I was born near Caerdydd/Cardiff. My parents spoke our language, Cymraeg, but saw no future in our Country as it then was and didn't teach me, so I had to learn it by myself. We soon moved to the Rhondda Valley where the family came from, then one of the most politically progressive parts of Britain. My Father was a Parson of the Church in Wales, a very charismatic Christian socialist, and a brilliant cricketer, who'd been speaking on Communist platforms when he was sixteen. His best friend, a doctor, was also a friend of Paul Robeson, who was practically worshipped by the Rhondda miners. When I was little I was sometimes allowed to sit up while my Father, the Vicar of the next parish and Dafydd Thomas argued theology (he'd been a theology student before becoming a Doctor and a Communist) and Marxism - which any educated person in our neck of the woods had some background in. When I was quite young Harry Pollitt, the major figure in the British CP came to our house. I had written 'Vote Liberal' on the wall, quite unaware that this archaic party hadn't even a candidate in that election. It led to my first lesson in politics! My Mother, an atheist, was inclined, on the other hand, to Conservatism, but always voted for the party that didn't send a car (Plaid Cymru or the CP).
I served in the RAF for a while, learning Chinese there, and then went to University, where I was Secretary of the Socialist Club. By now we had moved to a very reactionary part of England, which I detested: we had a huge house in three acres of grounds, and grown men called me 'Sir'. You can take the boy out of the Rhondda, however, but you'll never take the Rhondda out of the boy.
I've done various jobs, ending up lecturing, and have three degrees and four children but only one wife. I have a variegated political history, which I'll be glad to answer questions on, if anyone is interested.
When I was in the RAF I intended to emigrate to 'Israel' and settle (what's a foreskin between friends?), but was fortunate enough to meet a couple of Palestinians (in a pub!) who wiped me out intellectually on that subject and taught me better.
I am very patriotic in a non-violent way, but have difficulty explaining to Americans that that doesn't mean I admire the UK or care much about the monarchy, though I have a sneaking admiration for the Queen as a person who does her duty.
I garden, walk, drink (CAMRA member), paint, write verse and learn Latin in my spare time. Hope that's enough: I am worn out with Self!
I don't know. Historically I think all the impulses to live better and improve the human condition tend to come from such sources, but I find the 'God' concept a bit difficult to grasp, and, like my Mother, always did ('You don't tell children there's no Father Christmas', she used to say). I think our picture of the Universe(s) has got a bit larger and more conplex since humanity developed that particular Father Figure, stretching it beyond what the mind can take. Until recently I was a Quaker Attender, but we got into arguments about Outreach. I still subscribe, however, financially, so I expect I'll go back. I have before
I don't have many. The big house I spoke of had a ghost, or at least a commonly-heard sound of someone walking upstairs. I went out and stood in the way once, but the sound just carried on through me into the next bedroom. When my wife was alone in the house with our new-born daughter she asked who had come in and walked upstairs. That's about it, I reckon, apart from a few odd co-incidences and apparent instances of thought- transference, pretty run-of-the-mill stuff.
M.A and Ph.D in English Literature, M.Ed In Human Relations (that sounds as hard to live up to as being a Professor of Sexology, but it means counselling, mostly).
No, I don't hate America, and I always like Americans, but I think that you are well out of sync with the rest of the human race, so there very many arguments to be had. The US tends to swing about between being admirable and abominable with nothing in between, or has seemed to over my life-time. We have had nothing so disgusting as McCarthy or your racists, no-one so brave as the Freedom Riders. That's why I bother to keep on arguing: you are capable of so much.
I have been an Anarchist (in school where we stamped out bullying), a member of Plaid Cymru (our National Party, which is socialist), then joined the UK Labour Party. As that moved further and further right I became a member of the Socialist Workers' Party (Branch Secretary), but they sweated blood out of you, so I ended back in the LP, where I was constituency Membership Secretary. After that I came home and back to to Plaid Cymru.
Well, that is one way of putting it. The centre of capitalism (Dutch Republic, UK, US) is always 'special' because it is organised to serve the native rich, and prevents others from thinking outside the thought-pattern of that class. As a result, the US Labour Movement has been hugely weakened and class mobility in the US is lower than in any European country but the UK and Italy, though the mugs still think they can make money. Similarly you believe you are 'free', though manifestly you have the most powerful spy-system on earth and more people in prison than any other country in history. That's the way the system keeps the mugs on side, let's face it. As with religion, you are certainly exceptionally credulous!
id like to keep the fireside chats a place of getting to know individual members, and not a place of debate. all other threads are places to debate. or create a new thread. but here I want the individual to freely express a bit about themselves.
if you have questions about the individual, by all means, ask away, but please no debating here.
I've never been heavily into hero-worship, because I feel that people mostly let you down if you expect too much of them, but the people I've most admired are:
Dafydd Thomas, the doctor I mentioned earlier. He had no sort of adult 'side'. Once, when we were in the big house, he was camping on our lawn as I sneaked off (at sixteen) to the pub, and he made to walk with me. Having explained I said, 'My parents don't approve'. 'I'll come with you', said he: 'mine are just the same'. He was always on at me to give up literature and take up medicine. Perhaps I should have done that. He figures in one of Studs Terkels' books, incidentally.
Aneurin Bevan, who set up our Health Service, a brilliant-ex-miner who showed how meaningless class-distinctions are.
Arthur Koestler. I read somewhere that young men tend to set some writer up as a sort of guru, and know his stuff practically by heart. I was fascinated by his Middle-European background, his courage in throwing himself into things like Zionist or Communism at total cost to any 'career' he happened to be having, and above all his ability to write novels. He also introduced me to the 'not-necessarily-religious' view of mystical experience What I learned of him later was disappointing in the extreme: his relations with women were rapist and disgusting.
F.R.Leavis. It was a privilege to study with this man, the greatest critic of the twentieth century, in my view. He would take on anyone.
Gwynfor Evans. He was totally devoted to our country and, as Chairman (I think) of Plaid Cymru forced Thatcher not to go back on her promise of a television channel in Cymraeg by beginning a fast-unto-death. He meant it, and that destroyer-of-decency was forced to take the U-turn she is supposed never to have made.
I am very conscious that these are all male, because I think, I reckon, in terms of models and can't imagine being female. I am, though, and have been since I was fourteen, a very determined feminist. I would have to list female persons I admire in a different way.
Yes, but he obviously wasn't that famous, since I have forgotten. I think he was an actor with a very fat face, such as I happened to have at the time. I shall have to see if my Wife remembers.* My younger brother, on the other hand, was the living spit of Elvis. It was very irritating!