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October 7, 2022
HIRAEL AYE: Ellen Pritchard and baby Annie in 1919.

GWYNEDD County Council – that bizarrely/blatantly parochial and closed, controlling Welsh nationalist coven/cabal perhaps now best known for helping to school Westminster warbler Liz Saville-Roberts (multilingual NOT monolingual Welsh speaking without a hint of an authentic north Walian accent) Plaid Cymru’s purple-haired hippy chick who moved north from England to get authentic and real in an “unspoilt beauty spot” – once published a book about my ancestors living in uninsured humdrum hovels prone to flooding when they weren’t fighting big bad Lord Pennant, the sugar magnate they paid rent to or else face jail.

Now, fanatics growing in Gwynedd apparently want to REMOVE William, Prince of Wales, like Liz, an outsider from London, but KEEP Liz Saville-Roberts who – unlike William – is NOT an actual asset with worldwide sway and massive political presence to promote and champion the interests of locals.

Liz leads a ramshackle, ruined and ridiculed group of just three MPs in Westminster, all representing rural north and mid Wales constituencies, while her party’s leader in Cardiff Bay almost begs his only South Wales constituency MP Jonathan Edwards to do the honourable thing and quit after being convicted of an assault on his wife, bringing further ridicule and ruin.

Will this self-inflicted madness apparently being spearheaded by actor Michael Sheen – a south Walian with little to no experience of life in Gwynedd – never end?

Sibols, Pobl dod Hirael is a treasure trove for family historians and anthropologists seeking to gain insight into the grim, ghastly lives of lower working class people squashed together five-to-a-room in cramped damp conditions like sardines (or, to translate Sibols – spring onions or shallots) in the Llandudno Bay/Irish Sea-facing natural basin called Hirael in Bangor, north Wales, “jangling” on tight streets in Welsh and English or, often, combinations of both, (“Mynd i’r doctor’s surgery, Mrs Jones?”) flanked on either side by higher ground which casts a natural shadow and a railway line to the south offering residents the quickest, most effective and, sometimes, only means of escape.

Growing up in back-to-back terraced houses, as I did, in that natural basin – a sponge-like repository for all kinds of issues and all kinds of people sharing a natural, warmly encouraged inclination to deeply drown inconvenient family truths with fierce pride and equally fierce religiously imposed masonic authoritarian omerta – made me incredibly politically aware incredibly early on, fearful of a fiercely punishing combination of psychiatry and policing often colluding and collaborating so that one seemed indivisible from the other with their potent powers fermented and brewed in private, exclusive networks to punish pushy protestors and ragged resistors yet protect their own impeccably.

My maternal great-grandmother Ellen Pritchard is pictured in that book in the house in Hugh Street which was demolished as slum dwellings some time before I was born. I recently learned that her husband David was a hitcher at Mardy Colliery in south Wales in 1921 so she must have kept the home fires burning alone like many of the redoubtable mothers there living hugger-mugger in flood-prone hovels after the Bethesda slate quarry strike of 1911 wrecked family lives.

The council, which could never rival the Penrhyn Castle Pennants in providing safety and security to locals but still grew like topsy inspired mainly by rampant resentful nationalism which too many outsiders moving into the area cynically appropriated for selfish political gain while the Pennants, by contrast, very drastically declined under death duties, saw no apparent irony in publishing a book about the lives of these tough as teak chain-smoking quarry workers and fiery alcohol-addled fishing folk, almost excelling and reveling in their pathetic poverty before indoor toilets, decent burials, gas and electricity without giving any explanation for it now nor realistic routes out for them then.

North Wales, which would include the cultural/educational hotspot of Aberystwyth, always has attracted massive levels of incomers because it offers what marketing morons call “a unique cultural experience in scenic settings” – which obviously moulded and shaped people like Liz Saville-Roberts, who grew up in Eltham, London, the daughter of a scientist but moved to Aberystwyth University then found a home and husband in Morfa Nefyn, a beauty spot much loved by London’s elite. Prince William, of course, set up home on Anglesey while working at RAF Valley. Both fell in love with the area’s natural beauty, warmly welcoming networks and rustic, eccentric charm.

Safely ensconced in a cosy commune with other purple-haired lentil-munching, tree-hugging language zealots and their barmy Zabutonian Yes Cymru bedfellows who might refuse to pay the licence fee to support S4C, demand Welsh water doesn’t go to Liverpool or Birmingham but only to locals, target English second-home owners and aggressively demand independence from English monarchical rule like unhinged Tubbs and Edward from League of Gentlemen in their “local” shop “What’s this, what’s this, we’ll have no trouble here, this is a local shop for local people…”.

She worked in Welsh medium further education (a rich and unfailing source of funding if ever there was one, especially now) so knows how to appeal to her base and really knows how the language issue and its concomitant inclination to judge other tongues, particularly English, is crucial to her future.

And another privileged English incomer who appears to have cynically appropriated that sense of wounded and hurt Welsh identity and “personhood” which only people like my maternal great-grandmother could ever have truly and authentically felt and turned it into a political raison d’etre/rocket fuel to rise up the greasy pole is gender non-binary former Mayor of Bangor, Owen Hurcum, whose book “Don’t ask about my genitals: An introductory manifesto to trans and non-binary equality” is now – believe it or not – a published book (little tip: starting a book with the word “Don’t” is never a good idea, nor, indeed, is it a good idea to assume that I may in any way be interested in someone’s genitals enough to ask about them in person – nor, I suspect, were many of the “jarring” locals in the Liverpool Arms, particularly that rowdy crew from Maesgeirchen who might have said something deeply wounding and insensitive to Hurcum).

Hurcum came from a south east England home to read architecture at Bangor University and joined Plaid Cymru (surprise, surprise) further emphasising the concept of north Wales as a trendy and richly upholstered “safe haven” for wounded and hurt identities and “personhoods” seeking to “stand for something”.

Standing for Bangor City Council in an area where mainly students and those dependent upon their input and custom were the main/only voters high on a hill on university and BBC heights above Hirael (we always looked up, not down, and that sense of being looked down upon has never left me), Hurcum succeeded first in becoming a councillor then Mayor in what looked suspiciously like a publicity stunt when the council (like most things in Gwynedd now) was Plaid controlled, naturally wielding the Welsh language like a nuclear weapon in the hands of Putin.

Hurcum, however, resigned in disgust from Plaid after accusing Helen Mary Jones and Adam Price of transphobia and is no longer mayor and has left the area, stating that he has a boat to fix somewhere on the Thames, his only safe haven now property prices in Bangor are red hot so out of Hurcum’s and most people’s price range.

Did Bangor and Aberystwyth Universities and the Welsh government help incomers like Saville-Roberts and Hurcum to get an education, I wonder?

Did they scan their CV’s and statements and choose to invest in them? Would, I wonder, there have been a similar concerted campaign if William, a future Prince of Wales, had opted for Aberystwyth or Bangor Universities instead of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland?

What, in essence, is the difference between William, Owen and Liz?

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