Tuesday, 16 October 2012
Notes on Welsh Culture "Anglo-Welsh"
Some of you may be aware that I write a weekly column for Herald Gymraeg, this is the Welsh Language insert with the Daily Post every Wednesday. I originally started writing about Welsh Pop Culture, all very Julie Burchill, Tony Parsons, Jon Savage and Paul Morley. I always loved these writers, loved The Face in the mid 80's and always felt that we needed a bit of pontification (debate) about Welsh Pop Culture in the Welsh Language (yn Gymraeg).
All fine and good. Indeed I wrote a fairly regular column for Y Faner in the mid 80's under the editorship of Emyr Price which was very much inspired by Burchill at her most acidic and The Face at it's most "Youth Culture". Articles were written in Welsh for the first time about being young, angry, bored and disengaged from traditional Welsh Culture, Emyr Price to his credit never once edited or censored anything I wrote.
Now to return to the Herald column. When I did write about Pop Culture the response was next to zero. Most people stopping me on the street would tell me politely (in Welsh) "that they did not really understand this Pop Music thing". As a writer, I was very much interested in getting a response so slowly but surely I stopped writing about Pop Culture and started to shift the emphasis on to Welsh History, definitely Archaeoleogy and my travels around Wales - this gradually became more George Borrow than Jon Savage more 'Wild Wales' than 'England's Dreaming'.
Writing is not done specifically to please and neither am I advocating compromise here, but our job as writers is to communicate maybe I had / have to accept that the Herald is not the place for Pop Culture. As I said I want the pieces to reach people, to have an effect, to communicate - the old idea of throwing cultural handgrenades at the Welsh Scene no longer did it for me.
There had also been a major shift in the nature of my work. Being a Pop Manager no longer paid the bills, actually it just kept costing me money, so lecturing on Archaeolegy for adults (who are often learning the Welsh Language) and becoming a Guide for visitors and walking groups became the greater part of my business - shifting the emphasis of the column was both timely and just felt like the place I wanted to be.
To be honest I really do enjoy writing about visits to Old Churches, and it seems to me that the Hearld column is the right place for all this. The response level has gone up 200%. The readership are happy if I write about Jack Black. They dis-engage if I slip back to the relevence and effect of the Sex Pistols on Welsh Popular Culture.
Again, all good, but what is now apparrent is that I have very little outlet to discuss Welsh Culture, sure I get the odd piece into Barn but this is hardly regular writing and the idea of Blogging in the Welsh Language on Welsh Culture seems to be a direct route to no one at all reading the damned things. If I had the time maybe ............
Oddly enough, very few have ever asked for translations of the Herald column. Maybe this is again a fine example of the "divisions" between the Welsh and Anglo-Welsh Cultures. The non-Welsh speakers so rarely visit. Plus !! We are not paid enough to translate the column, again if I had the time ........
A few did ask about translating my autobiography, but again this is probably another book that should be written - on the Alternative Welsh Music Scene or even An Alternative History of Welsh Pop Music. Again, maybe if I had the time, maybe someday, maybe tomorrow .........
So for the time being, I fancy turning my hand to being an Anglo-Welsh Blogger. I was after all born in Copthorne, Shrewsbury. Much to my annoynace in Primary School this technically made me a "Sais". I have not given it a second though since, but now, it may just be to my advantage.
I have also realised that my real name as oppossed to the stage name "Mwyn" is actually Thomas. Could I therefore join that club of Dylan amd R.S, all Thomases, not that I consider myself anywhere near their equal in writing skills, but in terms of argument skills I would have gladly sat with both of them in a pub and discussed the ins and out of Welsh Culture with no fear.
This is a poor Mission Statement, bashed out "as live" in less than 30 minutes. The next task will be to decide on the first piece as an Ango-Welsh Blogger, a book review maybe, let's leave music for later on, take it as it comes, wait for that flash of inspiration, maybe Thoughts on Not Quite White or review Gwanas interviewing Parker and Thirsk at Pontio in November ............