Burns, Dwynwen and Something Else

I have mentioned that today is Burns Day and St Dwynwen's Day - it is also my Wedding Anniversary. So here is a romantic song, dedicated to Mrs MOF in honour of the occasion, courtesy of Prof Tom Lehrer:

Prof Lehrer is one of the earliest examples of that viral phenomenon that proves that if something is banned it suddenly becomes very, very popular.

Most of Tom Lehrer's work was produced for the US version of TW3 (That Was The Week That Was), the 1960's political satire show that made Sir David Frost a household name on both sides of the pond. Prof Lehrer's popularity in Britain was enhanced when his, now, best known song -Poisoning Pigeons in the Park was banned by the BBC.

The Gaza saga shows, that even after 40+ years, that Aunty still hasn't learned that the best way to give publicity to something she disaproves of is to impose a ban!

Poems & Politics: A Man's a Man For a' that - Burns

As today is not only St Dwynwen's Day but also Burns Day, indeed the 250'th aniversery of the bàird's birth, I think that Burns deserves a Poems and Politics post.

His most political poem is probably A Man's a Man For a' that

Famous for its expression of egalitarian ideas of society, which may be seen as anticipating the ideas of liberalism that arose in the 18th century, and those of socialism which arose in the 19th century.

The song was sung at the opening of the Scottish Parliament, and also at the funeral of Donald Dewar, the original First Minister of Scotland.

The words 'pride o' worth' appear on the crest of the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

A Man's A Man For A' That

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an' a' that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that.
Our toils obscure an' a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The Man's the gowd for a' that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an' a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man's a Man for a' that:
For a' that, and a' that,
Their tinsel show, an' a' that;
The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca'd a lord,
Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that;
Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a coof for a' that:
For a' that, an' a' that,
His ribband, star, an' a' that:
The man o' independent mind
He looks an' laughs at a' that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an' a' that;
But an honest man's abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their dignities an' a' that;
The pith o' sense, an' pride o' worth,
Are higher rank than a' that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.

Gaza - Public Service Blogpost

Not having the same scruples as the BBC, I am happy to make a Public Service Blogpost in aid of the Disasters Emergency Committee

Leading UK aid agencies are appealing to the public for urgently needed funds to help ease the desperate plight of people affected by the conflict in Gaza.
Launching the Disasters Emergency Committee Gaza Crisis Appeal, chief executive Brendan Gormley said that the devastation wrought in the Gazan territory was so huge that British aid agencies were compelled to act.

Over 1,300 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, and many thousands have been injured, overwhelming local hospitals. The destruction has left people without homes and many children without schooling; power, food and water supplies are insufficient to cover the population’s needs.

Mr Gormley said: “DEC agencies have a humanitarian mandate. We are not proposing to attempt to rebuild Gaza – that is not our role. But with the public’s support we can help relieve short-term needs. Agencies are already providing food, drugs and blankets as well as delivering clean water.

“But we will soon reach the limit of what we can do, without more money. For Gazans struggling to survive, receiving urgent humanitarian aid will help them take the first step to recovery.”

Mr Gormley stressed that DEC aid agencies were non-political. “We work on the basis of humanitarian need and there is an urgent need in Gaza today. Political solutions are for others to resolve, but what is of major concern to us all is that many innocent people have been affected by the situation – and it is them that we seek to help.”

To make a donation
the Disasters Emergency Committee website to make an online


Make cheques payable to:
DEC Gaza Crisis


Post to:
DEC Gaza Crisis,
PO Box 999,
London EC3A 3AA

or go to
any Post Office quoting Freepay number: 1210.

Thanks to Bill for the contact details


Dwynwen - Wales' Secret Weapon

Rugby fans have a big dilemma. The biggest match of all, Wales v England, is to be played on St Valentine's Day. Do you woo your loved one, take her out for a romantic meal and then enjoy an evening of loving passion together - or do you watch the match and go out for a rugby p fest with your mates?

Hard choice and a dilemma indeed!

However Wales has a secret weapon that enables Welsh supporters to overcome this dilemma - St Dwynwen.

Tomorrow is St Dywnwen's Day! St Dwynwen is the patron saint of Welsh Lovers, a saint who is the equal to, if not better, than Saint Valentine.

So woo your lover tomorrow, buy her chocolates and flowers - take her out for a romantic meal, show her passion and love - persuade her that Valentine is not for us, that good Welsh people do it for St Dwynwen! And then you will be free and guiltless on Saint Valentine's day and be able to direct all your passion towards encouraging Wales to beat England!

But on Feb 14th the English fans and players, poor dabs, will still be worried about the rolling pin and the bollocking for putting Rugby before love!

If all Welsh fans celebrate St Dwynwen tomorrow, so that we don't have to worry about St Valentine in three weeks time, it could give us a five point lead before the starting whistle is blown!

So, tomorrow, make love for St Dwynwen - Wales' Secret Weapon!


Rhodri is, probably, right.

Still on the subject of President Obama.

It's not often that I disagree with Damon Lord. It's not often that I agree with Rhodri Morgan either, but I think that Damon's condemnation of Mr Morgan as an ignorant, racist twat is unwarranted.

Rhodri has many failings, but being an ignorant, racist twat isn't one of them. I have known Rhodri for many years. I knew him before he ever became an elected politician and I know that his first hand experience of segregation in the USA, when he was a student there in the 1960's, has had a profound and influencing affect on him and his world view. Rhodri is not a racist and has never, ever, supported any racist view. To claim otherwise is very disingenuous!

As far as Rhodri's comments are concerned I tend to agree with him.

The first point to make is that Barack Obama is the Head of State of the USA, the equal to Her Majesty the Queen in the UK. If the monarchy survives, I can't see an heir apparent marrying a black person or a person of mixed race for at least another four generations. If the UK survives me, I will never see a black head of state. If the UK and its monarchy survive my great grandchildren the likelihood of them seeing a person of colour as head of state is minimal.

Electing a black Prime Minister is a lot more complex than electing a black president.

Four years ago Barack Obama was a newly elected junior senator. Regardless of age, gender, sexual preference or race, no newly elected British MP can become PM in 4 years, rarely is a PM selected before he or she has had 16 years of service as an MP under the belt (I know there have been odd exception). I don't see, at the moment, a "probable" Black or Asian PM amongst those in the Commons now, so it's down to the next tranch of MP's.

If he made a claim, Gordon Brown would be entitled to Disability Living Allowance, and could be noted as our first registered Disabled PM. Having a registered disabled person as Prime Minister would be such a boon and encouragement to the many young people who live with a disability and feel hindered. But Mr Brown chooses to hide his affliction rather than registering it - why? Because he is embarrassed by his disability and he doesn't think that Britain is ready to accept a disabled PM! - Prat!

I honestly don't think that a Black or Asian MP has any chance of being Prime Minister before 2025. If we have our first Labour female PM or the first openly Gay PM before then the black lad's chance will be indefinitely postponed! I can't see it happening in any legislature in these islands in the next 50 years.

I hope that I am wrong - but I doubt it!

Obama (Oh! Vaughan) and Glenys

Vaughan Rodderick is supposed to be the man with his finger on the pulse of Welsh politics. It is a shame that it was only yesterday that he realised that Obama o Fôn (pronounced Vaughan same as our intrepid reporter's first name) was from Anglesey / Ynys Môn - This knowledge has been available since way back last July!

Lenin Cymru, who knows all about the Welsh roots of the 44th president, is mistaken though. He thinks that Barrack Obama is related to Ieuan Wyn Jones the AM for Anglesey. This can't be so. Ieuan is not an Anglesey lad he is a carpetbagger from Denbighshire.

As the Western Mail pointed out Obama is descended from Henry and Margaret Parry from Holyhead. The real Welsh Political icon who is also a Parry from Holyhead isn't Ieuan Wyn but Ms G. E. Parry, also known as Lady Glenys Kinnock MEP!

I know that the inauguration is the nearest thing that Americans have to a coronation, but wasn't Ereathra Franklin singing God Save the King (even with the wrong words) a bit OTT?

Good to see lots of Welsh Dragon Flags in the crowd scenes (but very few Saltires- Ha! Ha! Thieving Salmond)

On a more serious note, the most moving part of the day was when somebody said (I don't know who) Rosa Parkes sat - so that Luther King could walk - so that Obama could run - and now our children can soar!


Thieving Salmond and Obama o Fôn

I use to like Alex Salmond and the SNP, but I am beginning to have doubts - the honeymoon is over.

Everybody knows that Barack Obama (or Obama o Fôn - as he is known locally), with his mother's family deeply rooted in Anglesey soil, is the 41st President of the US of Welsh Descent (he would be the 44th but we have disinherited Nixon and disinheramatated the Bushs).

But that sly, thieving, kniving Salmond bloke is trying to pinch him off Wales and claim him for Scotland! Can you believe it? Disgraceful!


Am I to blame for the middle east crisis?

I haven't posted anything about the Gaza war, because, having read the blogs of those who support Hamas and those who support Israel I have witnessed the bitterness the hatred and the vitriol in the comments sections of those who allow free comment.

Criticise Israel and you are accused of being on the side of terrorism, supporting the subjugation of women, favouring the Taliban, a Nazi and an anti-Semite.

Criticise Hamas and you are a Bush lapdog, a racist, a Western imperialist, a Zionist and an enemy of Islam.

The easiest thing to do is to keep your head down, not take sides and pretend that it isn't happening. BUT isn't this the main reason for the continuing problem in Israel and the Middle east?

Most sensible people can see that there is fault on both sides, that there are elements on both sides who are engaged in evil, that extremists on both sides are cynically abusing the discord for the advancement of their extreme views.

But are they the problem?

Perhaps the biggest problem is those of us who see what is wrong on both sides, but fear to say anything lest we be caught in the crossfire.

I think it is time for the sensible majority of individuals and nations to stick their heads above the parapet and to say that enough is enough, that we will no longer be blackmailed by extremist nutters from either side and that if both sides can't come to a sensible agreement themselves that the world will impose a fair and equitable settlement in Palestine / Israel and that both sides will subscribe to it or face the wrath of the rest of the world.

As the United Nations has proved useless in this respect because of entrenched positions, can the European Union or the Commonwealth step into the breach as international honest brokers of common sense?


Have you ever been to Seakittenguard?

The idea of vegetarianism has never appealed to me, I'm too fond of my Sunday roast to give up meat.

In fact I've never understood the arguments in favour of vegetarianism: that not eating meat is somehow kinder to other inhabitants of this planet. Eating a vegetable deprives another animal of a meal from that vegetable and may lead to its death through starvation. If I eat the lettuce in the garden then the slugs starve. If the slugs get to it first then I starve (unless I have a ham sandwich rather than a lettuce sandwich for tea.)

But there we are if people don't want to eat meat that is their choice and I am perfectly happy to respect their right to make that choice. It is a shame that all vegetarians can't respect the freedom of choice of those who don't share their views.

One of the silliest campaigns I have ever come across is the latest from the militant vegan organisation PETA.

Being militant vegans they believe that fishing is cruel and that eating fish should not be permitted. According to a report on The Rev Allan Bevere's blog PETA believes that people are willing to go fishing for fun and to eat fish because the word fish has negative connotations. If we think of the word "fish" we think of something slimy, smelly and unlovable. So the group is campaigning to have the word fish abolished and replacing it with the term Sea Kittens.

Kittens are lovely, cuddly, fluffy animals. Nobody would want to put a hook through a kitten's head and nobody would want to eat one. So by calling fish sea kittens we will feel more for them and be less likely to want to eat them.

As part of the campaign the group has also been campaigning to
change names that include the word fish. So Fishguard would turn into Seakittenguard!

Writing this post on food has made me feel a bit peckish, I might go down to the local chippy for some kitten, chips and mushy peas. Yum!


Disability Discrimination

A couple of points relating to disability discrimination.

First of all many congratulations to David Allen a 17 year old Shefield man who lives with Muscular Dystrophy on winning a legal challenge against the Royal Bank of Scotland for failing to provide access at one of their Branches in the city. The bank had argued that by providing access to other branches and providing internet and telephone options that it had fulfilled its obligations to provide access for customers with a disability. Sheffield County Court disagreed and awarded Mr Allen £6,500 in damages and has instructed the bank to rectify matters at the branch in question before next September.

The bank is to appeal, but whatever the outcome of the appeal it will help businesses and people with disabilities to understand what obligations businesses have to meet the "reasonable adjustments" provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act. Definitely a landmark case, so well done and thank you David!

The second point relates to Gordon Brown. Mr Brown is totally blind in one eye and has poor sight in the other. Given this, is it really appropriate for leading Tories to make fun of his eye hand co-ordination whilst attempting to hit a ping pong ball? Whatever political differences exist between those of us of different political persuasions surely none of us need to stoop so low as to take the P out of our opponents physical afflictions.

The School Assembly and the Welsh Assembly

It is very rarely that I find myself siding with the High Priest of the Fundamentalist Atheist Religion and disagreeing with my former fellow-student at Theological Collage The Rev Geraint Tudur. But on the subject of school Assemblies I am with Prof Dawkins.

When I was in school many moons ago, as a young committed Christian, I thought that the Morning Assembly ridiculed the very meaning of an Act of Christian Worship.

The Headmaster could go from praising the Lord to praising the achievements of the First Rugby XV without batting an eyelid; and he could go from a hymn about Christian forgiveness into a threat of six of the best for those who's hair was too long without any sense of hypocrisy!

My headmaster was a deacon and a lay preacher in a local chapel. If he, a person used to leading Christian worship outside school, could make such a mockery of Christian worship in the School Assembly, how much more harm can the majority of headteachers today, who don't have a personal faith in Christ, do to the institution of Christian Worship?

If anything Jane Davidson hasn't gone far enough. Personally I believe that the School Assembly should be abolished as an act of Christian Worship.

I have nothing against getting the whole school together (with no right of opting out) in order to praise the achievements of school heroes or in order to give a communal bollocking to those who spit gum in the yard - but confusing such a meeting with worship verges on the heretical!

Marcus will, no doubt, tell me that it is not a good enough reason; but one of the reasons why I want a Welsh Parliament rather than a Welsh Assembly, is because the title Welsh Assembly always reminds me of Tuesdays and Thursdays in school when the hymns, the readings, the prayers, the football praise and the castigation's were delivered in Cymraeg!


How many MPs does Wales need?

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that my answer to the question how many Westminster MP's does Wales need? is none, nil, zero, zilch, nix etc.

Since the 1930's Wales has always been at the bottom of the list of every economic and social indicator. The reasons for this are quite simple. When times are bad the London economy, being the powerhouse of Great Britain, needs shoring up. As Eddie George admitted in the 1980's allowing other parts of the UK to suffer in order to support the London economy is a price worth paying. When times get better the last places to benefit from recovery are places like Wales and Cornwall, but because of economic cycles when Wales starts to recover London goes into another economic downturn and Wales is smacked in the teeth again, in order to save London.

Gordon Brown promised the end of Boom and Bust, the truth is, that as part of the UK, Wales has never had a Boom and Bust problem; being part of the UK has made us suffer from a Bust and Bust again economy for the past eighty years.

Edward VIII, as Prince of Wales, memorably said Something must be done, as he observed the grinding poverty and desperate queues of the unemployed in south Wales during the 1930's. The fact is that sod all has been done to change Wales since those days, and sod all will be be done unless and until Wales has control over its own economy and it's own destiny as an independent nation!


The Maths of Family History

This is post has nothing to do with Welsh Politics - it is a response to Cherry and James' comments re family history.

Have you ever watched the programme Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

The premise of the programme is that for every correct answer given the prize amount doubles. It only takes 15 questions from a prize being worth £100 to a prize of £1,000,000.

The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo used a similar system!

Put 10p to win on the third favourite in the first race at a racecourse tomorrow. If it loses put 20p to win the next day on the third favourite. If it loses put 40p to win on the third favourite the following day and double up each time you lose.

If the odds are more than 2/1, when you win, you will be in profit over every other bet laid. But remember that it only takes 15 steps to double up from sod all to one million! Can you afford to bet a million to get all your money back and more?

The mathematics of family history are similar. I have 2 parents, 4 grand parents, 8 great grandparents etc. Every generation doubles, so playing the long terms odds game must eventually enable me to to hit pay dirt in proving that I am descended from importance, somewhere along the line - and it has!

The funny thing is though, the more one researches family history, the great and the good become less important. When one learns about the miner, the shepherd and the whore, the common folk who have fought adversity to enable me to be me, they become my real ancestral heroes. They are much more than the Kings, the Princes, the Lords or others from whom I can prove grand descent


The Children of Gomer

In my last post I made the comment that I can trace my family back to Gomer. I have had four e-mails, from people who didn't wish to make comments in the comments section of the blog, asking me to explain the significance of this comment. To encourage comments in their proper place I will not answer those e-mails but will explain the significance of Gomer here!

If a pub quiz question was asked According to be Bible who is the nearest common ancestor of all people? Most teams would answer Adam, but they would be wrong! In Chapter 6 of the book of Genesis every man woman and child is wiped off the face of the earth apart from Noah, his wife and kids. So we are all, most recently, descended from Noah - not Adam!

And this is where Gomer comes in. Noah had three named boys, Ham, Shem and Japheth, and tribal names for the old world are based on myths about the descent of Noah. Notably in recent current affairs the protagonists in Gaza are called Hamas, being the descendant of Ham. Those who don't like what the the Jews are doing are called anti-semitic - people who don't like the descendants of Shem.

Japheph had a son called Gomer, and Gomer's descendants are called Gomri, or to use the modern spelling Cymru - the Welsh word for Wales! And yes I can find old genealogies that prove that I am descended from Gomer!

The descent from Gomer myth also leads to two other myths that are still heard today. One being that Welsh is the oldest spoken language in Europe and the other being that Welsh is the language of Heaven.

Hebrew is, obviously, the language of Heaven, and being the language used by Adam and Eve the oldest language in the world. But before the Ben-Yehuda led revival in the last century, the language of Shem had died out as a spoken language centuries ago.

The descendants of Ham had turned Muslim - there was no way that any good Christian could accept that THEY spoke the language of Heaven.

So we are left with the descent of Japheph and the Gomeri. William Salesbury, the earliest Welsh author proved a relationship between Welsh and Hebrew, which showed that Welsh was the nearest spoken language still in existence to that spoken by Adam and Eve and that Welsh was both the oldest spoken language and the nearest spoken language to the language of Heaven.

People like Mathew Arnold subsequently used Darwin to debunk the heavenly antecedents of the Welsh language, and to make the continuation of the use of the language unpopular in the 19th century, which is one of the reasons why I have never warmed to Darwinism - despite the fact that I have a closer family connection to Charles Darwin than I have to Gomer ap Japheth

So now you know! Please make comments in the comments section in future. The e-mail address is there for legal reasons and not for private debates!!!


Unionist desperation

A quite enjoy the blog A pint of Unionist Lite. As I said in my last post - to be important, issues need to be discussed! O'Neill is one of the few Unionists who discuses the Unionist v Nationalist argument with a passion and with a smidgen of intelligence from the Union's side.

Unfortunately the lad let himself down with this anti Welsh post. O'Neill seems to think that this quote is proof of the dark side of devolution to Wales:

Yet, to others, post-devolution Wales and Scotland seem less friendly places. My own father can trace his Welsh heritage farther than many a nationalist. Since devolution (which he devoutly opposed) he has commented that for the first time in his life he feels unwelcome in Wales. He has even contemplated moving over the border. It seems ludicrous to me that people with so much in common, so much shared history and culture, should be in such a position.

Despite the fact that I can trace my family back to Gomer I find the statement My own father can trace his Welsh heritage farther than many a nationalist quite offensive. I love family history, but I don't believe that my antecedents give any authority to my political opinion! My opinion is my opinion, and I don't give a bugger whether my own dad agrees with me or not, never mind what my ancestors with a Welsh heritage farther than many a nationalist may or may not have opined.

No example of why Scotland or Wales are more unfriendly now than they were before devolution is given to support the dark argument. Probably because no real examples exist.

I was an unfriendly old git before devolution, I am an unfriendly old git now, and I will still be an unfriendly old git when Wales becomes independent. The friendly element of Welsh society will remain as welcoming as ever, whatever the constitutional arrangement.

The truth is that all nations contain nice people and all nations contain nasty people, constitutional changes don't make the nasty nice or the nice nasty. So as a defence of the Union O'Neill's post on this occasion is A Load of Unionist Shite

Satan to get Welsh Bus pass?

According to a story in the Daily Post (which I can't find online) the atheist advertising campaign on London buses was so successful that it it is to be expanded to include buses that travel in north Wales.

The usual suspects have moaned about this development, of course; but I feel the need to welcome it.

There is an old saying that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. To some extent this has been the Christian cause's biggest problem over the past 20 years or so in Wales. It's not that people are bitterly opposed to the Christian message, just that they are either unaware of its existence or don't care about its existence - they just don't talk about it!

When these anti-Christian messages appear on north Wales buses I share the hope of the organisers that they will get people talking about the issue!

I can't see many people who know Jesus Christ as their personal saviour being turned away from their faith as a result of the ads, but it is possible that the discussion that the ads might create will lead some to a personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (As has happened in London).

Therefore I look forward to the first appearance of the adverts on the Arriva 25 service that goes through my village and I look forward to the chance to profess my faith and discuss it with others that this advertising campaign will create.



Cold Weather payments

Older people may be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment for each week of very cold weather if they get Pension Credits.

Cold Weather Payment are also available to those getting Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance who have a child under five years old or get one of the following:

a pensioner premium, higher pensioner premium or enhanced pensioner premium
a disability premium or severe disability premium
a disabled child premium
Child Tax Credit that includes an individual element for a child or qualifying young person who is disabled or severely disabled.

Given how bitterly cold it has been over the past week, older people, disabled people and the parents of very young or disabled children might expect to receive the £25 Cold Weather payment this week. But they may be disappointed.

Before the payment is made the average temperature where you live has to be recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days during the period from 1 November to 31 March.

Specified Meteorological Office weather stations are used to obtain this information.

The specified station for north Wales is in RAF Valley. RAF Valley is not in a frost trap, and is not on a hill, it is close to the sea and is subject to quite a lot of heat creating traffic. Temperatures plummeted to -12 on Monday night in Dolwyddelan, Capel Curig and Henllan, they didn't get close to that in RAF Valley. So despite the bitter cold over the past seven days older people, the disabled, and parents with very young or disabled children in north Wales are very unlikely to get the cold weather payment.

Most specified stations in Britain are in places least likely to suffer the worst extremities of the cold weather.

It seems a bit silly to me, to make a benefit available "on paper" but then to skew it in a way that makes it unlikely that it will ever be paid by using the least likely places to suffer seven days bellow freezing as the weather stations for activating the payment.

Indeed it would be better to abolish the cold weather payment benefit all together, rather than to continue to con the vulnerable into thinking that they can risk putting the heating up on the strength of a benefit that, in effect, is non existent.


DLlG From the Neck Up

When he was heckled in a meeting because of his short stature David Lloyd George is claimed to have retorted In Wales men are measured from the neck up, and not from the neck down!.

Not any more Dai!