Originally Posted by anatolian
Never played soccer when I was a boy. We had balls, of course (footballs, that is), and we’d play ‘three goals in’ (one player would be the goalie, until another scored three goals…and then the scorer would become the goalie. Fascinating stuff!). We played rugby all year ‘round. It was our second religion after Christianity (and very often our first, especially when Wales were playing England).
Welsh/English relations were very bloody in the distant past (and perhaps even worse between Scotland and England), but that’s far from being the case now. When I was a boy there was a lot of ignorance on the part of some English when it came to the Welsh. For example, our school rugby team were invited to spend a weekend at a public school in Twickenham (can’t recall the name). During the reception dinner we were asked – quite seriously, and without malice – what it was like to live in caves. Naturally, we said it was great! (we lived, mainly, in terraced houses. If you have Google Earth and enter ‘Treherbert, Rhondda Cynon Taff’ you’ll see what was our world).
The Welsh had a (deserved) reputation for violence (after all, our ancestors used to remove the heads of their enemies and tie them to the bridles of their horses!). This reputation once served me very well: I was about fourteen, and was spending a holiday with friends of my grandfather, who lived in a Somerset farm, near Hinckley Point power station (under construction at that time). One day I was walking their dog near the shore, when about four girls of my age joined my path. Of course, I started to show-off – trying to get myself noticed. They passed by, walked in front of me for a while, but then broke away to another path. I thought no more about it.
Two days, or so, later I was walking along one of the narrow lanes in that area when a motor bike pulled up in front of me. The rider would have been at least twenty, and his passenger was one of the girls I had seen. He dismounted, and walked up to me with balled fists. I knew I was in trouble! ‘Are you the one who was following my sister?’ He snarled. ‘No, mun.’ says I….getting ready for a fight…‘Just walking my dog, see.’
As soon as I opened my mouth his manner changed. Like a switch being flicked. Aggression became hesitation. ‘Are you Welsh?’ he said…looking rather nervous by now. I told him I was from the Rhondda (the hard part of Wales at that time). The effect was magical. Hesitation became open fear. It was wonderful. With a quick ‘Oh…ok’ he was back on the bike and gone! And there was my enemy….defeated by reputation alone. I think I walked back to the farm six inches above the ground.
The Scots had an undeserved reputation for miserliness; hence the joke: ‘How was the Grand Canyon formed?....By a Scotsman looking for a dime he’d dropped down a gopher hole.’
The Irish were thought (wrongly) to be stupid: ‘Have you heard about the Irish submariners who drowned while push-starting their submarine?’
The English were simply made fun of:
‘Dai is in his antique shop. An Englishman walks in and sees a large human skull on the counter. ‘What’s that?’ he asks. ‘It’s the skull of Owain Glyndŵr (the last true Prince of Wales).’ Says Dai. The Englishman buys it.
About a year later he’s back. This time he sees a smaller skull on the counter. ‘And what’s that?’ He asks. ‘It’s the skull of Owain Glyndŵr’, says Dai. ‘But you sold me his skull only last year,’ protests the Englishman. ‘Ah yes’ says Dai…’but this is the skull of Owain when he was a boy!’
I’m not in favour of a separate Wales. Maybe when the collieries and steel works were in full flow; but even then doubtful. In the sixties and early seventies, we had the Free Wales Army (a very poor imitation of the IRA, and considered a joke in the Valleys). These numbnuts confined their activities (largely) to burning English- owned holiday cottages in mid and north Wales (hence the joke: ‘Come home to a nice comfy fire…….buy a cottage in Wales’); and blowing up water pipes in the Elan Valley (google ‘the 6 Dams Elan Valley) in an attempt to cut the supply to Birmingham. One day they blew up (by mistake) a water pipe that fed their own town! There was great fun in the South over this. Idiots.