Saturday, June 4, 2022

Let someone else have the sun!

Chapel Life

I chatted to my naughty cousin, Steffan, while we were having the family gathering in April. It was the most we'd spoken ever. We compared notes.

The title above is how he described his upbringing. Did that resonate with me.

Our parents were forced to go to chapel as kids - as soon as they were adults they stopped going. But that doesn't really change much, except you now have Sundays free, for it was most of the day they attended.

Ah, the benefits of non-conformist repression. Knowing you’re born a sinner, last in the queue, to make way for your betters, never ever be late for anyone, to know your place in the world and just aim for the middle as it’s the best you’re ever going to achieve. 

And they've got you for life.

Yes - it’s the nuclear fall-out of centuries of chapel life, ingrained in families wherever those sinister little buildings arose.

For example, I bought my parents some good quality knives for Xmas as the ones they bought in the garage with coupons all those years ago are rubbish. 

Oni yw fy sbwriel o safon?

'Why are you buying us nice things?'  In other words, 'We’re Welsh - we shouldn’t have good stuff.' 

'I know this knife is as sharp as a spoon but it’s good enough for us.'

'My 2 pairs of nylon underpants will see me out.'


My parents' generation were told if you were bright the most you could aspire to be was a school teacher, which is why so many Welsh teachers worked in London schools. 

I met an old Welsh guy who pointed this out to me on a business networking social I did years ago. 

“Don’t tell me what your parents do - they’re teachers.” 

How did he know? It’s all you were told you could do if you were bright and Welsh. 

'I told my careers master I wanted to be a Management Consultant. They laughed at me ‘You can't do that; you’re Welsh!’'

You may laugh at that. But that is institutionalised repression in a nutshell;  and it took out lots of capable people for centuries, and all the while everyone else doffed their caps to their betters. 

And it filtered down to me and my cousin. And no doubt others.

I guess rugby offered a middle finger to the mine-owner - the only opportunity to vent the frustration. It's one of those situations where you can get one over on your dominant neighbour. It makes you feel good for a bit when you win but ultimately it doesn't really change anything for the better.

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