May 31, 2004

What Have The Welsh Ever Done For Us? (Plough and Harrow Website)

A very pertinent question. Here is a list of Wales most glorious achievements in the fields of sport, cuisine and elsewhere. This is an excerpt from a much larger site which can be found at the links below. We make no apologies for reproducing this. Nowhere in the Mabinnogion does it say that the Welsh can not laugh at themselves and anyone with a sense of humour cannot fail to appreciate the deliciously self-deprecating wit of the Amazing Welsh Landlord.

The Amazing Welsh Landlord Site by Mr Brett Tremble.

What have the Welsh ever done for us?!? - (A showcase of Celtic Achievement)

Western civilization has achieved many great feats throughout it's long and turbulent history. Humanity has, through perseverance and courage, conquered the unthinkable and tamed the unspeakable. The great thinkers of history have explained and rationalized the complex world around them, whilst inventors have pushed technology and innovation to the limits of the possible. This, however, is not their story. This page is instead a thorough and in-depth look at the dizzy pinnacles of Celtic achievement that is Welsh invention. Without further ado, the Amazing Welsh Landlord Amazing PROUDLY presents


In the short tale 'the Dream of Rhonabwy', The Mabinogion tells us of a dark time long, long ago, when the earth was young and savage, and fierce hordes of runt like corgis roamed it's desolate surface, wantonly nipping the ankles of passing sheep, in a quite gruesome and bloodthirsty manner. Luckily for the people of Wales, the legendary St Illtyd was at hand to banish the corgis to the Isle of Man, or as some sources have put it, patiently house train them with a good choke chain and a large box of choc drops. All hail the mighty dog lord of the rain sodden valleys, the canine king of South Wales. The corgi is one third dog, one third ferret and one third draught excluder, but almost 100% contemptible. From a rugged land of tough unforgiving hills and bleak forbidding crags, comes not a fearsome beast as fierce as the the landscape that formed it, but instead an utterly useless animal more in danger of scraping its bedraggled little arse upon the ground as it walks, than it is of turning into a spontaneous and voracious killing machine. A Carmarthenshire corgi may be distinguished from a Pembrokeshire corgi by the size of its tail and its general level of drunkeness and inebriation.


Feeling nervous? Unable to adequately express your undying and unwavering affection for that special someone in your life? Well don't despair, for there's surely no more truly inarticulate way to show that you truly care than by presenting your loved one with a clumsily carved and particularly shoddy piece of cutlery. Yes, the lovespoon. The Welsh have taken the most precious and purest form of human emotion and refined it into an oversized soup stirrer, for which the world collectively and wholeheartedly thanks them. Hurrah! The charming, and sadly pointless tradition of giving and receiving wooden spoons as a substitute for public displays of emotion, is believed to date from the middle ages, when the Welsh would habitually lose in every major sporting tournament there was, and thereby accumulated over time an extremely large collection of particularly useless wooden spoons. As the Welsh sportsmen would sat dejectedly in their dressing rooms after their various contests, listening glumly to the noises of joy emanating from the opposing teams room down the corridor, they would nervously whittle away at their chunky oaken spoons, afterwards presenting them to their sweethearts upon their return. This was partly to express their affection and also partly to explain their three week absence spent habitually bathing with other large, sweaty, hairy men. This charming tradition of total sporting ineptitude is still carried on today by the Welsh sports teams of every discipline, in honour it is said of Saint Denzil, considered by some scholars to be the first true manager of the Welsh rugby team sometime around 1274, and also the man credited by scholars of introducing the concept of the dining table to the people of Swansea.


LAVABREAD - Mmmmmm, yummy yummy! Seaweed! The fruit of the sea, gift from Neptune's bountiful larder, provision from Poseidon's plenty. Quite the most perfect accompaniment to boiled pig's lungs and leeks. Bywd blasus indeed. If you've never seen silage up close, or if you have ever wondered what grass looks like after it has passed through the second stomach of a Welsh dairy cow, laverbread is undoubtedly the dish for you. Quite frankly, even the most myopic of ground sucking fish wouldn't eat this mulched up maritime muck. Laverbread? Well, if this is your idea of bread, you really need to consider changing your baker as a matter of some urgency (prior to notifying the relevant authorities), and believe me, absolutely nothing about a volcano suggests the green squelchy fetid smelling pulp presented as a digestible foodstuff. Apart that is, from the possible contents of your underwear if you stand too close to a major volcanic eruption after consuming a large sack of high fibre bran liberally mixed with broad beans, mackerel and stilton. Lavabread is that rare and singularly amazing example of a food that tastes as foul and rancid as it looks. And boyo, it sure looks pretty damn disgusting.(Actually, if the truth be known, I quite like lavabread, but only some sick and twisted individual would actually go and put such information on their web site for all to see).


THE WELSH DRESSER - Hurrah! An amazing leap forward in interior design, a cupboard turned completely inside out for all those particularly house proud people who value the decorative qualities of their cheap, chipped and highly stained crockery above all of their assorted expensive ornaments and trinkets, accumulated from all around the world at great expense. In any other country of the world, this piece of furniture might possibly be a bookcase, a depository of knowledge and wisdom, an outpost of reference and learning in a desert of ignorance. Here in Wales though, it is the mighty plate that is held to be sacred and revered. To this very day, the Welsh dresser remains as an inside out cupboard festooned with garish crockery as a sober reminder to us all of the twelth century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth. Geoffrey famously survived a bleak three months sometime around 1148, trapped inside a cupboard with nothing to eat but commemorative plates marking the reopening of the Ffestiniog slate mines after the North Wales scrofula epidemic of the 1121. It was of course traditional in many parts of Wales to break the plates frequently whilst drunkenly 'dusting', a tradition exported to Greece by Dai the Greek in 1498 and now extremely popular in that warmer Mediterranean clime.


WELSH 'RABBIT' - Rabbit?!? I don't care what basic and tenuous grasp you may have upon the fundamentals of natural history, what rudimentary sense of botany you possess, or indeed what fragile concept you hold of reality itself, this limp and lifeless piece of cuisine is quite clearly nothing more than cheese on toast. For the rest of the world this is a quick and convenient snack, but, quite bizarrely, for the Welsh nation this soggy looking piece of stale bread is both an acclaimed national dish and an entire sub species of rodent. History is unclear as to the origins of the Welsh rarebit, but writings attributed to Taliesin, writing in about 538AD, suggests a charming myth which goes a long way to explaining the enduring popularity of the cherished dish. Apparently, on the eve of the omenous battle of Ystrad Tywi, Pwyll Prince of Dyfed swore to his favourite son Pryderi that he would cook wild rabbit for all of his mighty and fearsome troops. Sadly, Pwyll was near incapacitated with alcohol and couldn't even remember what a rabbit looked like, let alone attempt to catch one of the swift footed beasts. Pwyll, resourceful as the deep gold mines of Gwynedd, instead grabbed hold of a large pile of stale bread, pulled some rancid sweaty cheese out of his provisions sack and served it to his glorious and indefatigable army, shouting to one and all that it was rabbit and they would bloody well enjoy it as well. Luckily for the sagacious Prince Pwyll, his brave soldiers were even more drunk and incoherent than he was and failed to notice the devious deception. The next day over 80% of them were massacred in battle. History, it is said, is full of these lessons.


As many foreign tourists have noted over the years, in Wales the railway platforms are exceedingly and unfeasibly long. It's not however the fact the trains are long, in fact there's precious few trains about of any length about these days. No, the reason the platforms are so staggeringly long is that wonderful enigma that is the Welsh language. A language that over half the people in your own country don't understand, now that's a always a good idea to induce a healthy sense of community and collective identity. Welsh is a mother tongue that allows for alienation and intolerance, especially, it may be noted, to other Welsh people. As every mid Welsh 'crafty Cardi' will gladly tell you, the northerners are all inbred Gogs and talk funny, whilst the southerners are slack jawed Taffs and talk even funnier. Just please don't dare ask the rest of Wales what it thinks about the denizens of Mid Wales whilst in polite company, because most surely the phrases 'redneck', 'incest' and 'sheep' liberally interspersed with ear shattering expletives will crop up with frightening consistency. Short on vowels and long on syllables, the Welsh language was long thought to be dying a terrible and lonely death in the upstairs room of a run down pub somewhere near Aberaeron. Welsh managed to avoid it's linguistic demise though and stubbornly lingered on like some vile insipid virus, dwelling and breeding inside the black and evil corrupted hearts of highly inept folk singers and druids of dubious distinction. The Welsh language is ideal for poets inexplicably obsessed with composing long, turgid, waffling ballads in obscure sixth century decasyllabic metre, but is extremely impractical for asking for anything so rudimentary as road directions or the time of day. Welsh is now traditionally spoken only when English people are thought to be present. NB. Beware anyone who tells you that there are no swear words in Welsh. One only has to observe a crowd of drunk Welshmen watching the Welsh national rugby side lose 98-0 to the Chile 2nd XI to recognize the complete and total fallacy of this foolish statement.


THE LEEK - Allium porum. Originally worn by the Welsh whilst in the midst of battle, in order to distinguish them from all the many other people who were not wearing root vegetables on their heads. This masterstroke of military genius was incisive as it was cunning, and even to this day the mighty armies of Togo still march with carrots tied from each ear, whilst the foot soldiers of Bhutan keep a tin of mushroom soup secreted in their left breast pocket. The dangerous and consuming obsession with wearing allium over the need to actually win a battle, may suggest why the Welsh have been an occupied nation for all but one Wednesday afternoon in 576 for their entire shameful history. Had Owen Glyndwr not spent months searching for the fabled Golden Onion of Gwynedd, then maybe the large Saxon army foolishly armed only with bloody great swords would not have so easily defeated the crack Dyfed shallot regiment in just twenty minutes. What would history have been if the Welsh had stuck with the daffodil as a national emblem instead of an essential ingredient of soup? Perhaps we may never care.


THE VERB 'TO WELSH' - Let us first turn to the dictionary for this particular innovation of the Welsh nation. "TO WELSH: Decamp without paying. Evade an obligation. Fail to carry out a promise. Fail to honour an obligation". Take any popular example of the gangster or crime film genre. What is the most scathing andcharacter ruining insult that can possibly be hurled at an individual in one of these films? Did he murder his mother for the price of a cup of tea? Did he burn down an orphanage for the sake of a five dollar a week extortion racket? Or maybe he laid waste to an entire east side ghetto area after an extended drink and drugs binge? NO! If you want to destroy a gangster's reputation and make him a complete and total outcast amongst his peers, simply accuse him of WELSHING! No respectable murdering gangland psychopath would dare show his pock marked alcohol ravaged face in public again after such a fine and devastating insult. The Welsh reputation for duplicity, calumny, deceit, lying, slander, malice, dishonour, unreliability, falsehood and cunning is quite quite legendary in almost every single corner of the world. Welshing has in fact been a popular pastime since recorded time began. One only has to glance at the Black Book of Carmarthen for the treasured ancient records of Welsh duplicity, in particular the charming tale of how the fledgling Welsh nation secretly sold the entire kingdom of Cornwall into many years of forced slavery over a disputed game of cards and an unreturned lawnmower, that the Welsh had borrowed from the Romans several years earlier.


Okay, so the Welsh didn't actually invent sheep, but they have over the years refined the rudimentary concept of the sheep to astonishing and frightening new heights. After indulging in an escalating ovine development race with New Zealand and Australia for much of the 1970's and 80's, economic necsessity has demanded that the Welsh sheep programme be largely abandoned. Rumours still persist though of a Welsh super sheep hidden deep inside the hills of Snowdonia. The current wisdom is that this gigantic mega sheep will be brought out from its underground silo during a time of national security and that the the bounty of its succulent chops will be distributed freely amongst the people of Wales. The problem of finding a suitable location for the massive mint sauce lake needed to sustain such an ambitious project has still not been resolved. It may be worth at this point mentioning the obvious dark cloud of bestiality which darkens any discussion about the Welsh and sheep. Whilst those people dwelling in the sparsely populated urban areas of Wales may resent the implication from outsiders that they spend even the minutest amounts of time socializing with farmyard beasts, the many millions of rural country dwellers positively revel in the notoriety and infamy that their exploits have justifiably earned them. And please don't worry about telling any lewd sheep related jokes whilst in the company of a Welsh person. The odds are that the slavering gibbering locals have not only heard the few scant and badly structured jokes that you may already know, but are also armed with at least five thousand more anecdotes, each joke progressively more pornographic and displaying more intimate and graphic knowledge about a sheep's gynaecology than any mortal not planning a future in advanced veterinary surgery need ever EVER know. Those wishing to know more about this particular subject area may like to refer to Dylan Thomas's plaintive and elegiac poem'Do not go gentle into that good sheep'.


The druids, despite many modern popular misconceptions, are not the direct descendants from the ancient priests of legend, passing unseen through measured history along an unbroken gossamer thread of mystery and intrigue. The druids are in fact no more than a Victorian approximation of ancient myth in the same sort of manner that a mock Tudor Sainsbury's supermarket faithfully represents the ideals and theology of Henry VIII. The druids disappeared from society sometime around the 13th century because, as Dafydd ap Gwilym so memorably put it, 'it was all a bit silly'. The druidic code was later revived around 1848 as an attempt to revive ancient codes of conduct and also to provide a ready and legal excuse to get away from one's wife and run around a rain sodden field with blankets over one's head whilst interfering with virgins and committing obscure arcane rites with goats and chickens. Later, when the Welsh chapels lost their grip on the community, alcoholbecame more freely available and pubs freely absorbed the various blanket wearers, virgins and livestock. Today's druidicial acolytes are mainly accountants, dentists, lawyers, chartered surveyors, road protestors and soap stars. Druidism exists solely to support the echelons of Welsh society considered too good to hang about socializing in seedy pubs, but still not thought quite good enough to join the freemasons.

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