Being Welsh

'Being Welsh' was published in April 2012 in an edition of  120 copies. It has 64 pages with 18 poems and essays, and 40 photographs.

Being Welsh - Ode to Prince Charles - Sea Areas - Another Night in Merthyr - The Merthyr Pilgrim - Four Minutes & Eight Seconds - Little Stations - A Radnorshire Church - A Radnorshire Phone Box - Full Flight – Shads - Hey Jones (with apologies to Jimmy Hendrix) - Just George - Ode to Hay Festival - Rags & Tatters - Still Bearing the Scars - Sarn Helen (A.D.81) - Sarn Helen (A.D.2011)

'Needless to say it’s impossible to argue that Welsh people have certain characteristics that others don’t share, but in general I believe that we are great talkers, have a fondness for the booze, enjoy music, love real life drama and are very sentimental. For instance on Saint David’s Day, if I hear Richard Burton on the radio reading something from ‘Under Milk Wood’ I have to turn it off as I’m so moved by it. I‘d also say that virtually every Welsh person I’ve met, no matter how rich or successful they may be, have come from humble beginnings or have parents or grandparents that did. Perhaps this goes some way to explain why we have an inherent mistrust of ‘our betters’ and a strong rebellious streak that shows itself in the face of authority and nit-picking bureaucracy. I’d like to think too that we are a people united by a shared culture. For instance, we may not all enjoy rugby (I certainly don’t) but it could be said that most of us can at least pronounce Welsh place names correctly and can mumble our way through the national anthem, will sing along incoherently with ‘Canol Lan’ and if given the opportunity will belt out ‘Delilah’ and ‘The Green, Green Grass of Home’ with the best of them.
          So even if you don’t know what a gorsedd circle is, or where ‘The Triangle’ was or where ‘Stack Square’ is. If you are kind, cunning, clannish, hospitable, impulsive, happy go lucky and loyal to your friends - it doesn’t matter who you are, or where in the world you’ve come from, you’re a Taff!'


Sarn Helen (A.D. 2011)

So where do I find Helen’s beauty beyond compare?
Perhaps in a warm breath of wind blowing through cold mountain air,
Or in miles and miles of Imperial pride -
Of fine Roman road paved just eight feet wide.

Or has her spirit almost vanished, with just a name remaining?
As do shining ruts made by wheels of chariots, seen only when it’s raining.
While on the common, a milia passum – a thousand paces,
Now peaty turf walked by bleating sheep with speckled faces.

That road where once came samian ware plates and dishes,
Dried figs and apricots, lettucesand salted fishes,
Is now fainter than a December shadow, with its course
Seen only as a line between the gorse.

That road where once went salt, camphor and fine ivory pieces,
Sent to a lucky trooper by his two pretty nieces.
And sauces, vinegar, capers, oysters and samphire,
Plus sweet smelling sandalwood for a funeral pyre.

While somewhere clay tablets and vessels of glass,
Are under rustling bracken and whispering dry grass,
With silver eagles and honey sweetened wine;

All buried somehow by the dim mists of time.

Another Night in Merthyr

Another wet night top end of town,
Boarded up and shuttered down.
Earned its money, had its heyday,
Now betting shops and ‘Loans Til Payday.’

Whilst in the pubs they drown their sorrow,
Come day, go day, no tomorrow.
Then at midnight, looking to fight are tough nuts and bruisers,
Spilling from bars, the clubs and the boozers.

And there in the cold, stripped to the waist,
Three bronze boxers strategically placed.
All of them as hard as nails,
Their aim as straight as Trevithick’s rails.

But now no more working class heroes
That were something to be.
The hard work has gone
And so has the dignity.

Whilst pride,
Long ago feeling empty,
Looked over at the A470.
And took a fast ride
Off to high hopes in the lowlands of plenty.

And misty eyed socialists,
Who kept coal in the bath.
Away from this town,
Now sleep safe in Penarth,

Like all the self righteous.
Far from the beer cans and broken glass,                           
The pathetic detritus
Of the underclass.

Then a gap in the clouds and there in the dark
The Belt of Orion high above Cyfartha Park.
While over the town the cold moon, a crescent,
Shines on the past that haunts a grimy present.

Where all’s rack and ruin and way past renewing,
So maybe soon they’ll pull the old place down.
Whilst through another long night in this martyr’s town,
Unconcerned the Taff flows brown.

Dan James, Musician and Radio Presenter
'Being Welsh' is an intensely personal view of people and places in this little corner of South Wales and is full of heart. I particularly liked Huw's story about an early morning visit from the postman and the photograph of Brecon in the early hours which is with it. There are photographs of Hay-on-Wye, Abergavenny market, Brecon and the nearby countryside, juxtaposed with prose and pithy poetry. The photography in this book is a great example of how to look at the everyday and make it beautiful. 'Being Welsh' makes you smile and makes you think.