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And just as a raddled old floozy uses cosmetics to hide the ravages of time and a dissolute life, so the English State has used insincere and ineffectual legislation and other window dressing to betray its contempt for us. Yet there was always a better option; a path that, if we had taken it, would have proved far more beneficial to Welsh people. For if you think about it, there is a howling absurdity at the heart of modern Wales. Legislators and academics can discuss the Welsh language - but who speaks Welsh?

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Politicians and media debate devolution for Wales - but would devolution ever have become an issue without the existence of a distinct nation? In many other multinational states, and countries with indigenous populations, legislation is enacted to recognise specific national groups and accord certain rights to all members of that group.

This is what we should have argued for: recognition as a distinct group with priority given to members of the group in housing, employment, education, the right to use either of the national languages in all situations, and many other fields. In other words, a comprehensive national policy for a nation and all those who belong to it. If so, then British or any other citizenship is racist and exclusive. Recognition by the US federal government of Native American rights is unquestionably exclusive.

I can see the Wasting Mule publishing a letter from someone asking if he qualifies because his father was the sole survivor of a UFO that landed in Cwmscwt one snowy night, his mother was the last of the Romanoffs, and he was born on a paddle steamer half way between Ilfracombe and Mumbles. Tricky one, that.

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Fortunately, in the real world it would be far simpler. Anyone born in Wales would obviously qualify. Those born outside Wales to a Welsh parent should qualify. Anyone marrying a Welsh person would be welcomed. Every state on earth makes decisions on citizenship. You simply set up a court or department to evaluate the applications and let that body get on. But I am convinced of this: if we had recognition as a nation then we Welsh would - both collectively and individually - be in far better shape than we are today.

A campaign for national rights would be less divisive, or more inclusive, than the campaign for devolution or language rights ever was, for it would offer benefits and opportunities to all our people irrespective of political persuasion, language, location or anything else. After half a century of struggle we who took part in that struggle desperately try to persuade ourselves and each other that things have improved.

Because instead of following a broad, national highway, we were led astray by romantics riding hobby-horses and those pursuing all too narrow objectives. These people took us down dead-ends, where we were, effectively, mugged by the English State. We lost sight of the bigger picture and the greater good. Is it too late for a Campaign for Welsh National Rights?

Unimpressive, apocryphal tale or not. I started my career on the so-called Free Press of Monmouthshire. At the time it was privately-owned and circulated in the Eastern Valley of Gwent, serving the towns and precincts of Blaenavon in the north, equatorial Pontypool and Cwmbran in the south, the last half-heartedly, as though the huge increase in population there as a result of the New Towns Act did not present any kind of challenge.

It was often thought by outsiders that Cwmbran, many of its institutions purpose-built, could have supported a newspaper on its own, but the only efforts were pathetic advertising or free sheets, with no interest in the area beyond making money out of it.


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Even at the end of my career in as a salaried journalist, recent school-leavers moving pallets on the night shift at a local warehouse were earning almost as much as I. At the Argus in the early days we were amused to watch repeated attempts by Thomson House in Cardiff to set up an office for the Mail and Echo in Newport, where the Argus is based and its circulation still concentrated though it is now printed overnight in Worcester.

Amusing because it was fun to compete and we knew the exercise would fail. What both papers have always lacked. The Mail has always had a Welsh affairs correspondent but in most papers coverage of the Welsh Assembly and other national platforms was early predicated on the interest their deliberations would have for the reader in a particular place, upheavals in agriculture and free swimming for the overs notwithstanding. Readers in Cardiff and Newport are not interested in what happens in Rhyl or Aberaeron.

Perhaps they can be if the stories from there are salacious or sensational, which explains the marginally greater inroads on broad-based circulation of Wales on Sunday, cleverly exploiting the fact that the Sun and other tabloids, which it apes, sell reasonably well in Denbighshire and Cardiganshire. The Liverpool Post effect was repeated, but less profitably, in the Chepstow corner of Argus territory by the Bristol-based Western Daily Press after it recognised the demographic region it called Severnside, which came into fanciful being with the building of the first Severn Bridge.

The concept was simple: Chepstovians could now travel to work in Bristol and district while people in top jobs in Bristol - note the emphasis on class and status, always uppermost in the mind of a newspaper manager - could live more cheaply in SE Gwent. Quam tempus fugit.

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To what end, one never can tell. Newspapers work in mysterious ways and reflect few standard business models. The Liverpool assault on North Wales, far from assuming a partisan Welshness forced on it by the area it was encroaching, was a trawl for more readers. Where these are served all over Wales by weeklies, the effectiveness of the coverage is equally difficult to essay. Content is dictated by sales and advertising, not long-. However, establishing a truly all-embracing Welsh newspaper in English, something different from what exists at present - the Western Mail being an unsettling hybrid of serious and popular is problematic.

Perhaps in Wales the solution is something small but provocative and, given time, influential, so long as its contributors are knowledgeable, authoritative and can spell. Or it may be better to wait for the internet to become other than a subterranean form of secret communion, often illiterate, and to set up a web newspaper with a talented and committed staff. Then again, one could accept the status quo, with all its flaws. But can national identity be reflected in a newspaper, anyway? What it is to be a Welsh newspaper other than a newspaper published in Wales is almost as imponderable as what it is to be Welsh.

We were both rather startled. Apart from appearing in the concert she was also there to pick up the Cardiff National Eisteddfod Prize for musical composition for her minialbum Awyren. In her teens she trained her voice with cigarettes and whisky to make it husky. Of late, her voice has been less redolent of these influences, its range is amazing from raw through to pure, sweet and almost fragile. There are lots of people of Irish descent in the Appalachians and Tennessee. The history behind songs is fascinating. My parents have great musical taste though.

On the flip-side there are things she misses about America - NPR radio for one. She intended to live in Pembrokeshire but her work means she spends a lot of time in London. The children are in the Welsh School, growing up Welsh speaking. Cerys has been on the. Hugh Thomas, President of the Eisteddfod Court.

She has two albums coming out shortly and later in the summer will go touring again. It was fun, the best bit was on the bus making up songs and playing games. It was a great adventure for them but eventually it became a bit of a bore. The names have a pleasing rhythm. My parents live next to a woollen mill and Glenys was born at Withybush Hospital.

Johnny should perhaps be. Tennessee but I preferred Tupelo, and we were on our way there when the contractions started. I love names, especially ones with stories behind them. She is thrilled to bits doing this.

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Quirky humorous, yet optimistic, each song tells a familiar story. The work is an unique golden treasury of medieval Welsh poems and prose which appears to have been copied between and Llyfr Coch is one of the four ancient medieval books of Wales and includes examples of nearly every type of Welsh language literature from the period before the year It is probably best known as a major source of the Mabinogi and it also includes the herbal remedies associated with the thirteenth century Dyfed family dynasty of doctors, Meddygon Myddfai The Physicians of Myddfai.

This journey begins in fourteenth century Swansea in the small village of Ynysforgan, the home of Hopcyn ap Thomas fab Einon Hopcyn, was both a learned and wealthy man, heavily committed to Welsh bardic traditions who began amassing a collection of manuscripts. As part of this process he invited Hywel fab Hywel Coch of Buallt Builth , a member of the Hopcyn household, and two other professional scribes to copy between them as much as possible of available Welsh medieval literature into a literary anthology.

This they did during the period to As was the custom of the day, manuscripts were mostly written and copied in monasteries - especially those associated with the Cistercian order. These important centres of native scholarship may well have been the home of the scribes of Llyfr Coch.

When Hopcyn died in , his son Tomos and later his grandson Hopcyn inherited his estate. Its time there was brief. In the manuscript found its way into the library of a house near Kington, the market town on the border between Hereford and Radnorshire, which belonged to another branch of the Vaughan family.

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Plas Hergest Hergest Court , in the shadows of high Hergest Ridge, was to become a great centre for Welsh culture and bardic poetry, and Llyfr Coch was to stay in its library for more than two hundred years. Its first principal was Dr David Lewis from nearby Abergavenny. Sir Lewis Mansell d. The Mansells took a great interest in the history and literature of their counties and country, and as a result acquired a number of important manuscripts which later became known as the Margam Collection.

At some point Llyfr Coch became part of this compilation. Davies was a very distinguished early student of Jesus College, graduating in , and an enthusiastic antiquarian with a passion for collecting and revising manuscripts. What John Davies, then rector in the Parish of Mallwyd, actually did with the book is not known but we know he returned it to Margam shortly after.

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The book, however, did not remain in the Margam collection for very much longer. Llyfr Coch eventually passed into the hands of Thomas Wilkins of Llanblethian. The Wilkins family, of Norman origin, had settled in the Llandow area near Cowbridge in the thirteenth century, and had, from the early s developed a strong clerical tradition, with three generations being rectors of Llanfair Church of St Mary in the Vale of Glamorgan.

It is likely that Thomas Wilkins knew the Mansells of nearby Margam, and that at some stage he either borrowed the manuscript, or had received it in the form of a gift.