Saturday, 17 October 2020

Sad thoughts from Elgar Country

With just two days to go before departing from home on my next holiday, I've rebooked so that I won't be pitching my caravan in Wales. I've substituted the Caravan Club's Malvern Hills site for the one at Pandy. I'll be in Elgar Country. And no doubt the introspective strains of his Cello Concerto, or his Enigma Variations, will be running constantly in the background of my mind.

It was very easy to make the change online. There was no mention of any financial penalty for rejigging the booking so close to departure. In fact, I'll end up paying a little more for my eight-night stay, the charges at the Malvern Hills site being higher than at Pandy. (Each Club site has its own special local attractions or conveniences, and not all have precisely the same facilities, so they are all priced individually) The cost difference is small, so I really don't mind. At least there is now no risk of turning up at Pandy to find that an all-Wales lockdown will come into force at midnight, trapping me there for an indefinite time with only essential local travel possible. Some holiday that would be! 

Now I will have the run of rural Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, and can follow the Welsh/English border as far north as I like. It's a pity that the autumnal beauties of the Welsh mountains will probably be denied to me. I'll just have to put them on hold for another time.

This rebooking turns my holiday into an all-English affair, and not without serious regrets. The Welsh part of me (not my strongest part, but even so) is rather upset that I can't enter the land of my birth without risking a kind of imprisonment. 

I definitely feel lumped - unfairly and insultingly - with all the stupid, selfish and careless people in the rest of the UK who don't give a damn about spreading the virus. I realise that the Welsh Assembly has a duty to manage its affairs sensibly, and to take effective measures against the spread of the coronavirus within Wales. But I sense something more at work. It looks as if the Welsh Assembly is dominated by those who see an opportunity to assert Welsh Independence in all but name, and catch up with how things are trending in Scotland. So I believe there is a nationalistic spirit driving the current passing of hysterical new laws to keep out the English. 

Ah, the English, the bane of Wales and its destroyer, its blood-sucker! England, never forgiven for militarily defeating the Welsh princes centuries ago, and for suppressing the Welsh language and culture. The same England that in more modern times has exploited Wales as a cheap place for second homes, and pop-up industry in enterprise zones.  

Maybe the pandemic has made it Payback Time in some people's eyes. A chance to at least reserve Wales for the Welsh. In essence a Welsh Brexit - a desire to cut adrift from England, whatever the consequences. 

For somebody like myself, with personal ties to Wales, even though I've lived in England most of my life, it's all sad and alienating. I don't claim a lot of affinity with Wales, and my ultimate ancestry is Nordic rather than Celtic, but I regard the connections that I do have with more than just nostalgia. I was born there. I grew up in South Wales as a child. And even if some memories are less than affectionate, many are close to my heart and cherished. But just now I am seeing a Wales that doesn't want me. The official reason for being excluded is Covid-19. But underneath there is, surely, the suggestion that I don't belong there, that my Welshness is insignificant, and that I am as obnoxious and unwanted as the worst bad-attitude person beyond the Welsh Border. 

Well, much more of this and I'll stay away, my wish to return destroyed. Like a love affair gone wrong after too much carping, complaining, suspicion and repulsion from one partner. 

I used to say that I might take up the offer of a Welsh passport if ever it were available. I'm not sure I would now. I would feel I had got it under false pretences, merely on account of my birthplace and family background, as a passport of convenience. And not from any personal conviction that Wales was my true home, and that I would give Wales my undiluted allegiance. 

This is all so different from my view of Scotland, a country with whom I have no personal connections apart from friendships dating back no more than ten years or so. I have only been a visitor, keen to come, and travelling around pretty extensively, but nevertheless remaining an outsider. And yet Scotland seems so welcoming. And I don't mind the direction it's taking. I'd be surprised if Scotland hasn't completed the transition to independence inside the next ten years. It's a mature place and will thrive. I can't see Scotland being at odds with England once there is an equilibrium again between the two states. 

But Wales...

Oh well. Let's see what happens in the next week or so. It looks as if the daily news is going to be very interesting - the Brexit Trade Deal, the Welsh Covid-19 Exclusion Laws, and much else no doubt.

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