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Monday, 30 July 2012

A Reason To Leap Ecstatically Out Of Bed: Welsh Author Of Whom I had Until Today Never Heard

“Cancer patients can’t get the drugs they need because they are too expensive.... Wheelchairs are in short supply, families can’t get the care they need for their elderly relatives and yet the Welsh Assembly feels it is morally right to dish out millions of pounds of your money for a few people to propagate a Welsh ‘literary’ agenda that few are interested in, whose books, magazines and pamphlets patently don’t pay their way and most importantly of all, contributes precisely nothing for the overall good of society.” A Welsh author of whom I had until today never heard has claimed this For more
If he was Irish he'd be writing angry letters to the Athlone Independent, phoning Liveline to tell Joe Duffy about how standards have slipped beyond repair and some whiskered toss in Tigh Neachtains pub, Galway would be calling him "outspoken", before getting back to the more important job of killing his whiskered liver.

So, this first day of Race Week here in Galway, I have found a reason to leap ecstatically out of bed: this Welsh author of whom I had until today never heard doesn't live in Galway and I don't have to put up with twitchy little guys telling me that said author has lost the run of himself and then creeping around the corner to tell the man himself that he is speaking home truths. Apologies for the “home truths” cliché but these people always speak in clichés and they are of course by no means all guys; many of them are what Rita Ann Higgins would call “wans”.

Two immediate observations on said Welsh author's comments:

I may never have heard of him but, for example, I have heard of (and read) the Welsh poet R.S. Thomas whose publisher Bloodaxe certainly received Arts Council funding for his books. Thomas died in 2000. Welsh author of whom I had until today never heard says “Since the 1950’s there hasn’t been one single Welsh writer of any national or international note to hit the tarmac beyond the Severn Bridge.” So, presumably R.S. Thomas is one of the Welsh writers for whom he has no regard?  Other contemporary Welsh writers with reputations well beyond the Severn Bridge I can think of (without even having had my morning mug of tea) would include Dannie Abse & Robert Minhinnick. Another Welsh poet whose work I’ve been reading lately is Tiffany Atkinson. On this issue the Welsh author of whom I had until today never heard is guilty simply of talking out of the wrong part of his anatomy.

Far more serious is his assertion that there is some link between Cancer patients not being able to access the drugs they need and government grants being given to Welsh writers and their publishers. The amount of government money given to literature in Wales (or indeed anywhere) is a tiny proportion of the overall budget. This money, even if all of it were cut, and all of it were put into the National Health Service would make no significant difference to the treatment cancer patients would receive. To imply that it would is simply propaganda of the lowest sort.

His concern for cancer patients I do not buy. His dislike of other Welsh writers, on the other hand, appears to be very real.