In your face Tom Jones: I'm a Welsh icon


Welsh Icons ("an Encyclopedia and Gazetteer of Wales and all Things Welsh - A Cymrupedia if you like."...uh, "Cymru" being the Welsh word for Wales.) lists me among the "iconic" writers on its site. That puts me in the company of thriller king Ken Follett, sinister Willy Wonka-man Roald Dahl, and upright role model Dylan Thomas. Diolch yn fawr, as we say in Wales when we mean to say "thanks very much." My wife nearly choked on her bagel when I told her, but then she added: "Sure, you're an icon." New York sarcasm.

The listing is, of course, a great follow-up to my mother's recent phone call in which she informed me that one of her friends in her pottery class found my name on Wikipedia's notable people from Newport list, that being my home town in South Wales. I'm right there between Johnny Morris (who, for those reading in the US, hosted a British children's show about animals) and Michael Sheen, the actor famous for playing Tony Blair and David Frost. (Further down the list: rappers Goldie Lookin' Chain and King Arthur's sixth-century pal St. Cadoc.)

Anyway, from Jerusalem (which is rather full of actual icons and much too "iconic" for its own good) I wish you a happy new year: Blwyddwyn Newydd Dda!

(In case you're wondering why "Wales" isn't Welsh for Wales. "Wales" is derived from the Old English, that is Saxon, word for foreigners. Because when the Saxons came over from Germany, the so-called foreigners were living in what's now England. But that's water under the bridge...Twll din pob Sais! I add that with a touch of my wife's New York sarcasm and not to be taken seriously...)

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Comment by Matt Rees on January 8, 2010 at 11:52pm
That's right, Dawn. Most of the Welsh who went to the US ended up escaping right back into the mines they'd worked in back home. I did have a great-uncle who founded the first roller-skating rink in San Francisco. He offered my family the chance to go to the US during WWII, but no one took him up on it (even when things looked bad for Britain.) If they had, I'd be a laid-back Northern Californian working on the orange farm he ended up owning...If you visit now, I'm sure you'd like Wales. The ugly industrial detritus of my youth has been cleaned up. It's one of the most thriving places in the UK, in some ways.
Comment by Dawn M. Kravagna on January 7, 2010 at 1:55pm
Whoohoo for the Welsh! My great grandfather immigrated at 12 years old from Blaufastiniog (sic) with his older brother. After getting the hook on the vaudeville stage in Philadelphia for his singing, he defaulted to the traditional Welsh occupation of miner and ended up in a coal mining town out here in Washington State, USA. I am well familiar with the Welsh flag. I hope to visit some year soon.

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