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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The graveyard of ambition

As soon as I heard that Plaid Cymru had adopted the phrase 'Ambition is critical' as the title of their manifesto and were attributing it to Dylan Thomas I knew that something was not quite right.

This is not because I am any great expert on Dylan Thomas, to be honest I prefer the work of his contemporary, Vernon Watkins, but because I have been around in Swansea for a long time and remember precisely when that phrase first emerged. I have also seen Twin Town.

Dylan Thomas in fact is reputed to have described Swansea as the graveyard of ambition and to have suggested that people get out as soon as they could. That is also apocryphal. I believe that when the poet David Hughes was one of three artists commissioned by Swansea council in 1992 to produce poems celebrating the magic of the City, he used this phrase as his inspiration, having the words 'Ambition is critical' inscribed outside the entrance to Swansea railway station.

Plaid Cymru are not surprisingly embarrassed by the blunder as is evident from this quote on the BBC website from a spokesperson:

"In our manifesto we state that this was Dylan Thomas's mantra and it is the case these words are commonly attributed to him in a number of publications, not least by Swansea University, which is why the confusion may have arisen in the first place.

"We were advised that this association was correct, and if that is not the case then clearly we will correct our online manifesto and seek advice from elsewhere in future in terms of confirming our literary references.

"However we maintain that these words should be the guiding principle of the next Welsh Government in order to create a better Wales."

Perhaps they are even more embarrassed by the fact that they also spelt the Welsh for illiteracy wrong in the accompanying press release. I hope somebody has proof read the Welsh Liberal Democrat manifesto, which is being launched tomorrow.

For some reason I think that this may well be the election when all the pedants get out their dictionaries and grammar primers and pick holes. It will give the bloggers something to comment on I suppose.
Tell me more about Twin Towns, Peter. I've not seen it.

I have however seen Twin Town, which is based in Swansea. I'd recommend that ;)
Yeh, yeh. You have proved my case for me
'the Welsh for illiteracy wrong in the accomanying press release'

'accomanying' - typos are so easy to make!!!!!!!

You are still a considerable cut above your party's manifesto though!
Wasn't "ambition is critical" one of the messages on the signs devised by Nigel Jenkins to liven up the Swansea cityscape? As I remember, most of them were hidden away by the then Labour council who didn't believe in public fun.
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