Tuesday, 6 November 2018

The Matter of Wales

I'm still banging on about the Welsh narrative, and have been digging into what some of the wiser inhabitants of our little country have to say about it.  

A few quotes from Jan Morris’s wonderful book called “The Matter of Wales”:

“.....it is a small country..... but its smallness is not pretty; on the contrary, it is profound. Intense and unaccommodating continuity is the essence of the place.......”

“Its image is habitually blurred: partly by this geographical unfamiliarity, partly by the opaque and moody climate, partly by its own somewhat obfuscatory character,which is entrammelled in a dizzy repertoire of folklore, but most of all by historical circumstance.”

“.... despite the overwhelming proximity of the English presence, a force which has affected the manners, thoughts and systems of half the world, for better or for worse Wales has not lost its Welshness.”

“Among all the Roman possessions of the western empire, only Wales was never overrun by its heathen successors, and Welsh literature was the first in all Europe to emerge from the debacle.”

“...... the Welsh came to see themselves as inheritors of Roman urbanity and Christian devotion, and as trustees of a lost Celtic civilization which was to become ever more marvellous in the imagination, peopled by ever more heroic heroes, inspired by saintlier saints, until the very dream of it became part of the whole world’s consciousness in the legendary paragon of King Arthur. Wales was the folk-memory of Europe!”

“The Welsh never lost their sense of separateness and specialness, never allowed their language to die, and never altogether abandoned their perennial vision of a golden age, an age at once lost and still to come.....”

“... if there is one constant to the Welsh feel of things it is a sense of what might-have-been, tinged sometimes with despair.”

“Owain Glyndwr’s was a vision of the place as a human-entity, not just a country but a nation: not just a state but a fellowship, and a culture, and a heritage, and a sense of home, and a reconciliation of time, in which the affairs of the remotest past might overlap the present and embrace the future.”


I'm still saddened by the apparent lack of any coherent vision of what it is that makes Wales different from Scotland, Ireland and England -- and indeed, what makes it unique on the world stage.  As far as I can see, the Visit Wales marketing strategy is to carry on telling the rest of the world that "Wales is more wonderful than everywhere else.....",  accompanied by lots of nice images,  which seems to me to be somewhat lacking in imagination!

And in spite of all my efforts, I have not managed to get anybody in the Welsh Govt to take seriously my request for TV drama  and film makers or broadcasters to devote some of their time and energy to the telling of the Welsh story for a global audience.  The attitude seems to be "Oh, we can't do that!  That might scare them away....!"  Sad, isn't it?

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