Saturday, August 24, 2013

Blow-in Blows Hard

Wind farms - a ghastly waste of money.  Solar panels - a daily reminder that the poor have to cough-up extra cash to subsidize the well-to-do.  Fracking - seems like a good idea.  There you go, cards on the table and a few more readers heading towards that little red button in the top right-hand corner.

So should I invite James Delingpole over for a cup of Glengettie leaf tea?  After all I read his Telegraph blog, usually end-up agreeing with what he says and the poor bloke is holidaying in Cregrina and gasping for a decent brew.

I know this because Mr D has written about it, he's a bit peeved by the fact that a local farmer - let's call him Mr B - has put-up a wind turbine which can be seen from the bedroom window of his holiday cottage.  It's quite spoiled Delingpole's Radnorian sojourn.

OK, suddenly I'm feeling a bit less sympathetic to JD and warming to Mr B. Here are some quotes, I've helpfully highlighted them in orange:

I no longer look at the white houses dotting the valley and wish one day that I could own one

So turbines have their plus points it seems.  Mr Delingpole's sympathies lie though with

the B & B owners, the people who run pony treks and riding stables, the retirees whose nest egg lies mainly in the value of their properties.

I think he means English people.

The tragedy of the Edw Valley is, unfortunately, a tragedy is being repeated across our once-magnificent country. Especially in poor Scotland – a crime for which Alex Salmond and his co-conspirators will one day burn in hell.

See what happens when you write without the benefit of a decent cuppa and yes he does mean English folk.

Price drops of 25 per cent are not uncommon and there have been cases where houses located near wind turbines have been rendered simply unsellable.

If only Mr B would erect a couple more of his poxy turbines then perhaps a few locals might afford to live in the Edw Valley.  Dellers is a bit of a wimp though:

I'm not arguing for direct action: I don't believe in violence or threats of violence, either to person or to property.

So that's all right then.  Still, he wants to ostracise Mr B because:

Anyone who puts a wind turbine on his land fully deserves to be ignored, isolated and loathed by his neighbours.

Can't see it happening, the locals are a bit too clannish to take much notice of blow-ins.

Oh and can you spot the turbine, it is there honest.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Harbinger?

This headline suggests that the Mosleyite rump are more familiar with the Bayer Wald  than they are with Wales, but there's no denying they have some very comprehensive on-line historical archives.

They're so good that a few minutes research is all you need to come-up with a shed-load of pre-war Welsh fascists.  Real ones, not the pretend Welsh nationalist version that get Labour and it's drones all hot and bothered.

We learn that two blackshirts were killed in the Gresford disaster, one having gone back down the pit after his shift  to sell copies of the Action newspaper; that Barry Docks was a bit of a fascist hotbed and that even red Maerdy had a no-doubt shortlived BUF branch.   Prominent councillors like Mainwaring-Hughes in Swansea and W. O. Roberts in Caernarfonshire threw in their lot with Mosley and the World War One flying ace Rhys Soar was North Wales Organizer for OM's party.  Even Radnorshire was caught up in the excitement, with local farmers being invited to attend a BUF meeting in Knighton in June 1934.

Why entitle this piece the Harbinger?  Well in the 1940s - while Labour set out to build socialism, the Tories sought to hang on to Empire and nationalists dreamed of a Welsh state - Mosley's dream was of a united Europe.  Which of these was the most prescient?

Today we have local councillors under the thumb of their officials, companies run for the benefit of managers rather than shareholders, public money spent by unaccountable quangos and charities and powers transferred to a highly centralised, far from democratic Brussels.  It's a long way from Small is Beautiful or the Breakdown of Nations; infact the spirit of the age seems a lot closer to the elitist managerial corporatism envisaged by Mosley.

My Radnorshire Mama

According to Michael Foot's biography Nye Bevan had a Radnorshire mother.  In reality Phoebe Protheroe was born in Tredegar.  Her people were from Glasbury though, that part of the parish south of the Wye purloined by Brecknockshire in 1832.  Clearly Bevan's family can't have approved that act of theft.

George Lansbury actually made it to the leadership of the Labour Party and he certainly had a Radnorian mother, she was from Clyro.  Lansbury was proud of his Radnorshire roots, he was also the grandfather of actress Angela Lansbury and of Oliver Postgate - creator of the Clangers.

Perhaps our readers would like to guess at the identity of a third noted left-wing politician with local connections:

1.  Born in Merthyr in 1894, his mother, Emily Lewis, came from the Radnorshire village of Penybont.

2.  Imprisoned in 1917 for sedition.

3.  Came within 3000 votes of winning Rhondda East for the Communist Party.

4.  Took part in the 1916 Easter Rising.

5.  General Secretary of the NUM from 1946 to 1959.

You should have got it by now, otherwise click here for the answer.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Radnorshire Picts?

Take an interest in the historical uses of DNA and you soon learn not to get too excited about the latest headline.

Humans and Neanderthals never interbred says one piece of research, oh yes they did say subsequent articles; the Welsh and the English have quite different DNA says one, no they're remarkably similar says another.  Throw in the tendency of the media to sensationalize and the best thing to do is take things with a pinch of salt and await further developments.

A couple of months ago we were told that a Pictish marker had been isolated, see here for example.  All very interesting and who knows it might even turn-out to be true ...... possibly.  One of the flies in the ointment of this Pictish theory is a possible hotspot that shares the same marker, L1335+, which is said to be centred in Radnorshire.  It's even got a name "Wales II Cadwgon."

Why Cadwgon?  Well here it get's a bit daft.  The marker turned up in some fellow called Miles whose ancestor took part in Radnorshire's Quaker migration to Pennsylvania in the 17C.  With a complete misunderstanding of how Welsh surnames are formed, this Miles was then assumed to be linked to the Miles family of Kinnerton* - who by the way preserved the Book of Taliesin for posterity.  The Kinnerton Miles family traced it's ancestry to the 11C ruler of East Central Wales, Cadwgan ab Elystan Glodrydd, hence "Wales II Cadwgon."

Of course this may all be true.  We're talking about male-to-male Y-chromosones here, and although democrats like to think they're the direct descendant in the male-line from some hardy medieval peasant, chances are they're not.  Bottlenecks ensure you're far more likely to be a male-line descendant of a roguish prince or baron, someone like Cadwgan ab Elystan Glodrydd.

So let's accept for a moment that Pictish ancestry can indeed be identified and that the Radnorshire examples are also descendants of Picts.  Is there any historical evidence?  Now I've posted a theory that minor kingdoms like Gwerthrynion and Arwystli were formed to protect the headwaters of the Wye and the Severn from 5C Irish expansion - see here.  Who better to add a bit of backbone than to import a few warlike Pictish mercenaries to the area.  Of course that's just my outlandish theory, so here's something a bit more  substantial from the Jesus College MS 20 genealogies: 

Einyaw a Katwallawn llawhir Deu vroder oedynt. Ac eu dwy vam oedynt chwioryd merchet y didlet brenhin gwydyl fichti ym pywys.

The relevant bit translates as "Didlet king of the gwydyl fichti in Powys." The gwydyl fichti meaning either Irish Picts or wild Picts but definitely Picts.

Radnorshire Picts?  Perhaps our friends at Llwyth Elystan need to get tested, perhaps they already have?

* That's Kinnerton in Radnorshire not the one in Flintshire

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Songs of the Defeated

Something new everyday and today I found out about Aikake.  Now Hawaii may have a whole lot more devolved powers than anything envisaged for Wales, but clearly too little and far too late.  When you've ended up as a less than 6% minority in your own country then living in a shack on a beach seems a pretty good option.

Of course we're all supposed to abhor such narrow nationalism and that beauty spot clearly needs a golf course ..... book 'em Danno!

UPDATE:  These people were evicted from the beach in 1996, no golf course yet though - or even a windfarm - probably due to the proximity of a US Army live-fire training area.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The talented Mr Henry

Richard Wyn Jones' new book (see previous post) provoked quite a reaction on twitter, well two tweets at least.  But then as Professor Jones pointed out there's a reluctance in Wales to get to grips with the real history of Welsh fascism rather than banging-on about Saunders Lewis.  Let's try and help fill in one or two blanks.

To students of British fascism Leigh Vaughan-Henry is one of the more obnoxious Jew haters of the 1930s.  A one time director of music for the British Union of Fascists, a "notorious pro-Nazi" according to the Home Office and someone suspected of having links with German intelligence.  Little wonder that he was picked-up in the summer of 1940 and sat out the rest of the war in various of His Majesty's establishments.

Dig a little deeper and you find that Leigh Henry - the Vaughan was a later addition - was born in Liverpool in 1889, the son of a man who features in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography, John Henry the Porthmadoc born composer of favourites such as Gwlad y Delyn.  Young Leigh was also a talented musician and joined Edward Gordon Craig as director of music at his experimental theatre institute in Florence. Leigh Henry was fortunate to avoid the bloodbath of the First World War as a civilian internee in the Ruhleben Camp; while, back home, his wife Nancy - they had married in 1911 - pursued a friendship with D H Lawrence.

It was in the 1920s, after the closure of his radical cultural journal Fanfare that Leigh Henry returned with a vengeance to his Welsh roots.  He joined the Gorsedd in 1923 and often figured in Eisteddfodic proceedings as a composer, conductor and lecturer.  His poetry and short-stories were published in magazines such as Welsh Outlook and he appeared regularly on the radio. In 1926 for example Henry hosted a St David's Day programme of Welsh folk music on 2LO.  A pleasant appointment at this time must have been as musical adviser to Clara Novello's Royal Welsh Ladies Choir on a tour of Australia and Noth America.

Divorced from his first wife, Leigh Henry was briefly married, it seems, to the vivacious American war correspondent Paula Lecler - forgotten now, but a woman whose globe trotting derring-do made Martha Gellhorn look like a stay-at-home.  Subsequently Henry married (bigamously it later transpired) a German woman, while always paying attention to wealthy ladies such as Winifred Coombe-Tennant and his fellow composer and musicologist Margaret Glyn.  The latter left him her fortune in 1945.  Shortly before she died Henry is said to have conducted the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in a symphony composed by Glyn at the 1945 National Eisteddfod.

A Radnorshire connection?  Well Henry wrote a biography and a rather badly received play about the composer John Bull (1563-1628), although he was unaware that Bull probably came from Old Radnor.

Leigh Henry died in 1958, having seemingly managed to keep his various identities quite separate - the progressive English musicologist and composer, the Welsh eisteddfodwr and the Union Jack waving anti-Semite.