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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Let battle commence!

With England and Wales squaring up this afternoon for a resumption of hostilities on the football front, the Welsh media is full of optimism and best wishes. Although I was born in England, I am rooting for Wales. I have lived here long enough to consider myself Welsh, and it is about time that we achieved the breakthrough we have been threatening for so long.

As if to celebrate the occasion, and so as to offer some compensation for our omission from the map of Europe earlier this week, the Guardian sends a reporter west of Offa's Dyke to find out if there really is life outside of London. Despite this peace offering, and the reporter's Welsh ancestry, they cannot quite bring themselves to break away from the metropolitan clichés that have enslaved their attitudes towards Cymru for so long. Equally, the piece contains some basic errors, indicating that either it was a rush job or that the Guardian does not care as much as they would like us to think. Just in case the reporter or his editor stumble across this blog here are the four most prominent mistakes and misconceptions:

1. The band, Mogwai, are Scottish, not Welsh.

2. The Welsh Assembly was established in 1999, not 1997.

3. Where do I start with the assertion that "the extraction of black gold from the South Wales valleys ended to be replaced by the ingestion of drugs as well as soaring unemployment"? Perhaps by pointing out that coal is still mined in South Wales; that we may have a drugs problem but it is nowhere near as bad as Bristol or some other English cities; that this is an insulting and patronising cliché that would not be recognised by the vast majority of people living in South Wales; or even that this area is not just about coal and industrialisation. South Wales boasts some of the most spectacular landscapes in Britain, as well as the Country's first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It has a growing business sector centred on ICT and new technology, growing employment and a skilled workforce.

4. The evidence of the last census does not support the assertion that the anglicisation of our towns and cities is dragging down the Welsh language. South Wales has a growing number of Welsh speakers, centred around Towns and Cities such as Newport, Cardiff and Bridgend as well as valley communities such as Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly. Even anglicised Monmouthshire can boast that 9% of its population can speak Welsh, up from 7% in 1991. 196,000 of Wales' half a million Welsh speakers live in industrial South Wales.

Well done Peter on ponting out bad reporting about S Wales - De Cymru. In Chepstow the Welsh Flag now flys permanantly over the town. Several major concenrts in the town end only with the Welsh National Anthem. In fact last night at a big charity concert, hosted by Frank Hennessy form BBC Cymru Wales, the asked was asked: how many of you here tonight are English? A show of hands revealed only a third. Things are changing here....I have been feeling a significant shift towards 'Welshness' here in the last few years. Pity the 'enlightened' Guardian doesn't pick up of the shift to an english speaking Welsh identity here on the borders!
By the way, the census showed that 13% of us here in Gwent....whoops....Monmouthshire have a 'knowledge of welsh'. A fantastic foundation on which to build for the future.
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