Friday, 28 August 2015

Lucy Worsley & Roy Stong and some cultural detours

"You can't take the Punk out of the Welsh"

The recent BBC 4 programme where Lucy Worsley interviewed Roy Strong was compulsive viewing. For anyone who has read The Roy Strong Diaries 1967-1987 (1997, Weidendeld &Nicolson), he does come across as the swashbuckling pioneer of the museum and galleries world - kicking out the dust, introducing colour to TV and making museums and galleries what they are today - essential viewing / visiting.

His Royalist sympathies certainly grate a little for us Cymry Cymraeg, but otherwise you have this character who is totally inspiring, with great dress sense and still with a good mop of hair at the good old age of 80 (lucky fellow). During the course of the interview he did draw his sword with a broad swish at the dumbing down of BBC programmes and I laughed at the thought, you know .....what if Strong spoke Welsh, what if he had to suffer what we suffer here in Welsh Wales, what if he actually got to hear "Taro Tarw Tomo"? (I say no more)

It was that thought really, in the sense that I broadly agreed with Strong and the fact that I had just recently read Is-Deitlau yn Unig by Emyr Glyn Williams that got me thinking about the current state of Welsh Language Culture (Welsh Media more specifically). My point being, we have no BBC 4 equivalent and we certainly have no BBC6Music equivalent yn Gymraeg, therefore the bad things tend to grate more. Normally you just flick channels, things like Big Brother or Eastenders don't really get me worked up (because I have a choice of something else) same with Steve Wright in the Afternoon - it's not going to happen while we have Radcliffe and Maconie.

I spend endless nights unable to watch Welsh TV, one night after the other, same with radio .... deprived of culture. I am reminded constantly of Weller's lyric "The people want what the people get". The Ramones turned "dumb" into an Art form, the Welsh have young farmers cross-dressing on prime-time TV, funny as that may sound, I do think that we have a serious cultural issue  (issues) going on here.


Emyr Glyn Williams in his excellent book on subtitled films (the first of its kind in Welsh) raises another question and touches on Weller indirectly. He suggests that that fate of S4C was not purely sealed by poor captaincy but that the audience voiced no real aspirations and therefore also sealed the fate ........

He certainly has a point. I reviewed his book this week for my weekly column in the Herald Gymraeg (Daily Post every Wednesday) and decided to give it a straight  / good review and not to get into any of the cultural politics. I did however suggest that some of those points might be raised in next week's column (2nd September) .......

On a more personal thought:

The decision by S4C not to commission a second series of the archaeology programme 'Olion' prompted me to write a previous column suggesting that people should write in to S4C if they felt strongly enough that we should have archaeology programmes (in Welsh). I have no idea how many responded.

I certainly heard no more. No response. No feedbck. No anything. Again a song lyric came to mind, this time by David R Edwards (Datblygu)

"Mae byw yng Nghymru fel gwylio paent yn sychu", 

which translates as, "Living in Wales is like watching paint dry". David R Edwards like Dylan Thomas or R.S Thomas is of course a cracked-mirror reflecting Wales and it's weird little habits and by-ways straight back at us. It makes for great poetry. At times it makes us laugh and cry but at other times it also reminds us. It reminds us that we are responsible, we have a cultural responsibility.......

I end with this thought, what then would Roy Strong (if he were a Welsh speaker) make of it all .....

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