Archive | November 2012

Language is necessary for full understanding

(Letter to the South Wales Evening Post)

Gwllym Level (‘Language not a necessity’, Have Your Say, 24 November) confuses art for culture; an all too common error in the modern world.

Culture is about so much more than things you can go to see in a gallery, a museum or a theatre.  These are merely expressions of culture, not the whole of it by a long way.

Culture is about who we are, how we see the world, our whole way of life.  Our culture determines, to some extent, what form of artistic expression we will choose; hence the many differences between the western and eastern forms, between aboriginal art and modern art, etc.

It is true that we can “enjoy the works of Chekhov and Tolstoy because they have been expertly translated into English”, but to enjoy is not the same as to understand.  As any opera lover or social anthropologist will tell you, the only way to fully appreciate anything that deals with emotional or spiritual aspects of a culture is to be able to understand it in the original language.

Even the nuances of language are difficult to translate from one language to another, let alone the full meaning of emotional or cultural expressions.

Language is central to a culture because it is how we communicate our culture to others and to future generations.

To destroy the Welsh language would be to begin the inevitable decline of everything that is distinctive about the Welsh way of life – and the world would be a poorer place for that loss.

Even the English translation of the Welsh national anthem contains the plea, “May naught befall to mar the old language of Wales”(Bur hof bau, O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau).


Keith M Ross







Air Quality Management in Swansea

(Letter to the South Wales Evening Post)

The installation of the ‘Nowcaster’ air pollution monitoring system will provide a useful tool in assessing problems with air quality in Swansea. (‘Road signs to be rolled out to cut air pollution’, page 2, Friday November 16).

Anyone who has tried to cross Neath Road in Hafod in the middle of the afternoon, as I did on Friday last, will appreciate how traffic congestion is a major contributor to air quality problems in the area.

However, this system alone will not provide a solution.  What it will do is “aim to redirect motorists along routes away from the areas concerned” – thus simply diverting the pollution elsewhere.  And given that “further areas may need to be included in the air quality management area for Swansea”, the choice of alternative routes may be limited.

The only solution to air quality problems is to reduce the emissions that give rise to the pollution.  In the case of pollution from road traffic, this means reducing the amount of traffic on our roads.

That’s not going to happen without significant improvements to public transport, no matter how many signs we erect.


Keith M Ross

Suffer the little children

William Hague (UK Foreign Secretary) must be a very confused man.

On Thursday he was condemning Palestinians for rising up against their oppressors (‘Hamas should cease attacks immediately’).

Whereas on Friday he was supporting the “opposition” in Syria for doing precisely the same (‘Hague plots Syrian regime change’).

Silly Billy.  You can’t believe in human rights without believing in human rights for all.

If Israelis “have the right to live without fear of attack” then so do Palestinians.

It’s not just a case of trying to “avoid civilian casualties”.


No matter who does it.  No matter what the reason.  It’s just plain wrong.

Please get in touch

Someone from the Maldives appears to be following my blog.  I would love to hear from that person directly as I know next to nothing about the Maldives and would like to know more.

This e-mail, received today has left me speechless – so would welcome suggestions for how to respond!

Dear Friend,

The Liberal Democrats have cut your income tax bill. *

From next April, the average worker will be paying £550 a year less in tax than they were in 2010. That’s money that can make life a little bit easier in these tough times.

But we need your support to do more. 

At the next budget I want to see that £550 a year become £700 a year.

Over the coming months there’s going to tough negotiations within Government about spending priorities. I’ll be honest, there’s not a lot of money to go round.

We need to make sure that cutting taxes for average workers stays at the top of Government priorities.

You can help me do that by joining our campaign to deliver a £700 tax cut in the next budget here.

Every extra person that signs up will strengthen my hand in the months ahead – so please forward this mailing onto your friends.  Chances are we’ve cut their tax too!

Thank you for your support.

Danny Alexander

Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury

* – Unless you don’t pay income tax or earn over £100,000.

(PS: I am definitely not Danny Alexander’s “Friend”)


Not very admirable

Where do you go to get car insurance if you’re a white male with a wee wifey at home?

There’s a well known insurance company that runs a high profile ad campaign featuring Matryoshka dolls.

You’ll notice that all the dolls are white, and all the female dolls are smaller than the male dolls, so that they can be stacked neatly inside the male dolls at the end of the ad.

They should be able to sort you out!

Smoke and Mirrors?

The weekend news has been dominated by the latest scandal to engulf the BBC, with the Director General resigning on Friday and more resignations announced this morning.

The BBC is being pilloried for broadcasting a ‘Newsnight’ programme that linked a former senior member of the Conservative Party to allegations of child abuse in North Wales.

I’m a little puzzled by this because the programme DID NOT NAME ANYONE.  The link was made later on Twitter.  And the name in question plus that of another former senior member of the Conservative Party had been circulating on Facebook for at least a week previously.

‘Newsnight’ was acting on information received from one of the victims in this case.  In 1990 this victim identified a photograph of one of his abusers and was told BY A POLICEMAN who the person is the photograph was.  He (the victim) only realised that this was a mistake on Friday last, and immediately made it clear that he had been MISINFORMED.

So why all this fuss?

Might it be that yet another controversy about ‘Newsnight’ and the BBC is providing a very convenient smokescreen for the real villians in this piece?

Meanwhile, the outgoing Director General of the BBC, George Entwistle, receives a year’s salary (£450,000) to cushion the blow of having had to resign after only 50-odd days in the job.

The real victims in this tragedy will be lucky to receive that amount between them – if they receive any justice at all.

Memory is the strangest thing

On a recent visit to Burnley, where I grew up, my mum and I had a stroll around the town one morning.  We turned into Cow Lane and came across the side and back of the old Empire Theatre.

Despite the fact that it’s a massive building; despite the fact that I’ve been inside it dozens of times, and must have walked past the end of Cow Lane thousands of times; despite all this I had no recollection of ever having seen the building from the outside before, except perhaps in the occasional strange dream that I have about Burnley.

It was one of my regular haunts in my teen years, but we always went in through the narrow front entrance on St James Street, or snuck in for free through the side entrance that’s no longer there.

Seeing the scale of this once imposing building came as quite a shock.  How could I not have remembered such a large and obviously once grand building?

Sadly this old theatre/cinema/bingo hall is now a shabby shadow of its former self and has deteriorated probably beyond repair.  But you can still get an idea of how it must have been in its heyday in this film taken in March 2010 by b3tarev3:

Read More…

And still they complain!

(Letter to the South Wales Evening Post)

Some people are never satisfied

The Welsh comprise less than 5% of the UK population.

They very generously go to all the time, trouble and expense of translating everything into English so that everyone else in the UK can understand it.

But the Anglophiles still complain about the cost! (Andrew Hinton, ‘Can’t escape extra costs’, Have Your Say, 6 November)

I write my letters in English because I assume that Mr Hinton and his ilk wouldn’t understand them otherwise.

The fact that English is the language of mass communication in Wales does not remove the right of the Welsh people to spend their taxes on protecting and promoting their language.


Keith M Ross

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