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Neighbours from Hell?: English Attitudes to the Welsh Paperback – 14 Feb 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Y Lolfa Cyf (14 Feb. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0862436117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0862436117
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.5 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 320,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

A trenchant and extremely witty account. -- London Welsh

Fascinating... a great read. -- Richard Madely, Richard and Judy

Polemical, angry, outrageous and funny. -- Papur Pawb

Required reading for the English, and more importantly for the
Welsh. -- Byron Rogers

From the Author

Like most next-door neighbours, the Welsh and the English
have co-existed, sometimes amicably, often not. Neighbourly grumbles and
stereotypes between the two nations have developed and dragged on for
centuries, ever since Offa's Dyke - that eighth-century equivalent of
quick-growing leylandii trees - was built.

Of course, these are not neighbours of equal size and power. To
stretch the analogy further, the English are akin to a rich and powerful
family in the Big House, while the Welsh hunker down in their bwthyn, on
the estate's western edge. In many ways, the attitude of the English over
the years has mirrored this analogy, being characterised, at best, by a
pompous paternalism and, at worst, by outright condescension and outrageous
Cymrophobia. Mind you, there are some from the rich family who have
admired, and even yearned for, the apparent simplicity and earthiness of
life in the Welsh bwthyn. There are many complicated strands to this
neighbourly relationship, strands that stretch back thousands of years, to
the dawn of any sense of nationhood on this small island.

The low-level niggling between England and Wales is a recognisable
feature of any two unequally-sized, adjoining cultures: you can easily see
parallels in the relationship between the Basques and the Spanish (and
French); the Czechs and Slovaks; Canada and the USA; New Zealand and
Australia; Germany and Poland; the smaller ex-Soviet states and Russia,
practically anywhere on our stroppy little planet. Likewise, the ways in
which such grumbles manifest themselves are much the same now as they have
ever been.

The idea for this book came when I was reading some snide aside about
the Welsh language in one of the London Sunday broadsheet newspapers,
something along the lines of, `Welsh has no vowels and sounds like
spitting.' It dawned on me that I'd heard and seen such comments many times
before, when researching Welsh history, and that the same tired old clichés
were passed down from generation to generation, like a particularly
wearisome game of Chinese Whispers. Unfortunately, the people who write
this kind of tosh usually think that they are the first to come up with
such a pithy put-down; you can practically hear them howling with laughter
at their own originality and wit. Writing this book has been my way of
showing them for the intellectual retards that they generally are:
inheritors of a long line of naked racism, rather than the purveyors of
anything particularly useful, original or illuminating.

To that end, I've taken a variety of subject areas and attempted to
dig deep into the well of comments made about them over the centuries.
There are obvious flashpoints; the Welsh language has always proven to be
something which English commentators feel particularly vehement in
dismissing, but there are many less flagrant examples, too. Even the Welsh
landscape, something marketed these days as the perfect antidote to urban
English stresses, has, over the years, been on the sharp end of many
withering put-downs from across the border, especially when it has given
commentators an opportunity to conflate its perceived shortcomings with
those of the Welsh people as a whole.

As can be seen throughout the text, some Welsh people themselves have
not been averse to echoing the haughtiest put-downs of the English, and,
where appropriate, I've included them. Not included here are the attitudes
of the Welsh to England and the English - that, I suspect, is another book,
for another day and another author. The bulk of the examples examined
within this book are from the last couple of centuries, although the roots
of the intemperate cross-border exchanges are deep in even earlier times.

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As someone who aspires to live in beautiful Wales and remembers how cottages owned by English people in the 1980s were torched, I thought this might give me some insight into the English/Welsh relationship. Mike Parker, who used to live in Worcestershire, now lives in mid-Wales and has learned to speak Welsh so has first-hand knowledge. He has also co-authored the Rough Guide to Wales). It makes for quite a sobering read when you consider how the English have treated the Welsh over the centuries and can help you appreciate how the Welsh feel about the English. A worthwhile read, I'd suggest, for both nationalities.
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The underlying sense of distrust that most Welsh people have for the English is usually just a feeling. A deep-rooted something in the national psyche that's difficult to pinpoint even though it's been there since childhood.

This book (written by an Englishman) gives a forehead slap of clarification as to why that feeling is justified. For many English people it should make uncomfortable reading, unfortunately though for many more, it will not.
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This book really is an eye opener for all Welsh people out there and for English people too. It gives an accurate description of the many attitudes the English have had towards the Welsh for centuries. Attitudes towards our language, culture & moral habits. No true Welshman/woman can go without reading this book. A must read for everyone. If you are English and are visiting Wales you might want to read this too!
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This is an intersting book,about English attitudes towards Wales that have shaped the perception of the country within the wider Britain and also, heartbreakingly, among the Welsh themselves. I can see examples of it in the small corner of the Eastern Valleys where I live. There is, I feel, implicit criticism about why the Welsh have not taken a strong stand against the explotation of their country and against the racism and derogism shown to them by the English neigbours, but overwhelmingly this is a book that is written from a Welsh perspective about a Welsh perspective, and narrates an imperialist agenda dating back 1000 years and still prevalent from the English. Ironically, of course, had this book been written by a Welsh person, it's credibility would I feel have been weakened - being subjected to the smae sort of Cymru phobic criticism Mr Parker so effectively decsribes! A worthwhile read for the peoples of both nations.
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An objective appraisal of the residual English colonial attitudes. Sadly not confined to the so called upper classes when many British travel abroad.
Thus suggesting that Wales is foreign as per the meaning of Cymro.
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