Jan 072016
 

Happy Donkey Hill has been back in the news. Or rather, it made it onto the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 on Monday. (Click here and go to 1:22:32.) Then Kate Clamp popped up on Wales Today. And here’s another Kate Clamp revpiece from the BBC in which we hear from her again, and also a spokesman for Mynyddoedd Pawb . . . being rather ambivalent, I thought. He “completely understands” why people should want to change names and doesn’t want to “over-romanticise” the past!

In fact the spokesman for Mynyddoedd Pawb (whose name I didn’t catch) seemed to display all the symptoms of seimonglynphobia, or a mortal fear of saying too much and offending anyone. A condition perhaps best compared to expressing a desire to tackle flooding while simultaneously denying that an excess of water might be the problem.

On the principle that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and seeing as the vast majority of those listening to Today would have been English, Kate Clamp is probably delighted with such coverage.

Even the company that made what she wore for her 15 minutes of infamy, Robinsons Equestrian clothing, got involved by tweeting, “Nice surprise to see one our Requisite garments on BBC TV earlier. Thanks !” I chipped in with, “Being associated with colonialist bigots must do wonders for your image.” Then there was a bit of banter with Clamp herself who opined that I should be ignored as my head is so far up my ares (sic) that Google couldn’t find it. (Ah, the wit!) In another tweet she called me “hideous” – moi! Eventually she sent me a DM in which she called me a very, very naughty name. At this point I decided, very reluctantly, and only to spare my blushes, that she had to be blocked.

BBC Happy Donkey Hill

*

Another example brought to my attention of a name being changed from Welsh to “non-Welsh” is over on the border (the ‘Welsh border’, of course) near Hay-on-Wye. There the Maesllwch Arms, a listed coaching inn, was recently re-named Foyles.

This change was explained thus, “Taking pride in the literary history of the area, and the nearby town of books, Hay on Wye, Foyles (the former Maesllwch Arms) has been named after the famous chain of bookshops.” What ‘literary history’? As for Hay, it’s claim to fame is that a megalomaniac imposed himself on the town and took it over with second-hand bookshops, eventually declaring himself ‘king’, and Hay independent. All good fun and guaranteed to appeal to those who succumb to the myth of the ‘great English eccentric’.

The real problem with ‘Foyles’ though is not just that the owners decided Maesllwch was too Welsh, and that the name of an English book chain with no local links was an improvement, but that the ‘Welsh’ Government agreed, coughing up £150,000 of our money in a grant to ‘Foyles’.

Foyles 1

So my message to those believing that an appeal to the quisling puppet show in Cardiff docks will do something to stop this insidious form of colonialism is simple – you’ll be wasting your time.

*

The next example I want to use takes us to Ceredigion, and land owned by the English National Trust. One of the less-frequented beaches along that over-developed stretch of coast is to be found at Penbryn beach, between Tresaith and Llangrannog.

Perhaps not so well known to tourists, Penbryn beach was always popular with locals, youngsters especially. It was where they went for parties and barbecues. The lucky ones would get summer jobs at the cafe at the top of the quiet road leading down to the beach. A cafe called ‘Cartws’ (‘cart house’) run by a local, Welsh-speaking family.

Plwmp Tart comp

CLICK TO ENLARGE

That was then, now it’s been taken over by a couple from London and re-named ‘The Plwmp Tart’. (Plwmp is a hamlet not far away on the A487 trunk road.) The Plwmp TartPlwmp Tart sign is obviously someone’s idea of humour, a play on the various meanings of the word tart. On the one hand it’s a pastry dish, on the other it’s a vulgar and sexually provocative woman.

Seeing as this is a cafe it must surely be a reference to the pastry delicacy. Well, in that case, why use the image of a woman in traditional Welsh dress? And seeing as that is the image used (rather than any pastry dish) anyone seeing the sign is invited to imagine a fat Welsh scrubber from Plwmp. (Lesson 1 in ‘How to Make Friends With Your New Welsh Neighbours’ – Despite it being an English tradition, don’t make slanderous insinuations about the sexual behaviour of Welsh women.)

What we have here is not simply a change of name from Welsh to “non-Welsh”, but an added insult with the clear inference that Welsh women are lax in their sexual morals. A real echo of traditional colonialism, for ‘easy’ local women was one of the perks every young soldier in Victoria’s army expected from an overseas posting.

*

Finally, while Googling ‘Penbryn beach’ I came across another example of the problem in ‘Stallion Valley Holiday Cottages’. The traditional name is of course ‘Cwm March’. The cottages themselves are called ‘The Farmhouse’, ‘The Mill’ and ‘The Byre’.

Stallion Valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No doubt the owner of ‘Stallion Valley’ would defend him/herself by arguing that the official name remains Cwm March, and that Stallion Valley is simply used for trading purposes, done, as Kate Clamp argued, because people – i.e. English people – can’t remember or pronounce the name Cwm March. Bollocks. Even it comes out as ‘Comb Mark’ that’s still better than callously throwing away a thousand years or more of someone else’s culture and identity.

You will have noted that the common denominator or link to all these cases is tourism. Tourism and the invasion it encourages. The tourism that is creating a country from which genuine Welshness has been hollowed out to leave a socially-engineered nightmare free of anything that could remind English tourists they are in another country.

Wake up, folks. This is what colonialist tourism is doing to Wales. And the truth is that our masters always intended that tourism should have this effect on Wales.

END

NEXT: Carmarthenshire County Council and the vendetta against Clive Hughes

 

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69 Comments on "Donkeys, Books, Tarts and Stallions"

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Marconatrix
Guest

That should read 1:22:32

Marconatrix
Guest

There’s no logic to any of this. You don’t appear to object to Welshifying foreign names in Wales, like Beau Maris or ‘Cartws’ for that matter. And it’s not uncommon to see houses with Welsh names outside Wales. Should that be banned, tit-for-tat surely?

People name and rename things all the time. And they do it generally in a language they understand. Only one Welsh resident in five claims to understand Welsh, and I imagine even fewer actually use the language regularly. So unless or until this situation is somehow remedied, it’s only to be expected that over time English names will tend to replace Welsh ones.

Especially if you sell your land to incomers, or roll over and do tricks for them in the hope of a few extra tourist pennies. But that’s the Welsh disease through and through. Taeogaeth : Conform to the outsiders’ expectations all the while hating them and yourselves for doing so.

Happy Donkey Hill is a silly name, the tip of an iceberg I suppose, but it does at least describe the current use of the place which is the purpose of a name after all. Faint o amser oddi wrth pan fu’r maer yn cael ei gartre acw?

I Jenkins
Guest

Your attempt at Welsh is gibberish. Ffyc off twat.

Marconatrix
Guest

Dwi’n credi fod fyng Nghymraeg i’n weddol iawn. Os nad felly, gwnewch ei chywio hi, os gwelwch yn dda. Dwi bob amser yn barod i ddysgu.

I Jenkins
Guest

Ti bob amser yn fodlon i fod yn dwat

Colin
Guest

I’m absolutely incensed by this Clamp woman again, if she can’t be aresed (sic) learning how to pronounce the name of her own house let alone try to integrate with her community in any way she and her ilk should fuck off back to where they came from where even the people there would object to such a childish name as “Happy Donkey Hill”.

What a horrible spoilt brat of a specimen she is!

The BBC won’t use the word “English” in favour of “Non Welsh” as it will only show their acknowledgement of the situation as has been for the last 800 years that is quietly being ignored throughout s “non Welsh” nation

Why the hell do I feel so bloody angry every time I reply to this board?

Wynne
Guest

Perhaps the place should be renamed Faerdre Fach {Lle I gadw donkeys yn hapus}.

Colin
Guest

Faedre Fach (cartref asyn) or similar would be better. Happy donkey says a lot about the Clampit woman’s mental state. Thank Christ she doesn’t keep rabbits

Plwmp Tart…. WTF!! That’s taking the piss.

dafydd
Guest

Yes, you are quite right. We have been gagged for hundreds of years through military and political oppression, brainwashed by the BBC and printed media to accept another nations heroes and twisted history, and now place names! Now we face our inevitable extinction not through loss of blood on the battlefield but whilst sitting on our arses watching Eastenders or documentaries on the Normans or Saxons! We must as a Nation unite against this blatent racist and imperial onslaught or forever resign ourselves to the graveyards of our colonised homeland.

welshnotbritish
Guest

Didn’t the donkey lover try to justify the change to an English name by citing Coca Cola and Jesus. So she clearly has no problem with Spanish or Greek, just Welsh.

Llandysul resident
Guest

I’m going to do two things that will make me unpopular on this comment page:

1 Agree with Marconatrix (to a point) and;
2 Stand up for Clamp.

First Marconatrix – The changing of Welsh names for English ones as the Welsh language loses ground is bound to happen, as he says. But it’s a symptom of everything that’s wrong, rather than being the problem itself. Names can be changed and changed back and changed again etc, provided that there’s a record of what name(s) there have been. That’s not to say that I don’t swear everytime I see “Pigeon’s Ford” on the entrance gate to Rhyd y Golomen, just by Llangannog Urdd camp, but it’s a sign of the powerlessness (partly forced, and partly accepted) of we Welsh speakers, rather than An Unacceptable Thing in itself.

Now, Clamp. In fairness, she hasn’t changed the name of the farm. I accept that Happy Donkey Hill is about as disgustingly twee as you can get. I accept that she has shown herself on this blog to be at best unappreciative of her surroundings, and of we natives. I accept that she’s probably as horrible person as others have made her out to be. But as far as I can tell, looking at timelines and information online, “Faerdref Fach”, the original farmhouse, is now called “Faerdref Manor”, and is a care home for people with special needs. The smaller Clamp House, on the same patch of land, is still called Faerdref Fach. Again, as a symptom of a problem, she has started a business with a (very) different name, in order to attract a certain (Generally English) clientele, and that name is absolutely horrendous. But she hasn’t changed the name of the farm.

Talking of fat slags (as you were, Jac, in your post about the Cartws), I used to love the Cartws – a lovely stop for a small bottle of cider from the fridge as you walked to (or from) Tresaith, a Welsh cake or some bara brith, all made locally. The the new people took over, and I’ve only been twice since. The first time, they took over 45 minutes to serve us some basic sandwiches (there was one other couple there at the time), and the second time, they were worse.

Ruth Forrester
Guest

I was interested in the example of the Maesllwch Arms name change and was reflecting on the wider context. Those Border towns who have reinvented themselves (Ludlow, Hay, Presteigne) are noticeably ‘tidier’ and more prosperous than those who have not. I live in a ‘have not’ town and wonder if the foodie/culture/tourism/walking is real way forward or a chimera. Certainly the ‘re-inventers’ are full of the sort of people I would avoid, but do the activities bring genuine gains to the local working class, poor populations?

I try to be fair and on the credit side, cultural events do provide short term employment and economic activity. The towns themselves are better self advocates for services – try taking on Ludlow if you want to cut anything. They also seem to have a richer cultural and voluntary sector. Historic buildings are sites are cherished and repaired. (unlike my town, full of plastic windows in historic buildings). More independent shops seem to survive so there is a richer street scape.

On the debit side, they appeal to a particular kind of retirer (wealthy, English, middle class) and the very activities they promote alienate many of the local population who are also excluded by house prices rising. There is also an insidious exercise of ‘choice’ in education, with increasing numbers lost to the local schools, there are complex reasons for this but the number of coaches to private schools and parents ferrying children across the border is a depressing site. The Welshness of these towns (even Ludlow) was perceptible in the 80s and 90s – now all gone.

Sorry to ramble on Jac, and Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.

Marconatrix
Guest

It’s a few years since I was last in Ludlow, but I used to pass through there on and off at one time, if only to change buses and have a snack. I can’t say it ever struck me as being in any way ‘Welsh’ as opposed to ‘borders’, although IIRC I did pick up the odd Welsh language book in a second-hand shop there (or maybe Leominster, or quite possibly both).

Anyway my point is that both those places and many more have both Welsh and English names (Llwydlo, Llanllieni …) and which you use depends on the language you happen to be speaking/writing. And the same is true for most of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany and even Cornwall. Sometimes there are unrelated names in the two languages, in other cases one is simply a respelling of the other, and this can go either way. So it struck me as odd, or at least interesting, on reflection, that Wales was something of an anomaly in insisting as a general rule on Welsh-only versions of names, even when these make no sense and appear unpronouncable to non-Welsh speakers.

Is it therefore surprising that this attitude provokes hostility from many non-Welsh speakers? Also the association of Welsh names with historic buildings and ancient ruins (the main purpose of the Measure before the Assembly) gives a backward-looking slant to the language, characterising it as something left over from the past to be respected and preserved (i.e. stuffed and mounted) rather than lived-in, used and adapted to modern needs and circumstances.

Surely the way to get more Welsh names, and more use of Welsh versions, is to get more Welsh speakers, and above all more Welsh-speaking communities. Without them, what real incentive is there for anyone (apart from language geeks) to learn Welsh, or for those with Welsh to actually use it out there in the real world?

I Jenkins
Guest

Ffyc off twat. Sorry, but I can’t be more inventive for this total bellend.

Marconatrix
Guest

And you wonder why the Welsh aren’t too popular with outsiders! Look Mr. Jenkins, I’ve actually gone to the trouble of learning your language, the thing you’re all complaining that non-Welsh people don’t do. So it seems there’s no pleasing some, damned if we do, damned if we don’t. Chip on your shoulder a mile high by the feel of it.

I don’t know and wouldn’t want to know the donkey lady, bit of a monster by all accounts. However I have met one or two people of the same general type, but far far less extreme. Rather than having you educate them a bit, they just get the shifty-eyed look and the cold shoulder, and you wonder why they don’t integrate. If they employ locals they get poor work and unreliable service, so they naturally call in their trusted contacts from over the border. So there’s your economy down the tubes.

All you’re achieving by your gratuitously insults and one-word Welsh vocabulary is to confirm the prejudices many people hold against the Welsh. The perpetual fate of the Britons, to be their own worst enemies.

Colin
Guest

If the Welsh aren’t too popular with outsiders, why the fuck do they insist on coming here? Answers on a postcard, actually don’t bother, it doesn’t take a genius.

God you’re a prick!

I Jenkins
Guest

My animosity towards you is motivated, simply, by the fact that you are a tool of the highest order.

Myfanwy
Guest

You may have learnt Welsh but you certainly haven’t understood the Welsh perspective. The Welsh are not alone in their contempt for the generally arrogant way English people behave when they go abroad, I lived in Ireland for two years and scratch the surface and the wounds from centuries of brutal colonialism surface, with clear contempt.

Most English people blunder about, bemused by this contempt, completely insensitive, because the history they learnt at school has never taught them about the barbarity of their ancestors and the centuries of repression. It’s not that long ago that Welsh children were forced not to speak Welsh and our rich natural resources raped to power an English Empire, while our ancestors worked like slaves, the Welsh should be rich, yet it was stolen from them and it’s still happening.

There are many Welsh people who are deeply angry, because not only do the majority of English people not respect what the Welsh have had to endure, but they don’t even respect the fact that they are actually visiting another Country, with one of the richest Cultures and with the oldest language in Europe, totally insensitive, when it is a Culture, so diverse from their own.

If you felt powerless, knowing deeply the history of your Country and the uniqueness of your Culture, yet were unable to make changes to protect it from the constant threat from those same, self serving neighbours, who should treasure such a Jewel, but have shown, time and time again, for centuries,with brutal insensitivity, that they can’t even see or hear it, let alone feel it, then maybe you would understand.

Marconatrix
Guest

Actually I understand your POV and agree with it. I’ve come up against that same blank wall of English incomprehension, even from otherwise intelligent, enlightened people, never mind the other sort.

My difficulty is seeing you on the one hand continually whining on about how badly your grandad was treated (true but that’s all history now) while for example packing the Assembly with Unionists. The Scots have woken up and smelt the coffee, but the Welsh seem to prefer to wallow in their ‘victim’ status rather than finding ways to change the situation.

The wealth/property/power imbalance at the root of all this is serious and UK-wide. A small proportion of the population, mainly in SE England dominate everyone else and it looks likely to get worse. The language/cultural divide in Wales simply makes it all a bit more obvious there. Potentially this offers you a means of building solidarity and resistance.

But then here we are arguing in English, so maybe the battle was lost long since?
Ond dyna ni yn ymryson yn iaith yr estron, falla mae popeth wedi ei golli ers talwm?

Myfanwy
Guest

Nid yw’n gyd goll..’r Draig ydy yn cysgu!

Marconatrix
Guest

Gobeithio ei fod yn cael breuddwydion teg …

Myfanwy
Guest

Actually, apart from your Welsh baiting, you do make some pertinent points, We do need to wake up and stop voting Unionists in, who do not put Wales first. The Scottish have had the advantage of being in control of their education and Legal system for years and this has certainly had a huge impact on their sense of self worth and pride in their own Independence. As a nation Wales does need to unite and if there is one good thing that has come from this Clamp woman etc debacle, it’s certainly got the likes of me, very fired up.

dafydd
Guest

Although the Scots, through lowlander and English suppression, have more readily adopted the English language and therefore conform to the English colonial model. The situation here is much more complex and we have much more to lose in reality. All the more important that we find a strong will and voice to fight for our identity and if anything our self dignity!

Marconatrix
Guest

Oh, an another Scottish advantage is that the Scottish Green Party is an entirely separate beast from the E&W Greens, and of course pro-independence. They get more support than the LibDems now, making them a serious political party, not an ‘also ran’ like the far left and right wing parties.

Big Gee
Admin

You have hit the nail on the head Myfanwy – that is exactly what the difference is. Scotland & Ireland have had the luxury of being able to educate their children properly, and have the advantage of a separate legal system. And God knows they still find it difficult. For us it’s hopeless.

Learning Cymraeg in a vacuum is like pissing in the wind. You can teach a parrot to speak Cymraeg – it does NOT make him a Cymro and it certainly doesn’t give the parrot any feeling, knowledge or idea about the nation, the country, it’s history or it’s ancient culture – a total waste of time. I’ve been banging on about this for decades, it’s the reason for the failure of all those well meaning but totally myopic bretheren in Cymdeithas Yr Iaith, who have been lurching along since Saunders Lewis’ lecture “Tynged Yr Iaith” with virtually no long lasting results. They are simply banging their heads against a wall and wasting precious time and energy.

Stamping our own feet and blowing fuses about place name changes is a similar exercise. You let off steam, but it falls on deaf ears and is certainly not understood by the colonisers and many within our own nation. Marconatrix is a good example; learning a smattering of Cymraeg – however well meaning – does not overcome basic ignorance and non understanding of the nature of the beast. Forgive them for they know not what they say or do. I think it was George carlin who was quoted as saying “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

No one gets more frustrated about these stark injustices than me, but we REALLY need to apply ourself to the cause and not the symptoms. Arguing about the antics of colonisers will never educate them. Instead we need to educate our own children.

If a tree is being poisoned at it’s roots (through the education system), it’s absolutely pointless trying to save the leaves (the language) because unless you stop poisoning the roots the leaves will wither anyway, regardless of how much well meaning energy you put in to saving them.

Colonisation is about three things, a nation’s history, culture & language. Weaken and destroy any one of those and you have eventual control & the genocide of the nation.

Regular posters on here will have read my essay on the subject, written in 2002. Here are links to it for those who have not.

Yn Gymraeg: http://sccambria.com/erthyglau/erth-add_cymraeg.htm
In English: http://sccambria.com/essays/erth-add_saesneg.htm

Rather than waste precious energy arguing the toss (often with tossers) I would advise each and every one of us who have sufficient intelligence and vision to gird up our loins to make changes in the right places, rather than chase our tails arguing in loops about how to save the language and preserve place names. All of that will right itself automatically if you can stop the tree from being poisoned.

Myfanwy
Guest

Big Gee, Your analogy of the tree, beautifully sums up the predicament We as a Nation are in and reveals the positive steps the Welsh need to take, to change this seemingly insurmountable situation. You are absolutely right, that if We want to empower our selves as a Nation, to stop this rot, We have to focus our energy and with clear determination, gain control of our education and legal system, the rest, as you say, will follow.

Marconatrix
Guest

Another difference with Scotland is that the Tories fell out of favour a good few years ago, long before the recent SNP surge. The rural seats the Tories held went to a mix of SNP and LibDems with the odd Labour member. Ever since Thatcher destroyed much of Scottish industry and tried out the poll tax in Scotland, Tories have been rather unwelcome. Which left the field open to Labour who became increasingly corrupt. Seeing them campaigning side by side with the Tories in the indy ref must have been the last straw for many people. Add to this the UK wide loss of credibility in the LibDems following their ineffective Westminster alliance with the Tories, and the result was 56/59 nationalist MPs.

But you still have the Tories to displace, and incomprehensible to me, UKIP, who apparently stand almost as good a chance of getting AMs in May as Plaid. (How can that be? Sheer frustration on the part of voters in the Eastern Valleys?) On top of that though, Plaid seems less determined and less unified than the SNP, but then it’s the only nationalist party you’ve got, so the best anyone can do, I suppose, is to support it and try to improve it. Starting new indy parties would only split the vote and set you back years (as people are trying to do in Scotland).

Colin
Guest

It’s typical of the colonialist attitude to see any form of awareness raising against them as whining.

I’m not a politically minded person, nor one who follows current affairs with any great enthusiasm and as such I miss out on what is going on. I read this blog as a way of learning from the time and effort Jac puts in to researching his articles and the insightful posts of other readers, my own contributions are mostly me venting my anger and disbelief at what goes on. I think the blog is mostly fair, I agree with much of what is posted, not all but most of it. In general we are a bunch of like minded people who are in our own way following Jac’s lead and spread the word.

Rome wasn’t built in a day but it was built, so if you can’t be onside then your constant bollocks is doing nothing to help what Jac is trying to achieve; so why don’t you just go away and post on some English nationalist blog instead.

Or to quote the more eloquent words of I. Jenkins: Ffyc off twat

Hefin Wyn
Guest

An astute analysis of the highest order Myfanwy

welshnotbritish
Guest

If he has learnt Welsh then why does he still refer to it as YOUR language instead of OUR language?

Old colonial habits die hard.

Marconatrix
Guest

Then I’d be accused of appropriating you language, you really can’t win can you!

Myfanwy
Guest

The point is, what is your motive for learning the language, if you constantly patronise the Welsh? It is very much a public school, flashman attitude of setting yourself apart to denote class, or a notion of superiority. unconscious or otherwise, it is an antagonistic position, which would wind up many an English person. yes it’s important that We all learn Welsh, but the Scottish certainly haven’t all learnt Gaelic and that hasn’t stopped them on their road to independence.

Marconatrix
Guest

Scotland has never been identified in terms of language to the extent that Wales has. It has always been multilingual to some extent, although the dominance of the various languages has ebbed and flowed, and of course Norse/Norn, Pictish and British (the Welsh of the Hen Ogledd) have gone to the wall. Most Scots speak ‘Scots’ which is divided into various dialects and grades into Standard English (almost!) at its higher registers, which leads to much confusion over linguistic identity. Gaelic is holding on, and has a chance of coming back, although the traditional communities are still threatened with many, perhaps most, fluent speakers living outside such communities where they have little scope for using their language.

comment image

It’s not like Ireland where Irish (Gaeilge) was almost universal until the English conquests and is now widely taught but rarely heard.

dafydd
Guest

It does beg the question why our Welsh towns are struggling despite having great potential? I feel that we as a nation are subserviant to the ‘English colonial enthusiast’ who having moved to a new exiting area get to work organising projects with like minded newcomers. The vision of these projects, with WG funding and support are their vision of our future, a future conforming to their ideals!

phildavies72
Guest

A practical thing to do is lobby Ken Skates on the Historic Environment (Wales) Bill. The Welsh Government is still wavering as far as I am aware.

I wrote this back in July. I think it is still relevant and helps with some of the tougher philosophical concerns.

http://pedryndrycin.blogspot.com.es/2015/07/protecting-welsh-place-names-discursive.html

Ian Perryman
Guest

“Taking pride in the literary history of the area, and the nearby town of books, Hay on Wye, Foyles (the former Maesllwch Arms) has been named after the famous chain of bookshops.”

The company referred to in the renaming of the pub apparently only have 5 outlets – all in England.

The page which list their shops has the address:
http://www.foyles.co.uk/book-shops-in-london

Despite the fact that one is in Birmingham and one in Bristol.

Daley Gleephart
Guest

Most visitors will think that the pub is named after the fictional detective – Morse (sic) the pity.

Off subject: There’s a young Tory hopeful in Swansea/Forest of Dean for you to keep an eye on. http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Swansea-West-election-hopeful-rage-parking/story-28481498-detail/story.html

Hefin Wyn
Guest

Just a reminder of a similar Happy Donkey Hill/Plump Tart/Foyles/Hammet House (formerly known as Castell Malgwyn, Llechryd) mind-set that puts one of our recently acquired and renovated heritage tourist attractions – Castell Aberteifi – in danger of becoming nothing but a quaint and twee abode for all passing suburban visitors. Castell Aberteifi is not a private establishment but is the recipient of £12m from the public purse. This is part of a statement issued by the officer in charge when the issue of selling souvenirs featuring St George’s Cross was criticised as being crass and insensitive.

‘Our main source of income is ENGLISH tourists, we have crafts in the shop made by ENGLISH people who live locally, most of our castle products are sourced from ENGLISH companies, many loyal volunteers are ENGLISH as are some of your staff. If the castle is seen as a hotbed of anti-English factions we will attract hostile publicity from the English media. And our business plan will be dead in the water. If you want a policy that insists on only Welsh sourced products and Welsh speaking employees and volunteers throughout the project, then you need to return to the drawing board. Over the past 14 years that I have been involved with the project the main thrust was to restore a jewel of Welsh heritage and open it to the public. Censoring items because they are non-Welsh never came into it.’

Let us remind ourselves that the heritage significance of Castell Aberteifi is the fact that the first known Eisteddfod was held there in 1176 and our foremost cultural festival has survived and evolved ever since to be a tourist attraction in itself as well as a shop window of our vibrant Welsh language culture. Secondly the castle was the first stone castle to be built by a Welsh prince. Rhys ap Gruffudd ruled the whole of the Deheubarth for almost half a century. No mean feat at the time when confronted by the invading Normans. He was regarded as a statesman of some merit and a leader who laid the foundations of Welsh nationhood in West Wales.

Thus we have something to celebrate in order to make visitors, be they from Japan, Germany, Finland, Poland, United States or even England, feel envious. Hey, we have a history and a distinctive culture. Have a look at this Mabel. Felicity, I never knew this about our neighbours, the poor Welsh. How interesting Jeremy.

It appears from the above missive, sent to members of staff and trustees, that such matters are to be mere footnotes in the grand scheme of things of providing superior accommodation and English orientated events. As if there was a shortage of hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation in the area and a dearth of excellent wide ranging aspects of thoroughly English culture at the nearby Theatr Mwldan.

The author of the ill-advised memo above obviously has part of her posterior attire in an intractable twist. No appreciation of the possibility of innovative Eisteddfod and Rhys ap Gruffudd souvenirs. A chance to cut a new and unique furrow with the aid of the £12m heritage grant given for the project gone begging. Who knows even an English company might be prepared to source such material. Oh, the irony of the phrase ‘ a jewel of Welsh heritage’ – yes, partially restored to be immediately Anglicised and thrown down the swanny. Oh, to be positive about our own culture and history. Vive la difference.

Unfortunately the author of the memo did not have the benefit of a Welsh orientated education in Devon. The author does not have a working knowledge of the Welsh language, surely a must if justice is to be done to such a project of national importance? Is our self-loathing such that we cannot insist on bilingual personnel to run all aspects of the project and who are prepared to appreciate the cultural and historical significance of Castell Aberteifi? Oh, to be confident in our own culture.

The grand opening concert, as it was advertised, was no celebration. The headlining folk band was a group called Bellowhead regarded as the leading exponent of the English folk rock scene at the time. No one dared strike the notes of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau at the end as the vast majority of the audience would have to do a John Redwood impersonation. The revellers were Bellowhead followers who had no inkling of Castell Aberteifi’s heritage significance. The stamp of colonialism was imprinted and not to be erased. As if a plethora of leading Welsh and Celtic bands would not have been a money spinning event. Are we not a proud nation?

Welsh cultural events have been sporadic and tokenistic put on as a result of public pressure and usually organised by outside bodies. A revelation, in many ways, was the recent end of term Eisteddfod held by the burgeoning cynghanedd class held weekly at the Castell. One of their midst won the chair on the adjudication of the Meuryn. If it wasn’t for the initiative of another of the participants the event would not have received any publicity. Even then it was only after it was held and in the Tivyside, the local weekly, and on a facebook account.

What a missed opportunity. An event held at Christmas to coincide with Rhys ap Gruffudd’s own festive event in 1176 with home-grown poets who are the guardians of the centuries old tradition in the area. Where was the lady of the memo? What a grand event it could have been if properly organised and publicised and surely in tandem with the aim of the whole heritage project. Imagine the possibilities. Representatives of the Gorsedd could have been there. Flower girls. Pole dancers. It might have not drawn many English tourists. But, by damn, I am sure it would have drawn Welsh tourists from near and afar. Even translation facilities could be provided. It would form part of the building blocks to put this old nation back on its feet. It would be part of the shining jewel.

Will the winning poem be published on the front page of the Tivyside? Will it be published on Castell Aberteifi facebook as an addendum to the blurred photograph and the robeless poets and a resume of the event already there? Probably not as it would pose a problem in dealing with Eliza Popperwell who cites the Ombudsman’s ruling re Cyngor Cymuned Cynwyd and insists that all Welsh postings should be shown bilingually simultaneously since “other British people presumably would like to be able to read about this as well. If it is an event that is going to be in the Welsh language only – then the article could still go up in both languages with a line added saying ‘Event is a Welsh language event.”

I presume Eliza Popperwell would demand an English translation of the poem. The flag of colonialism is flying high. Isn’t the Welsh language a constant nuisance? Far better to curtail its use and use English as the lingua franca. I could imagine a deft riposte by the bards.

However, all is not lost. For on February 27 a grand concert will be held at Castell Aberteifi to raise money for this year’s National Eisteddfod organised not by the castle trustees themselves but by the host area – Abergavenny, Monmouth. The people of Gwent have realised the significance of Castell Aberteifi as part of the Eisteddfod heritage. What a splendid initiative. How many miles will they travel to hold the event? Are they English tourists? Do they wish to buy St George Cross trinkets?

One of the Cadwgan Trustees famously said the presence of the Gorsedd would only be tolerated in the castle grounds over her dead body when the super charged spectacle of the Gorsedd presence, in full regalia, at a grand opening ceremony, was turned down. A sea change might occur and she will be obliged to eat her words. Fe ddaw ymwared o Gymoedd Gwent.

Welsh placenames are not a hindrance to anybody. They only add to the diversity. They are our linguistic standing stones and still very much in use. They are only a burden to those of a colonialist mind. Even new linguistic standing stones can be put in place not replaced. Braying donkeys are quite content with Faerdref Fach. They have effortlessly learnt to bray the name.

Y Cneifiwr
Guest

The spokesman for Mynyddoedd Pawb was Ceri Cunnington, former lead singer of the brilliant Anweledig, and an intelligent and articulate campaigner who believes that we should celebrate what we have. He chooses his words carefully in the interview you have linked to, but listen again and his message is clear – stop apologising for being different and start educating. Refuse to accept cultural vandalism.

The ridicule and negative publicity Katie Clamp has brought on herself mean that others will think twice before going down the same road, and Clamp herself will eventually find that her ludicrous stand and the PR she craves actually damage her business.

It is naive to argue that you can retain an ancient name while marketing a property as something different. Pontargothi is not difficult for anyone to pronounce, but when a hotel proprietor decided to call his business the Cothi Bridge Hotel, he unwittingly gave a new name to an entire village.

We need a law with real teeth to protect historic place names whether they come from Welsh, English or another language.Skokholm and Skomer are not English, but Norse names and as such permanent reminders that the Vikings helped shape our history.

Marconatrix
Guest

You’ve lost me here, Cneifiwr. Pont-ar-Gothi means “the Bridge on the (River) Cothi”, so if you happen to be speaking English “Cothi Bridge” is a perfectly accurate translation. The sense is preserved, there is no change of name only a change of language. You’re entitled to complain about the large number of people who live in Wales but mostly or only speak English, except the vast majority of those you object to will consider themselves to be Welsh. I don’t know the answer to that, do you?

Anonymous
Guest

Your logic regarding Pontargothi/ Cothi Bridge makes sense but only if you include the proviso that in Wales the Welsh language be assigned a lesser intrinsic value than the English language. Any sort of rationale can then be conveniently hung on that proviso to justify the logic to use English. However trivial (it’s hard to pronounce), moronic (it looks like a rude word) or irrelevant (Welsh is not a global language) it is.

Marconatrix
Guest

I’ve certainly passed through the place but have no particular recollection of it, but have just paid a virtual visit c/o Google Earth. This might be a year or two old, but still fairly recent. The village name is Welsh only as are the street names I saw. Other road signs are bilingual with the Welsh on top. All commercial signage OTOH appears to be English only, including the several pubs/hotels, which might simply reflect the fact that they cater mainly for passing trade. Or it could be that the local mostly speak English and the Welsh road signs are foisted on them by Assembly diktat?

Perhaps a Welsh speaker on the spot should stroll into one or other of these establishments and see what language he or she is greeted in. If they were to order in Welsh what would be the result? Are these establishments degrading the Welsh language by using English only signage or are they simply reflecting the linguistic preferences of their likely customers? If one of these places decided to become the ‘Welsh pub’ would it immediately attract the custom of the local Cymry Cymraeg and would this be a commercial success?

Anonymous
Guest

“are they simply reflecting the linguistic preferences of their likely customers?”
‘linguistic preferences” – You’ve jumped in with just another rationale that relies on the proviso that the Welsh language is worth less than the English one.
“English and the Welsh road signs are foisted on them by Assembly diktat?”
You wreck your efforts in presenting yourself as someone who’s supportive of the Welsh language when you make a Freudian slip using a terms like “foisted” and “diktat”.

Marconatrix
Guest

Are you simply calling me a ‘prick’ or are you suggesting I’m being used by some sinister faction? Nothing so dramatic I’m afraid.

Colin
Guest

Just a prick, don’t get ideas above your station, you’re about as sinister as a used condom

Marconatrix
Guest

Dontcha just love how they go out of their way to build bridges with those who could potentially support them 🙂

Colin
Guest

How terribly English of you old boy!

Anonymous
Guest

First you undermine intellectual efforts to see through the colonial mindset. Then when you expose your agenda and are seen with clarity, you appeal to emotion and the fear of losing well meaning allies. Seems like a long con to me.

Carnabwth
Guest

Your ‘Subscribe’ button doesn’t seem to work.

Brychan
Guest

Not only are the English names a culturally and ethnic cleaning act of colonialism, it also shows the ‘market’ which Welsh tourism is aimed at.

I suspect that when Kate Clamps rich daddy purchased ** for her, it was partly motivated of removing an embarrassing daughter from wealthy polite society in England. A way of parking a disappointing bunny boiler out of harms way. To keep the corrosive chinse out of the Chilterns. The last thing the English market needs is tacky outdoor bath tubs, smelly flea infested donkey sheds, and a product offering akin to seaside slapper bucket specimens regional tourist organisations in England are trying to rid itself of.

Unfortunately, whether it is the novelist faux flapper of Laugharne who’d be laughed out of the golf club in Sussex, the racist tour bigot of Caernarfon, or as the Stallion Valley website explains “Once this was a dairy farm, Freddie, the previous owner moved here to West Wales from Ongar in Essex with his parents and grandmother in 1951 and the family milked a herd of Jersey cows. When his grandmother & parents died Freddie sold off the cows and the surrounding fields and lived on the proceeds,” in other words a sponger. This type of economic activity is damaging and parasitic, regardless of the linguistic and cultural issues.

The last time I went on a skiing holiday in Val d’Isere the lodges were called Taureau, Chèvre and Jument. The propriotor explained she didn’t use the english names even though most of the guests were english speaking because ‘it kept the riff-raff out’.

Colin
Guest

Sadly Wales does seem to offer a cheap easy life to the more wealthy English. They don’t understand or care that for us it isn’t cheap, relationally it’s just as expensive as their and all they do is drive prices higher that we can afford. I don’t think it’s intentional on their behalf (although it is sometimes), they just don’t see the damage they do to. I honestly don’t think they will ever change either, it will take physical events to make them see (Vive la revolution and all that)

Myfanwy
Guest

Although most English people move to Wales and have no idea of the impact that they are having on the Welsh people and their Culture in these areas, it is quite possible that there is in action, another more insidious, political, ‘colonial’ agenda in anglicising parts of Wales.

If Kate Clamp’s father is Michael Gooley of ‘Trailfinder’ fame and fortune, one wonders why he is buying property in Ceredigion? Gooley is a bilionaire and a major donar of the Conservative party, the back scratching works both ways, whether it’s to do with tax, business breaks or as an expectation of a knighthood or to be ennobled, the nepotism is rife. It would be interesting to know how many properties he owns in Wales and where and what type they are? It is also interesting to see, in this context, that Kate Clamp is making a very high profile stand, challenging the sensitivities of the Welsh, on the very issue of Cultural changes, how much of this is actually intentional?

The Consevatives want to change the vote in Lib Dem areas, hence Ceredigion could be a target area. It is easy to see the political impact that English migrants bring, as most are wealthy retirees, who mainly vote Tory. This has no doubt had an effect on election results in Pembrokeshire, Gower, on the borders etc, in recent years. No doubt it is set to continue as more English people move into these areas. There has to be a disincentive to this migration, otherwise the political landscape, will definitely change the Cultural one, the aim of colonialism after all is to ‘divide and conquer’. The Welsh do need to wake up and push for political change, it is a matter of the utmost importance and urgency!

Emyr jenkins
Guest

Can’t actually seee any donkey being happy with that grotesque slab of lard on it’s back. The word Ych comes to mind (and I don’t mean the old Welsh feminine form of ‘ap’

Anonymous
Guest

Mmmmmm?

Anonymous
Guest

Anyone thought of rebuilding

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