Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Twll dîn pob Cymry

So, have you been out celebrating St David's Day? I know you probably aren't Welsh, but that's no excuse. After all, we English have no qualms about celebrating St Patrick's Day, despite the fact that he's the patron Saint of Ireland. Which is why I've been disappointed by the lack of pubs filled with people wearing hats shaped like leeks and drinking red-coloured beer, whilst Max Boyce's greatest hits blare out of the juke box. Nor did I see anyone indulging in any traditional Welsh activities, like close harmony choral singing, bashing each other over the head with leeks or sticking daffodils up their arses. Why do we prefer to try and co-opt an Irish celebration rather than a Welsh one? Apart from the fact that the Irish are generally perceived as being more fun than the Welsh, and, of course, the Irish 'traditions' on their Saint's day, in reality, consist of nothing more than getting drunk on Guinness. Which, funnily enough, they do most days.

Whilst I haven't encountered any mobs of inebriated revellers drunkenly singing 'Land of My Fathers' as they stagger to the next pub today, there was a time when we English happily joined in with our Welsh cousins in their celebration of St David's Day. I say celebrate, it was more of a counter-celebration. According to Samuel Pepys, in Seventeenth Century London, residents would symbolically lynch life-size effigies of Welshmen. Presumably they knew they were effigies of the Welsh because they had daffodils up their arses. Sadly, even this tradition has died out - I haven't seen any Welshmen being hunted down by baying packs of Englishmen and beaten senseless with leeks, all to an accompaniment of Harry Secombe's rendition of 'If I Ruled the World'. Mind you, if we were to join the Welsh in celebrating St David's Day by getting blind drunk with them, it might help break down some cultural barriers and prejudices. After all, we all sound as if we're uttering their unspeakable language when we're inebriated. On that note of casual racism, I'll take my leave of you and head out to find somewhere serving leek soup...

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