Apr 262015
 

I am indebted to my old confrère André Jacob for drawing my attention to an upcoming musical event entitled ‘Beyond the Marches’, information for which is reproduced below. You’ll see that I have highlighted a passage that reads, “Six of the finest young folk musicians from Wales and England come together to explore and celebrate the shared history and culture of the two nations”. As you might imagine, this got me thinking about our “shared history and culture” and so, now infused with the spirit of sharing, I feel compelled to share my thoughts with you.

Trac, Beyond the Marches

Let’s look at our ‘shared history’, and where better to begin than with our first contact with the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians who invaded Romano-Welsh Britain following the collapse of the empire. What this episode tells us is that the ancestors of the modern English introduced themselves as invaders. In the centuries that followed these Germanic peoples pushed west and north, taking more of our territory, killing, expelling or enslaving our people, until we were left with little more than what we today call Wales.

The aggression and conquest continued, until the death of Llywelyn in 1282 and that of his brother Dafydd the following year, their children either killed or imprisoned to ensure no succession. This was followed by a period in which we were treated as second-class citizens in our own country, a colonialist system that an African-American or a Tibetan would understand. This discriminatory system was one of the causes of Glyndŵr’s great war for national liberation that began in 1400 and explains why so many rallied to his cause.

Glyndŵr was unsuccessful but victory at Bosworth in 1485 put a Welshman (of sorts) on the throne of England and things began to look up . . . if only for the Welsh aristocracy and gentry. Harri Tudur and his son Henry VIII decreed that Welshmen would in future be treated exactly the same as Englishmen . . . because there would be no recognition of any distinct Welsh identity.

The next great stage in the ‘shared history’ came with the Industrial Revolution, which saw our people and our natural resources exploited for the glory of imperial England. And so it has continued to the present day when we can now add colonisation to the list.

As for the ‘shared culture’ referred to, where in England can you hear penillion sung? Where are the great English practitioners of cynghanedd to be found? Just as with history’s march, the cultural influences are all one way, as they must always be between a colony and the country that exploits and dominates that colony. So who’s responsible for this insulting nonsense, this pretence that Wales and England are equal, each having influenced the other?

The body organising ‘Beyond the Marches’ is Trac (Traddodiadau Cerdd Cymru / Music Traditions Wales), Charity Commission number 1085422. Trac is also a company limited by guarantee, No 4106014, with the charity’s trustees also acting as directors of the company. Among these director-trustees are “performer, author and TV producer” Eiry Palfrey, Cardiff folk singer Frank Hennessy, radio celeb Huw Stephens, Dafydd Iwan, and the man currently campaigning to be re-elected Labour MP for Cardiff West, Kevin Brennan. Trac is funded by the Arts Council of Wales, the ‘Welsh’ Government and the National Lottery.

Trac appears to be run by director Danny Kilbride, manager Blanche Rowen, with Angharad Jenkins serving as project officer. It might help if I knew a bit more about Danny Kilbride and Blanche Rowen. Kilbride lives in the Mount Pleasant area of Swansea, and the charity is registered at the same address. Though the company is registered at an address in the neighbouring Uplands area. I know little about Blanche Rowen beyond that she performs with a Mike Gulston.

trac staff

It would be easy to think of Trac as something like the cultural organisations one encounters in totalitarian states – funded by the government and designed to keep artists and ‘creatives’ in order to ensure that nothing subversive emerges. Or am I being unkind? Even if I am, and at the very least, Trac carries the hallmarks of a Welsh Third Sector body funded by the Labour Party to serve Labour Party interests and promote the Unionist message. Which makes it look like yet more squalid politicking using public funding.

How else could anyone interpret ‘Beyond the Marches’, a musical event clearly promoting the idea that there is little or no difference between Wales and England? Such a perfect way to push the Unionist, Better Together message. And this being done just days before the general election, with concerts in Aberystwyth on May 2nd, Cardiff on May 3rd, and London on May 4th. Will these concerts end with Rule Britannia and God Save the Queen?

Perhaps next year, before the Assembly elections, Trac can balance things out by organising a few concerts promoting the message that Wales is most definitely a different country to England, and one that has always been abused and exploited by England, so remember this when you go to vote . . . but it ain’t gonna happen.

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42 Comments on "Political Harmony: The Music of Englandandwales"

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Ap Dyfnallt
Guest

Although I usually agree with (almost) everything you say this is a load of bollocks.

Trac is a well known folk music organisation which states on its website
“trac is Wales’ Folk Development organisation; its rôle to promote and develop the music and dance traditions of Wales – both within Wales and beyond.”

And this is exactly what they do – they are for example very supportive of the National St David’s Day parade in Cardiff, performing this year in the company of groups from Brittany, the Basque country, Scotland and Patagonia.
http://www.stdavidsday.org/

The fact that they sometimes perform with groups from other countries and in places outside Wales (including England) does not make them neo-colonialists.

Also very sad to see you perpetuating the English myth that hordes of Angles and Saxons invaded our shore pushing the inferior Celts westwards and northwards. Many informed historians have shown that this is simply not true for many reasons – the latest being the DNA analysis reported here.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22530134.300-ancient-invaders-transformed-britain-but-not-its-dna.html#.VT3gcZORa5I

The reason this myth perpetuates is that it suits the English establishment. It is however a fallacy based on lazy (and probably politically motivated) historians virtually copying and pasting out of the Anglo Saxon Chronicles. The Celtic history, being mainly a verbal tradition, is largely ignored.

Also the Anglo Saxon Chronicles were, of course, written, in the main, to promote the interests of the chronicler’s paymaster. So are probably more hype than solid fact.
A fact usually conveniently forgotten by early English historians, probably with an eye on their own contemporaneous paymasters, but nowadays being exposed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Saxon_settlement_of_Britain

Marconatrix
Guest

This raises some interesting questions : Which (if any) organisations and bodies are set up and funded to raise awareness of Welsh language, culture, traditions etc. etc. in England and amongst the English? After all if Englandandwales is one nation where everyone’s culture is equally valued … How many schools in England offer Welsh as a subject? How much Welsh history is taught in England (or in Wales!?!?) And so on, but I think you get the general idea. Clearly cultural sharing is and always has been something of a one-way street. Pity really.

Robert Tyler
Guest

The Welsh, except for a tiny, tiny minority, were most certainly not literate Jac.

Ap Dyfnallt
Guest

Since you ask I would venture that when they’re talking about a shared culture they’re talking about music and folk dancing – because that’s what they do.

Just because half a dozen musicians from Wales get together with another half dozen or so from England and sing about the shared cultural themes which usually dominate traditional folk – love, marriage, farming, fishing, death, etc etc.doesn’t mean that trac have become some third column of political activists, funded by imperialist central government to undermine Welsh nationhood.

In any case if it’s the wording on the poster that you’re complaining about it was almost certainly written by the venue or the sponsors, not the performing artists or trac.

Albert Hill
Guest

One thing I don’t get is why we don’t make more of the fact that Wales was conquered by the French rather than the English. It must give your ex-pat pals at the golf club a bit of a frisson to think their ancestors conquered the locals but really it was a lot of blokes who spoke French.

Back then old Giraldus (three parts French) was summing up the English in rather uncomplimentary terms, something about either being at your throat or licking your boots and after 1066 it was boot licking time for three centuries or more.

As for this folk music business, well I doubt that the UKIP brigade are fans – they probably think Vera Lynn is a bit risque.

Your ‘Artists from Wales and England give interpretations of global human themes’ is a good line though. Perhaps someone could use it on their next grant application.

Not much point arguing about DNA, next week there’ll probably be a new theory that will make last week’s look a bit naff. I do love how the English Nationalists are now arguing that the Belgae were Germans and were in Britain 400 or more years earlier that previously thought. Nonsense of course but so inspired some now even claim Eastern Ireland was Anglo-Saxon. I supose the loss of empire was always going to lead to some daft ideas gaining ground.

Brychan
Guest

The bizarre thing about the ‘shared music and history’ claim is its stupidity.

In music there are ‘influences’ and ‘copying’, but sharing is daft. I notice a triple harp in the line-up. Nobody claims a ‘sharing’ between Italian baroque (it’s origin) and Wales. Whilst it’s correct to say the music of Eric Clapton to be influenced by American blues. A shared cultural history claim would suggest that Eric was a slave in the cotton fields of Surrey.

I also notice that Frank Hennessey is involved.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2yaiVusg6Y
His music obviously has its origins in Irish influences in Cardiff. To claim this is English is really quite bizarre.

The very existence of a distinct musical genre between Wales and England is because of a different culture and history. Whilst musicians can be influenced by different traditions and techniques I find when listing to bands, which consist of various nationalities, I can usually tell which band member wrote or arranged a particular song.

Perhaps Danny Kilbride things there is a shared history between Garry Glitter and Lost Prophets, which would open up a new line of enquiry to recent crimes.

The reality is that English (mixture of influences) folk traditions are unique in their own right have been suppressed by a foreign class system imposed by Norman aristocracy. In England it was considered ‘inferior’ and suppressed by church and state. In Wales, however, folk culture is a distinct expression of difference, both in church and state. That of rebellion.

There’s no f’in Greensleeves. (Dorian scale).

Ap Dyfnallt
Guest

How do you know that neither trac nor the artists objected?
In any case they’re not usually asked. Publicity for an event is almost always in the hands of the venue and/or sponsor.

We have enough enemies in Wales without demonizing our friends by nit picking on the basis of the wording of a poster they had no hand in writing.

As I said previously, trac have been very supportive of the St David’s Day Parade in Cardiff and, so I understand, also of the St David’s Day events in Swansea – and, if you do the research – I’m sure you will find numerous other Welsh events as well.
This website for example run by Meurig Williams of Clera – one of the trac Trustees – has numerous examples.
http://www.sesiwn.com/

And if you look at this page
http://www.trac-cymru.org/en/about/who-s-who
you will see that one of trac’s patrons is Dafydd Iwan.

Are you seriously trying to tell us that an organisation which has Dafydd Iwan as a patron is a Labour party funded, unionist, third column trying to undermine Welsh identity?

As I said in my first comment – it’s bollocks – 100% total bollocks – and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Rob
Guest

“[the musicians] will dig into the countries’ national archives to unearth traditional songs and tunes that have transcended the border” (from the Trac website). So a little more than exploring global themes and a little less than celebrating English imperialism.

I like the idea that this is inspired by some sort of central controlling colonial committee, though. The Elders of Saeson shall we call them?

Brychan
Guest

Yes.

But because of an artificial construct of the organiser, performers often have to modify the true cultural traditions to adapt to the venue. Here are three examples of dressing up traditional music to please an artificial event…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEQEeNhtosg
‘Niggers’ became ‘Darkies’ for Canada, then ‘being drunk’ became ‘showing grit’ for the British Labour Party.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSytzYaBbJY
Traditional song. ‘English Black & Tans’ became ‘British Black & Tans’ by the provos only after second deployment in the northern counties.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ypCRwyvt8o
“Huna’n fwyn ar fron dy fam.” was dropped by Bryn Terfyl to save the blushes at certain performances, as English royals don’t admit to having have breasts.

Will the artists involved at the Millennium Centre event sing true to the differences in culture and history or will they adapt ‘tradition’ to this invented shared culture and history?

Ann
Guest

I think it’s becoming pretty clear that the versions of Welsh history taught in our schools over the generations, passed down by great grandparents, grandparents and parents alike, have very little to do with the actuality.

This myth of the ‘Celtics’ occupying lands on the northern, southern and western fringes can be now be seen for what it really is, nothing more than a lifestyle choice (and a jolly good one for many). And so too with the supposed language of Wales, Welsh (a fine language, but a language of no more or less worth than any other).

As more and more of our history becomes clearer it seems to many, me included, that we are indeed genetically no different to our neighbours and our spiritual and mental state is entirely a product of our surroundings, experiences and, most importantly, education.

I reckon it’s time we started to look more closely at some of those ‘wonderful’ history and Welsh language teachers we have here. They have some very serious questions to answer.

Cymro Wladfa
Guest

So Welsh is the “supposed language of Wales”, and “Celtics are a myth” and then, Owain Glyndwr was a saxon very fond of playing cricket, and Llywelyn ap Gruffud loved to sing Sex Pistol’s tunes…

Ann
Guest

Of course not, Welsh is a first language for many who live in Wales (and some who live elsewhere). But I would like to know more about its origins in the light of historical revisionism. It is clearly an immigrant language, arguably derived from those migrating into the west of the country after the ice age from southern France and Spain. But what else do we know with any degree of certainty (not the rubbish we have been taught over 700 years to make us feel different from ‘the English’).

Indeed, why do we even talk of Wales as a defined territory? The notion of an ‘England’ and a ‘Wales’ seem to be even less certain now. Britain, yes. But anything else, arguably just tricks of history!

Marconatrix
Guest

The history of the Welsh language and it’s origins back to immediately pre-Roman times has never been seriously disputed.

As the Romans advanced through Gaul and eventually on to Britain they encountered a group of closely related Celtic languages. There are enough inscriptions from Roman Gaul to characterise this early stage. In Gaul the language(s) were replaced by Latin (which then evolved into French etc.), but in Britain the language continued in use throughout the Roman occupation, picking up it’s share of Latin loans in the process (much in the way that English picked up French words under the Normans).

Following the Roman withdrawl and the fall of their empire, most of what is now England was occupied by Germanic barbarians from the continent between about 450-600 CE. The British language and culture survived in what became Wales, in Dumnonia (Devon, Cornwall) and for a while in parts of the north of England and S. Scotland. It was also carried by migrants to Brittany. It subsequently developed into Welsh, Cornish and Breton, all of which are recorded from the ‘dark ages’ onwards. The changes that took place from British to Welsh etc. are of the same general sort as those that took place as Latin developed in Spanish, Italian etc.

Unfortunately such information while well known to academics is rarely taught in schools (I wonder why?). Hence much popular confusion and misunderstanding.

Cymro Wladfa
Guest

Ann, are you for real?, Welsh an “inmigrant language”?, Celts spoke a very different language when they migrate to the British island, it developed afterwards to Welsh, Cornic and Breton. Welsh is FROM Britain, was born there, long before Engils exists. Are you really Welsh?, did you were tought the righ history at school, or did you prefere read “Peter Pan” instead?

Dave Bradney
Guest

If you really know nothing about AH, as you say, how can you possibly know she has “nothing worthwhile to contribute”? That’s completely illogical.

And you have not left her with any opportunity to defend herself against your imputations.

In politics, people seeking to promote unity (usually around their own ideas), and minimise discussion, often invoke an external threat, and “for all I know” this may be a very good example of that.

Now you will possibly seek to imply that I am also part of this conspiracy, and ban me from posting here. That will at least clarify things for me, because I know that I am not (not part of a conspiracy, not anti-Welsh).

Off with their heads then!

The Earthshaker
Guest

For all the Wales haters out there, read of this and then deny Welsh culture, history and language is second class in its own country http://www.clickonwales.org/2015/04/taking-ourselves-seriously/

dafis
Guest

Interesting article via that link.

The Welsh Universities, formerly the various constituent parts of the University of Wales plus a few newer establishments, are obviously utterly disinterested in teaching any subject matters in a Welsh context. The name of the game for them is attracting as much funding as possible which has led to a number of scandals serving only to damage further the reputations of these institutions. The recent bleat about Assembly funding of Welsh students going over the border to England ( and some elsewhere ) is disingenuous because the main driver for most of these universities is to attract English and other nationalities’ students along with their bag of funding at c.£9k or more per annum! Had they stated that they wanted to ringfence funding as a key part of adopting a policy that paid a lot more than lip service to our identity then I think I would buy into that once I saw it in action, but given the nature of most of our current crop of institutional leadership I somehow doubt that it will ever happen in my time.

The Earthshaker
Guest

Glad you read it because it’s been taken down from the site, proving what this blog and many other have been saying anything forever that anything Welsh is not to be tolerated, spoken about or promoted unless it’s approved by the f**king Labour Party.

What a joke the Institute of Welsh Affairs is and what a bunch of gutless wonders we have running our Government and Universities who can’t tolerate any criticism.

dafis
Guest

T.E

That is weird, cos although the script was not the usual orthodox nonsense it did not strike me as particularly radical/ revolutionary/threatening the world order ! So someone is very sensitive to the written word.

On an entirely different matter reported in Telegraphonline on Thurs 30th

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/11572588/conservative-benefits-cuts-snp-polls-live.html

: Quote from UKIP : “We believe having official documents printed only in English (or when appropriate in Welsh/ Scottish Gaelic) will help communities integrate. …….”

Raises the bar for those wishy washy Anglo Brit parties who think they own Welsh voting rights. I’m under no illusions about what UKIP represent but it may yet take the shockwave of English Nats to give momentum to Welsh rights.

Carnabwth
Guest

OT

“Some 2,707 families have been moved out of Greater London over the last two years, the figures show, to locations including Manchester, Bradford, Hastings, Pembrokeshire, Dover and Plymouth.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/over-50000-families-shipped-out-of-london-in-the-past-three-years-due-to-welfare-cuts-and-soaring-rents-10213854.html

dafis
Guest

That linked article is a number of complaints about the London housing situation – high rents, lack of quality and volume etc etc which can only be solved by addressing the supply side within that region. The Anglo/London centric tone serves only to highlight the “hardship/unfairness ” of families having to ship out of London, and the ridiculous levels of profiteering underpinned by the housing benefit system. No effort has been made to comment upon the knock-on effect on the regions receiving these relocated families, the distortion inflicted on the host communities. Certainly no mention of the effect of any dysfunctional units being shipped out of the “Big Smoke” as though that aspect doesn’t exist.

Brychan
Guest
dafis
Guest

I don’t know how precisely thse things work, but on this link you provided, just below your recent text there was an ad for a huge take away meal ! exactly the sort of trashy toxic mix that’s done the damage to that sad young girl in the Cynon Valley.

Brychan
Guest

This week, we has a fire engine, two ambulances, three police cars to block the roads, and a crane paid for by the Cwm Taf NHS in a major rescue mission in Aberdare. The operation took five hours. It was to transport an obese woman to hospital dumped in Wales from her family home in Gravesend.

Over the past few years she’s been provided with three different flats, specially adapted by RCT Homes to accommodate her needs. These ‘needs’ also included deliveries from a local fast food outlet where she has been ordering five kebabs at a time from her ‘fat’ benefits giro.

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/georgia-davis-woman-once-dubbed-9148018

At the end of last year, my sister died of a heart condition while walking Bryn Pica. It took so long for the ambulance to arrive, she’d suffered severe brain damage and died at the Royal Glamorgan a week later. She, of course, had worked in Wales all her life, and being a helpful soul, was donating any cash left over at the end of the month to a food bank. Where is the justice in this?

dafis
Guest

So sorry to hear of your personal grief, intensified when there is a sense that it might have been avoided or at least mitigated.

I had noted the story about this very big lady from Aberdare but had not seen it reported anywhere that she was an “import” from S.E England. I had understood that she was living with her mam in the Cynon Valley and presumed that she is a native. However if she is a “transplanted” person then is there any way of finding out how and when she was transferred, as her condition has been an issue for some time and not something that mysteriously developed during recent years. In fact there was another report that described some expensive therapy obtained in USA which succeeded in reducing her weight significantly, but having returned to Aberdare (? ) she proceeded to resume heavy comsumption of take away junk food, aided and abetted by her mam ! If some agency was instrumental in fetching this troubled person into the Cynon Valley then it is appropriate for that agency to be held accountable. I almost wrote “made to pay ” but as it’s public money it would be a farcical “rob Peter to pay Paul ” exercise, unless the bill was sent to her “home” authority in England. In any case the costs are merely the symptoms of a far greater malaise – that public/3rd sector bodies in England find it so easy to partner up with similar bodies in Wales to shift problems out of their domains.

Stan
Guest

Sorry to hear about your sister, Brychan. If your sister’s inquest has not been held yet I hope you can get the truth out and some sort of admission that things went unacceptably wrong there.

Coming on to Georgia Davis though, she was not a woman when her family either moved or were rehomed to Wales. She was 9 years old (2002) according to records. The old cuttings I’ve seen show that though born a normal weight (7lb 3oz) she seems to have been fed like a pig for the table by her parents ever since and photos through her development as an infant and young child show the inevitable result. Her father died when she was 5, so I guess yes, it’s a possibility they became a case for social services but I’ve not seen this verified anywhere.

While the issue of the dumping of England’s undesirables into Wales is a real and valid one, in this case at the moment it is yet to be confirmed if they fell into this category.

Interesting to note all the TLC that appears to have come her way from RCT in the last few years though. That’s encouraging when according to our Labour politicians in the valleys, services are in danger of collapse due to austerity.

Incidentally, I read that Georgia was in fact a carer for her own mother who was classed as disabled! Perhaps in turn her mother was down as a carer for her as well. Whatever, this young girl clearly has life threatening issues, whether we regard them as self-inflicted or not. Her mother blames their poverty when the child was young for feeding her rubbish food. That’s never an excuse I personally can buy into. Good, wholesome food can be bought as cheaply as rubbish – it’s just a matter of education/common sense and sometimes laziness IMO.

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