Saturday, October 10, 2015

Penn Sardin

Although women in France did not get to vote until 1945, the Breton Jos├ęphine Pencalet (1886-1972) was elected to the town council of Douarnenez  in 1925.  Included on the Communist list it took a few months for the authorities in Paris to notice this flagrant violation of the constitution and declare her election illegal.

Douarnenez at the start of the 1920s was a leftist stronghold, it had elected the French state's first Communist mayor in 1921 and in 1924 thousands of women working in the sardine canneries came out on strike. This song, illustrated by some superb postcards of the sardinieres, recalls their struggle.  It should also be remembered that the language of the strikers would have been Breton not French as their slogan pemp real a vo reminds us - a real was 25 centimes and their wage demand was for 1.25 francs an hour.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

A Half-Opened Door

It’s said that if a publisher wants to guarantee good sales for a Welsh historical book they’ll include the name Owain Glyndwr in the title.  Maybe this is why one or two decidedly eccentric publications have seen the light of day; an accusation that certainly can’t be levelled at Lolfa’s latest effort Dyddiau Olaf Owain Glyndwr.

This is an investigation of the various stories surrounding the death and burial of our National Hero from the pen of Professor Gruffydd Aled Williams.  As befit’s the author’s academic background it is a work that comes complete with footnotes and an extensive bibliography.  At the same time the prose is clear and readable, for which anyone with as shaky second language skills as myself will be grateful.

The author examines the various stories associated with the death and burial of Owain in Herefordshire.  A new candidate being Kimbolton or Capel Kimbell.  Unlike some of the candidates south of the Wye this was in a thoroughly English-speaking district and might be thought an unsuitable location for a Welsh rebel on the run.  But then who would have thought that Bin Laden would turn up in Abbottabad rather than the caves of Tora Bora?

It says something that this is the first book I’ve read about Glyndwr which makes as much of his Radnorshire based (and base) daughter Gwenllian - she lived in the parish of St Harmon - as it does of her half-sisters married into the Herefordshire families, the Mortimers, Crofts, Monningtons and Scudamores.  Unlike them Gwenllian left no castle or fine house or any privileged descendants, yet for the bards of the 15C she and her family were of far greater importance: a source of patronage, a centre of resistance and a house of learning.

Gwenllian’s husband Philip ap Rhys was a nephew of Rhydderch ab Ieuan Llwyd - owner of one of the treasures of world literature, the White Book of Rhydderch.  Philip was also a first-cousin of such leading supporters of the rebellion such as Rhys Ddu and Rhys ap Gruffudd ap Llywelyn Foethus.  Like them he was also a kinsman of the great Rhys Gethin himself.  There is some evidence to suggest that Philip continued to fight on after the collapse of the main rebellion, certainly it was to him that Owain’s youngest son Siancyn y Glyn turned for a sword.

The author believes that Gwenllian and Philip have the strongest Welsh claim to have protected Owain in his old age, with nearby Cwm Hir as a possible burial site.  Mr Williams also turns to the prophetic literature of the 15C to show how the myth of Owain’s return was linked to the cantref of Maelienydd, his possible burial site.  On one aspect of this excursion into vaticination we can help the author to make a better case than he does in the book.  Mr Williams quotes Lewis Glyn Cothi’s prophetic poem to Dafydd Goch ap Maredudd, who he describes as being from Presteigne, which the author believes to be part of the commote of Llwythyfnwg and hence linked to Maelienydd:

Fo gyfyd i’r byd o’r bedd
Cnawd Owain cyn y diwedd.

(The flesh of Owain will rise up from the grave into the world before the day of judgement.)

In reality Dafydd Goch was only briefly Lord of Stapleton Castle in the Lordship of Lugharness rather than nearby Presteigne.  It’s doubtful if Presteigne itself was in Llwythyfnwg which in any case was connected with the cantref of Elfael rather than Maelienydd.

Dafydd Goch’s links with Maelienydd were far stronger than this attempt to link him with the cantref. His home, apart from the brief sojourn at Stapleton in the aftermath of the battle of Mortimer’s Criss, was in the parish of Llanbadarn Fawr in the heart of the cantref, hardly a mile from another location famed in the prophetic poetry, the red ford on the Ieithon.

Of course there is hardly a place in Wales without some legend connecting the locality with Owain Glyndwr.  In this sense the authors of the prophetic poetry were correct in saying that he did not die.  Attempts to tie Owain down to a single burial place deprive him of his last unassailable power, the power of myth. For the early 20C poet A G Prys-Jones the hero’s resting place was on Radnor Forest.  It’s as good a location as any:

And here men say he vanished in the dawn
Leaving no sign save a half-opened door,
His baldric and his naked sword forlorn
In some lone shepherd’s hut below the moor.
And so he passed, but Radnor Forest still
Hides in her wind swept acres, secret lore
Of him whose heart beat one with moor and ghyll,
The hero-heart of Wales that beats no more.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Funny Joanna from Poland

Back in the late 1950s gentlemen in our Radnorshire village would retire to a private lounge in the local pub to watch one of the first television sets in the district, its aerial directed towards, I believe, far-off Wenvoe.  A favourite programme was Grandstand, which in the very early 60s would transmit Fight of the Week supplied by America’s NBC channel.  Here Radnorians came face to face with the likes of Hurricane Carter and Davey Moore - both later subjects of Bob Dylan songs - and numerous other black fighters of varying degrees of formidableness.

The viewers would also talk of how in their younger days they’d set up a boxing ring in the village’s old mill.  Did Rocky Marciano - allegedly stationed with the American troops on Penybont common - really spar with Glyn Evans?  Another favourite story was how a sparring partner of the well-known Merthyr boxer Cuthbert Taylor had once visited, only to have his face cut to ribbons by the cracked-leather blood-caked gloves of his opponent.  Perhaps this would have been around the time in April 1937 when Taylor headlined a boxing card at Llandrindod’s Grand Pavilion.

Every now and again I would sneak into this all-male club room, my uncle being the pub’s landlord, to devour the various reading matter available; not just Parade but especially the US fight magazines Boxing Illustrated and Ring.  These provided one with a social, historical and geographical education not available in the local schools.

Ring magazine, especially, was a revelation.  The publisher stroke editor Nat Fleischer was a legendary journalist who had seen every great fighter since before the war - the First World War.  When he compared the likes of Jack Johnson, Joe Louis and Cassius Clay, he’d actually seen them fight in the flesh. Ring was a magazine that covered the past as much as the present, so old Welsh fighters were often featured.  Fleischer produced an annual list of the greatest ever boxers in the eight traditional weight categories - none of this junior or super nonsense.  High in these lists were the famous Welsh pugilists of the early 20C: Jimmy Wilde at flyweight, Freddie Welsh at lightweight and Jem - it was never Jim - Driscoll at featherweight.  It all added to my sense of patriotism; so that within a few years Ring, Boxing News and Welsh Nation were finding their way through my letterbox along with (another obsession) Motor Sport and Motoring News.  

Working in London in the early 70s I discovered that television gave no sense of the explosive power of a live fight.  The boxers often came across as witty, intelligent and decent, which was more than could be said for some in the crowd or the press seats.  Gradually I took less and less of an interest in the fight game, even feeling somewhat repulsed by the lack of respect for its practioners on the part of the gate.

Nowadays even the women fight, with Nicola Adams proving one of the more interesting characters to emerge from the last Olympic Games.  Women’s professional boxing is largely moribund with the real interest being focused on the cage-fighting practioners of mixed martial arts.  A November card in Melbourne headlined by two female title bouts is expected to draw a crowd of 70000, with millions tuning-in worldwide on pay-per-view.

Should women even fight? Well if that’s what they want, who is to stop them.  If women’s fighting is a brutal spectacle so too is that involving the men; redeemed to an extent by the heart exhibited by both sexes.  All you can hope for is that the new business is governed by rules that offer some protection to the fighters.  This seems to be the case, although there should be more female weight categories to prevent the dangers of ridiculous weight loss.  This aside I would be more worried about rugby than cage fighting.

In the old days boxers often ended-up punch drunk.  Cuthbert Taylor’s online record shows he competed in at least 250 professional contests.  In the six months leading up to his Llandrindod bout he fought 9 times, losing on 6 occasions.  Nowadays it is the professional rugby player who receives far too many hits to the head.  We are already seeing the results of the long-term damage received in a professional sport which needs some serious rule changes in order to limit the number of head-on tackles that players are expected to make week in week out - 13-a-side might help.

One of the champions involved in the Melbourne card is the Pole Joanna Jedrzejczyk whose outstanding skills and infectious bravado remind me of the young Ali.  Another is a former Olympic judo medallist Ronda Rousey and here is a problem that the MMA world will have to solve.  If the undefeated Rousey can grapple her opponents to the floor she will apply an armbar and win the contest by submission.  The fighter best equipped to defeat Rousey will likely be a fellow judoka and how many people would actually pay to watch a judo bout?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Tale of Two Days

It seems that yesterday was Battle of Britain Day, an occasion to celebrate the Few - that happy crew of public school boys, Tories to a man - who saved Britain from Hitler's tyranny.  The new Labour leader, it's widely reported, committed sacrilege by attending the cathedral service in a scruffy shirt collar and by failing to sing God Save the Queen, sacrilege in cathedrals only being permissible if carried out in Moscow by feminist punks attacking Putin.

I suppose I should be more supportive of Battle of Britain Day since the 15th of September 1940 would have found my late mother, a few days past her 20th birthday and already a one year veteran in the WAAF.  Faced, as a regular, with signing on for a further seven years, she left the airforce in 1942 to work in a factory at Cox's Corner near Watford.  Who is to say which service was the more valuable, the mythologised Few - the majority of whom were not public schoolboys by the way - or the Many, including the millions of factory workers who actually won the war.  As one expert claims, more people were killed building Spitfires than flying them, although the uniforms were certainly much smarter in the WAAF.

What started out as Civil Defence Day in 1942 was soon hijacked by the RAF and the Beaverbrook press and abandoned in favour of a day that celebrated the elitist Few rather than the proletarian Many:

Which brings us to Owain Glyndwr Day, again not an occasion that is going to get me pumped up with national pride, it being increasingly doubtful if the Welsh will ever get to celebrate a success rather than a glorious failure.  Perhaps it would be useful though to mention some Radnorshire connections with the great prince.

Foremost among them was the battle of Bryn Glas when the men of Maelienydd switched sides to win a  victory for the Welsh.  Our last?

Less well known is the fact that Owain's daughter Gwenllian was the wife of Philip ap Rhys of Cenarth, St Harmon.   The couple were the subject of many praise poems by the likes of Lewis Glyn Cothi (some of his finest), Llawdden and one by Ieuan Gyfannedd, which Ffransis Payne considered the best of those composed to the family.

I think it's beyond argument that, Owain's general, Rhys Gethin was from Buellt - a cantref that fits a lot better with those of Radnorshire than half-French Brycheiniog - but less accepted is the claim that his kinsman Philip ap Rhys of Cenarth continued the fight after Owain's son Maredudd called it a day and begged forgiveness from the English king.  This reminds me that I should attempt a translation of Llawdden's poem to Philip requesting a sword on behalf of Siancyn y Glyn, another of Owain's sons.

Just the Ticket

I thought that the Celts had been abolished by order of the archaeologists and geneticists, but seemingly not, since next week sees the opening of a great exhibition at the British Museum, see here.

The exhibition promises to dwell not only on the iron age past but also to cover the Celts up to the present day.  I wonder if it will be as bold as to reference the claims to Celtic kinship by pro-Confederacy supporters in the US and the use of Celtic crosses by Neo-Nazis in Eastern Europe? Was I wrong to think that the Slavonic interest in Irish music was purely innocent?

I'm also wondering if the exhibition will make as much use of the Welsh language as a similar exhibition in Austria in 1980? There the exhibition catalogue had a Welsh foreword and even the ticket had some Cymraeg, yes really.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

A Radnorshire Pageant

I've seen pictures of the Builth Pageant before and not taken much notice of this Edwardian extravaganza (1909) performed by a cast of 1000.  An album covering the event is available online, see here, and it seems I was wrong to dismiss the event as an example of Breconian eccentricity.  Actually it seems to have been more of a Radnorshire effort, performed at Llanelwedd Hall with the local vicar as pageant director and the Reverend and Mrs J L Herbert of Diserth receiving second billing in the pageant programme.  It says something that when I was a young lad Jimmy Herbert was still spoken of with fondness by the older residents of Howey village.

It seems that pageants were all the rage in the 1900s, there's even a website covering their history and a recent article on the four nations history site outlines Welsh and Scottish variations on the theme.

The Builth pageant tells us little we didn't already know about Edwardian views of Welsh history - Ancient Britons in animal skins, Romans, Normans etc etc.  There were certainly plenty of Welsh references and songs - Druids, Saint Cewydd, Lord and Lady Llechryd (an interesting recognition of a barely recognized local  historical site - perhaps it was included since it was said to be the original home of the local Vaughan clans and the Chairman of the Finance Committee was a Vaughan)

Like old copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica Welsh history seems to have ended in 1282 but the real ommision were the common folk, just a couple of labourers in agricultural smocks who naturally ended up in the stocks. 

One highlight was a recreation of the old Diserth feast with dancing, a Mari Llwyd and Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.  No wonder Jimmy Herbert was still remembered fondly in the parish some sixty years later and, of course, we were hardly past the era when the Society for the Suppression of Parish Feasts and Wakes rooted out such human excesses.

Friday, September 04, 2015

A World Apart

I recently watched the excellent 1988 film A World Apart, the directing debut of Radnorshire based cinematographer Chris Menges.  The film covers a few months in the life of a character, based on the South African Communist Ruth First, as seen through the eyes of her 12 year old daughter played by Jodhi May.  As I say a fine film and readily available to view from the usual sites.

Could such a film be made today, given the total victory of neoliberalism and its neoconservative twin in the mainstream Western media?  I remember how shocked some commentators were at the sight of communist flags at Mandela's funeral - the younger ones being perhaps unaware of the West's support for the most reactionary regimes in South Africa and Latin America in the late 20C.  A time when, for all its internal sclerosis, the Soviet world did support progressive forces from Chile to Afghanistan.

The fall of the Soviet Union now means that we are expected to regard heroes like Ruth First as no better, or even worse, than Nazis.  The most ridiculous Cold War propaganda, which would have been laughed at in the 1980s, is nowadays treated as fact by readers who have been exposed to nothing else; opposing viewpoints going unanswered and exiled to the obscurer corners of the net.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Nuclear Option

I'm currently reading the book Treachery by the indefatigable journalist and ancient - it was written in his 90s - cold war warrior Chapman Pincher.  One thing which is clear from the book is the author's grudging admiration for the Soviet agent code named Sonia, who he describes as the most successful female agent in the history of espionage.

One of Sonia's greatest known achievements was to obtain and transmit to Moscow the above top secret Quebec Agreement between Churchill and Roosevelt in 1943.  The agreement pooled UK and US research efforts into producing a nuclear bomb, described euphemistically as Tube Alloys, and laid down the following conditions for its use:

First, that we will never use this agency against each other.

Secondly, that we will not use it against third parties without each others consent.

Thirdly, that we will not either of us communicate any information about Tube Alloys to third parties except by mutual consent.

Now when we read that the United States is the only country to have used a nuclear bomb we should remember that second clause.  Hiroshima and Nagasaki could only have been destroyed with British consent and I suppose that means the consent of Britain's Labour government.

The United States should not stand in the dock/ receive the plaudits* alone, it was a joint venture of the two great Anglo-Saxon regimes, never mind who flew the planes.

* delete as appropriate - my own view is that the bombing was more about thwarting the Soviets after their stunning victories in Manchuria rather than about saving allied lives, and that the Japanese surrender was motivated by that defeat more than anything else.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Matters Arising

I was expecting more online interest in Simon Brooks' new book Pam Na Fu Cymru; perhaps there was some confusion as to whether the book should be treated as an academic essay or a political polemic, or perhaps like me some readers just struggled with the vocabulary.

Mr Brooks poses the question why isn't Wales a Welsh speaking country and why isn't it independent.  Looking back to 1850 he points out that we were then in a stronger position, linguistically and culturally, than some present day independent European states, especially those in Central and Eastern Europe.  The failure to develop a successful national movement is laid at the door of 19C Welsh liberalism and the subsequent 20C radical movements in particular the Labour Party - a radicalism that puts wider interests ahead of those of its own community.  I suppose you could say that Wales is a conservative country whose intelligentsia pretend to be radical and that pretence holds us back.

I don't disagree with this analysis, indeed it was true of the Civil War and the earlier stripping of the altars.  The English are the radical iconoclasts and the Welsh are the conservative traditionalists and the failure to recognize this fact accounts for the present day failure of our national movement to make an impact.

I'm not going to comment directly about the book but rather note down some points that crossed my mind, especially regarding Radnorshire, which arose from an initial reading.


There's a trend in modern history which sees the study of the borderland or periphery as being particularly useful in understanding processes affecting the heartland, I was reminded of this frequently while reading SB's book.  Radnorshire history receives little attention and yet it surely has something to offer in understanding the broader picture.

SB points out that in 1850 Welsh was the language of some 90% of the people, with English monoglotism found mainly in the long established "Englishries" of Gower and South Pembrokeshire; the more recent advance of Welsh into the Vale of Glamorgan being a reminder that language shift doesn't have to be all one way.   In Radnorshire however the language was already in retreat.  In 1827 a report discusing the dialect of the Llandrindod district stated that the language had retreated 20 miles in living memory, this ties in with reports that in New Radnor there was nothing but Welsh in 1742 or that in 1744 there was little English between Bleddfa and Llanfihangel Rhydieithon.

Here's Jonathan Williams writing in the early 19C to explain the process of language shift in Bugeildy, a border parish on the river Teme - the 17th longest river in the UK which flows 81 miles into the heart of England to join the Severn below Worcester:

"An increased intercourse with England, a more general interchange of the commodities and produce of these two countries respectively, and, above all, the introduction of that jurisprudence with which the inhabitants of Wales found it necessary to be familiarized, as well as the diction in which all legal pleadings, deeds, conveyances, processes, &c., are executed, soon undermined that predilection for their mother tongue which was before their distinguishing character, and rendered the study and acquisition of the English language necessary, not only as an accomplishment, but also as a matter of indispensable interest." 

This statement suggests two important facts, firstly that bilingualism and subsequently language shift are made possible by everyday contact with the English language.  This was possible in eastern Radnorshire in a way that was impossible for the common folk in counties further west.  Language shift was not then a matter of national sentiment but of opportunity.  Secondly the adoption of English was seen as a legal necessity.  Obviously this had been the case for the gentry class but why lower down the social scale? The support for Welsh that Mr Brooks notes amongst conservative landed circles surely had much to do with the language being seen as a barrier to the hoi polloi getting above themselves.  Yet in Radnorshire there was a tradition of the generality using the law, as here for example.  I put this down to a not unsizeable class of small landowners, descendants perhaps of the querulous manwyr noted in the 16C bardic poetry.

Physical Force

Another stick to beat 19C Radnorians, especially those in the west of the county was it's physical force tradition, exemplified by the open flouting of the fishery laws - here's an example - but also participation in the Toll gate riots, resistance to squatter evictions and action against landlords and shopkeepers, especially those newcomers who stepped on people's toes.  Even Ireland took note of the Radnorian example. It's interesting that these actions occurred in districts where language shift was proceeding apace with bilingualism allowing young couples to abandon the teaching Welsh to their children.  The more monoglot districts on the Irfon, by contrast, were far more peaceful.

Radnorshire was often slandered by Welsh non-conformity for its immorality and English tongue, so there is some satisfaction in SB's unmasking of this class as the sell-outs they appear to have been.

The relative success of UKIP in seats like Merthyr, Blaenau Gwent etc has revived something a prejudice against the inhabitants of what was once known as the  Black Domain.  The rural traditions of violent community action transplanted to the area in the form of the Scotch Cattle, the anti-Irish riots of the 19C and the Tredegar riots of the early 20C are condemned as, perhaps, proto-fascist in nature, harbingers of the 21C UKIP vote - oh well it's a theory.

Looking back to the 1960s you sometimes wonder if Cayo Evans was responsible for more advances than Gwynfor?  Certainly the threat of MAC - whose activists seem to have often been English speakers from the South East - must have been partly responsible for the abandonment of Labour's plan to build a new town of 60000 souls in Mid Wales.

So here we have another long-standing contradiction, a "radical" national intelligensia who wouldn't say boo to a goose - does no-one in Cardiff currently own a spade for example -  and who seek the approval of their betters across the border, contrasting with a more rough and ready tradition of essentially conservative reaction to unwelcome and unasked for change.


Now here's a term I'd never heard before, seemingly the first stage in building a national movement.  Radnorshire had its fair share of such folk: William Probert of Painscastle - a translator of the Gododdin and Edward "Celtic" Davies* of Llanfaredd come to mind as does Ffransis Paine in more recent times.

I've never been a member of the Radnorshire Society but how its membership must have had their Anglo prejudices shaken in the years before and after the Second War by the articles of Mr Cole, detailing local wills with their numerous APs and VCHs.

Iorwerth Peate decribed Radnorshire as ""a deracine society, a people fallen between two stools, a community of half-things."  Perhaps that has been a common prejudice amongst Welsh speaking intellectuals, who have sometimes given the impression that this great chunk of  Central Wales should be handed over to the West Midlands.

Radnorshire's Welsh history has largely been recovered by Radnorians themselves, which is as it should be.  Does Wales consist of two indigenous communities - the English speaking Welsh and the bilingual Welsh?  Perhaps it does, although I like to think that it is one community, although at different stages of a single historical process.  If only that bilingual community were a little more aggressively Cymraeg in its outlook.

* It's interesting that the Dictionary of Welsh Biography says that Celtic Davies had an imperfect knowledge of Welsh, yet he grew-up on a farm just five miles from, and a generation before, the childhood home of  Carnhuanawc, although  on the opposite side of the Wye.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Hillbilly Nationalists*

"Simpering, self-serving, holier-than-thou bullshit" so says the heading of a sidebar on Jac's blog.  A pretty controversial statement in a Wales that seems to have more than its fair share of simpering, self-servers.

It was a very clever move for the elite to take over the original rainbow coalition idea in order to isolate those who might actually pose a threat to their hegemony - like poor southern whites for example.  Obama is OK because he's black, Hillary Clinton will make a fine president because she's a woman and in 2020 we'll probably be due a gay president and anyone who opposes will be branded a homophobe.  Let's forget about their actual policies, identification with a right-on minority is all that matters - they may be warmongers, neo-liberal thieves, perverters of the constitution and servants of the 1%, but, hey, they're the new radicals.

This confederate flag business seems to fit right-in, you can tweet your outrage and tick-a-box.  You might think you're a rebel but really you're a pussy, you salivate when someone rings the bell.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a young woman shinning-up a flagpole to pull down a version of St Andrew's cross, but not as an attack on the flag itself but rather as a stunt to embarrass those who use it to divide ordinary folks.

It wasn't always like this.

Here's a snap from Chicago in the late 1960s featuring a Black Panther and an activist of the Young Patriots Organisation, a group of white working class youth of mainly Appalachian origin who allied themselves to the Panthers and to the Puerto Rican Young Lords.  You'll note that the Young Patriots used the Confederate flag as their symbol and this caused no friction between them and the Panthers.  Of course the Panthers were a real threat to the interests of the ruling-class, which is why so many of them ended-up on a mortuary slab.

Together these Chicago groups opposed Mayor Daley's corrupt political machine, they failed, indeed the Daley machine's most recent graduate now occupy's the Oval Office.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Party Poopers

The 150th anniversary of the Welsh settlement of Patagonia is not, we are told, an occasion for celebration.  Indeed it something to be regretted, an example of Welsh colonialism.

I agree that the Patagonian enterprise deserves serious historical attention -  rather than sentimentalism -  as does Welsh participation in the British Empire.  For example this Radnorian well wisher of the Welsh language was able to pursue his philanthropic endeavours because of a fortune earned in India and the Windward Islands.

The Welsh Colony does not fit well with the establishment of a Zionist state in Palestine, rather it should be seen as part of the 10000 year old process whereby farmers occupy land previously the preserve of hunter/gatherer societies.  Herzl may have considered Patagonia a suitable location for a Jewish state, but as he wasn't born until 1860 it was hardly contemporaneous with the Welsh project.  Indeed the remarkable thing about YWladfa was its early date and its absolute remoteness from any other settlement.

Revisionists dismiss the good relations between the Tehuelche and the Welsh but present little evidence to the contrary.  One author cannot believe that only three settlers were killed by natives, he cannot believe it so it can't be true.  Others claim that because of the similarity to familiar tales of "good injuns" then it must be another such tale.  Yet another author will report the views of present-day Mapuche speakers without reference to their history.

At the time of the establishment of the Welsh colony the Chubut river was something of a border between the nomadic northern Tehuelche who had recently adopted the language of the more technologically advanced Mapuche.  The southern Tehuelche still spoke their own Aonikenk tongue, a language which is now virtually extinct.  It's worth reading about the Mapuche who were certainly not the helpless natives of the contemporary imagination. If Calfucura, the Napoleon of the Pampas, had not been operating hundreds of miles to the north then Y Wladfa would not have survived for long.

Of course the friendly relationship between early settlers and original inhabitants does not usually long survive population influx and a thirst for land.  The Welsh in Patagonia, as a de facto independent state power, lasted only a decade or so before Argentina asserted its rule over the colony.  From that time on the Welsh in Patagonia, like the Welsh in North America and Australia, were just one immigrant community among many.  Unlike them the Patagonians are of great significance to contemporary Wales, a proof that - even at the height of its power - some at least were able to resist Britishness.  Little wonder that others might seek to undermine their naive but heroic adventure.

On July 27th the president of Argentina along with other state dignitaries will be in the Chubut province to celebrate the arrival of the Mimosa in Patagonia.  Ms Kirchner will be representing a state that is mainly comprised of the descendants of European immigrants, although with a substantial admixture of native American genes.  Should she apologise for the existence of her state and its people because it offends the recently acquired sensibilities of US and European intellectuals? 

The question radical Wales - if it ever existed - needs to answer is not to apologise for the past but to decide where it stands on the great questions of today. Even something as banal as the recent Fifa vote illustrates the battlelines being drawn up in the modern world.  On one side we have the anglosphere (USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) together with their European Union and Pacific Rim allies; on the other the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) together with most of South America, Africa and much of Asia

The self-styled "international community" sees these opponents of their unipolar worldview as essentially murderous and corrupt, savages who need to be colonised by Western values.  The West itself is obviously a white hat committed to freedom, democracy and the virtues of neo-liberalism.  Conveniently the millions of victims of the West have been flushed down the memory hole.  There's little evidence of radical Wales being willing to question these "western values."