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February 25, 2008

Humourist Christie Davies has so enjoyed Englishman Mike Parker's account of English abusiveness towards his own people that he has added in a few recent cases of Welsh abuse about the English: Neighbours from Hell? - Mike Parker

Posted by Christie Davies

Neighbours from Hell?: English Attitudes To the Welsh
by Mike Parker
Pp. 174. Talybont: Y Lolfa, 2007
Paperback, £7.95

Mike Parker, an English stand-up comedian and the author of the Rough Guide to Wales. has written an entertaining account of how the English perceive the Welsh. It will appeal to English readers because he has collected together every calumny ever uttered against the Welsh from the Venerable Bede to Evelyn Waugh, Maynard Keynes, Herbert Henry Asquith, Robert Graves, Jeremy Clarkson, A. A. Gill, A. N. Wilson, Anne Robinson, Mark Steel of the SWP, Bill Bryson and what he calls "the distinctly second-rate musings" of Frank Johnson. Just think of the fun they will have picking out the nasty bits and guffawing coarsely in the pubs of Liverpool, Birmingham, Oxford and Bristol, the cities that have received most Welsh emigrants.

It will equally delight Welsh readers, for it is one more opportunity for us to indulge in our most celebrated virtue - humility. If an Irishman feels slighted by the English his insecure sense of his own identity soon leads him into the paths of violence. If a Scotsman senses he is being disrespected by a Sassenach his inner fear that he may well be inferior after all will make the chips on his shoulder boil like a Mar's bar. But we in Wales see such occasions as an opportunity for spiritual growth. This worm is not for turning. The last will be first and we are the lastest of all.

There can be no prouder boast than that as we can see from the joke below:

A Welsh minister was preaching to his congregation telling them that he had a religious experience while sleeping in his bed the previous night.

"I was woken by a strong voice calling out 'Dai Evans'. But I assumed it was some drunk from the tavern going home. I went back to sleep.

But later I was woken again by someone calling for me. 'Dai Evans'. But I assumed it was only the ghost of my late wife, so I ignored it and returned to my slumbers.

Then I was woken a third time by the voice calling out to me 'Reverend Doctor Dafydd Evans, graduate of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth with honours in the third class!'

And I replied, 'Lord, Thy humble servant waits to do Thy bidding'"

Beneath it of course we have a sense of loss, from being driven out of the fertile lands of Boudicca, Vortigern and Arthur. We even remember our defeat by the Geordies at Catraeth that lost us the South of Scotland and the North of England. Fourteen hundred years have passed but Welshmen still take their sons on visits to Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh and the forts of the Saxon shore in Kent to remind them that "one day all this belonged to us".

As always happens, the newcomers came as immigrants and they stayed as conquerors. We were left with nothing but a barren wet peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic like Cornwall or Brittany (single violin plays sadly on stage left).

Yet, it was all rather a long time ago. Let us look back over the twentieth century and ask and answer the following questions.

For the Koreans were the Japanese neighbours from hell? Yes.

For the Czechs were the Germans neighbours from hell? Yes.

For the Estonians were the Russians neighbours from hell? Yes.

For the Armenians were the Turks neighbours from hell? Yes.

For the Tibetans were the Chinese neighbours from hell? Yes.

For the Bosnians were the Serbs neighbours from hell? Yes.

For the Biafrans were the Nigerians neighbours from hell? Yes.

For the Welsh were the English neighbours from hell? Not really.

The useless English team didn't even make it into the qualifying round of the annual neighbours from hell world cup.

Indeed some of Mike Parker's adopted nationalistic history needs a bit of revisionism. The Acts of Union under the Tudors that absorbed Wales into England were not widely unwelcome at the time, since they put local power into the hands of that nationally-typical Welsh class, the small Welsh gentry, men with few acres but a strong sense of pedigree and of descent from the Welsh warrior class.

They came in their hundreds to London to seek place and position and to learn English law, the very foundations of that national windbaggery (for some reason Mr Parker objects to this term) for which we have been famous ever since. No one can match us as blowhards and die-hards. This is the class that was laughed at by Shakespeare and other Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights when making fun of the Welsh. They were comic not because they were dangerous aliens but because they were full of themselves, provincials come to town to exploit their new rights and assert their status.

Shakespeare knew full well that they were quite different from their distant female ancestors whom he famously, though obliquely, mentions in Henry IV, Part I as having mutilated the corpses of the English army after the Welsh had defeated it at the Battle of Bryn Glas in Powys (Pilleth) in 1402. They are said to have hacked off their enemies' noses and stuffed them up their arses so they could smell themselves and to have hacked off their genitals and stuck them in their mouths so that they could… [rest of sentence deleted by censor].

After the early seventeenth century the next great joke period for the English mockers was Edwardian Britain and the years just before and after that era. Parker provides some wonderful cartoons of and jokes about the Welsh that will please the English and allow the Welsh to feel a warm sense of horrified virtue. Parker quotes the first verse of the traditional song Taffy was a Welshman:

Taffy was a Welshman. Taffy was a thief.
Taffy came to my house and stole a piece of beef.
I went to Taffy's house. Taffy was in bed.
I picked up a poker and hit him on the head.
Our older readers will remember hearing it being sung on the radio by a hearty contralto and being made as children in primary school to learn it off by heart and recite it.

Yet in general in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, Wales was the "land of the white gloves", "Gwlad y Menig Gwynion". At the assizes in Wales the judge would often be presented with a pair of white gloves to indicate that there had been no serious crime and that no criminal trials needed to be heard. What a virtuous and God-fearing people we were but, of course, humble with it. For some reason, though, Parker omits the later and more up to date verses.

Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a cheat.
Taffy came to my house and pissed upon the seat.
I went to Taffy's house, Taffy was in bed.
So I climbed through the window and kicked him in the head.

Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief.
Taffy came to my house and stole a leg of beef.
I went to Taffy's house, Taffy wasn't in.
I jumped upon his Sunday hat and poked it with a pin.

The references to lavatories (profane) and Sunday hats (sacred) are both from a modern era far removed from the ancient times of mutual rustling supposed to be the origin of these rhymes. A Sunday hat for chapel meant as much to the Welsh nonconformist as a bowler hat to Captain Mainwaring or a topper to David "Snooty" Cameron. It symbolised an entire social existence and to crush and pin-puncture it was a grave insult. No wonder this used to be the verse sung by lower-class English soccer supporters when Welsh teams travelled there. The English fans also chanted "Take two cows, Taffy, take two" from the sound of the pigeon and sang a parody of the Welsh national anthem "Hen wlad fy nhadau":
My hen laid a haddock
Right up in a tree.
The haddock fell down
And it nearly killed me.
So now when I see one
Of Wales I must think
For whales are like haddocks
Like haddocks they stink.
But as Mary Robinson used to say, this is not the real England. Only about 98% of the English lower classes ever go to soccer matches and compared with Indian and Australian cricket supporters their barracking is mild.

Some of the details of Mr Parker's account of the golden age of the ridicule of the sons of Gomer, though entertaining, are again not entirely accurate. As he rightly notes, one of the great mockers of the Welsh was the chicken farmer Arthur Tysilio Johnson, who in 1910 published The Perfidious Welshman, writing under the pseudonym Y Draig Glas (Nelson Goodman's Grue Dragon). Parker accuses Johnson of

smart-arse quip, covering outright bigotry
but he does not acknowledge that Johnson also wrote a reply to his own book, The Welshman's Reputation, this time praising the Welsh, under the pseudonym "An Englishman".

The Perfidious Welshman and its competitors were the equivalent of today's "xenophobes' guides to", though nothing like as feeble as the contemporary versions. Johnson merely wrote to amuse and make money, as did the English poet and balladeer T. W. H. Crosland with his book Taffy was a Welshman. Again Parker does not mention that Crosland wrote The Unspeakable Scot and the rather sympathetic The Wild Irishman at about the same time and also, under the pseudonym Angus McNeill, The Egregious English.

They are all moderately funny but the last of Crosland's books, The Fine Old Hebrew Gentleman, is seriously nasty and less concerned with generating humour than with promoting hostility to the Jews. Parker rightly excoriates Crosland's other anti-Semitic writings, though curiously he does not mention Llew Smith MP and Wayne David MP's disgraceful allegations in Hansard that Plaid Cymru's founder, Saunders Lewis, was also a little bit that way inclined.

The real point which Parker fails to see is the very striking contrast between English attitudes to the Welsh or to the Scots which are mild and some of the anti-Semitic views expressed in England, Scotland, and Wales alike, which could be and still can be vitriolic, crackpot and potentially very dangerous. The English sin against the Welsh is not hatred or even dislike but sheer indifference. Unlike the joyous days of Tudor or Jacobean Britain we are not seen as important enough to make fun of.

Most Welsh people are at ease with themselves and don't mind being the butt of jokes. I once went to a film festival in Bangor in Gwynedd and sat next to a Welsh Nationalist M.P. A rather peeved old Gog (North Walian) had cut and pasted together bits from every film and TV series he could find that made fun of the Welsh. I couldn't stop laughing and I looked nervously at my Nationalist neighbour but he laughed even more and especially at the ending when Lenny Henry and a group of West Indians, pretending to be a Welsh male voice choir, sang "And we don't shag sheep".

For my part I have often been called the equivalent of a "stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little (Welsh) troll" to use A. A. Gill's description of the Welsh and Norman Lamont's favourite party piece is a bad imitation of my Welsh accent (he once listened to me giving evidence for the prosecution in court) but I can live with it. You take it, you hand it out. Why then is Mr Parker so bothered? There are several inter-related reasons.

Mike Parker is a gay Englishman and indeed the pride-proud author of Scottish Scene, an account of the haunts of the local kilt-lifters for gay English tourists. He lives, as he tells us, with his Welsh-speaking partner Peredur in Machynlleth.

Mike Parker is oddly proud of being an Englishman but has gone native and even tried to learn Welsh. There is only one thing more comic than an Englishman trying to pronounce Welsh and that is an Englishman trying to pronounce French. They never change their habitual intonation or alter where they place the stress and they pronounce the words of each of these languages direct from the written form as if they were English. The English can't even manage place names, so they come out with Mah-sales and Ruddy Deaf-aid, Wipers and One-eyelid, Bower-gog-knee and Land-twit-maior (Marseilles, and Rhyd y Defaid, Ypres and Waunarlwydd, Bourgogne and Llanilltud fawr). They lack the forked tongues of the Welsh and are not cunning linguists like the French. Then they complain when the locals laugh at them. No sense of humour, those gelatophobic English.

Parker's combination of gay radicalism and adopted nationalism leads him into a tasteless, unworthy and irrelevant attack on the former Speaker of the House of Commons George Thomas, Methodist M.P. for Pontypridd (remember his Ordure! Ordure! on the radio) for allegedly being a closet queer. Outing the dead on questionable evidence is a bit off. Pretty women from South Wales have told me that in fact old George was a "glad eye" who looked at them over-appreciatively and my Aunty Edie from the Crwys would at the slightest provocation tell at length the tragic story of his broken engagement. That George Thomas was an old boy doesn't make him an old queen.

Parker's other mistake is that he seems to think that Wales, which he calls "A Truly Fairy Place" and "the fag end of creation" is less homophobic than England. He has even argued elsewhere that Saint David was gay. It isn't really like that, partly because of the Nonconformists' obsession with the Old Testament (look at Emyr Humphries' A Toy Epic with its "passing the love of women" spoiled ministerial) and partly because of the macho culture of industrial South Wales which is much like that of Chubby Brown's North-East of England.

Mike Parker should read Alun Richards collection The Former Miss Marthyr Tydfil and Other Stories for a bit more insight into the boys who sing together in the showers and the prejudices that make this safe and possible. It was in Merthyr Tydfil that Hywel X who had been my contemporary at secondary school was convicted of:

committing an act of gross indecency in a motor car with a slaughterer's mate.
The occupation of his choice of partner, as reported in the South Wales Evening Post, caused no end of hilarity among the lads in our "ugly, lovely town", who still remembered him as a rigorist ritualist.

But from the day of his "being in the papers" his mother, a widow, and his siblings never again left their house by the front door but crept up the bumpy, unmade, scarred lane at the back. They no longer went to the local shops but took the bus into town even for the smallest of purchases. They were socially dead and had to hide their shame. Oh Waldo, Waldo! "What will the neighbours say?" Wales doesn't swing; it hangs people out to dry.

But, presumably encouraged by his genuine affection for his partner Peredur, Mike Parker has become a kind of convert and has conferred all manner of virtues on us that we do not possess. I hope he will not feel offended if I say that he has just a little, just a mere smidgen, in common with Richard Brunstrom, the Chief Constable of North Wales, who thinks ecstasy is as harmless as aspirin, broke into his own office like a burglar to test security, showed photographs of a decapitated motor cyclist at a press briefing, and is rumoured to have called motorists who criticise him Ffascist.

Brunstrom is an Englishman but since being appointed he has taken an A-level in Welsh, though he is coy about what grade he got. He told his own officers that the local people regarded them:

as an English force of occupation and with some justification.
Given that the Welsh police are recruited locally from the communities they serve, this must have made him as popular with his officers as he is with his fellow Chief Constables, who can't stand him.

Brunstrom was always a bit odd but since he "converted" he has become, as we say in Wales, a real meshuggener, a bit like the Tony Blair he tried to prosecute. Soon after his conversion Brunstrom tried to prosecute Prime Minister Blair for allegedly saying in private "the XXXXXXX Welsh", after the Labour party did badly in the Welsh assembly elections of 1999. Blair was interviewed for two hours by a police inspector, at a cost to the taxpayer of £1,700, in the hope of prosecuting him for "hate crime". Afterwards the inspector commented that it had been a complete "waste of public money".

Earlier Brunstrom had sent four officers to investigate Anne Robinson at a cost of £4,000 because she had said in a broadcast that she had

never taken to the Welsh... [and found them] irritating and annoying.
Two of the police officers even had the Director-General of the BBC up for questioning. No charges were brought and the BBC defied Brunstrom by showing the programme a second time.

Being a Sais plod, Brunstrom can not see what an honour it is for the Welsh to have succeeded in irritating and annoying Annie Robinson, the ugly daughter of a Scouse coster-monger, a woman drawn from the lowest class of the most despised city in England. We in and from Wales are not at the bottom of the heap after all, there is someone even lower down to whom we can feel superior, but, of course, we remain humble at heart. Anne Robinson also said that she didn't like the Welsh because they are:

always so pleased with themselves.
What is wrong with that? We are always pleased with ourselves because we have so many good qualities to be pleased about and we are humble with it.

What real Welsh people can see clearly, but would-be English converts like Brunstrom can not, is that our own inalienable right to say critical and rude things about Englishmen, Ethiopians or Estonians, Scousers, Sikhs or Scotsmen, New Zealanders, Nigerians or Norwegians utterly depends on their equal right to be rude and critical about us. Rights are reciprocal. You cannot infer racial hatred from mere criticism, even if it is expressed in a way that offends.

Let me appeal to our English readers to defend the freedom of the Welsh people by reading Mr Parker's book and then, learning from his examples, savagely ridiculing the Welsh and defying the Chief Constable of North Wales to prosecute you. Our right to insult you depends on our willingness to be insulted. Besides we will enjoy retaliating and we are better at scathing oratory than you are.

Mr Parker has the misfortune to live near Machynlleth. The town, which was once the proud home of Owain Glyndŵr's parliament, has been swamped by an influx of greenist nutters from England. The ghastly Centre for Alternative Technology is in Machynlleth and it is now the largest local employer. Yet there are, Parker claims, no Welsh people in senior positions; the Welshman is only accepted as a menials, as a syce to groom the horses for the green sahibs.

We are probably kept out because CAT plans to wreck the entire Welsh countryside with hideous windmills, a recipe for ugliness, noise and regular local power cuts. Thanks to these foreign greenists Wales with 5% of the UK's population and 9% of its area has, according to Parker, 50% of the UK's wind-turbines and now they are going to build new ones over 400 feet high. Not content with drowning our valleys for reservoirs so that Anne Robinson in Liverpool could have a bath every seven months, they now want to smother our hills and frighten our sheep with windmills. Why can't they put these monstrosities somewhere that is already noisy and ugly like Lancashire or Essex?

Just as bad is the steady influx of posh speaking "brightly jumpered Guardian devotees", "the Good Lifers - the Jeremys and Jemimas who want to knit their own yoghurt" with their "rosy cheeked, back to the land heartiness". Soon we will be outnumbered in our own land by greenist Guardianistas who will write patronizing articles about how backward we are. Even these modish English immigrants will lose out, for as Parker points out,

if too many people opt for the same thing as you do, it can help to destroy the very thing that attracted you in the first place.
Yet what happens to you, if like good patriotic Councillor Seimon Glyn, the chairman of Gwynedd County Council's housing committee, you comment adversely on this influx?
Councillor Seimon Glyn: We are faced with a situation now where we are getting tidal waves of migration, inward migration into our rural areas from England, and these people are coming here to live to establish themselves here, and to influence our communities and our culture with their own.…

Between 90 and 100% of all homes being put on the market are sold to outsiders. …

In my opinion, it is no use to the community to have retired people from England coming down here to live and being a drain on our resources….

Patriot Glyn got denounced and called a racist. The same thing happened to poor Gwilym ab Ioan when he said that Wales was becoming
a dumping ground for (English) oddballs and misfits
and to John Elfed Jones who said in Welsh that English immigrants were
a human foot and mouth disease.
Jones was forced to eat his words in English when it was pointed out that he had put his foot in his mouth in Welsh. In his apology, Jones says he meant something quite different, presumably that the English were like German measles or the French pox.

Fortunately the obsessive Brunstrom did not pick up on John Elfed's disease metaphor, a turn of speech that I have to say I found repellent. Let me reassure my English friends that the vast majority of us do not regard ourselves as sheep nor themselves as a disease of sheep. But we the Welsh people can only claim the freedom to say these things if we are willing to put up with equivalent comments about us by the English.

Other autochthonous peoples have reservations, so why not put one in Gwynedd? I am not saying this out of self-interest. In Gwynedd I am seen as far worse than the English. I can remember trying to buy a film in Bangor and the vendor on hearing my accent hissing at me scornfully and sibilantly, "I see you are from the Sou-th". There was more contempt in that stretched out word "Sow-th" with its implication of effeminate piggery than in anything quoted by Mike Parker. A North Walian once said to the Rhondda novelist Gwyn Thomas:

You people in the South are nothing but prostitutes.
Gwyn Thomas replied,
We'e been nothing so profitable.
The excellent Neighbours from Hell? by sympathetic "Cymro Manqué" Mike Parker should appeal to English and Welsh alike. For English readers it will be the pleasing mental equivalent of being pummelled about the knees by the fists of a teased four-year old of whom you are rather fond. The Welsh will laugh because they like laughing. Well-done, Mike. Not bad for a je ne Sais quoi.

Christie Davies is the author of Welsh Jokes, (Cardiff, John Jones, 1978) and starred in Selwyn Roderick's film The Silver Road to Guanajato, based on his ancestor Dafydd Wiliams' Llythyrau Cymro yn Mexico.


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This is not funny. We have had quite too much of Welsh impudence masquerading as humour. Parker's book, which I have read , is bad enough but Christie Davies' review making fun not just of the English but of other peoples is disgaceful. It is typical of the Welsh to pretend to have a self-deprecating humour when in fact they are laughing at everyone else. The English celebrities' remarks about the Welsh are harmless but the Welsh politicians' attacks on English immigrants are deplorable - about what other immigrant group would anyone dare to make such remarks?
Anne Robinson's dislike of the Welsh is merely a personal opinion but Davies retaliation on behalf of his fellow Welsh agitators that she is despised for being a typical unwashed Liverpudlian is offensive. Her family were not coster-mongers but had a respectable stall on the market in Liverpool and her heroic social mobility is admirable.
Parker's snide attack on Frank Johnson and direct maligning of the former Speaker should never have been published. What do Y Lolfa think they are doing?

Posted by: Jamie at February 26, 2008 08:03 PM
•••

Why can't Welsh obsessives like Christie Davies accept that their time is up and that they would be better off just to become English. My grandfather came from Wales but I never
mention it. We are proud to be English, to be Anglicans, to support English teams. How can new arrivals in Britain be expected fully to assimilate so long as the Welsh cling to their outmoded identity ? Why can't they be more like us?

Posted by: John at February 27, 2008 07:19 PM
•••

Thanks Mike Parker for standing up for the Welsh. Even if you are gay. You have exposed all the sneering we have to put up with from England. The song Taffy was a Welshman and the parody of Mae hen wlad fy nhadau should never be allowed let alone sung at football matches. There was a great fuss when an Australian got called a monkey but our boys have to put up all the time with people bleating like sheep at them.
I don't agree with Mr Davies line about Shakespeare. When I was at school in Maesteg we had to study him and we reckoned he didn't like us one bit. Fluellyn can't even speak proper English and Glendower and his spirits is too much. We never get to centre stage like Macbeth the Scotsman ,no, it was always bit parts for us that make us a laughing stock.
As for the suggestion that Saunders Lewis was anti-semitic, that is down right untrue. and those MPs would never say that outside Parliament. He was against the RAF only because he was a pacifist and did not want them spoiling a peaceful area. That pogrom in Tredegar had nothing to do with Nationalism ,it was just those old miners making trouble.
The Chief Constable of North Wales is not the way you make him out to be. He defends us against English slanders and by getting the headlines he reminds the English that we can give a good account of ourselves

Posted by: Griff at February 28, 2008 07:59 PM
•••

"...every calumny ever uttered against the Welsh from the Venerable Bede to Evelyn Waugh..."

Waugh's calumny isn't to be taken at face value. His surname is etymologically the same as "Welsh" (both from Old English walh, "foreign") and he looked remarkably like Dylan Thomas.

Posted by: Raininspain at February 28, 2008 08:41 PM
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Cool it folks! The venerable proffeswr is only trying to root out those of his audience who are excessively

小器 (I’d like to make this big, so why won’t the site let me use the appropriate html tags!!??)

This is a Chinese term literally meaning “small capacity”, but applying to those who are too easily offended. It is pronounced xiao qi in Mandarin, but for English / Welsh speakers the Cantonese pronunciation “Siu Hei / Siw Hei” might be easier.

As an example of this, on the web just now I found a Japanese calling someone a 小器 Chinese, to which the other side replied: “I am afraid that you cannot form better relationships with the Chinese unless you remove (offensive kanji) and "kamikaze" from your tags. You may think of them as heroes, but most Chinese regard them as the way French and Jews see the Nazi forces.”

Now who’s being小器 ? Alas, this country is full of professional小器-ists like the officials (Bandarjis) who asked hospital staff to avoid wheeling food trolleys in front of Muslims during Ramadan (the net result being that this only made Muslims feel three or four times as uncomfortable).

First, “Jamie”. Anne Robinson has built a career based on being nasty to people, particularly the way she sent them off in the “Weakest Link” with a face that would turn people to stone. (Perhaps she had a face-lift because someone called Perseus was included in the list of contenders). Her Liverpool family may well have been respectable but her own personal life had been a complete disgrace. She would never have been allowed back on the media in Ireland (Graham Norton had to come over here to find a niche). So a few mud pats back at her are only repayment in kind. And what right have celebrities to think that their opinions are any more significant than that of the man in the street? If her opinions are private, let them remain so.

“John”. Your petulant outburst is a disgrace. And consider the debt the English owe to the Welsh. Were it not for their archers in the 14th and 15th centuries, we might all (Saxon and Celt) be Frogs by now.

“Griff”. It was partly in reaction against Anne Robinson that I started to learn Welsh songs. However, I cannot share your enthusiasm for the head of the Heddlu Gogledd Cymru. He is a小器-ist par excellence. It seems that the Westminster Nomenclatura are dumping loads of Little Hitlers on Wales. See:

Will Peter Hain speak out for Wales? http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/politics/threelinewhip/feb/hain-speak-out-for-wales.htm

That’s all (for now) folks!

Posted by: Robert H. Olley at February 29, 2008 08:04 PM
•••

Waugh's first name was in those days pronounced Evil in and Waugh like Wawg.
He really did hate the Welsh. He taught in an English prep school in North Wales as I have also done. You have a dreadful sense of isolation because of the enormous cultural divide between the expats in the school and the local people with whom you have nothing in common, not even a language. Anyway you can not mix freely with them because you would lose caste with your colleagues and indeed with the boys. The locals seem to resent your being there and stare at you.
Poor Waugh was driven mad by this to the point where he swam out to see to try and commit suicide by drowning. God saved him from this dreadful sin by sending a shoal of stinging jelly-fish which drove him back to the shore.
Also one of his colleagues, the original of Captain Grimes , was a pederast and a foot-fetishist. Nowadays one would report such a colleague to the police but at that time it would have been in the local papers and brought shame onto the school and the entire expat community.

Posted by: Willis at March 1, 2008 06:52 PM
•••

I find it all very funny but who invents these things ?
That parody of the Welsh national anthem, I have heard before somewhere but who was the author? Do you remember John Redwood on television trying and failing to sing along to the original anthem? Why didn't he just sing the parody? It would have made rather more sense since it is in English and easy to sing and understand I assume it must fit the tune - perhaps a Welsh reader can tell us how well it fits the music ?
Of course I was like everyone else brought up on that lovely old song 'Taffy was a Welshman' as a child and we used to lean out of the window and sing it at the milkman who was from somewhere down there, though I can not even begin to say it. But who wrote the new verse about pricking Taffy's hat with a pin ?it is very droll indeed. Someone ought to get the credit for it and for the anthem..

Posted by: Green at March 1, 2008 07:24 PM
•••

No one has answered the key questions
1 Was Saunders Lewis anti-semitic?
2 Why has the Chief Constable of North Wales so keen to prosecute English people who had made minor criticisms of the Welsh been unwilling to take any action against Welsh nationalists who want an ethnic cleansing of English settlers and advocate this using racist language and mataphors.
3 Where can I find printed copies of Taffy was a Welshman and of My hen laid a haddock in a nicely illustrated song book for my young children? This follklore must be transmitted down the generations

Posted by: John828678 at March 14, 2008 01:05 AM
•••

Another time the Welsh saved the Island as a whole – 1797. That was when French forces under the command of Irish-American Colonel William Tate landed near Fishguard. They were completely subdued three days later, having lost heart for the fight, possibly mistaking the dress of the local Welsh women with their high hats for a military uniform.

Posted by: Robert H. Olley at March 15, 2008 08:14 PM
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Interesting comments, all. I have never claimed that Neighbours From Hell? is the last word in academic studies of English attitudes to the Welsh: it is, as is stated explicitly on the back cover of the book "polemic with a purpose". There are, inevitably, many things not present in the book, both as potential source material and contextual background, and it has been fascinating to read Christie Davies and subsequent correspondents in their excellent contributions on that.

There is one point that I'd like to challenge, however, and that is that I'd posthumously (and viciously) 'outed' George Thomas, Viscount Tonypandy, the former Commons Speaker. Thomas was 'outed', if that can be the right word for such a circumstance, by Leo Abse, former Labour MP for Pontypool, in his book Tony Blair: The man who lost his smile. It was he to told us of the attempted blackmail of Thomas and his sporadic addiction to Soho porn cinemas: all very unedifying stuff, but worthy of examination if it helps us illuminate in any way Thomas' politics. And I believe it does.

Posted by: Mike Parker at March 18, 2008 12:47 PM
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Appaling comments, homophobic at times ("Even if you are gay" - what in Helll's name does that have to do with any critique?) and many reinforcing the attitude that it's ok to slag off the Welsh. If so much of what has been posted had been associated with any other nationality it would have been removed. With regards to Waugh's name - it matters nothing about the eymology, the man was an out and out racist, no discussion. Anne Robinson - "built a career on being rude to people " Again, transpose "Welsh" for "Blacks" and see how jokey that is. I'd rather like to see her defend that attitude on the streets of Brixton.

Posted by: Martyn Blacknell at August 25, 2008 06:29 PM
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Interesting and informative review but why the spiteful little anti-Scottish sneer at the beginning? For your information, Mr. Davies, we Scots do not believe that we are in any way "inferior" to the English or to anyone else on the planet. Also, we have no more of a "chip on our shoulder" than the Welsh or indeed the English. We can laugh at ourselves but we are heartily sick of the boring, belittling stereotypes bandied about by snobbish Scotophobes, whether they are English or Welshmen like Christie Davies. Come on, Mr. Davies, you describe yourself as a "humourist" - surely you can do better than hackneyed anti-Scottish rubbish about inferiority complexes and chips on shoulders?

Posted by: Rob Johnston at January 5, 2010 03:19 PM
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(Please consider this as an addendum to my previous comment rather than a separate one)

Tawdry though Christie Davies's smug Scotophobia may be, it pales into insignificance compared with what my fellow Scot, Adrian Gill, infamously wrote about the Welsh. Of all of the anti-Welsh spite recorded by Mike Parker in his book, Gill's poisonous rant was the worst. The way in which Gill attacked the Welsh for (allegedly) being small, swarthy and ugly as well as slandering their national character was strongly reminiscent of Dr. Joseph Goebbels denouncing the Jews for being the mental and physical inferiors of their "Aryan" neighbours.
More recently, in the 'Sunday Times', Gill has written that his anti-Welsh tirade saw him inundated with letters pointing out that if he had discussed blacks or Jews in the way that he discussed the Welsh, he would have been convicted of incitement to racial hatred. Fair enough, wrote Gill: but racist rhetoric against blacks or Jews tends to be followed by a brick through the window and then by a visitation from the Ku Klux Klan; whereas the only people ever to have put on hoods to terrorise the Welsh were the Druids!!
Now that is all very clever and witty but there is a gaping flaw in Gill's logic. Racism is either morally repugnant or it isn't. Once you decide that racist abuse is acceptable as long as it is directed at certain ethnic groups but not at others, you enter a moral no-man's land in which racism is no longer odious per se. I wonder how Adrian Gill would explain to a child the difference between ethnic groups who could and should be subjected to racist abuse and ethnic groups against whom racist abuse is utterly despicable? Clearly, Gill has not properly thought through the full implications of his attitude.

When I lived in London, I was addressed as "Jock" and had my accent mocked. I was subjected to unpleasant rants about how the Scots live the life of Riley thanks to subsidies generously donated by the hard-working people of England without which Scotland would allegedly be a "Third World" country. I was told that the Scots are all anti-English bigots (i.e. that we are a race of racists - a concept that is in itself racist!). I had to watch as pubs full of people watched Scotland's World Cup 1998 matches and snarled Scotophobic abuse while enthusiastically cheering on whoever the Scotland team happened to be playing. On one occasion, I had a bottle thrown at me from across the street outside a pub, accompanied by the cry, "F***in' Scottish bastard!". Some charming Cockney had heard my accent inside the pub and had not liked it! Fortunately, he missed and it shattered harmlessly on the wall behind me. I also encountered a surprising amount of anti-Scottish grafitti in public toilets. Anglophobia among the Scots and Welsh is often discussed as if it were a one-way hate campaign by aggressively chippy "Celts" against the wonderful, saintly people of England who are simply incapable of such mean-mindedness or bigotry. Some us know different.

For Mike Parker, an Englishman, to devote so much time and trouble to the subject of Cymrophobia by English people speaks volumes for his generosity of spirit, especially when so many of his compatriots refuse to admit that English prejudice against the Welsh even exists.
If Mr. Parker is looking for ideas for a sequel to "Neighbours from Hell", may I suggest a volume analysing English attitudes towards the Scots? I would really love to read that one!

Posted by: Rob Johnston at January 5, 2010 04:44 PM
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John, are you being ironic? If not, why don't you give up your outmoded English identity and become an American? It's laughable how these English people can't admit that their day is over. They even still speak this gibberish they call British English. Don't they know that foreigners only want to learn American Englsh? The ugliest Englishism of all is 'autumn'. I can hardly bring myself to type it. Leaves spring in the spring and fall in the fall. 'Autumn' is ugly and meaningless.

Why did we Welsh not appreiate being conquered? Why did we not gratefully accept a criminal justice system that then prescribed mutilation, torture and frequent executions in place of our outmoded compensation ideas? Why did we object to a civil law system that stripped women of their rights after we had been treating the floozies like people for centuries? Why did the Welsh colony in Patagonia allow women to vote from its inception? Why did it treat Native Patagonians with respect? Whatever made us think that our values were worth perpetuating?

Why can't Catalans just become Spaniards? Why can't Chileans just become Iranians? What makes them think that they should still be Chileans after all this time? Are they really too stupid to see how obsolete it is?

Why can't a woman be more like a man? It's such a noble magnificent sex. Why can't you be more like me? Why is anyone different from anyone else? Difference is always uncalled for.Difference is wrong and should be abolished wherever it is found.All road signs abroad should be clearly marked in English. Ideally everyone should be a clone of me. I can't get over their audacity in not being me. What gave them this ludicrous notion that they have a right to be themselves ?

Posted by: Marianne at June 13, 2012 12:42 PM
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John, are you being ironic? If not, why don't you give up your English identity and become American? It's laughable that the English can't see that their day is done. Foreigners only ever want to learn American English, but these English fanatics still jabber this gibberish they call British Englsih. It's not a proper language at all.

Why weren't we Welsh grateful for being conquered by England? Why did we not appreciate the English criminal justice system that then involved torture, mutilation and frequent executions in place of our barbarous and outmoded ideas about compensation?

Why didn't we appreciate a legal system that stripped women of their rights after we had been treating the floozies like people for centuries?Why did the Welsh settlement in Patagonia allow woman to vote from its inception?Why did it treat the Native Patagonians with respect? What could have given us the idea that our outmoded concept of egalitarianism had any merit?

You're too lenient in calling us outmoded. We must have been knuckle dragging proto-hominids.

Why can't Catalans just become Spaniards? Why can't Chileans just become Iranians? Why do they insist on remaining Chileans after all this time ? Are they really so stupid that they can't see how obsolete it all is?

Why is anyone dfferent from anyone else? There is no value in difference. It should be abolished wherever it is found. Road signs abroad should b clearly marked in English.

Why can't a woman be more like a man ? Why can't you be more like me? Ideally everyone should be a clone of me. I can't get over their audacity in not being me. Whatever gave them the ludicrous idea that they had a right to be themselves?

Posted by: Marianne at June 13, 2012 02:32 PM
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