Intergalactic Yo-Yo

I think I just had my first lesson on the ramifications of the history between Wales and England. 

I was in a pub with a couple of friends I had made at the Art soc the other night, and one of their friends, Ted, dropped in. 

Now, the make up of this group goes like this:

Me: American

Ingrid: Estonian, has lived in Aber for several years

Ted: From Liverpool, Welsh extraction, knows his history like a CHAMP

Chris: Yorkshire, was once a delivery man who got treated kind of like crap by Welsh people, simply for being English.

I can’t even remember how it started - maybe we were talking about language preservation, or coal miners… anyway, Ted starts arguing that delivery men who work in Wales should know rudimentary Welsh, and speak it to their customers. Chris disagreed, saying that it promoted insular thinking. Ingrid chimed in, contributing her experience as an Estonian, where, if you’re a Russian delivery man, you better hope you speak Estonian, or you’ll get your ass thrown out of town. I added that I thought it was a responsibility of the English to make the first gestures of goodwill, since someone who’s been burnt isn’t about to shake the fire’s hand until the fire makes some sort of gesture that suggests it isn’t hot anymore.

There followed a highly circular (and eventually, quite loud) discussion of privilege, the history of Welsh oppression, the ways in which people remember and create myths about their own cultures and other cultures, about why being a dick is never a good thing, no matter who you are, and how simply saying “sure do your own thing” isn’t good enough if you don’t respect someone on their own terms and turf.

It was actually really interesting, and I’m proud to say, I did much more listening than talking (mostly because Ted seemed all too happy to carry on his rant) and I don’t think anybody’s feelings were too hurt. I think Chris came out of it thinking that we all thought he was an ass, which… maybe a little bit. But I get where he’s coming from.

At the end, he (a bit wryly) told me I have a “magnanimous and loving personality,” which I think may have been code for “naive” but I’ll take it.

  1. pasqualinoh said: man i can’t wait to have intellectual conversations with uni buddies
  2. kurtsieandfashion said: You know more estonians here than I do
  3. ayearinwales reblogged this from fabledquill
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