I am indebted to the person who sent me this cutting from the Cambrian News of December 26, 1996. (Click to enlarge.) It is a letter from the woman shown in the post before last ‘If That’s The Way They Want It’. First, let me admit, it’s quite well written; and would I’m sure persuade many people of the rightness of her argument . . . if they hadn’t seen the film clip. And that’s her problem; she knows she’s in trouble before she starts as the film shows her in a very bad light. So this letter is part damage limitation, part blame-shifting. It’s a lengthy letter so I’m not going through it point by point, I shall just focus on five elements that caught my eye.
‘Not Just Me’
To believe the letter-writer, there were appalling things going on off-camera, with Welsh supporters of Dafydd Huws hurling racist abuse at her and other protesters. (Including Welsh protesters!) She also claims that Dafydd Huws spoke in English to some other film crew. But of course we only have her word for all this. And, inevitably, the council is also at fault.
Curiously, the writer never once refers to Dr. Huws by name, he’s always “the developer”. (Ten times by my count.) Did she hate him so much that she couldn’t even bring herself to write his name! Was she offended that some Welsh peasant could become a psychiatrist? (Though being a psychiatrist I’m sure Dafydd Huws would have picked up on the avoidance of his name.)
I didn’t count how many times she used ‘racist’ or ‘racism’ but it was worked to death. (As it invariably is in these situations.) Well-heeled English colonists presenting themselves as the downtrodden victims of racism is ludicrous. They are colonists, taking over someone else’s country. Reading her letter I was reminded of an earlier English use of this tactic.
In the mid 19th century the Boers left Cape Province to found their own republics, The Free State and Transvaal. It was soon realised that the latter was rich in gold and diamonds. Inevitably, the English wanted to get their hands on these riches. So they encouraged English settlers to move into the Transvaal, knowing that – as non-citizens – they would not be allowed to vote. Up went the cry of ‘Persecution!’ and invasion followed to secure the gold and diamonds rescue the oppressed English settlers.
It’s an old trick. ‘Intolerant French’ in Canada, ‘Savage Irish’; and that’s before you even get to the non-European peoples. Send in some settlers, wait for the inevitable response to their arrogant behaviour and their acquisitive ways, then use resistance to these interlopers as the justification for invasion! Here in Wales, in the 21st century, it’s obviously a little different. But the same pattern can be discerned. The colonists cry ‘racism’ – Welsh people fear being so branded – opposition reduces – more colonisation results – new territory is secured for English expansionism.
Having just mentioned Ireland, I was intrigued by how she tried to use her husband’s Irish origins against Dr. Huws and his supporters. Though it did suggest the sound of straws being clutched . . . know what I mean – that thin, plaintive sound of utter despair just before somebody goes under?
But let’s take her statement at face value (for the redacted name does suggest Irish origins). In which case, the history of the native Irish people – the oppression, dispossession and expulsion from their own lands – sits rather awkwardly with hubby lining up with English colonists in a dispute with fellow-Celts. Most Irish people – certainly the Irish I know – would say he was on the wrong side.
Again, in talking of her husband, she wrote: “He was furious at being told to ‘go home’ – having lived in this area for a long time he is home – unlike the developer who, for all he uses his mother’s address in Llandre, actually lives in Caerphilly”.
So this area around Mynydd Gorddu is their home because they live there, but not Dafydd Huws’ home because he now lives somewhere else. This is perhaps the most revealing thing the woman had to say. For nothing sums up the difference between us and them better. For her and her rootless kind ‘home’ is where you happen to live. Perceptions of ‘home’ are devoid of emotion or sentiment; it all comes down to monetary valuations, boundaries, etc.
Something I remember my late friend, Barrie Edwards, taking exception to . . . by taking a sledgehammer to some ornamental stonework. Done to register his contempt for the new owner of his nain’s old house. I won’t deny that he’d had a drink or twa when he did it, but to hear his explanation would have bemused the developer’s opponents. For to him, all the new owner had was a bit of (expletive) paper giving him legal ownership of stones, nothing more. There was another dimension to that house, something very personal that gave Barrie ‘ownership’ in a way the interloper could never understand.
Given that hubby is of Irish descent, and that he and his lovable spouse have a curious understanding of home and belonging, here’s the great Irish tenor, John McCormack singing The Old House.