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ONE MAN'S VIEW

On Thursday each week my column appears in the Euro Weekly News. My opinion is just that, an opinion. Feel free to put your oar in but in a constructive way if you please. Thanks so much. - Michael

LAND OF MY FATHERS
26 September 2013

LAND OF MY FATHERS

 

I have nothing against the Welsh. After all, as man and boy, I was blissfully happy in the land of someone else’s father. However, not everyone agrees. Their most famous lyricist, Dylan Thomas once said, “Land of my Fathers? They are welcome to it.”

The Welsh comedian, Max Boyce, did not share his sentiments. Tongue in cheek he reminded the English that if an iron was run over Wales then his land would be bigger than England once the wrinkles (mountains) were ironed flat.

The Welsh sense of humour tends to be sardonic. What do you call an Englishman in the knockout stages of the world Cup? The referee.

There is delicious rivalry. What do you call a Welshman with several sheep? A pimp. Their brand of humour can be enlightening. I recall using a lane approaching a Welsh farm. The notice said, Slow! Free Range Children.

Noted for their sullen insularity the Welsh are notoriously anti-stranger. I thought it was because they thought me English. No, my son, who hails from Wrexham said; “they show dislike for me too.”

Whoever penned the lines There‘ll be a Welcome in the Hillside / There‘ll be a Welcome in the Vale, should be dragged before the courts for misrepresentation. I have asked locals in real Welsh-speaking Wales, the Lleyn Peninsular, Anglesey and Snowdonia if it is true that they do not welcome visitors. Agreeably they agree.

Venting my frustration with a friend who lives in Llangollen. “Everywhere else changes,” I said, “But not Llangollen, Corwen, Bala, and Anglesey. If one of Owain Glyndwr’s warriors were to re-visit he would not see change.” “That is music to my ears,” she told me.

A neighbour in our Welsh village hailed from Birmingham. “All I can see is bloody mountains.”

“Oh,” my mother sympathised. “Perhaps we should drill holes through them for you.”

“And what would you see,” he retorted. “More bloody mountains.”

It has been said that the Welsh are the Irish who could not swim. At the time of the first millennium, when Saxon immigrants were overrunning Shakespeare’s sceptred isle, the Britons (the Welsh to you and me) retreated towards the West. An early form of ‘white flight’, the then indigenous locals looked upon the new English as smelly heathens.

I am not sure if the enmity between the Welsh and the English is genuine or teasing. I think the latter for in truth I was very happy in Wales. They can be quirky but who isn’t. One thing I do love of theirs - two actually. Their male voice choirs that bring a lump to my throat, especially when they sing Myfanwy. And of course their flag. I could die for their flag. Cymru am byth.

 

NOTE: Future blogs in this section will have been recently published in the Euro Weekly News. For those who may be interested an anthology of similar articles appear in the EWN website. Click on ‘columnists’ and ‘Mike Walsh.’



Like 1        Published at 21:57   Comments (2)


THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY
21 September 2013

THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY

 

To my knowledge a question that has never been asked or answered. Was your marriage better than that of a society wedding? My recent marriage to my Ukrainian bride, Nadezhda (Nadia) could hardly be bettered.

I would say that wouldn’t I. However, what made it special was the euphoric enthusiasm of multi-national friends and officials in their determination to make our tying the knot special. This was in sharp contrast to killjoy Spain giving our betrothal the big thumbs down.

Before the Spanish legislature would consider us marrying, we were obliged to live in provable sin for many months. That is rich coming from a Catholic country. Besides, Nadia would have to be resident in Spain for 12 months, which is not possible on a three-month visa. Gibraltar beckoned and from there on Spanish ‘Can’t do’ was exchanged for British ‘Can do.’

The hurdles were formidable as Nadia’s multiple documents, by necessity, had been translated and notarised from USSR Russian to Ukrainian and then to English.

The UK’s Madrid visa department called to wish us well. The staff at Gibraltar’s marriage registrar could not do enough to help us.

On reaching the Gibraltar border we two blithe spirits sailed through and what a welcome we received. It seemed 30,000 Gibraltarians had decked out every building with flags and bunting in our honour. However, I concede that might have something to do with a diplomatic dispute.

The Bristol and Queens hotels provided exceptional service. As a prelude to our signing the register, Nadia delicately played Ukrainian, French and Russian melodies on the hotel’s grand piano.

Without a trace of Spanish bureaucratic inflexibility, we two were happily married. Our betrothal was made possible by an office that had in the past brought together ‘in holy matrimony’ Sean Connery, Roger Moore, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Lawrence Harvey and similar romantics.

What can be said of our entourage? The practical support and well wishes poured in from Russia, the Ukraine, France, Britain, Spain and the Baltic States. On our return we stayed at a friend’s Sotogrande villa where we received a celebratory call from a country‘s EU representative.

In my idle moments, I reflect on the enormous wealth that international marriages bring to Gibraltar. Each such marriage, including an entourage of 100 people, could easily add £100,000 to the local economy. A diplomatic spat over an artificial reef costs a lot of money; so does turning away besotted couples intent on marriage.

 

NOTE: Future blogs in this section will have been recently published in the Euro Weekly News. For those who may be interested an anthology of similar articles appear in the EWN website. Click on ‘columnists’ and ‘Mike Walsh.’



Like 0        Published at 19:31   Comments (0)


The Enchantment of Andalucía
18 September 2013

The Enchantment of Andalucía

Maestra Raquel Pena more than most symbolises the Andalucía flamenco vibrancy of the Costa communities. Raquel’s vivacious and talented artistes, who have performed for packed audiences throughout the province, perform at Rebate and Orihuela Costa Resort restaurants on Sunday September 22 at 3 pm and Tuesday September 22 and 9 pm respectively.

Raquel, who has toured the world and entertained heads of state with the most revered flamenco ensemble is said to put on a show not to be missed. Raquel Pena 630 689 431.



Like 0        Published at 10:48   Comments (0)


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