Welsh journalist, Roger Lewis, whilst reviewing Jasper Rees’s recent book in the Daily Mail, used the opportunity to declare his own, personal hatred of all things Welsh. But Peter Daniels, author of a new book, In Search of Welshness combats these bigoted opinions by highlighting in his book the views of London Welsh exiles from all sorts of backgrounds who have been motivated to learn Welsh and rediscover their Welsh identity.
Roger Lewis, in his Daily Mail review, claimed that ‘Not many people in full possession of their faculties would find it appealing or necessary to try to turn themselves into a ‘real Welshman’‘. Nothing escaped his wrath: ‘the moribund, monkey language’, Welsh television and radio channels, Welsh road signs, the Eisteddfod, coal mines, Offa’s Dyke, even the sheep. Peter Daniels wonders ‘What is left in the vacuum that is Mr Lewis’s Wales?’
And this emptiness is a problem. Peter Daniels also highlights in his book the challenge faced by Welsh people to preserve their identity in an everyday environment dominated by an English media which chooses to ignore the very existence of Wales. He writes that ‘It is quite appropriate that Mr Lewis’s appallingly ignorant diatribe features in a London tabloid which failed to provide even a single column inch on the result of the recent Welsh Referendum.’
Peter Daniels is grateful that few ‘real’ Welsh people are of the same opinion as Mr Lewis. In his book he goes In Search of Welshness through his own life story as a Llanelli exile, through the thoughts of many of Wales’s talented writers and historians, but most of all through the eyes and minds of the London Welsh: London Welsh rugby supporters at Old Deer Park and fellow Welsh learners at the London Welsh Centre. These learners, motivated to learn Welsh to connect with their roots, include the children of non Welsh-speaking parents, first generation Welsh exiles and even foreigners who are sufficiently in love with Wales to become conversant in its language.
Their varied backgrounds range from industrial south Wales to rural north Wales. Their ancestors were involved in the miners’ strikes of the 1920s, and forced to look to London for work in the depression of the 1930s. They all share one thing in common – a burning desire to preserve their Welsh ancestry.
In Search of Welshness by Peter Daniels is published by Y Lolfa, priced £9.95
Peter Daniels was born in Gorseinon in 1943 to Llanelli parents, read Economics and International Politics at UCW Aberystwyth, before taking up a career in market research, marketing and advertising planning. This incorporated marketing and research management positions at Lever, RHM Foods and HJHeinz, 6 years as a senior advertising planner with 2 major London agencies, and a Directorship of global market research company, Millward Brown International. He spent the last 15 years of his working life as a freelance marketing research consultant.
He has lived for the last 48 years in north London and Hertfordshire, now residing in Radlett, Herts, with his second wife, Gill. He has 2 children and 4 grandchildren from his first marriage, plus 3 stepchildren and 8 step grandchildren.
He is a rugby, racquet sports and golf fanatic. And, in retirement, he has become a Welsh Learner and active member of the London Welsh Centre in London’s Kings Cross.