Regular readers of Welsh blogs, Tweeters and others, will be familiar with the name ‘Cliffoch ap Cliffoch‘, one of the many anti-Welsh trolls to be found in those spheres. Though of course, to believe him, he’s not anti-Welsh at all. When it comes to the Welsh language he’s just against the teaching of it, and the displaying of it . . . in fact his attitude seems to be that Welsh should – like homosexuality in the 1950s – be restricted to consenting adults in private. He is, predictably, also opposed to devolution and many other things, but insists that he loves Wales. It’s just . . . well, he doesn’t like anything that makes Wales different to England. Even if it benefits Wales. When he’s pinned down, the truth is that his ‘Wales’ must be no different to England in any important respect. Well, maybe a rugby team.
‘Cliffoch’ came on mighty strong to my post yesterday on my Tumblr blog. This was a harmless enough report on the squashing of the Severn Barrage project. I can only assume that he was animated by the reference I made to ‘Howell Morgan’, who had posted a comment to the WalesOnline version of the story. There, and in various tweets, he called me a coward, a cretin and a few other things my Mam would never have called me. I admitted I am no hero, but still confirmed that my name is Royston Jones and asked Cliffoch to give us his real name. He declined. (All this can be found on the Tumblr blog.) So I decided to make enquiries myself. The first stop was obviously the IP address, which gave me a German or German-Swiss provider and located ‘Cliffoch’ in Switzerland. Next, overnight, ‘Colwyn’ was able to provide two links. The first (left) to a geneology site and the second (below) to a petition to the Assembly asking for Welsh speakers to have their tongues cut out . . . sorry, sorry, I’ve mis-read that, the petition is against the compulsory teaching of Welsh. (I.e. any teaching of Welsh.) It now seems likely beyond peradventure that ‘Cliffoch ap Cliffoch’ is Christopher Stephen Clifford, born – or “originally born” (as he puts it) – in Neath, working in Zurich, but with a home base in the Aberavon constituency.
What I find remarkable is that here we have a man who claims to have a Welsh-speaking mother, to have spent a lot of time when young with a grandmother who spoke more Welsh than English, who claims to have bilingual children, who has lived for years in a country with four official languages, and yet is so intolerant of another language – his maternal language – in Wales. Either this man is a liar, or his head is seriously screwed up. Or could his time in multilingual Switzerland have made him into what he is today? Another absurdity is that ‘Cliffoch’ is forever spouting how the Welsh language deters investors. Yet he lives in one of the most prosperous countries on earth, where people speak German, French, Italian and Romansch, with yet more languages spoken by the many immigrant groups. Multilingualism doesn’t seem to have done Switzerland any harm, yet we dumb Taffs are expected to believe that teaching Welsh will impoverish Wales! As if the Labour Party hasn’t already done that!
STATEMENT: I have spent a lot of time recently on a bunch of scumbags I’d rather have nothing to do with. It is demeaning, distasteful and distracting, and I don’t intend to do any more of it. There are far bigger fish to fry in Wales, organisations and individuals doing far more damage than the individual ranter. So in future I shall be focusing on more important issues than swivel-eyed Brit bigots. People who hide behind regularly changing pseudonyms that makes tracking them down akin to chasing one’s tail. Worse, perhaps, treating them seriously gives them a respect they don’t deserve, but of course it’s what they crave, so don’t engage with them, just let them talk to each other. When you are unfortunate enough to encounter one of them, just wipe the shit from your shoe and move on.