena... but mostly it was as we all are, a human connection with what is familiar, and a strong desire to believe in the human capacity for love. Let’s face it, our longevity relies upon that capacity when we need: we rely on love and the capacity of those around us to feel it. Why would we not nurture that above division, fear and anger?

We search and search, we continue to search for something that we have a massive and innate capacity for and we fail and fail again to see that the love we have for ourselves is extendable, that the love we have for ourselves needs only to be extended.



4th June 2017: My friend, to whom the above was addressed, was arguing that Islam denounces terrorism of the kind that took place last night.



Do women called Melody feel countrified and inferior when they’re introduced to women called Harmony?



Something about the lady up the road who owns the horses always makes me want to stroke her nose and give her a lump of sugar.



‘He who goes for seven nights without dreaming deserves to be called wicked.’ Talmud.



The Talmud recognises forty types of manual labour, minus one: To sow, to plough, to reap, to bind, to thresh, to winnow, to sift, to grind, to bolt, to knead, to bake, to shear, to wash, to comb, to dye, to spin, to warp, to shoot, to weave, to cut, to tie, to untie, to sew, to tear, to hunt, to kill, to skin, to salt, to singe, to tan, to cut, to write, to erase, to build, to pull down, to snuff out, to fire, to smite, to carry.



‘Of the twelve hours there are to the day, God divides his time thus: Three hours he spends in study of the Torah. Three hours he spends administering justice. Three hours spends in feeding the hungry, and three hours he spends at play with the whales.’ Talmud.



‘Nothing which was being done, no matter how stupid, no matter how many people knew and foretold the consequences, could be undone or prevented. Every event had the finality of a last judgement, a judgement that was passed neither by God nor by the devil, but looked rather like the expression of some unredeemably stupid fatality.’

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism.



'If it falls to me to start a fight to cut out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism in our country with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play, so be it.' ~Jonathan Aitken.



Our election spending was totally legitimate and above board, say people who happen to be charitable trusts based in Antigua.



What about Wales?: Stirring the Dormant Dragon. While Welsh national institutions grow in competence and power, Welsh media is in decline to an extent that endangers our democracy, in this article by Gemma Annwyn published on TheButterflyRebellion.Scot.



I like the argument offered by Marcus Aurelius with regard to mortality. If the gods exist, he says, then death cannot harm us. And if they do not, then life cannot do us any ultimate good.



Towards the end of his book, The Courage to Be, the theologian Paul Tillich presents an argument for not believing in the survival of the personal consciousness after death. Personhood is finitude, he says, and to embrace all aspects of that finitude except its temporal limit is not so much to believe in eternal life, as to believe in the indefinite postponement of its proportionate termination.

The argument sounds convincing to me, as such arguments go. But still I somehow hear the ghost of William James, chuckling quietly in the background.



My entire artistic and academic career so far was an excuse not to do any gardening.



I am reading the Mysterium Magnum of Jakob Böhme, when the Frisklet ambushes my hand from behind the curtains, and draws blood. Thus are our higher, celestial urges dragged back by our attachment to mundane things, until the Veil of the Flesh is parted, and the Cat of Sin is slain by the Power of the Blood.



If you hold your nose, and close your eyes, and work hard to control your gag reflex, the Butchers’ Classic cat food, which I walked to B&M to buy, with my own money, and carried home up a long steep hill on my back, is not technically poisonous, reports the Frisklet.



Map of Europe shaded by GDP, showing Wales's nature as a 'Second Word' nation

A map of Europe by GDP. Strange, how those who still take pride in Britain’s empire are often the first to laugh at the economic state of England’s first colony.



I shopped for cat food in B&M in place of Home Bargains, and brought home Butchers’ Classic in place of Whiskas. My cat is refusing to eat it. I think this is a draining, annoying battle of wills with a rather spoilt domestic animal. She thinks it’s Battleship Potemkin.



Front page of the <i>Daily Mail</i> from 19th April 2017, calling on Theresa May to ‘crush the saboteurs’ opposed to Brexit.

‘The mob is primarily a group in which the residue of all classes are represented. This makes it so easy to mistake the mob for the people, which also comprises all strata of society. While the people in all great revolutions fight for true representation, the mob always will shout for the “strong man,” the “great leader.” For the mob hates society from which it is excluded, as well as Parliament where it is not represented. Plebiscites, therefore, with which modern mob leaders have obtained such excellent results, are an old concept of politicians who rely upon the mob.’

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism.



16th April 2017: Since I voted to Remain in the EU referendum, I have heard demands from Tory and UKIP politicians and from right-wing journalists that I and those like me be silenced, be tried for treason, kill ourselves, be killed, be hanged, be shot as Jo Cox was shot, or be sent to a death camp. I have been called a libtard, a remoaniac, a bed-wetter, a snowflake, a traitor, and an appeaser (on Nigel Farage’s Facebook wall) because I do not hate Muslims enough. For the Prime Minister to demand that I support national unity, when what is needed is what a Christian would no doubt call national repentance, is at best morally vapid, and betrays a severe want of character. At worst, it is hypocritical and reprehensible.



Brexit Means Racism (Mike Small): And so, as the invocation of Article 50 precipitates a sharp rise in online hate speech, so a Nigerian is stabbed to death in my tiny rural university town.



‘Can you imagine any other nation where the head of government could make a speech to the UN, and the state broadcaster not even mention it?’

@simon_brooke on Twitter



Map showing a Fascist Britain defending itself from attack from Europe, in imitation of the title sequence for the 1970s comedy set during World War 2, Dad's Army

As the triggering of Article 50 precipitates an increase in hate speech, and precedes the violent murder of a Kurdish refugee, forty-four per cent of respondents in a straw poll conducted by LBC agree that Britain should go to war with Spain over Gibraltar.



According to a report by Berenberg Bank, Brexit offers no significant economic advantages to Britain in the long term. Its relatively small economy, compared with China, the U.S., and the E.U., would be a disadvantage when negotiating trade deals, as would further deregulation of the most lightly regulated developed economy in the world.

Business Insider



Whoever it was on the High Street this morning, giving the most ragged and tuneless rendition of a Wesley hymn I have ever heard, for the love of God, please stop!



Every night, when he goes home to his wife, Neil Hamilton longs for the sweet embrace of death.



fascist dictatorship unelected bureaucrats won the health and lost the safety criminals have more rights than peace pounds and ounces tvs in cells wont stand for it for the queen the variety show the speech white christmas white minority snowflakes liberals and proud salt of the earth salt and vinegar hangings too good for a clip round the ear a fag in the john and a job at sixteen not like in my kids learned pakis showed respect no lip no cheek of the best is great is full and tadpoles frogs krauts ruskies in a jar the ira the scots the welsh and too many graduates a proper pint and a smoke in the coat and no knickers and a matinee for a shilling so-called bring back throw away gone to the cane the key the dogs the noose too good for traitors muslims jews justice not that im good old fashioned british at the end of a rope



Picture of a Welsh Not

A photograph of a Welsh Not, used in the 19th-20th Centuries, hung from the necks of schoolchildren as a sign that they were to be beaten for speaking Welsh, as part of the British state’s policy of the eradication of Welsh language and Welsh culture that would render the Welsh industrial workforce more compliant. And a hundred years later, the Welsh people voted by the narrowest of margins to cheat themselves of their rights as European citizens, to strip themselves of Priority One funding, to destroy their one economic advantage as the only country in the UK with an export surplus. Old habits die hard. The people of Wales are still compliant. But if we were otherwise, we would be cheated anyway.



24th March 2017: So did the unionists call Leanne Wood Hitler? Or did they merely compare her with Hitler? Were voices raised, were faces as red as the blood of true loyal Brits? (BBC Question Time, Bangor.)



Despite my best efforts to like Gwyn Thomas, I still cannot compare reading his work to anything but being chained to a rock on a hillside above the Rhondda while one's entrails are daily gnawed by two sheep. And I have tried. I have wept, and fasted, and buffeted the flesh, and prayed for the grace to like Gwyn Thomas. And it is not that I have not liked other things. I have liked Emyr Humphreys with ease, Daniel Owen with pleasure, and Kate Roberts with a sense of moral vindication. But to like Gwyn Thomas, no. It is beyond the strength of mortal man.



And in other news, angry people with a new-found interest in Scottish politics are attempting to use long words.



One night, when Carwyn Jones was really blind drunk on imported potcheen, Ieuan Wyn Jones had to phone him up and talk him out of declaring the Welsh republic straight away. He wanted to wear his bandoliers, and everything.



Like any pretty young lady who cares about her looks, my cat pays great attention to her nails.



‘I say once again that the British people have spoken. They have spoken on nationhood; they have spoken on unity; they have spoken on law and on public morality, and we will tolerate no argument, no dissent. And to anyone who would question the will of the people I say this: if you will not have British democracy, you must have the authority of the British state; if you will not accept the result of the Referendum on National Unity and Greatness, then you must obey the orders of the Emergency Committee. And if you will submit to neither the people nor the state, then you are guilty of crimes against the state and against the people, and on those crimes we show no mercy.’

Theresa May, Pronouncements under the Emergency Powers Act, vol. i, p. 17.



‘We do not call ourselves nationalists. Rather, we consider ourselves to be unionists, for what we celebrate and protect is the unity of the British nation, invincible because indivisible. Therefore, we no longer speak of the Welsh language, of Scottish democracy, of the Irish peace process, but rather, of the British armed forces, the British state, and the British language, binding our people together, and to us, throughout the four counties of Britain.’

Theresa May, Pronouncements under the Emergency Powers Act, vol. ii, p. 9.



'There is no political Opposition. We will move forward as one great nation. You are one of us, or you are one of the Enemy.'

Theresa May, Pronouncements under the Emergency Powers Act, vol. i, p. 14.



‘We do not sneer, as the liberals do, at what is sacred. We do not laugh at our great nation, or its God-given leaders, but only at those who once mocked us, and they are no longer to be found.’

Theresa May, Pronouncements under the Emergency Powers Act, vol. iii, p. 97.



A screenshot of my reception on Nigel Farage’s Facebook page. This is the moral calibre of those whom Theresa May says have spoken, and in whose name she acts.



'In case there was any doubt, Plaid Cymru will stand up for all citizens in this country. Everyone who belongs to Wales should be treated with respect. If you live here and you want to be Welsh, then as far as we are concerned, you are Welsh, and your rights will be defended by the party of Wales.’

Leanne Wood, dangerous racist and Welsh nationalist.

‘the first duty of this parliament of the United Kingdom is to care for the interests of the citizens of this kingdom. So if we are to care for anybody’s rights after Brexit to live anywhere in Europe, it should be our concern for the rights of British people to live freely and peacefully in those other parts of Europe. Somehow or other we seem to be thinking of nothing but the rights of foreigners.’

Norman Tebbit, high-minded conservative and English patriot.



‘We hope to reach again a Europe united but purged of the slavery of ancient, classical times — a Europe in which men will be proud to say, “I am a European.” We hope to see a Europe where men of every country will think as much of being a European as of belonging to their native land, and that without losing any of their love and loyalty of their birthplace. We hope wherever they go in this wide domain, to which we set no limits in the European Continent, they will truly feel, “Here I am at home. I am a citizen of this country too.”’

Winston Churchill, Amsterdam, 9th May 1948



Two passages from Man’s Search for Meaning, a memoir of the concentration camps by the psychologist, Viktor Frankl:

An active life serves the purpose of giving man the opportunity to fulfil his values in creative work, while a passive life of enjoyment affords him the opportunity to obtain fulfilment in experiencing beauty, art, or nature. But there is also purpose in that life which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment and which admits of but one possibility of high moral behaviour: namely, in man’s attitude to his existence, an existence restricted by external forces. A creative life and a life of enjoyment are banned to him. But not only creativeness and enjoyment are meaningful. If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering human life cannot be complete.

And a little later:

This young woman knew that she would die [in the concentration camp] in the next few days. But when I talked to her she was cheerful in spite of this knowledge. ’I am grateful that fate has hit me so hard,’ she told me. ‘In my former life I was spoiled and did not take spiritual accomplishments seriously.’ Pointing through the window of the hut, she said, ‘This tree here is the only friend I have in my loneliness.’ Through that window she could see just one branch of a chestnut tree, and on the branch were two blossoms. ‘I often talk to this tree,’ she said to me. I was startled and didn’t quite know how to take her words. Was she delirious? Did she have occasional hallucinations? Anxiously I asked her if the tree replied. ‘Yes.’ What did it say to her? She answered, ‘It said to me, “I am here — I am here — I am life, eternal life.”’



There is a line about the intelligence of those who constantly repeat the same action in the hope of achieving a different result. Hence my cat brought home a live vole and released it under a heavy item of furniture, confident in the expectation that on this occasion, of all occasions, she would be able to catch it, and permitted to eat it. Instead she was, once again, shut up in the spare room, while I shifted furniture around.



From the shrill and persistent lamentations raised by one Osian, esq, from the seat of his mother's shopping trolley, I conclude that he had just accessed previously unsuspected truths concerning the burden of sentience, the weight of mortality, and the evanescence of all human hope. I remember my first time.



My only objection to living in York would be that York is not in Wales, which would hinder my pursuit of my political goals. But once I have achieved my political goals, York will be in Wales.



The thing about overturning the result of an advisory referendum is that it would undermine public faith in representative democracy, unlike admitting that the electorate were lied to in the run up to a referendum.



Educated rural poverty. You have to imagine the broken laptops on stacks of bricks in my front yard.



One of UKIP’s finer minds, David Rowlands AM, explaining to the Senedd why the lies told by the Leave campaign were morally acceptable. Posted by Plaid Cymru on Facebook.



The sheep at Bryn Derw have had their heads dyed orange, possibly in honour of Donald Trump.



Poster for Dangerous Asylums reading in Aberystwyth


READING AND DISCUSSION
Friday 3rd February
7.30pm, Morlan Arts Centre, Aberystwyth

Dangerous Asylums: Stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital Told by Leading Welsh Writers

Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, A. L. Reynolds, Manon Steffan Ros, Simon Thirsk, Elaine Walker, Gee and David Williams.
Contributing editor: Rob Mimpriss

Published by North Wales Mental Health Research Project, Department of Psychological Medicine, Hergest Unit, Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor

‘In this exemplary collaboration between medical science and imagination, lives preserved in official records, in the language and diagnoses of their times, are restored not just to light, but to humanity and equality. This anthology is a resurrection.’ Philip Gross.



This 10,000 lux daylight lamp, designed to counteract seasonal depression, will not significantly delay the eventual heat death of the universe, or the inevitable extinction of the human race.



‘Article 50 Bill - the shortest suicide note in UK constitutional history?’ Hywel Williams MP, via Twitter



Alarmed by warnings in the UK press that the oceans would freeze, the earth become a snowball, and humanity's last pitiful survivors be confined to a single nuclear-powered train, ever circling the earth to remain in summer, I prepared myself by turning the storage heater in my bedroom up to 2 last night, and filling a hot water bottle. My precautions proved adequate.



Wales ranks alongside Portugal and the Eastern European states in terms of prosperity according to this image from Eurogeographics: suggestive both of the failure of eight hundred of British union, of Wales’s reliance on E.U. trade, and of our potential as an independent nation.

Link

Figures taken from StatsCymru, shown in this image by Dafydd Elfryn, depict Wales’s export surplus and dependence on trade with the E.U., now threatened by Theresa May’s Hard Brexit. Meanwhile a petition by Plaid Cymru calls on Theresa May to keep Wales in the Single Market.



‘John Redwood — ah, there’s a name that brings back memories — argued yesterday (just before the new appointee was named) that the new ambassador should be someone who thinks that Brexit is “straightforward.” Now, there do seem to be a lot of those to choose from, but given the complexities already identified, I wouldn’t want to put anyone with such a simplistic viewpoint anywhere near the negotiations, purely on the pragmatic basis that they’re unlikely to understand most of what’s being discussed.

‘The Brexiteers’ approach to negotiation seems to be falling increasingly into the traditional British way of dealing with foreigners — speak to them slowly and loudly until they do what we want. The strange thing, to me, is that they seriously seem to believe that it will work.’

John Dixon, blogging with his customary courtesy and devastating restraint at Borthlas



Given that Facebook is currently filled with posts pointing out that the Arab world is very, very big, and Israel is very, very small, might I, in the name of Welsh heritage and destiny, demand half of England back? Preferably all of it.



When my cat miaows in want of meat, I miaow back with all the force of my lungs. Then she remembers the disparity in our size and physical strength, and the difference in our species, and there passes across her face a mixture of appeal, trust, and restrained panic. Then I speak to her gently, and feed her.



I have realised that if ever I am to gloat over the disfigured corpses of my enemies, I am going to need a bigger cat.



24th December 2016: In pursuit of a more spiritual, less materialistic Christmas, I am asking for the deaths of my enemies this year.



‘There is now a profound divide — what British politicians call “deep blue water” — between Remain’s growing constituency and Leave’s diminishing one. This will be the defining split in British politics for at least a generation. And yet the vast majority of practicing politicians are on the declining side of this divide, where the supply of leaders far exceeds demand for them.

‘The UK is approaching a fundamental political realignment, for which the current government is totally unprepared. It will come — probably quite suddenly — as soon as enough people recognize that May has, through little fault of her own, inevitably failed to “get the best deal for Britain.” As the economist Herbert Stein famously observed, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” So May’s government might last until May, but not much longer.’

Jacek Rostowski, former Deputy Prime Minister of Poland, analysing Theresa May’s predicament in Project Syndicate.



When my cat kills a rodent, she removes its head, so it can’t be identified from its dental records.



Picture of a Welsh Not

The Welsh Not, pictured above, was used in Nineteenth Century schools, and hung from the necks of children who were caught using the Welsh language, as a sign that they were to be beaten. As the Conservatives renew their calls for public servants to swear their loyalty to ‘British values,’ it is worth remembering that the values of England were imposed in Ireland, Wales and Scotland, even as the values of Britain were imposed on the rest of the world.



‘To many commentators, the curse of Wales was its distinctiveness — the fact that it was not English, linguistically and otherwise. That distinctiveness, it was argued, lay at the root of the Welsh readiness to riot, a readiness much exhibited between 1839 and 1844. The Welsh language was the quintessence of the distinctiveness... It was the existence of the Welsh language, argued the Rebecca Commission in 1844, that hindered the Law and the Established Church from civilising the Welsh. The attacks upon the language were interwoven with the racism which was rampant in nineteenth-century Europe.’

John Davies, The History of Wales (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1990).



‘I'm trying to imagine the Scottish, Welsh, or Northern Irish governments demanding citizens swear an oath of allegiance. Aww, remember way back when we were the “Nationalists”?’ ~Alec Finlay, 18th December 2016.



‘Nichola Sturgeron should stick to Scotland and not meddle and not interfere in Englands affair’s. She wouldnt like it if we were to meddle in what goes on in scotland.’

A tweet from one of Milton Keynes’s finer minds. Let it not be said that English rule is without its lighter moments. Link



When you’re biting a housemate, and get one of your claws caught in their shirtsleeve, what's the least embarrassing way out of the situation? Asking for a friend.



Cover of My People Cover of Capel Sion Cover of My Neighbours

‘Our God is a big man: a tall man much higher than the highest chapel in Wales and broader than the broadest chapel. For the promised day that He comes to deliver us a sermon we shall have made a hole in the roof and taken down a wall. Our God has a long, white beard, and he is not unlike the Father Christmas of picture-books. Often he lies on his stomach on Heaven’s floor, an eye at one of his myriads of peepholes, watching that we keep his laws. Our God wears a frock coat, a starched linen collar and black necktie, and a silk hat, and on the Sabbath he preaches to the congregation of Heaven.’

These short stories depict the poverty and hardship endured by the peasants of west Wales at the turn of the Twentieth Century. But they also reveal the meanness and cruelty of lives lived in ignorance, caught between the desire for love and the fear of violence, and oppressed by the dark power of the chapel minister and the idol he represents. First published to great outrage and great acclaim, and now republished as modern classics by Cockatrice Books, they retain their timeless quality as classics and their power to shock.



10th December: To mark Human Rights Day, on which the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, I quote Kate Roberts, reflecting on nationhood, colonialism and the creative process in Wales at the time of the First World War:

‘I’m a thin-skinned woman, easily hurt, and by nature a terrible pacifist. My bristles are raised at once against anything I consider an injustice, be it against an individual or a society or a nation. Indeed, I’d like to have some great stage to stand on, facing Pumlumon, to be able to shout against every injustice — like the terrible injustice I personally felt, that the government took the children of monoglot Welsh cottagers to fight the wars of the Empire, and sent official letters to say that those children had been killed, in a language the parents couldn't read. But some instinct told me that the short story wasn’t a soap box to stand on, and that I’d have to discipline myself strictly as a living human being, and as a writer trying to write, to stop myself getting bitter against everyone and everything. And the same reviewer says, ‘You don’t find one line with any hint of bitterness in her work.’ And another said they have no feelings of anger, ill-feeling, pride, self-pity or rage. Of course it’s no compliment that those elements are not to be found, because they can be read into some of the characters. But I want to say that the absence of these feelings from my stories doesn’t reflect my character. The things inside me are totally different, and I have allowed them into many of my stories. But it was a hard struggle; I had to fight like the Devil himself to curb my emotions, and to bring my characters to the same place of quietness.’

Read on



Cover of When Prophecy Fails Cover of The True Believer

Two books of troubling significance for our times

Leon Festinger, When Prophecy Fails

‘A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.

‘We have all experienced the futility of trying to change a strong conviction, especially if the convinced person has some investment in his belief. We are familiar with the variety of ingenious defenses with which people protect their convictions, managing to keep them unscathed through the most devastating attacks.

‘But man’s resourcefulness goes beyond simply protecting a belief. Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart; suppose further that he has a commitment to this belief, that he has taken irrevocable actions because of it; finally, suppose that he is presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that his belief is wrong: what will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed, he may even show a new fervor about convincing and converting other people to his view.’


Eric Hoffer, The True Believer

‘All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful ow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and single-hearted allegiance.

‘All movements, however different in doctrine and aspiration, draw their early adherents from the same types of humanity; they all appeal to the same types of mind.

‘Though there are obvious differences between the fanatical Christian, the fanatical Mohammedan, the fanatical nationalist, the fanatical Communist and the fanatical Nazi, it is yet true that the fanaticism which animates them may be viewed and treated as one. The same is true of the force which drives them on to expansion and world dominion. There is a certain uniformity in all types of dedication, of faith, of pursuit of power, of unity and of self-sacrifice. There are vast differences in the contents of holy causes and doctrines, but a certain uniformity in the factors which make them effective. He who, like Pascal, finds precise reasons for the effectiveness of Christian doctrine has also found the reasons for the effectiveness of Communist, Nazi and nationalist doctrine.’



5th December 2016: Click to read an open letter to Theresa May concerning continued funding for the Cornish language.



‘It’s not just that the public voted to Leave, or even the arrogance or condescension of Brexit politicians towards their European counterparts. It’s the fact that what they say literally makes no sense. It has no factual underpinning. It is logically impossible and intellectually worthless.

‘This would be disappointing and embarrassing at the best of times. But these are not the best of times. Britain is about to enter possibly the most complicated negotiations in its history, with very severe implications for our quality of life and our place in the world. These negotiations will not be conducted in the post-truth world of the Brexiters. They will be conducted on the basis of cold, hard facts.’

Ian Dunt, in The New European



An article published in The Norwich Radical pleads with left-wingers to accept the necessity and justice of the Welsh independence movement.



Party leaders whose CVs boast of doctoral degrees they don’t possess are completely different from so-called experts, UKIP supporters explain.



And according to a report by the National Audit Office, the Conservative Party’s benefit sanctions scheme costs £153 million more to run per year than it saves.

Daily Record



Like the wedding at Cana, Leonard Cohen left the best until last.



I learned something interesting and important today. The reason chickens run around flapping when you cut their heads off is that the frontal lobes are responsible for our social inhibitions.



I was pondering the importance of blood in Christian iconography, even though, from what I have read, crucifixion does not cause much blood loss. Then I wondered briefly, if blood is what one is after, whether it would be more sensible to deify someone who had died in the guillotine, before considering the practice of drinking wine as a symbol of blood. I remembered Géza Vermes’s objections to the claim that Jesus devised the rite of communion, and those chapels that serve blackcurrant juice as a substitute for the wine. Then I recalled that a local chapel ran out of blackcurrant juice one Sunday, and was forced to serve the Fizzy Cola of the New Covenant, before I realised that I was standing alone in a muddy field, muttering.



And in shock new developments, crybaby, bedwetting, bleeding-heart, latté-drinking Remoaners, who dropped their dollies out of their prams and need to suck it up, are now being condescending.



11th November 2016: The opening of a novel by former Tory MP, Louise Mensch, who tweeted about the inferiority of Russian culture:

Topaz burst through the door of the President’s Office.

‘Oh — my — God!’ she yelled. ‘Oh my God! I got it! I got it! I can’t believe it! Rowena, you’re a genius. How can I ever repay you? I don’t know what to say!’

She flung herself on one of the faded velvet armchairs, pushing a handful of red curls from her face.

Rowena turned away from the computer with a sigh. Her delicately pitched letter of invitation to Gary Lineker to come down to Oxford and speak had reached a crucial paragraph.



There are times when I mourn the passing of the gas chamber — a tweet by @UkipArfon

UKIP Arfon, vile beyond description...



11th November 2016: The government’s response to the petition for continued funding for the Cornish language is in keeping with the spirit of our age.



9th November 2016: I comfort myself with the hope that American trains will run on time.



Following the very warm reception of Dangerous Asylums: Stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital in Denbigh itself, Nigel Jarrett gives the book a very warm reception in Wales Arts Review.



Speakers and guests at the Carriageworks, Denbigh, 4th November

4th November 2016: Tea and cake, two songs by Elaine Walker, readings by the contributors, and a supportive and deeply appreciative audience marked a celebration of Dangerous Asylums, an anthology of stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital, in Denbigh itself. The anthology, for sale on Amazon and Gwales, has garnered its first customer review, and by agreement of the contributors, all profits will support the work of MIND.



Poster for Dangerous Asylums reading in Denbigh


READING AND DISCUSSION
Friday 4th November
6pm, The Carriageworks, Denbigh

Dangerous Asylums: Stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital Told by Leading Welsh Writers

Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, A. L. Reynolds, Manon Steffan Ros, Simon Thirsk, Elaine Walker, Gee and David Williams.
Contributing editor: Rob Mimpriss

Published by North Wales Mental Health Research Project, Department of Psychological Medicine, Hergest Unit, Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor

‘In this exemplary collaboration between medical science and imagination, lives preserved in official records, in the language and diagnoses of their times, are restored not just to light, but to humanity and equality. This anthology is a resurrection.’ Philip Gross.



Image of watch which stopped at time of Aberfan disaster

21st October: On this day, 1966, a slagheap engulfed the primary school and part of the village of Aberfan, Merthyr Tydfil, killing 116 children and 28 adults.

The collapse was caused by a build-up water in the shale, which was allowed by the National Coal Board to build up on the side of a limestone ridge above the village, containing water sources. Three years before the incident, Merthyr Tydfil Council wrote to the National Coal Board to express concern at the safety of the tip; in 1965, a petition signed by parents was presented to the school. The Davies Enquiry commissioned by the Secretary of State for Wales blamed the negligence of the National Coal Board and the mendacity of its chairman, Lord Robens.

The NCB paid out £160,000 in compensation, including £500 per fatality, while donations from the public received by Merthyr Tydfil council came to more than £1.6 million. The Charities Commission intervened to prevent payments to individual victims from the disaster fund, while government pressure forced the fund to contribute to the cost of removing remaining slag heaps.

Wales marked the fiftieth anniversary of the disaster with a moment of silence at 9:15am. The Wales Powers Bill of 2016 offers the National Assembly limited sovereignty over energy production in Wales.



‘They love Britain, not because it is Britain, but because it is strong.’ Gwynfor Evans, Land of My Fathers (1974).



Monmouth Hospital has a whole ward full of patients who looked into David Davies’s eyes. The nurses try to keep them comfortable. There is nothing the doctors can do.



An old quip was shared on Facebook with regard to Dafydd Elis Thomas’s resignation from Plaid Cymru: ‘Every day, when I wake up, I thank the Welsh I'm a lord.’



Recorded for the BBC Listening Project: Rob Mimpriss in conversation with award-winning novelist and publisher, Simon Thirsk, concerning Brexit, the European Union, and Welsh and English nationalisms: Link.



‘Folly is a more dangerous enemy to the good than malice. You can protest against malice, you can unmask it or prevent it by force. Malice always contains the seeds of its own destruction, for it always makes men uncomfortable, if nothing worse. There is no defence against folly. Neither protests nor force are of any avail against it, and it is never amenable to reason. If facts contradict personal prejudices, there is no need to believe them, and if they are undeniable, they can simply be pushed aside as exceptions. Thus the fool, as compared with the scoundrel, is invariably self-complacent. And he can easily become dangerous, for it does not take much to make him aggressive. Hence folly requires much more cautious handling than malice. We shall never again try to reason with the fool, for it is both useless and dangerous.


‘To deal adequately with folly it is essential to recognize it for what it is. This much is certain, it is a moral rather than an intellectual defect. There are men of great intellect who are fools, and men of low intellect who are anything but fools, a discovery we make to our surprise as a result of particular circumstances. The impression we derive is that folly is acquired rather than congenital; it is acquired in certain circumstances where men make fools of themselves or allow others to make fools of them. We observe further that folly is less common in the unsociable or the solitary than in individuals or groups who are inclined or condemned to sociability. From this it would appear that folly is a sociological problem rather than one of psychology. It is a special form of the operation of historical circumstances upon men, a psychological by-product of definite external factors. On closer inspection it would seem that any violent revolution, whether political or religious, produces an outburst of folly in a large part of mankind. Indeed, it would seem to be almost a law of psychology and sociology. The power of one needs the folly of the other. It is not that certain aptitudes of men, intellectual aptitudes for instance, become stunted or destroyed. Rather, the upsurge of power is so terrific that it deprives men of an independent judgement, and they give up trying—more or less unconsciously—to assess the new state of affairs for themselves. The fool can often be stubborn, but this must not mislead us into thinking he is independent. One feels, somehow, especially in conversation with him, that it is impossible to talk to the man himself, to talk to him personally. Instead, one is confronted with a series of slogans, watchwords, and the like, which have acquired power over him. He is under a curse, he is blinded, his very humanity is being prostituted and exploited.'

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison. trans. by Eberhard Bethge.



While I am delighted for Bob Dylan, it is important that the Nobel Prize for Literature not forsake its primary purpose, which is to annoy the Americans.



‘Imagine in Remain had won by a tiny margin, and the government went for “Hard Remain” — Schengen, the Euro, multilingual signage. People would go apeshit.’

Rhiannon Lucy Coslett on Twitter @rhiannonlucyc



Photograph of hitman, the Baptist, in the film, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

And in other news, as the European Parliament appoints Conservative MEP, Sajjad Karim, to investigate the cause of Steven Woolfe’s injuries, news leaks that UKIP’s internal investigation will be conducted by a mysterious figure known only as ‘The Baptist.’

And elsewhere, a BBC internal email accidentally copied to a journalist states that the altercation between Steven Woolfe and Mike ‘Knuckles’ Hookem should be referred to in the news as a ‘gentlemen’s disagreement.’



The stench of racism emanating from Birmingham can’t be ignored. Amongst the Brexit jam jokes and the clown Boris adulation there’s the whiff of Weimar. It has a long history: of failed empire, self-entitlement, presumption of place in the world and discomfort at status decline.

Mike Small, ‘Brexit Means Racism.’ Bella Caledonia (5th October 2016)



A statement from the leaders of Plaid Cymru, the SNP, and the Greens, addresses the current social and political crisis:

The countries of the United Kingdom face a spiralling political and economic crisis. At the top of the Conservative Party, the narrow vote in favour of leaving the EU has now been interpreted as the pretext for a drastic cutting of ties with Europe, which would have dire economic results - and as an excuse for the most toxic rhetoric on immigration we have seen from any government in living memory.


This is a profoundly moral question which gets to the heart of what sort of country we think we live in. We will not tolerate the contribution of people from overseas to our NHS being called into question, or a new version of the divisive rhetoric of 'British jobs for British workers'. Neither will we allow the people of these islands, no matter how they voted on June 23rd, to be presented as a reactionary, xenophobic mass whose only concern is somehow taking the UK back to a lost imperial age. At a time of increasing violence and tension, we will call out the actions of politicians who threaten to enflame those same things.

This is not a time for parties to play games, or meekly respect the tired convention whereby they do not break cover during each other's conferences. It is an occasion for us to restate the importance of working together to resist the Tories' toxic politics, and make the case for a better future for our people and communities. We will do this by continuing to work and campaign with the fierce sense of urgency this political moment demands.

Signed by:
Leanne Wood, Leader of Plaid Cymru
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland
Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales
Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales
Steven Agnew, Leader of the Green Party of Northern Ireland
Patrick Harvie, Co-convener of the Scottish Green Party
Alice Hooker-Stroud, Leader of the Wales Green Party

Source



Be it known that on the fourteenth day of the month of March in the year of picklings last, MR THUBB, the Hon. Secretary of the Pointy Town chapter of the Tuesday Weld Fan Club, hired a charabanc for the purposes of an excursion to outlying parts of the said town, there to picnic and exchange pictorial collector’s cards of Tuesday Weld, her contemporaries and her peers.

That the driver of the charabanc was a man of frightful countenance and evil reputation. That he was said to have phantom limbs, additional to his given limbs, and that though these could not be perceived by the human eye in ordinary daylight, they were nevertheless present, and said driver might be said to have the form of a gigantic spider were he ever seen whole.

The opening of Frank Key’s remarkable self-published short-story collection, Porpoises Rescue Dick Van Dyke.



Poster for book launch of Dangerous Asylums

BOOK LAUNCH AND REFRESHMENTS
Monday 10th October, World Mental Health Day
5-6pm,Lecturer Room 2, Main Arts Building.
Free entry

Dangerous Asylums: Stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital Told by Leading Welsh Writers

Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, A. L. Reynolds, Manon Steffan Ros, Simon Thirsk, Elaine Walker, Gee and David Williams.
Contributing editor: Rob Mimpriss

Published by North Wales Mental Health Research Project, Department of Psychological Medicine, Hergest Unit, Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor

‘In this exemplary collaboration between medical science and imagination, lives preserved in official records, in the language and diagnoses of their times, are restored not just to light, but to humanity and equality. This anthology is a resurrection.’ Philip Gross.



An old man once sat under an olive tree outside a city gate, when a traveller approached him asked him what kind of people lived within. ‘And what kind of people have you come from?’ asked the old man. ‘Oh,’ replied the traveller, ‘they were without exception churlish and rude, and that is why I had to leave.’ ‘Then I am sorry,’ said the old man, ‘but you will find the people here no different.’

The traveller went his way, but another traveller approached, and asked the old man what kind of city he had arrived at. ‘And what kind of city have you left?’ asked the old man. ‘I miss it,’ replied the traveller, 'for it was filled with the most noble and hospitable people that a mortal man could know.’ ‘Then I think you will find,’ replied the old man, ‘that the people here are every bit as worthy.’ ~Aesop.



I can only assume that bringing a live mouse indoors, only to be shut up in the bedroom while the mouse is confiscated, is like having your manuscript rejected on this occasion on the advice of Reviewer 2.



I missed this story at the time. But apparently Theresa May advised George Osborne, ‘as an older sister,’ to acquire a soul by starving a child to death in a silver cage.



Inspired as I am by that noble act of national liberation which is Brexit, I have sent my employers one month’s notice of my resignation from my job. I intend to use that month negotiating continued access to my salary and freedom from the unnecessary restriction of having to work.



A small but troubling indicator of the growth of English nationalism: The Telegraph reports that Tesco are removing the Welsh and Scottish flags from food packaging because customers in England are complaining.



Theresa May says she knows Brexit will be a success, because she is an optimist. David Cameron said he knew the U.K. public would vote to remain, because he was a winner. I am thinking of standing for elected office, on the grounds of my pessimism and low self esteem.



And in other news, J.K. Rowlings tweets that had the astronomers who discovered Centauri b been in Gryffindor, they would have earned ten points for Gryffindor.



27th August 2016 Under the proposed British Bill of Rights put forward by Andrea Leadsom, citizens will have the right to commemorate the life and achievements of Margaret Thatcher.

Under the British Bill of Rights, British citizens will have rights.

Under the British Bill of Rights, Wales and Scotland will have the right to hold non-binding referendums.


Under the British Bill of Rights, domestic staff will have the right to commute to London.

Under the British Bill of Rights, church groups will have the right to take over failing universities.

Under the British Bill of Rights, children in Liverpool will have the right to clean drinking water.

Under the British Bill of Rights, citizens will have the right to move freely between the home nations.

Under the British Bill of Rights, foreign nationals will have the right to sell their organs.

Under the British Bill of Rights, citizens will have the right to campaign for the continuation of the monarchy.

Under the British Bill of Rights, terrorism suspects will have the right to a trial.

Under the British Bill of Rights, citizens will have the right to a traditional family.

Under the British Bill of Rights, patients will have the right to have their options explained to them when they have become a burden to their families or the state.

Under the British Bill of Rights, medical staff will have the right to volunteer at their local hospital.

Under the British Bill of Rights, Welsh and Scottish MPs will have the right to vote on matters pertaining to their own constituency.

Under the British Bill of Rights, students at Secondary Modern schools will have the right to an education tailored to the needs of their future employers.

Under the British Bill of Rights, citizens will have the right to affordable health care.

Under the new British Bill of Rights, citizens will have the right to the Bantz.

Under the new British Bill of Rights, citizens will have the right to a religious education.

Under the new British Bill of Rights, voters in newly enlarged constituencies will have the right to vote for an opposition party.

Under the new British Bill of Rights, members of the Welsh Assembly will have the right to speak Welsh.

Under the British Bill of Rights, internet users will have the right to be protected from extremism.

Under the British Bill of Rights, Saudi nationals on trial for rape will have the right to a private word with the judge.

Under the British Bill of Rights, employees of large firms will have the right to sue their employers for sexual harassment.

Under the British Bill of Rights, parliamentary select committees will have the right to make eye contact with important businessmen.



One normally expects little but condescension and disdain: but an article by Matthew Parris in The Spectator and another by John Bingham in The Telegraph, comment on the poverty and political indifference faced by Wales, despite the energy and intelligence of its people, and the huge influx of settlers from elsewhere in Britain that could render the Welsh an indigenous minority this century.



And a Brexiteer says in the Guardian comments that experts make up 99% of their statistics.



As part of its righteous crusade to liberate me from the oppression of my ad blocker, Facebook just asked me whether I’m ‘up for a lonely woman tonight.’ I guess Mark Zuckerberg’s marriage wasn’t such a good idea after all.



I dislike modern hand dryers. They’re as fussy about which bits one can insert as a Ugandan morality minister.

For example, let’s say you want to dry your face, and the air will only flow downward. You have to kneel down among the spiders that drowned in the puddles. Most of the time, that’s acceptable. But just occasionally, just for three or four days of the year, I would like not to be covered in dead spiders and urine.



The ghettoisation of the Welsh: This article in The Economic Voice considers house pricing and immigration from England in the light of centuries of English colonialism, and considers what can be done to preserve Wales’s ailing culture.



Speaking a Celtic language is exclusive, nationalist and divisive — except when a petition to fund the Cornish language attracts over ten thousand signatures from all over the U.K. Please add yours, and be part of it.



Following public outcry against their researcher’s near-racist tweet, a panicking BBC cancels speakers on ‘At least Mussolini made the trains run on time,’ ‘We did a better job of running that place than the natives ever will,’ and ‘If Putin did it to the Crimea, our boys can retake the Republic of Ireland.’



Wales, already impoverished, is set to get even poorer: This article by Daniel Evans, published by the London School of Economics, considers why Wales voted to leave the E.U., what that vote says about its public discourse and national life, and what harm the leave vote will do to its economy.



I recently discussed with a colleague the standard of proof-reading and book production among publishers in Wales. I mentioned Fresh Apples, a short-story collection by Rachel Trezise, which I had bought from an independent bookshop in Bangor.

Pages were missing. The whole text was unreadable. To be fair, these two facts are in no way related to each other.



According to the Institute of Race Relations, as reported in The Independent, a quarter of racial hate crimes recorded since 23rd June specifically feature the words ‘Go home!’ or ‘Leave!’ — for which they blame Theresa May in person, and her mobile advertisements telling people to ‘Go home or face arrest’ during her time as Home Secretary.



‘We said if you voted to leave Europe you would get the things. On further reflection, you will not get the things. We have therefore deleted our list of the things. Hurrah for England, St George and the things!’

Daily Express



This interview to be published in New Left Review comments, among other things, on the difference between hard nationalism and the national politics of stateless nations, on why Britain has never become federal, and why left-wingers constantly vilify and misrepresent Celtic nationalisms.



According to a British Election study reported by the BBC, views on capital punishment and public whipping were a significantly better predictor of Euroscepticism than class or income.



Mr Terry Nathan, UKIP councillor in Bromley, stressing the need to kill people who repudiate his views.



In a YouGov poll running from 30th June — 4th July commissioned by the Wales Governance Centre, 53% percent of Welsh respondents now favour remaining in the E.U.

Link



Any chance of Iraq invading to topple the regime?



‘So why are you here?’
‘Oh, just a check-up and polish.’
‘Hmm... Any Heat magazines behind the back?‘

~Llŷr ap Gareth



The following is from my translation of the short stories and folk tales of Glasynys, to be published by Cockatrice Books this October.

The people of Coed y Moch lived in constant fear, the cause of which is this: At night they waited in terror for the hideous wordless screams of horned devils near a haunted tree, and by day, a wyvern roamed the land, ready to attack anyone who strayed too close to the wood. Sometimes it would bask lazily on the shores of Llyn Cynwch, and at others it could be seen slithering along the slopes of Moel Othrwm, leaving its thick and venomous slaver in pools on the mountainside. This worm had a ravenous hunger. At times it would swallow a lamb whole, and there was no sating its hunger for the sheep. It would drag their corpses to a tree, and winding itself round one of the branches, would tighten its coils until the sheep’s bones shattered.

This worm had the power to mesmerise its prey. Nothing that caught its gaze could escape. Like a moth drawn to the candle, fluttering hither and thither, its end would come — it would succumb to its longing to enter the flame, and in the same way the worm’s hypnotic stare would draw its prey to itself. So it seemed invulnerable, and as it grew older it would grow in strength, so its defeat was a matter of urgency...

Continue



‘The number of learners is increasing, and the public sentiment toward the language is more positive than it has been in more than a century. That’s the perception anyway. The reality is that Welsh is still very much a vulnerable language, and if some major social changes don’t take place in the next generation or two, at most, it will not survive as a truly living community language; it will find itself in the unenviable position that Irish finds itself in today, or worse.’

Robert J Jones, analysing the language’s prospects in The Pianosa Chronicle



12th July 2016: Remember when David Cameron told the Scottish government that Scotland was either in or out, and couldn’t just cherry-pick the best bits of union? That.



12th July 2016: Not many weeks ago, journalists were saying that UKIP AMs who nominated a Plaid Cymru First Minister were proof of how dysfunctional Welsh politics is...



11th July 2016: Leave voters, controlled for age and education, were more likely to use block capitals than those who voted remain. Tweeted by @caprosser.





k thx bye, says EU.



As Plaid Cymru celebrates the solidarity of stateless nations across Europe, a cogent article on the costs of leaving appears on the London School of Economics website, and a poll of economists by Ipsos MORI shows overwhelming expert opposition to Brexit.



On the left, a Nazi propoganda film. On the right, a poster campaign by UKIP. Shared by
Johnny Marr
.



When asked to explain why, on being introduced to a Jew, Nancy Mitford rushed out of the room with her hand clasped over her mouth, she commented that the Jews are a clever race, and come in all shapes and sizes. This convinces me that I have been mistaken, and English nationalism is nothing to fear.



According to her website, Nancy Mitford was a highly distinguished satirical novelist with no strong political opinions. I’m reading up on British fascism, in case Leave win.



Take heed, brethren, against this demonic deception...



One of the political parties that put a candidate forward for the London Assembly was the Christian People’s Alliance, a somewhat saner alternative to the Christian Party, who want to privatise the NHS because God heals. The landing page on their website reads, encouragingly enough, ‘Please enter.’ And under that, in smaller letters, ‘Vote leave.’



11th June 2016: England fans shout ‘Fuck off, Europe; we're voting out’ during violent clashes in Marseille. The mask of Brexit slips to reveal an ugly, racist English nationalism.



Dear Mr Grayling

I write concerning your decision to continue to ban Welsh MPs from using the Welsh language when discussing Welsh affairs in the Welsh grand committee, on the grounds of cost. My letter has been published, and so will be your reply. I will submit a Freedom of Information request if you ignore this letter or fail to answer its questions.

1. Kindly tell me what would be the cost to the taxpayer of permitting Welsh MPs to use the use of the Welsh language in Welsh grand committee meetings.

2. Kindly tell me what was the cost to the tax payer of your claiming for your flat in Pimlico from 2001 to 2009, even though your home in Epsom was less than seventeen miles away, and even though you owned no less than four properties within the M25.

Yours sincerely

Rob Mimpriss, B.A. (Hons), M.A., Ph.D.



The money would be better spent on schools and hospitals, says Chris Grayling, of the Welsh language, and also Judas Iscariot, of the perfume used for Jesus’s burial.



9th June 2016: And in a further victory for the Brexit campaign, Lord Anthony Bamford, chairman of JCB, comes out as Eurosceptic.



9th June 2016: It isn't affordable to allow Welsh MPs discussing Welsh affairs on the Welsh Grand Committee of parliament to speak Welsh, says Chris Grayling, who claimed £68,304 for rent on a flat in Pimlico, when he only lived Epsom, and owned four properties within the M25.



Two short story collections from the Egyptian Nobel laureate, Naguib Mahfouz: in Voices from the Past, the deeds of ancient Pharoahs and sages are told in simple, compelling, fables. In The Time and the Place, modern Cairo comes to vivid and crowded life in brilliantly focused and compelling modernist short stories.



Even though I hate the government, even though I’m terrified for Wales’s future outside the European Union, I cannot help feeling some strange, grudging optimism that I will find something in Alun Cairns’s revised Wales Powers Bill to dislike.



I was going to vote for remain, but cogent use of the caps lock key on Facebook has compelled me to change my mind.



I watched Winter Light by Ingmar Bergman. I liked the bit where Gunnar Björnstrand realises he can defeat the marauding aliens led by Max von Sydow by adjusting the frequency of the church bells, leading to a rip-roaring laser-gun finale before he proposes to Ingrid Thulin.



Martin Buber tells the story of a mystic who, after a long and arduous journey of the soul, finally knocks on the gates of heaven, and is asked by a voice from within what he wants. He replies, ‘I am a man of prayer. I have sought God all my life, and now I am here, I wish to speak with him.’ ‘Then go back!’ says the voice. ‘Your God is not here, for He has drowned Himself in the hearts of men.’



An essay in the magazine in Writing in Education 68 (2016) attacks academic standards on university Creative Writing courses, in part on the grounds that it is possible to achieve an M.A. without having written a ‘full-length’ novel.

The essay contains a basic grammatical error.



23rd May 2016: There is a bug in Linux Mint 17.3. The browser crashes when opening 'Messages' by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. I discovered the error by accident.



15th May 2016: All things considered, today has been a productive day. I got up.



11th May 2016: I would like to assure the outside world that Welsh democracy is mature, Welsh politicians are statesmanlike, and in any case Welsh public affairs are far too trivial to engage even a moment of attention. Now please go on YouTube, and watch a video of Turkish MPs punching each other.



Two Italian fabulists: Anna Maria Ortese, whose stories set in rented rooms and phantasmagorically vast apartments, map out the richness and complexity of the inner life; and Giorgio Manganelli, in whose work the monologue of a labyrinth suggests the mystery of self-consciousness, and an unbodied soul prepares itself for the trauma of human birth.



5th May 2016. A pale imitation of one by Iván Mándy:

The father did not speak to his son on the way to the hospital. But as he parked, he looked over his shoulder, and on the back seat was the Liverpool sports bag containing his toothbrush and clothes.

‘We’re early,’ he said. ‘They won’t want you yet. If you like we can go for a coffee first.’




4th May 2016: ‘Scotland was an independent kingdom for centuries. There has never been a firmly established Welsh state. Edinburgh has long been the capital of Scotland. Cardiff was first recognised as capital of Wales in 1955. The Scots are a people. The Welsh — if by that we mean those British subjects who now live in the geographical unit we call Wales — are not a people.’

UKIP Daily, cheerfully deracinating the Welsh people. Their view on the Welsh language is below.



27th April 2016:

Dear Mr Cameron

To claim that during the junior doctors’ strike in England yesterday the Welsh border became ‘a line between life and death’ would be both graceless and mendacious. I will therefore refrain from doing so.

Yours sincerely

Rob Mimpriss



26th April 2016: The day the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party drop a flyer through my door, asking what the Assembly has ever done for Wales, is the day junior doctors in England walk out of routine and emergency care, while services in Wales continue as normal.



20th April 2016: Jason Lock, a UKIP official in Caerphilly, has called for ‘do-gooders’ to be shot. I have never understood how doing good is a bad thing.



Two classics of Welsh religious prose from Cockatrice Books.

Morgan Llwyd (1619-1659), the nephew of a professional soldier and magician, was a Roundhead, a millenialist, a chaplain in the army of Oliver Cromwell, and later a civil servant of the commonwealth in Wales. His Welsh-language writings, grounded in Puritan theology, yet enriched by his mysticism and esotericism, are considered masterpieces of imagery and cadence, among the best prose ever written in Welsh. His three English-language essays, first published in 1655 and collected in Lazarus and His Sisters, display the depth and richness of his religious thought, and his passionate engagement in the tumultuous events of his day.

The Sleeping Bard of Ellis Wynne’s great prose poem is dragged from sleep by the fairies of Welsh myth, and rescued by an angel is taken to see the City of Destruction, whose citizens vie for the favour of Belial’s three beautiful daughters; to the realm of King Death, the rebellious vassal of Lucifer; and finally to Hell itself, where Lucifer debates with his demons which sin shall rule Great Britain.

First published in 1703, this classic of religious allegory and Welsh prose combines all the blunt urgency of John Bunyan with the vivid social satire of Dryden and Pope, and is published in the Robert Gwyneddon Davies translation of 1909.



‘As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a Tory. To me, being a Tory was better than being president of the United States. Even before I wandered into an an after-school P.R. job, I knew I wanted to be a part of them. It was there I knew I belonged. To me, it meant being somebody in a neighbourhood full of nobodies. They weren’t like anybody else. They did whatever they wanted.’ Goodfellas, modified.



I think it’s commendable of David Cameron to get rid of his stake in a non-dommed company, and get his family to go straight. It’s the kind of thing Francis Ford Coppola might make a film about, possibly starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino...



When David Cameron condemned Jimmy Carr’s tax avoidance scheme, which he’d read about, he didn’t mention he’d been studying the brochure...



I reclaimed the tax on the cost of 500 sheets of A4 last year. It was hypocritical and immoral of me, I know...



During my twenties and thirties I was party to a tax avoidance scheme. I didn’t have any money.



11th April 2016: Meet Russ Gluteus Sims, listed on his Facebook profile as responsible for Public Relations at UKIP. It has been humbling and enlightening to watch British Unionists adapt themselves to the devolution age. Yet another instance of UKIP charm.



10th April 2016: For my twenties and thirties I was party to a tax avoidance scheme... I didn’t have any money.



9th April 2016: The heroine of Beyond the Rising Moon, a forgotten masterpiece of science fiction cinema from 1987, is a ruthless assassin trained to kill, who can catch a beer can thrown underarm with her bare bands. The hero, a cynical freelance space pilot who cares only about money, can crush an empty beer can with his bare hands. The sexual tension is almost unbearable.



The short-story writer and poet, Nigel Jarrett, winner of the Rhys Davies Award, publishes his third book with G.G. Books, the novel, Slowly Burning. It is available for sale here.



2nd April 2016: According to the 9th century Welsh monk, Nennius, the legendary British king, Gwrtheyrn or Vortigern, was killed in his castle by fire from heaven after the monks of Britain prayed against him for three days and three nights. The calumnies which earned their condemnation included his marriage to one of the godless Saxons, and his ‘unnatural relations’ with his own daughter. It is not made explicit in Nennius’s account which sin was considered the worse.



Russian short-story writers: Tatyana Tolstaya (1951-), whose carefully wrought, vivid and sensitive accounts of disappointment and loss are somehow always uplifting; and Lyudmila Petrushevskaya (1938-), heiress of Gogol, quietly revealing the tragedies of seemingly unremarkable lives. What the Russian short-story writers have been up to...



Steinbeck, Forster and the Nobel Prize

Papers relating to the Nobel Prize released at the start of this year contained a number of revelations. In 1961, J.R.R. Tolkein was passed over on the grounds of poor prose and narrative technique, and E.M. Forster, whose last novel, A Passage to India, was published in 1924, was rejected because he was old, ‘a shadow of his former self.’ Ivo Andrić won the prize that year, and in 1962, John Steinbeck was selected over Robert Graves.

Graves was rendered ineligible because he was a poet, because it would be inappropriate to award an English poet while Ezra Pound was still alive, and because Pound was ruled out because of his war-time support for Nazism. But Steinbeck was a compromise candidate. Despite his social conscience, and the monumental nature of books like Of Mice and Men (1937), The Grapes of Wrath (1939), and East of Eden (1952), his work was marred by his ‘tenth-rate philosophising.’

At first glance there is little in common between Forster’s tight studies of upper class manners, and Steinbeck’s sprawling eulogies of working men...

Read on



Image source

The UKIP view on Wales is further down...



24th March 2016: The sign outside the boutique said, ‘Look hot this season.’ So I went in and bought some thermal underwear.



The Wrestlers

Light strained through cigarette smoke became silver and granular; cast ridges of darkness on the knitted furrows of Gail’s top, on Chloë’s skirt of ruched velvet; glinted heavily on Calvin’s ring, Jason’s glass. The group’s rapt inwardness, the murmur of their voices, the stillness of that stone-faced man and the tear-swollen cheeks of the blonde, created a circle around them which no one transgressed. Only, in the foreground, a tattooed hand raising a pint glass to yellow lips would obtrude itself, or a barman come near to take their glasses, but turn away. The crowd thickened. A property developer watched the young farmer sitting beside him, examining street plans, and saw that his hands were still pink and clean. A girl in high heels slumped against the wall, breathing heavily, and saw the intent look on her companion’s face before he split into dizzying twins. The developer read the birth of his fortune in those hands; the girl would allege rape, but would not be believed...

Read the story



12th March 2016: The human sacrifice scene in Apocalypto. It’s great to see women playing a leading part in worship...



House of Fools

It must have been the professor’s death that upset her, for want of any substantial cause. She read his wife’s email during the hour before her last class; her lips tightened when she realised what it contained, and she pushed back her chair, getting up to stand in the window overlooking the quadrangle. The nearby hills were capped with cloud; the autumn day was drawing to an end, and it was going to rain. Two of her students were playing the fool, giving piggy-back rides near the Head of Department’s car, and she opened the window and called down to them, ‘You two! Get away from there!’ They ignored her. The students in the warmth of the reading room sighed over their computers. Mallt shut the window before her attic room lost its heat, and let herself sink down in one of the chairs she had set out for her students.

It was not that she and Herbert had been close since he took the chair at Oxford. She had seen him at the launch of his festschrift two years before, and had spent a few minutes near the wine glasses chatting with his wife. He had refilled his glass enough times to draw notice. And Mallt, who had never married or had children, whose flesh was sinking into the bones, had flattered herself that an onlooker might see in her face the fruit of dedication and uprightness and work, and in his the rotten leavings of a talent.

Read on



‘Outlets’ for my work? I’m a writer, not a sewage plant.



How Writers Learn

In Crefft y Stori Fer (1949), a classic of short-story criticism containing an interview with Kate Roberts, among others, the modernist John Gwilym Jones explains how he studied the art of writing. There were few previous modernists in Welsh, but he took sentences from the writers of the Welsh prose cannon — Morgan Llwyd, Ellis Wynne, the Mabinogion — and copied them, changing content and details, but leaving the syntax and rhythm intact. Through imitation, he hoped to discover his own artistic voice.

Exactly the same exercise is offered by John Gardner, in his book, The Art of Fiction (1983), which is filled with challenges to the writer to work hard, to master technique, to be scrupulous in pursuit of the perfect paragraph, the perfect sentence. Though John Gwilym Jones’s stories first struck me as dull and dry, I cannot forget them, and I often return to them. They have been translated by Meic Stephens under the title, The Plum Tree, published by Seren.



7th March 2016: ‘Liar and cheat’ Neil Hamilton now standing for the Welsh Assembly in mid Wales. Pure class, UKIP. Pure class.



4th March 2016: I just found a label marked ‘100% acrylic’ in my ear...



29th February 2016: My mother’s chapel debated the existence of God in a Bible study. They did not reach any unforeseen conclusions...



26th February 2016: Half of UKIP voters admitted racial prejudice in a poll conducted by YouGov, according to this article published by The Independent last year.



11th February 2016: The North Wales Chronice reports today that a dog was rescued from a disused septic tank at the former Ferodo site in Caernarfon. Somehow, references to sewage are never far from the Welsh news.



6th February 2016: If they’re excited and rowdy when the football is on, what will the Nobel Prize announcements be like?



Lot

New Welsh Review 13

The room was in darkness. Only the light from the hall leaked under the door. The door opened a little, and Lewis reached through the opening, fumbling for the light switch. He found the switch, and let the door swing open. ‘This is the living room,’ he said.

The viewer looked over Lewis’s shoulder. He was a younger man than Lewis, and more smartly dressed. He looked at the gaudy catalogue furnishings of the room, the fireplace, which was dead, the door to the kitchen and the flight of stairs. ‘Can I look round?’ he said.

Read on



3rd February 2015: Wales has two legitimate governments, insists Crabb: the one formed from the party which Wales has never in its history voted for, and the one comprising all the people he has accused of being dangerous nats.



3rd February 2016: There all inbread, says Stephen Crabb of his critics, in possibly drunken tweet.



3rd February 2016: Stephen Crabb warns of Welsh Assembly Government ‘demanding freedom to block or interfere in UK ministers’ decisions’ in areas such public services and agriculture, which have already been devolved.



3rd February 2016: There is consensus in Wales demanding unfettered powers for the Welsh Assembly, claims Crabb, which must be quashed in favour of the consensus demanding unfettered powers for Westminster.



3rd February 2016: Carwyn Jones and Leanne Wood both making unreasonable demands for ‘free reign in devolved areas,’ claims Stephen Crabb.



3rd February 2016: And in J.K. Rowling’s latest enchanting short story, adult Harry Porter forces adult Draco Malfoy to apologise for nasty things he said on Twitter.



Hungarian short story writers: Ervin Lázár (1936-2006), fabulist and magic realist, perpetuating the power of myth in the Hungarian countryside; Miklós Meszöly (1921-2001), whose haunting story, ‘The Falcons,’ was also filmed..; and my personal favourite, Iván Mándy (1995-1995, Nobel Prize nominee, 1993), whose stories celebrate the survival of jobbing writers and part-time lecturers in Communist Budapest, if not the survival of their dignity... What the Hungarian short-story writers have been up to...



Whenever my six-year-old friend Meirion is being rebuked or chivvied by his parents, he asks, ‘Are you angry with me?’ It’s important to get these things straight.



UKIP charm. The UKIP view of the Welsh people is further up...



4th January 2016: For those who like their history banal, the town of Denbigh, or Dinbych, is named after the din bychan, or little citadel, which has stood there since the town was ruled by the Princes of Gwynedd. But as C.S. Lewis remarks, only grown ups care for dull explanations.

In the days of Sir John Four-Thumbs, Syr John y Bodiau, the countryside of Denbighshire was terrorised by a giant known as Bych. And when John y Bodiau killed the brute, the hills echoed to his victory cry, ‘Bych is no more!’ or ‘Nid oes dim Bych!’ And that seems to me the likelier explanation.



Cover of Reasoning Cover of For His Warriors Cover of Prayer at the End

Of the Making of Books, a personal essay new on my website.



Carwyn Jones and Nigel Farage

Carwyn Jones will debate EU membership with Nigel Farage in Cardiff on 11th January 2016. That’s the man Stephen Crabb accused of being a dangerous nat, and that nice chap from UKIP.



16th December 2015: I present a translation of Twm o’r Nant’s Death of Arthur the Miser, quoted at length in a short story by Glasynys, in which the mediaeval morality play meets eighteenth-century humour:

Arthur. Hi, how are you tonight, illustrious company?
Here I am, quite out of breath, old Arthur.
Looking for a place to sit down
While my shooting pains run through me.

I have been struck by some bitter illness,
I’m afraid that I will die;
Ow! People, people, there’s no help in the world
That will get me through this stroke.

I see in the faces of this company
The sin that marks me for misery;
Now my conscience upbraids me
For my tricks; it’s a terrible affliction.

Read on



14th December 2014: Plaid Cymru Leader, Leanne Wood AM, and the party’s Parliamentary Leader, Hywel Williams MP, have informed David Cameron by letter that Plaid Cymru in Westminster and Cardiff Bay will vote against the Wales Bill that provides English MPs with a veto on laws decided by the National Assembly. More



12th December 2015: My financial hardships are over. I have just invented kittyporn.



11th December 2015: On my news feed today, concern that cuts to S4C’s funding could make Welsh-language broadcasting untenable and turn the clock back forty years to the time of the language’s decline; and the story that Samantha Cameron will appear on some idiotic celebrity show.



And in other news, following his claim that the bombing of Syria is proof of Britain’s undiminished masculinity, George Osborne picks a fight with a bouncer for disrespecting his bitch.



Academic life in Wales. I write to a university in the south of Wales enclosing complementary copies of my latest books, instead of complimentary copies. They list my previous books under Mimpress, instead of Mimpriss.



8th December 2015: So early events at the Pontio arts centre that we were told by Bangor University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Fergus Lowe, would ‘put Bangor on the map’ include scenes from the classic play, Siwan, by Saunders Lewis, with a talk explaining what the rest of the play is like; and a screening of Steve Jobs.



It’s reassuring to be told by Tony Blair that Syria won't be like Iraq, because not that long ago he was telling us that Iraq wouldn't be like Vietnam.

It’s also reassuring to be told by the BBC that our new missiles can ‘take out’ individual ISIS operatives, and leave the people standing next to them unharmed. Because in the run-up to the Iraq war we were told by ITN that it would be possible to assassinate Ba’ath leaders using robots the size of mosquitoes.

Incidentally, a projectile weapon fired at individuals isn’t a twenty foot-long missile. It’s a fucking bullet.



Cover of Rhys Lewis by Daniel Owen Cover of Enoc Huws by Daniel Owen

25th November 2015: Rhys Lewis and Enoc Huws, two classic novels by Daniel Owen, in translations by James Harries and Claud Vivian, with afterwords by Rob Mimpriss. Cockatrice Books, 2015.



Spent my first official day as a terrorist sympathiser so far reading what George Santayana has to say about Plotinus.



25th November 2015: Mimpriss’s Limit: The number of months or years a book must sit on your shelf unread before the amount of time it has sat on your shelf unread itself becomes a barrier to your reading it. I’ve always wanted to have a constant named after me.



The Winter Child

‘The Winter Child’ was first published in The Swansea Review 16 (1996).

The Mother

I was only out of the room for a minute. I had gone to put a coin in the metre, and it was the scream that summoned me back. My son was standing by the kitchen sink, and he turned to look at me as I entered the room. He was holding a knife in one hand, and something ragged and pink in the other. He opened his mouth as though to speak, and a great stream of blood welled out onto his chin.

Read on



Friday November 20th, 1-3pm Ucheldre Literary Society, Ucheldre Arts Centre, Holyhead.

The Short Story - Compression and Resonance
Led by Rob Mimpriss

The short story has a rather unusual niche in world literature. Its position seems equidistant between the novel and the poem, emphasising resonance, compression and shapeliness of form, and some critics see it as intentionally marginal, exploring the significance, even the cosmic and spiritual significance, of obscure and impoverished lives. In this workshop and reading, I will explore my debt to writers such as Anton Chekhov, Raymond Carver and Kate Roberts, and show how the short story is assembled by focusing on and mulling over a single, seemingly insignificant, incident.

Rob Mimpriss is the author of three short-story collections: Reasoning, For His Warriors and Prayer at the End. Of his recent stories, ‘Hamilton Park’ was a runner up for the Rhys Davies Award, and ‘Hart’s Reach’ appeared in Brush with Fate, an anthology of Welsh fiction in Arabic translation by Hala Salah Eldin. He has published criticism of the short fiction of Raymond Carver, Robert Olmstead and Richard Ford in New Writing, and has reviewed for New Welsh Review. In 2005 he was awarded a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing by Portsmouth University, and in 2011 he was elected to membership of the Welsh Academy.



13th November 2015: Former Presiding Officer of the Welsh Assembly, Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas, criticises the Draft Wales Powers Bill for being incoherent to the extent that it needs to be rewritten from scratch.

A spokesman for the Wales Office blames those bloody nats.

Source: BBC



3rd November 2015: My Halloween reading of H.P. Lovecraft yielded this rather shrewd analysis of a type I know rather well:

Only greater maturity could help him understand the chronic mental limitations of the ... type—the product of generations of pathetic Puritanism; kindly, conscientious, and sometimes gentle and amiable, yet always narrow, intolerant, custom-ridden, and lacking in perspective. Age has more charity for these incomplete yet high-souled characters, whose worst real vice is timidity, and who are ultimately punished by general ridicule for their intellectual sins—sins like Ptolemaism, Calvinism, anti-Darwinism...



28th October 2015:

We cower in our shelters
With our hands over our ears —
Lloyd-Webber’s awful stuff runs for years
And years and years.

An earthquake hits the theatre,
But the operetta lingers.
Then the piano lid comes down
And breaks his fucking fingers:
It’s a miracle...

~Roger Waters



27th October 2015: I’ve just been asked twice by a market research company for my date of birth and my age. And these are the people the Tories claim will save us.



22nd October 2015: Click to read a letter to Mr David Cameron concerning English Votes for English Laws and the Draft Wales Powers Bill.



A work for harp by Michael Stimpson, performed by performed by Sioned Williams, to mark the 50th anniversary of the flooding of Capel Celyn and the Tryweryn Valley.



The Sheep

‘The Sheep’ first appeared in The Swansea Review 13 (1994) and is my first published short story.

When Owain arrived, there was no one at the station. He was unsurprised, for there had not been anyone on the train. He stood on the platform, facing west, and said: ‘Doesn’t anyone live here any more?’

It was a debatable point. A few bedraggled sheep proceeded to do so, though inconclusively. It depends what you mean by live, they answered him in the end. When the only thing you’re equipped to do is eat grass and grow woolly slippers, you don’t call it living exactly.

Read on



A fictional representation of Irish nationalism during the War of Independence:

‘He was scarcely twenty years old. He was thin and soft at the same time. He gave one the uncomfortable impression of being an invertebrate. He had studied, with fervour and vanity, every page of some Communist manual or other; dialectic materialism served him as a means to end every and all discussion. The reasons that one man may have to abominate another, or love him, are infinite: Moon reduced universal history to a sordid economic conflict. He asserted that the revolution is predestined to triumph. I told him that only lost causes can interest a gentleman...’ ~Jorge Luis Borges, ‘The Shape of the Sword’ in Fictions (trans. Anthony Kerrigan. London: Calder, 1998).



1st October 2015: Today I translate an englyn by Ieuan Brydydd Hir:

Agor dy drysor, dod ran — yn gallwych
Tra gelli i’r truan;
Gwell ryw awr golli’r arian
Na chau’r god a nychu’r gwan.

Open your treasures and come, give — as much
As you can to the poor.
Better an hour without silver
Than a purse that is shut to the weak.



Zadar, Croatia is a tidy city. There is no litter, and while bill posters and graffiti appear on abandoned buildings in the seaside district, where I am staying, the Roman/Byzantine/Venetian Old Town is immaculate. I have seen only one defacement, tidily sprayed on a litter bin just inside the city gate. A swastika, as it happens.



This morning a cruise ship with an Italian flag docks at the headland. A short while later a crocodile of children begins a rough, informal march up and down the promenade, dressed in sailor shirts and white sailor hats, singing. A boy and girl bring up the rear, holding hands.



Lines Written on Seeing a Cat in Zadar, Croatia, During the Poet’s Forty-Fourth Year

This gracefully stalking, lithely cat
Hails from the homeland of the cravat.
I have itched to place a natty hat
On the twitching ears of a Croat like that.



Image of Jeremy Corbyn

12th September 2015: ’Now that the Taliban have captured Kabul, we can all go back to growing our poppies in peace.’ —Afghan farmer, mid 1990s.



The Word of Our God Stands Forever. Regrettably, posters fray.



B&M keeps the pesto with the ethnic cuisine, along with the Jalfrezi Mix and Pot Noodles.



If an arts organisation writes to me, to tell me that something which is going to happen is exciting, and is careful to use the word ‘exciting,’ will I be excited?

Hint: ‘I am never excited.’ —Ayatollah Khomeini.



Image of Theatr Gwynedd prior to its closure in 2008

7th September 2015: It has now taken Bangor University longer to replace the theatre they demolished than it took Edward II to build the walls of Conwy. Six years, eleven months and still counting.



It is a truth universally acknowledged that no matter how wide the supermarket aisle, someone will contrive a way to use their trolley to block it.



28th August 2015: During the run-up to the general election in 2015, leading Conservatives warned voters not to support Labour because Labour might enter coalition with the SNP. The SNP were enemies of the state. Nicola Sturgeon was the most dangerous woman in Britain, more dangerous than our stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Not content with controlling the UK, and with their eyes on the Welsh elections in 2016, R.T. Davies and other Conservatives approached the most dangerous woman in Wales, and her party, with a view to forming a coalition to oust Labour from government in Cardiff Bay. Naturally enough, Plaid Cymru refused.

The Conservatives accused them of hypocrisy.




Article

The flooded graveyard at Capel Celyn, a majority Welsh-speaking village just west of the language barrier, that was flooded at the behest of Liverpool Council, ostensibly to meet their need for drinking water, though the water was used for industry. All Welsh MPs voted against the project, bar one who abstained. English MPs have always had a veto.



6th August 2015: My optician’s receptionist is the militantly grandmaternal type, who would retire if she could trust us to run our own lives. She is the last bastion of Welsh civilisation, having translated the Bible three times and single-handedly evangelised India. Her daughter was a concert soprano until she got married, and is the only musician known to have made Herbert von Karajan cry, and her seven sons are all living successfully in England, though strangely, not one of them likes bara brith. Her chapel minister dreads the day when she has more free time.



It’s okay. I have a B plan. If I lose my job at the end of the year I shall track down my previous students and eat them.



Gwynfor Evans remarked that in the 20th Century, the British state became powerful enough finally to destroy Wales, by ignoring it. This language map, displaying the erosion of heartland areas, is the result of their wilful igorance.



Books for sale at Prayer at the End booklaunch

6th July 2015: Three of my own books were for sale at my book launch on Friday evening: a sequence of short story collections united by themes of belonging, heritage, place, what makes us good people and why we bother, and also by recurring characters. The sequence also includes three translations from seminal Welsh texts never previously translated.

My first two collections, Reasoning and For His Warriors were first published by Gwasg y Bwthyn with Welsh Books Council support. They now join Prayer at the End in revised editions at Cockatrice Books, and are for sale on Amazon.



John Fraser Williams at the launch of Prayer at the End

5th July 2015: Two poets contributed readings to my book launch last night: John Fraser Williams, pictured here precariously reading from his collection, Scan, and Fiona Owen, who read three poems from her most recent collection, The Green Gate, both published by Cinnamon Press, Blaenau Ffestiniog.

I read a short story, ’Hamilton Park,’ which was shortlisted for the Rhys Davies Prize before being published in New Writing. It now appears in Prayer at the End, my third collection of short stories for sale with Reasoning and For His Warriors on Amazon.



Olives, cheese and wine at the launch of Prayer at the End

4th July 2015: Feta, olives and salad, and wonderful company for the launch of my third short-story collection, Prayer at the End, last night.

The collection contains short stories dedicated to Charis Sewell, Graham Thomas and Cass Meurig, short stories published in Annexe Magazine, The Harbinger and Blue Tattoo, my short story, ‘Hamilton Park,’ translated into Arabic by Hala Salah Eldin for Albawtaka Press, Cairo, and ‘Wolf,’ a short story commissioned by Alistair Sims as writer in residence at the Meillionydd excavations.

Prayer at the End concludes a series of three related collections exploring the classical heritage of Wales, comparing the urge to escape with the need to belong, and probing the price we pay for living according to our ideals. Reasoning, For His Warriors and Prayer at the End are all available from Amazon.



He saw them on the other bank stealing over the fence. The man dropped his rucksack among the reeds, holding down the barbed wire with his hand while the woman put her weight on his shoulder. They must have cut across Dewi Thomas’s land, and now they were trespassing on his, perhaps intent on a little wilderness camping in the water meadows by the river. They paused for a moment on a patch of mossy green, checking their rucksacks, his trousers, her shorts, pressing forward towards the abandoned surgery. The woman tripped on an alder stump, suppressing a scream, and a heron in the shallows took slow gawky flight towards the fish traps at the end of his reach. The further they trespassed the more damage they might do, and if they had been brought here by the sign on the road that said ‘For Sale,’ then they should have taken its advice and phoned the agent to arrange an appointment.

My story, ‘Hart’s Reach,’ anthologised in Arabic translation before appearing in Prayer at the End. Read on



According to one of the Irish epics, there is a mill in Hell which grinds all the corn ‘that men begrudge each other.’ A colleague of mine who works there tells me that of late they’ve been doing a roaring trade.



Tips for Creative Writing Students: ‘Lady Fotherington-Fortescue?’ repeated the barman, scratching his head. ‘There hasn’t been a Lady Fotherington-Fortescue in these parts since the old Lady Fotherington-Fortescue, who drowned swimming intestate in the weir because she couldn’t swim the night before her wedding to the dashing but dastardly Major Fortescue-Fitzwilliam, who proved to have been cashiered from the army with crippling gambling debts.’

‘But in that case,’ gasped Marjorie, rolling her eyes, ‘who was the mysteriously translucent Lady Fotherington-Fortescue, who saved my life by warning me not to swim in the weir behind the shrubbery with the “No Swimming Unless You Can Swim” sign concealed behind the overgrown hydrangeas?’

It had all been a dream. Or had it?



Tips for Creative Writing Students: A twig broke behind John Striker, and he turned. It was his old arch-nemesis, Major Kunstschüle von Rippentopf, whom he thought he had killed with his bare hands before throwing him out of an airborne plane onto a spike factory near Essen. He was covering Striker with a Lüger .49 automatic and an evil sneer stretched across his cold, Germanic features.

Could he kill von Rippentopf with his bare hands? He still had the Colt .357 Magnum he had won from von Rippentopf in a game of poker in Casablanca before von Rippentopf’s defection to the East, cunningly concealed in his suspenders. If he could make one almighty leap, get his bare hands round the other man’s throat... ‘Don’t try anything,’ gritted von Rippentopf through gritted teeth.



The World, the Flesh and the Rev. Howell Jones

First published in Cambrensis 27 (1996).

At 11:55 one Friday morning, the Rev (in name only) Howell Jones, obese and a smoker, suffered the first of three strokes that carried him off to his Maker when his son, John the builder, had slipped out for a hourī. This was in the basement living room of his house, No.7 Coed y Bryn, one of those endless black stone terraces on a hill overlooking the south coast.

The Rev Howell Jones sat in his patched arm chair, and at his feet lay the aged black Labrador, Schopenhauer, who continued to gaze adoringly at his master as the first of his convulsions passed over him. The whisky tumbler shook in his hand, shedding plashes of alcohol onto his trousers and into his face; the cigarette fell, providentially, into the basin of the candlestick that the Rev Jones kept by his side as an ash tray; the hand followed it, clutched at the candlestick, and shook it as he shook, releasing mingled smoke and ash into the air.

Read on



Rob Mimpriss performing at Interrobang festival

Date: 20th June 2015 A quick note of sorrow and thanks to Nick Murray and the other organisers of Annexe Magazine, which published my short story, ‘Gemini,’ and of the Interrobang Minifest, where I performed in November 2012 at the Betsey Trotwood, London.

Poster advertising Interrobang festival

Will Conway, Chrissie Williams and Eley Williams were no bad line-up. In addition, I still have three small, austerely designed yet beautifully printed pamphlets by Amber Massey-Blomfield, Charlotte Newman and Michael C Schuller, published by Annexe Press and launched that day. Not many magazines with so little support last four years, or achieve so much. I’ve no doubt that Annexe will be missed.



4th June 2015: I offer my translation of an englyn by Robert ap Gwilym Ddu. This and the previous englyn below will appear in a translation from the Welsh of D. Gwenallt Jones in my forthcoming short story collection, Prayer at the End:

Er cwyno lawer canwaith — a gweled
Twyll y galon ddiffaith,
Ni fyn Duw, o fewn y daith
Droi neb i dir anobaith.

Although we lament many times — and look
On the faithless heart’s treachery,
God would not want our journey
To end in a hopeless land.



According to a colleague at the examiners’ meeting, my sarcasm doesn’t detract from my charm. I don’t know whether to simper or smirk.



Saturday meeting in Milton Keynes. And the trees shall clap their hands.



1st June 2015: This anonymous englyn apparently reflects on the pain of exile. My translation follows the original:

Ni tharia yn Lloegr noeth oeryn — o beth
Byth hwy nag uyn flwyddyn;
Lle macer yr aderyn,
Llyna fyth y llwyn a fyn.

Do not stay in cold, barren England — ever
For more than the space of a year.
The place where the bird was nurtured
Is the place it will long to return.



This bottle of Malbec should be drunk within three years, but it’s as well to be on the safe side.



In Home Bargains, the Selfridges of Bangor’s West End, the length of the checkout queue increases with its proximity to the alcohol aisle.



Map of Wales with an incorrectly placed border, printed by the RNLI.


No true Welshman acknowledges a distinction between Wales and the land that was taken from us...



29th May 2015: I translate a famous englyn with a glint in its eye:

Fy Nuw, gwêl finnau, Owen — trugarha
At ryw grydd aflawen
Fel y gwnawn pe bawn i’n ben
Nef, a thi o fath Owen.

My God, look on me, Owen — have mercy
On an undeserving workman
As I would, were I King of Heaven,
And you a paltry thing like Owen.



10th May 2015: My friend and colleague Fiona Owen launches her next poetry collection, The Green Gate, with Cinnamon Press this Tuesday, Cafe Kyffin, 7pm. I greatly respect her. There are writers one outgrows, but reading her collection, I find that whatever place of dignity and humanity I have strived for, Fiona is there, and has planted her roots very deeply there. She has asked me to read one of the poems at her launch, and I’m honoured to do so.



9th May 2015: The graffito near my home, demanding a ‘Free Wales,’ has faded, and now calls only for ‘ales.’ In truth it was ever thus.



8th May 2015: Someone on Twitter comments that the Liberal Democrats have reaped what they have sewn. I have ripped what I have sewn. I used too strong a thread.



The Stones

First published in Skald 7 (1997).

He parked the car on the road from Llanaelhaearn, and followed her over the stile onto the field at the bum of the mountain. He saw her in the crimson of the autumn evening, swinging the restraint from her arms and legs, letting her feet sink deep in the mud and shit as she led the way up the hill. He curled his hand round the ring in his pocket, and broke into a run to catch up with her.

He was twenty-eight years old, but looked younger. He had recently been appointed as a curate at Bangor Cathedral. He slowed down to adopt his companion’s pace, and said: ‘Are you sure he heard you?’

Read on



7th May 2015: There is only one way to stem the tide of Celtic Nationalisms in the UK. We must invade the Republic of Ireland.



6th May 2015: My thoughts today are with the sick, homeless and the hungry of Great Britain. And my condemnation is on those who voted without compassion.



22nd April 2015: And a rich young man came unto him, and asked, ‘Good teacher, pray, what I must I do to gain a higher mark?’ And the teacher said unto him, ‘You know what you have been taught. Show, and don’t merely tell. Develop credible, complex characters. Use viewpoint and setting intelligently, and plot out your narrative arc.’ ‘But that is all just a matter of personal opinion,’ said the young man, ‘and still you have not told me how to gain a higher mark.’ ‘Then go,’ said the teacher, ‘and produce better work, for as your work is, so shall your mark be also.’ When the young man heard this, he went his way with downcast heart, for he was not fond of working.



Among the many ironies arising from Plaid Cymru candidate Mike Parker’s allegedly racist attack on, um, racism, is the prominence given by the Telegraph to the fact that he is English. Damn traitor...



4th April 2015: I offer a seasonal haiku of my own:

Through bare-plastered room
Into which comes spring sunlight,
The first butterfly.



2nd April 2015: According to an article in The Telegraph, Nicola Sturgeon is the most dangerous woman in the U.K. Fortunately we have Trident for people like that.



March 24th 2015: ‘Why so much fuss about preserving the world’s languages anyway?’ UKIP’s deputy leader Paul Nuttall asks a Cambrophone majority in Porthmadog. ‘It’s not as though we need all twenty of them.’



24th February 2015: The great writer and philosopher D.J. Williams remarks, in his book, Hen Dŷ Fferm, that what makes a man civilised is the number and depth of his connections with life. On an unrelated matter, UKIP Kent Councillor Rozanne Duncan remarks that what she has in common with her friends is smoking and dogs.



23rd February 2015: I saw the BBC documentary, Meet the Kippers, about UKIP supporters in Kent. It was basically rather sad. I wouldn’t want to condemn the worst of them, but there was nothing in the best of them to like or admire. Ignorant, dreary, utterly charmless people.



21st February 2015: I told my neighbour, ‘My eyes hurt, my brain hurts, and I’m doing too much marking.’ ‘Oh,’ she said sweetly. ‘Is there anything else, before I go?’



Although [St.] Patrick’s Christianity was Roman in its ritual and its organization, he states that Latin was not his mother tongue, a remark which is consistent with the belief that Romanization did not penetrate into the very marrow of the population of Britain... Latin was learnt and, as the graffiti at Caer—went and elsewhere prove, knowledge of it and literacy in it were common in the cities... it did not replace Brittonic as the mother tongue of the broad mass of the population. The cities of Britannia were bilingual communities, although doubtless Latin was more audible, for in every age the imperial language has its peculiar pitch and its own peculiar stridency...

—The historian John Davies, who died today, 16th February 2015. His book, The History of Wales, published by Penguin, is a masterpiece.



Palas Print welcome

10th February 2015: Following the closure of Bangor‘s last remaining independent bookshop, Palas Print, a commendably dignified poster appears in the window of the empty shop, thanking its former customers for their support, and asking them to trade with other local businesses.



1st January 2015
Predictons for 2015

Cardiff University will establish a professorship of the Welsh short story. The appointee will be an English novelist.

Welsh writers will be told they should be urban and sexy, despite our lack of sizeable cities and our obesity epidemic.


A literary competition will be announced with a first prize worth ten times the second. The judges will complain that it was hard to choose an overall winner.

It will not strike any so-called ‘flash’ fictioneers that in condensed forms, ambiguities matter.

As always, my writing will look on the bright side of life.




It says much for the passion and commitment of my students that so many of them keep in touch for years by sending me spam from hacked Hotmail accounts.



23rd December 2014: In a short story just published by J.K. Rowling it transpires that Draco Malfoy once stole something belonging to Keyser Söze.



Cole’s Ride

That morning Annie set fire to the hearthrug. A little later, Cole set off to Fforest for a job. She stood in the doorway with soot on her knees, her bare arms folded over her chest, and watched as he tightened his rucksack round his shoulders and checked that his knife was at his belt. He glanced up at her, his expression coarse. ‘Get inside,’ he told her roughly. ‘Try to clean up the damage you’ve done.’ He glimpsed her again as he free-wheeled down the track, standing at the window, still watching.

The snow was just beginning to fall. Two joggers ran past him in Lycra as he turned his bike onto the cycle track. He rode with care, the rush of the river in his ears, and arrived in Fforest as Ceri stepped outside her back door, her hands dark with offal and a dog at her heels.

Read on



Balchder Cymru, Cilmeri

11th December 2014: A rally in Cilmeri in Sir Brycheiniog marks the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, last Prince of Wales, on 11th December 1282, and the end of national independence for Wales. I don’t know what effect it has on you, but it makes me feel weak at the, um, knees.



22nd November 2014: My next short story will depict the heroic and lonely struggle between a man and his fire alarm.





Article

Doreen Irvine, From Witchcraft to Christ and the Satanic Panic — a little light reading for Hallowe’en



27th October 2014: It’s the Dylan Thomas centenary. Planetary orbits may be affected.



4th October 2014: Wales Arts Review professes itself ‘very excited’ by the Dylan Thomas centenary, while gwales.com asks me by email if I ‘penned an ode for National Poetry Day.’ Truly every day in the arts world is an adventure.



21st September 2014: And in the Welsh news this week, did Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey and Catherine Zeta Jones drown during a sex orgy in a vat of slurry?



20th September 2014: And in the Welsh news this week, Anglesey people felt proud to be British as heavy vehicles flew through thin air.



10th September 2014: Barking without. That which the ignorant call History merely reflects the eternal conflict between Civilisation and Dog.



1st September 2014: Russian authorities confirm that all its space-sex experiment geckos are dead. I’d hoped it would end like Moonraker, but it turned out more like Das Boot.



15th August 2014: If the Russians get any publishable results from their experiments, I hope at least one of the papers is called ‘Moon-Lair of the Sexually Experimental Space Lizards.’ They’re scientists. They owe it to humanity.



30th July 2014: When the geckos return to Earth, and say they were kidnapped, and taken into space, and forced to take part in breeding experiments, none of the other geckos are going to believe them...



25th July 2014: That a BBC commentator at the Commonwealth Games incorrectly referred to Wales as ‘the principality’ reminds me of an incident early in my career, when my portrayal of Wales in my first book touched a London editor‘s nerve to the extent that she scrawled ‘Wales is a principality of England‘ on the manuscript when she returned it. I hope the desire to vilify and humiliate has faded, even though the ignorance apparently has not.



20th July 2014: What happens in Near Earth Orbit stays in Near Earth Orbit, say geckos.



19th July 2014: Reportedly the Russian space sex gecko satellite is ‘not responding.’ They’re busy.



Looking after my neighbours’ dogs, take two. I am uncertain what would happen if I put the red lead on the dog with the blue collar, or the blue lead on the dog with the red collar. But in dealing with such powerful fundamental forces I am reluctant to try the experiment.

Dogs are not pundits of Indian classical music.

My neighbours’ dogs, take two. Daisy, the older and more thoughtful of the pair, gives me the same puzzled, contemptuous look when I bag one of her turds as you might if I went around bagging yours.



1st May 2014: The Writing Process Meme invites writers to answer four questions about their work, and nominate two or three other writers who will do the same, using the linking tag #mywritingprocess.

I am grateful to have been asked to take part by Elaine Walker, novelist, writing tutor and critic. She is author of The Horses (Cinnamon, 2010), ’an uplifting and open-hearted novel,’ alongside other fiction and non-fiction titles, including several which focus on the horse in cultural history.

Read about my creative process



Teach Us

You taught yourself not to pray. It was difficult. Words from the Bible kept coming to mind. You found yourself remembering hymns.

Once you found Cardinal Newman’s prayer in a drawer. If I gain the whole world and lose thee, it said, I have lost everything. You destroyed it ruthlessly.



3rd April 2014: Pollution levels in rural Wales set to rise from ‘low’ to ‘moderate.’ Citizens advised to take to the streets in panic.



8th March 2014: The geopolitical alignment is perfect. It is time to annexe Herefordshire.



14th February 2014: Had a meeting in Bangor University today. Usually the term ‘Byzantine’ is applied to organisations that actually matter.



Image of TertullianImage of David Silvester

18th January 2014 ‘The term “conspiracy” should not be applied to us but rather to those who plot to foment hatred against decent and worthy people, those who shout for the blood of the innocent and plead forsooth in justification of their hatred the foolish excuse that the Christians are to blame for every public disaster and every misfortune that befalls the people. If the Tiber rises to the walls, if the Nile fails to rise and flood the fields, if the sky withholds its rain, if there is earthquake or famine or plague, straightway the cry arises: “The Christians to the lions!”’
— Tertullian. UKIP councillor David Silvester, who believes that gay people cause floods, may wish to take note.



A cold, wet day in coastal Lincolnshire, and my hostess spills a glass of water over the household’s local flooding plan.



18th November 2013: According to a recent study it’s less healthy to drink coffee first thing than to leave it until mid morning. That’s okay. I can set my alarm for mid morning.



17th November 2013: Tweeting live from the scene.

Nobel laureate and novelist Doris Lessing dead. Impossible to get into the centre of town because of the crowds of mourners.

Following Doris Lessing’s death, the pubs of Wales are deserted. Small groups gather in private homes to explore what her writing meant to them.


Oblivious to Doris Lessing’s death, a thousand bad Kindle authors unfollow her on Twitter, because she didn’t follow them back.

The Learned Society of Wales meets to discuss the influence of Wales on the writings of Doris Lessing. It is agreed that Wales would have been important to Doris Lessing, had Doris Lessing been Welsh.


Revered Welsh novelist Julian Ruck leads public tributes to Doris Lessing. Her gigantic intelligence and magisterial prose revolutionised my early artistic consciousness, says Ruck.

In honour of Doris Lessing, Welsh novelist Angharad Price henceforward to be known as Wales’s answer to Doris Lessing.

At Doris Lessing’s state funeral, George Osborne is a visibly broken man. We are all Nobel laureates now, says David Cameron.




31st August 2013: Atreyu, the young hero of The Neverending Story, is advised to set out on his quest alone, and without taking weapons. Me, I’m all for taking weapons. And some friends who are better in fights than me. And a laptop so I can update my Facebook status.



Day One looking after my neighbours’ two West Highland terriers while they’re away. Our first walk together was a chaotic, life-embracing, risk-perverse affair.

Day Two looking after my neighbour’s dogs. Spencer, the younger and more impetuous, has appointed himself our captain, but has kindly asked me to be his lieutenant and help maintain disorder among the ranks. I have reluctantly accepted, since privately I doubt his leadership skills. He shows no concept of the difference between taking inventory of our supplies and eating them, and he has allowed our beer rations to fall dangerously low. He has declared war on catkind and expects their speedy extinction, so morale among the ranks is high.


Day Four looking after my neighbours’ dogs, and our base is in a state of combat readiness. Spencer still claims command, but Daisy, the older dog, is the more canny and experienced sentry, and immediately warns us of trespassing cyclists, marauding postmen, and other threats to our lives. One unseen, unheard assassin resorted to that particularly sinister strategy of presenting no tangible challenge at all, and was repulsed (or so I hope and pray) by the most prolonged and fearsome barking. These shows of our superior strength occur at the slightest provocation, so I have never felt more relaxed or better able to attend to my work.

Day Six looking after my neighbours’ dogs. It is 3 a.m., and it comes to me in a cold and lonely terror that I am separated from my beloved dogs, the most wonderful dogs I have ever met. The width of a bedroom door lies between us, and I know that should I be attacked, there is no one to protect me. I scratch the painted wood with my nails, piteously calling my dogs by name, but it is a cold, unfeeling world, and I am comfortless. Then the door opens, and there are my dogs, and oh, the bliss of reunion!




11th January 2013: The claim that the biannual Rhys Davies Short Story Competition ‘could be your chance to make a mark on the writing of Wales’ would seem to be undermined by the fact that Rhys Davies’s short stories are not affordably in print.




October 20th 2013: My report on Revenant by Tristan Hughes for the Reading Wales blog:

As a reading group we often express the opinion that Anglophone writers should show an authentic Wales, that they should not perpetuate clichés or falsify Welsh experience, and that Welsh writers should write for Welsh readers, some of the time at least. Yet I personally was raised in Wales by English parents, feeling sometimes an insider and sometimes an outsider, and sometimes more engaged with landscape than with culture. I was both moved and comforted by the characters’ ambivalent relationship with their hometown, and I felt that their origin was both a privilege and a slight loss, as mine was.

Read on



10th October 2013: I would like to offer Alice Munro my personal congratulations on winning the Nobel Prize. She was a worthy opponent.



27th September 2013: My report on the novel, ‘Enoc Huws’ by Daniel Owen, for the Reading Wales blog:

The Reading Wales book group discussed Profedigaethau Enoc Huws by Daniel Owen. This was a new kind of selection for the group, a Welsh-language classic first published in 1891, perennially popular in Welsh and twice adapted for television. A translation by Claud Vivian, published in 1892, was recently revised by Les Barker and republished as The Trials of Enoc Huws (Mold: Brown Cow, 2010).

Read on



7th September 2013: According to the peer reviewer, (Me, 2009) is not how they cite their own research at Harvard.



Compline

I am a sick man. I am a peevish man. I am a disaffected man. It is getting harder to ignore the tumour growing inside my brain. In Cwmdonkin Park the other day I was stabbed by rods of light and pain, and I groaned and had to clutch the railings for support. In the last year or so I have let my appearance decline. A woman holding a two-year-old girl by the hand edged away, and I think, Geraint, it is good that such a sick man keeps his closest friend at the farthest end of the world.

Read on



19th February 2013:

Annwyl Preswyliwr/Dear Occupant

We are writing on behalf of your local council to raise your awareness of flooding in your area. We would like to ask the following questions.

1. The last time your home was flooded, did the waters reach:
a. Ten feet?
b. Twenty feet?
c. Somewhere near the top of Mt Ararat?

2. What do you believe caused the flooding:
a. Sky demons?
b. Welsh Nats?
c. The ConDemolition?

Please tick all of the above.


3. In the event of flooding, would you like the council to provide you with:
a. Sandbags?
b. An inflatable dinghy?
c. An inflatable sex doll?
d. Liquid refreshment?

Please tick none of the above.

4. In the event of flooding, who do you think should have to clear up?
a. You.
b. Society.
c. The Big Society.
d. David Cameron, and I want to see him down on his hands and knees, scrubbing.

Please tick d.

5. The last time floodwater came into your house, where there little bits of cack in it?
a. Yes.
b. Shit, yes.
c. Yes, but not as much as I’d have liked.

We implore you not to tick c.




14th January 2013: For Bangor, unlike —shall we say?— Merthyr Tydfil or Llaregyb, is not easily exportable. It doesn’t travel well. Those who live there know there is enough wickedness in its narrow valley to occupy the talents of a Dostoievsky, and a lot to spare. But its ore is not easily mined.
—Anthony Conran (7th April 1931-14th January 2013), The Cost of Strangeness.



Oðin
For Kath

All right —— I suffered: I became wise. But it was, at best, a self-centred wisdom, a reaching out that became almost grasping, a desperate attempt to avoid pain.

I winked, and became a one-eyed wanderer, a seer of convenient half-truths only, ignoring the fact I did not really belong.

Now I see your eyes, gentle, penetrating, telling me the wisdom you see in me is your own.

First published in The Swansea Review 21 (2001).



Sigurd Rides Away from Hindarfell

He chose freedom. Walking away from his parents, his teachers, he took the path that led to adventure, wresting a future from the dragon of the past.

‘I have no father.’ Instead, he found friends: the wisdom of Oðin’s rejected servant, the wealth and power of a royal house. Being sought, he lived out his life through others, not seeing his destiny lost in the flames.

They thought him a seer: they were wrong. A seeker of omens, superstitious, sententious, building his hopes on the gossip of sparrows, false promises of the rune-woman.

First published in The Swansea Review 21 (2001).



I have successfully trained one of the local Evangelical ministers to smile, and not say anything whingy or condemning, as he passes me in the lane. I am the Bigot Whisperer.



A Multitude of Virtues:
A brief essay about A Multitude of Sins, by Richard Ford

While the stories contained in Richard Ford’s third collection, A Multitude of Sins (London: Harvill, 2001), revisit themes and situations found in the previous two, their treatment shows much development. One notes that Ford is applying to the short story form the lessons he learned in the Frank Bascombe novels, and that he has outlived his companionship with Carver and Wolff. The collections show deep psychological insight worked into tales of the utmost simplicity: in ‘Privacy’ the narrator is aroused by the sight of a woman undressing in the window opposite his own, until he realises that she is old; in ‘Reunion’ he has a brief, embarrassing encounter with the man he cuckolded some years ago.

Read on



I am the author of three short story collections. Reasoning and For His Warriors, originally published by Gwasg y Bwthyn, Caernarfon, with Welsh Books Council support, now join Prayer at the End in revised editions at Cockatrice Books. My anthology of fiction, Dangerous Asylums: Stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital Told by Leading Welsh Writers, including work by Gee and David Williams, Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, Simon Thirsk and others, was published by the North Wales Mental Health Research Project, October 2016.

I am the translator of Going South: The Stories of Richard Hughes Williams (Cockatrice, 2015), Hallowe’en in the Cwm: The Stories of Glasynys (Cockatrice, forthcoming), and A Book of Three Birds, the seventeenth-century classic by Morgan Llwyd (Cockatrice, forthcoming). In addition, I have translated fiction by D. Gwenallt Jones, Angharad Tomos, and Manon Steffan Ros.