Hobby Jobs

As someone who, in his younger days, collected ‘pets’ from the ponds and waste ground of north Swansea, I have always taken an interest in wildlife, and indeed (in the phase that followed the pet collecting) wild life. Many a carefree boyhood hour was spent catching grass snakes, collecting newts, and sneaking up on lizards to attempt that perfect catch – on the body (for they detach their tails) but not so roughly as to harm them. Or it waCBMWCs summers in Port Eynon crabbing and observing the life of the shoreline and the rock pools.

So I was naturally drawn to the story of porpoises killing dolphins in Cardigan Bay. Reading it I learnt that this behaviour has been observed by volunteers at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre in New Quay. So – you know me – wanting to learn more about this outfit I went to the CBMWC website.

The website – entirely in English, of course – is quite open about what it does, who funds it, and who runs it. The volunteers for 2014 include Milly, “part of a big, outdoorsy family” (not them Swansea dossers again?). Lea, who “grew up in the Swiss countryside”. Abigail from Worcester who has “attended a dormouse survey training day”. (Something of which I can only dream.) Rebecca, who “spent holidays in Corwall and Wales”. Then there’s Josephine from Manchester, Gaby from Canada, Ashleigh from “the Midlands”, Sophie from Suffolk, Will from West Yorkshire, even one or two (out of 17) who may even be Welsh. Among “the CBMWC Team” (of 14) there is one who seems to be Welsh, then there’s Barry the wino, a host of ‘locals’ who’ve all moved to Wales, and young Ben, who grew up on the East African Coast. (Of course he’s not bleck, don’t be silly!) It’s all so frightfully English that they could have stepped from the pages of some Enid Blyton tale of middle class youngsters having a jolly good time in darkest Wales.

Before anyone says that these people do good work, or are no harm to anyone; and that I am a wicked old nationalist for picking on them, just remember this. The Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre and its allies among the Fleece Jacket Fascists form a lobby that – among other things – would like to extend conservation zones around our coasts, putting Welsh people out of work so that they can enjoy their hobby jobs pursue vital marine research. In fact, they would like to turn rural and coastal Wales into one big playground for them and their friends. With no Welsh involvement . . . well, other than funding.

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fleece jacketThe CBMWC is some kind of subsidiary of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW), so this was my next stop. Another packed, informative website . . . until you try to find out who actually runs the show. For while the website gives a link to the names of the Trustees I could find nothing to tell me who is responsible for the day to day running of the Trust. A major omission. Especially as the Trust receives funding from The National Lottery, the People’s Postcode Lottery, and two lots of funding from the EU, via the Wales Co-operative Centre and the Wales European Funding Office. Is it lawful for an organisation receiving EU funding to withhold from the public the names of its management? It should go without saying that the WTSWW website is also in English only.

Returning to New Quay for a moment (to where, incidentally, I can trace a paternal great-grandmother and a maternal great-great-grandfather), the CBMWC website tells us that the Centre is “funded by grants from Environment Wales (EW) and Natural Resources Wales” (NRW) (of Alun Davies fame). Environment Wales is a hotch-potch of Englandandwales fleece jacket gangs feeding at a trough topped up by the ‘Welsh’ Government, almost certainly with EU cash. But I was unable to find the dolphin watchers or their parent outfit listed among the grant recipients or the ‘Registered Project Links’. And, again, no clue given as to who runs Environment Wales. The picture was no better with Natural Resources Wales. The website contains no mention of grants, and doesn’t even offer a way of sending an e-mail or ‘phoning, for contact is limited to social media! Can it be right that a member of the public is unable to contact an organisation supported by EU funding?

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Every area of the country has groups like the CBMWC, some national, others local: in Wales, but not of Wales. Existing as exclusive ex-pat outposts of the kind the English form in Spain and elsewhere. Social, cultural and financial impositions that we had better start challenging before they become dominant; to the point where it becomes impossible to walk on a Welsh hill, or through a Welsh wood; swim off a Welsh beach, or visit some site important in our history, because it’s now owned and run by strangers – with funding provided by our government!

Appeals to the emotions aside, the real issue here is about hard cash, and how it’s used. About the waste of public funding on hobby jobs, for which the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre merely serves as an example. The CBMWC obviously attracts the well-heeled from England and beyond, but would anyone in Penrhiwceiber or Penygroes notice if the CBMWC closed tomorrow? Of course not, but EU funding was given to improve the lives of people in communities such as these. So henceforth, if the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre can survive on selling ice cream and fluffy dolphins, boat trips and donations, then fine, but no more public funding for it or any similar organisations.

The next round of EU funding must not be wasted on ephemeral and unnecessary projects simply because they generate good publicity; it must not be squandered on politically correct scams; it must not be spent on encouraging the Third Sector to make an industry of poverty and deprivation. Any application for funding should be asked one simple question: ‘Will there be direct and tangible benefits for Welsh people in terms of jobs, education and training, community benefits, social and cultural cohesion and other fields?’ Supporting projects that fail this test is merely funding colonisation.

33 thoughts on “Hobby Jobs

  1. Mab y Mynydd

    I’ve had the misfortune of working with one of their former volunteers… I’m a massive advocate of wildlife conservation but sadly most people involved in the sector are English irredentists opposed to any expression of Welsh identity.

    1. Jac

      You’re not the only one. I’ve heard stories of Welsh people being made to feel unwelcome – in their own bloody country!

      1. Mab y Mynydd

        Absolutely, I used to volunteer on a number of conservation projects in the Brecon Beacons with my partner… We were regularly patronised by twee English dropouts with no real knowledge of the area. Other volunteers would often butcher local place names and then proceed to mock our accent or ‘humour’ us with jokes about sheep.

  2. adarynefoedd

    Jac the clue is in the name – volunteers. Why should you be critical of volunteers doing their best for conservation? Because they are not Welsh? Would you refuse to see a GP who was Spanish? Or be cared for by nurses from Poland?

    Besides the natural environment is a key asset for tourism in Newquay. Cardigan Bay has nearly been fished empty and the marine conservation area cannot come quickly enough.

    1. Jac

      So I should support these people because what they do is good for tourism? You haven’t been paying attention, have you!

  3. adarynefoedd

    ps volunteers from England are hardly comparable with ‘neighbours from hell’ are they? And I thought that a ‘right of centre perspective’ included supporting the voluntary impulse.

    1. Jac

      Maybe I should have spelled it out for you. What I’m criticising here is the ‘Playground Wales’ mentality that I have attacked oft-times before. Nothing inconsistent in my arguments at all, lovely boy.

      1. Huw

        Can’t find a website anywhere flooging those nice fleeces with the decorative armband, are they only available over the counter or limited only to emloyees/volunteers of said do-good groups ? If the latter be the case do you know any ex – volunteer/employee who might wish to convert his/her garment into real currency ( with the Prussian granma’s head on it ! ) – let me know if there is any trade to be done.

    2. Huw

      the “voluntary impulse” is not the central issue here, it’s the simple fact that most of these Anglos couldn’t care 2pence about survival of the welsh language, culture/identity etc cos they are too busy saving the world into a uniform Anglo image/shape. Well meaning bastards too thick or far up themselves to see the damage they are doing. Probably very good at binning cans in the right boxes but won’t bother learning a bit of the native language during their sojourns on the West Coast – selective conservation perhaps. Back to the point – public funding of ventures such as this is certainly of dubious value unless sharper focus is applied to how these bodies qualify for support. Perhaps an edict that 75% of participants should be drawn from local schools /colleges/ unemployed might kick start some awareness of value and responsibility.

  4. Robert

    The vast majority(not all) of the types Jac is identifying here, care not one jot for any semblence of Welsh nationality. They barely acknowledge the existence of Wales and do not mix with locals. Forget about them learning Welsh. They are the ulimate, modern colonizing imperialists even if the iron fist is replaced with a silk glove.
    Has anyone been to Cei Newydd recently, you can not tell you are in Wales. Two % Welsh-speaking in the local primary. Mind you, its only 17% in Aberaeron.

  5. Ifans

    I too have an interest in wildlife and Cymru
    I visited the CBMWC center, if it’s the one in Cei Newydd one summer a few years ago and noticed that the volunteers there (mostly students) were not Welsh.
    A few months later I happened to have a discussion with a couple of lecturers from Aberystwyth and Abertawe (I think) Universities and brought up the matter of why their students weren’t out doing research as volunteers in Bai Ceredigion.
    They proudly told me that they had their students volunteering on marine research projects in places like Spain and Greece, and non-EU countries such as Kenya instead.

    1. Jac

      Old story. Ship the Welsh out, bring the English in. And I suppose Wales is exotic to many of these volunteers.

      1. Huw

        Jac it’s not even a case of ship the Welsh out…… more a case of ignore the natives, their opinions don’t count ! Time for natives to start kicking up more of a fuss especially when they are funding these hobby jobs either directly or through other opportunities lost due to …. lack of funding !!!!

      2. ifans

        Not really shipped out. If the options for a Welsh student are watch dolphins off the west Wales coast or watch dolphins of the coast of Galicia, Spain then chances are the Galician option would be chosen – “exotic” location, looks good on the CV being examples of reasons why. And the same works in reverse.

        Bai Ceredigion is one of only two places in Britain with resident populations of Bottle-nosed dolphins (Moray Firth in Scotland is the other). It’s not surprising that it attracts volunteers from England.

        And yes Wales can be seen “exotic” to those from England and I think it’s to our advantage to increase that sense of the exotic by making ourselves more distinct from England. Anyone want to contact CBMWC and volunteer to translate their website into Welsh?

        1. Jac

          Can’t you see the contradiction? How do we make ourselves “more distinct from England” when our country is being taken over by the English?

          1. Anonymous

            I’m aware of our history with our nearest neighbours including the changes that have happened here in the past couple of decades.
            If we consider ourselves excluded from organisations such as CBMWC, doing the typically self effacing Welsh thing of waiting to be asked to take part will mean we’re in for a long wait. English culture is much more “pushy”. Waiting for the invite to come through the letterbox is pointless if we want CBMWC (and similar) to have the feel of a Welsh organization Welsh people will need to be proactive and invite themselves in.

            1. Jac

              I agree that we are much too self-effacing, partly because we have been subtly brainwashed over centuries into believing that we are inferior. That being so, it still leaves the conundrum of what to do about organisations to which Welsh people have not ‘invited themselves in’. I take the view that if there is no Welsh involvement then there should be no Welsh funding. And for there to be Welsh public funding the Welsh involvement must be substantial, not mere window-dressing.

  6. adarynefoedd

    Jac – I think I do understand the arguments. Saving what is left of our natural environment is part of the future, not only a moral but an economic imperative. Good example – long distance footpaths, used by many tourists who spend money in the area. The long distance footpath, dolphins, footpath up Pen y Fan etc needs support and maintenance therefore we have voluntary organisations to undertake this role. To be effective, they need staff and volunteers. The real question is why these organisations tend not be supported by Welsh people, they are often started by retired English people and their volunteers are also English. This is true for many other voluntary organisations – why?? I would like to see as many citizens as possible taking a pride in their community, collecting litter, sweeping streets as in Switzerland (compulsory every fourth Saturday for the able bodied in many Cantons).

    I also have a problem with your definition of English and Welsh. Rhodri Morgan said that if you live in Wales, you are Welsh (civic nationalism rather ethnic nationalism). I think the SNP are saying the same. Ethnic nationalism is highly problematic.

    1. Jac

      Who cares what Rhodri Morgan says! Civic nationalism may be a luxury Wales is unable to afford. I have no problem whatsoever in saying that the rightful inhabitants of Wales are the Welsh.

  7. Brychan

    Firstly, the ‘shock’ story from CWMBC in the form of a press release is a sham. Cases of dolphins attacking porpoises is well documented over many years, first noticed off Baja California, and more recently off Cork and Antrim, Ireland, and also Moray Firth, In Scotland. There is no evidence that this is due to ‘food shortages’ from over fishing, and if these hobbyists who parade eminent scientific qualifications have any evidence for this they should publish it in international scientific journals. Current thinking is that dolphins attack porpoises for reasons of territorial completion in mating periods where there is ‘overcrowding’, an indication of a very healthy population and ample food supply.

    Secondly, these ‘hobbyist placements are heavily subsidised and the main income of this particular group of ‘environmentalists is soused via the WEFO, a scheme designed to alleviate poverty in West Wales and the Valleys. I have to question why it’s difficult to get funding for unemployed people on allotments in Rhondda while posh English people can parachute into Ceredigion and cream a grant for a subsidised summer holiday. Their website advertises a placement with accommodation for just £60 a week in New Quay, something your average native can only dream of.

    Thirdly, the point made by adarynefoedd about maintaining the footpath up Pen-y-fan is good one. If we are forced to ‘re-habilitate’ junkies from Bristol in sold off former schools in RCT, surely it’s better to spend grant money on a mini-bus to cart these victims of social dumping up to Story Arms on the A470 to do such maintenance on the Pen-y-fan footpath, rather than subsidising a mini-bus for champagne charlies educated in Oxbridge to go ‘coasteering’ off the West Wales coast under the guise of ‘research’.

  8. adarynefoedd

    ‘I have no problem whatsoever in saying that the rightful inhabitants of Wales are the Welsh ‘, so Jac who is ‘Welsh’ then, does born in Wales to non Welsh parents count? I think Alex S says that he is promoting ‘civic nationalism’. Not to do so raises very awkward questions about recent and not so recent immigrants to Wales.

    And you neatly avoid the non participation question, why huge swathes of voluntary activity is dominated by immigrants. ( and it is not just the cuddly or enjoyable activities either, a lot of the unpleasant and difficult stuff is also done by immigrants).

  9. SPACCI

    I’d love to see you delve into the murky depths of Higher education in Wales. It seems to be infested with substandard English ‘academics’ hellbent of eradicating Welsh identity from our Universities.

    1. Jac

      I’m not sure I’d know where to start, but it would certainly be higher up the food chain than the third-rate academics to which you allude; these are merely foot soldiers on a single front in someone’s much wider war. All help gratefully received.

      1. SPACCI

        I don’t have any real insider information but it makes you wonder why our universities are turning their backs on their Welshness. You just need to have a look at the debacle in Aber surrounding Pantycelyn or the piss poor Welsh medium provision given by Cardiff.

        The only one of the universities, as far as I understand, with any great Welsh infuelnce is Drindod Dewi Sant.

  10. Why don’t the Welsh ‘volunteer’, why haven’t they set up all these organisations themselves, or at least their own equivalent versions in parallel. Maybe the result of a kind of long-term ‘brain drain’ or rather initiative drain? I.e. anyone with any get up and go long ago got up and went. Just wondering? Attitudes like yours are not exactly going to endear you to incomers, or encourage them to become part of your community. (Why for e.g. should they learn Welsh when 4/5 Welsh people can’t be bothered?) Never mind encouraging your own youngsters to stick around once they get a chance to be part of the wider world.

    1. Jac

      Maybe the Welsh haven’t set up these organisations because they aren’t needed. If Jemima or Lucien stopped swimming with dolphins off Cei Newydd would anyone in Caia Park, Penparcau, Townhill or Gurnos notice? No.

      With the ‘initiative drain’ you’re on to something, but it’s late, I’m on the Argie red (drowning my sorrows along with 40 million Argentines), and so I haven’t got time to go into this fascinating subject, beyond pointing out that the problem has now become internalised.

      Attitudes like mine will not endear me to incomers? A foolish generalisation based on an incorrect assumption. I get on well with many English immigrants, on a personal level. What I condemn are systems and phenomena, within which we are but players. Except me, of course. Because I know what’s what; I don’t belong to any uncomprehending herd, and I don’t follow anybody else’s rules.

  11. Adarynefoedd – you say 4/5 of Welsh people can’t be bothered to learn Welsh. It’s not quite that is it, given that 1/3 of the population of Wales in in fact English, and mostly don;t learn Welsh, and skew the stats. As we watch the London parties vie for electoral supremacy by telling foreigners they need to learn English and stop taking our jobs, anyone who, in Wales, dares to suggest English incomers should fit in, respect the place, learn the language when in Welsh-speaking areas, is branded racist.
    One rule for them, one for us. Read Mike Parker’s neighbours from Hell. He’s English, and he sees the problem.
    As for why the Welsh don’t set up dolphin feeding sanctuaries, the reason I’d say is that they’re too busy trying to make ends meet in a country of economic depression where there are other priorities.
    Try telling the English that ‘anyone who lives in England counts as English’. They would, perhaps rightly, laugh in your face and vote you out. But the Welsh, ah well, we have to say ‘Anyone who lives here is Welsh’.
    Ethnic nationalism has nothing to do with it – look up the word ‘ethnic’. Civic doesn’t just mean ‘loving here’, incidentally, it means taking part in a series of loosely-binding values, projects, aims and different forms of citizenship. It’s not about plonking your body down in Machynlleth , slagging off Welsh speakers, and claiming you’re just as Welsh as they are.

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