Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Starry Ticket

Snoopy the Goon (not one of the Ludlow Goon-Squads, I'm glad to say), has presented me with a mimetic challenge. Thus:

  • Write one superpower you would like to have and what you would do with it.
  • Write why you chose that super power over everything else.
  • Tag and link lots of people and write why you think they will have an interesting meme.
  • Fix your broken links.

I'll not tag any individuals as I don't want another cat fight for my favours unless it involves real cats, or selected female followers acting out the Bardot-Cardinale encounter:

And as for links, Madame Boyo keeps my chains well-oiled and secure, thanks.

And so to business. The only superpower I'd ever want is the Unbreakable Union of Free Republics that was the USSR. "Why not the Goddam' United States of these Americas, then?" you might ask, switching the 'baccy plug from one ingrown cheek to the other.

True, the USA would be a more pleasant entity with which to share your life, and therefore one that needs little guidance from me. Apart from giving up The Philippines and failing to flood Cuba with cheap TVs, it's hardly put a foot wrong.

Soviet Russia, on the other boot, missed chance after chance to make the world a cheerier place during its 70-year drunken lurch from feudal demense to oligarch's doormat, and now it's gone.

We Welsh have never let mere dimensions of time and space bother us before, so here's what I'd have done with the USSR and why:

1. Got Poland to Invade Germany. I may have made it up, but I'm sure I read somewhere that in 1933 Marszałek Piłsudski proposed to send some uhlans to Berlin and hang Hitler by his mono orchid, no questions asked, as long as Britain and France promised to go fishing that weekend. He got no answer, and the moment passed.

If he'd contacted me, Comrade General-Secretary Premier Boyovich in Moscow, I'd have applauded this initiative, offered him the rest of his homeland Lithuania, and thrown in a brace of Belarussian bison swamps as a gesture of Slavonic socialist solidarity.

A Europe without Herr Hitler would have been a more elegant and populous place, and my kind of Soviets could have made it happen. Also, there would be something
deliciously kinky about the Poles marching Unter die Linden.

2. Banned The Beatles. And Oasis too, if they and the Soviets had been mutually unlucky enough to overlap. Why? I like The Beatles, but they made string arrangements, bad poetry, sitars and Lord Paul of the McCartneys acceptable to
generations of Russians. The ensuing descent into Pink Floyd cultism was inevitable.

Pale loiterers sat around in frumpy housecoats pondering the meaning of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" while
picking lice out of their Buryat girlfriends' matted hair. The Kremlin happily let Beatles albums through customs once in a while, because this epic, Armenian bang-fuelled self-indulgence left the Young Guard with little time to organise counter-revolution.

I'd have kept the Northern monkeys out and turned Red Youth onto The Stones. Ripped-off blues, elliptical drumming, a vocabulary of 15 words, smack, proper birds like Marianne Faithfull and Anita Pallenberg - that's a national curriculum for the sort of strutting, street-fighting little scuzzballs needed to keep a proper superpower on its toes.

And, above all, no one would have sat next to me at parties, pointed at the 8-track of "Gimme Shelter" and asked "what is Mick really trying to tell us here?"

3. Sold Guns to Israel. Big ones. Just to watch George Galloway's head explode, in a good way.

No tags, as I say, but what would you have done with the Soviet Union if you'd had the chance? Nazis and members of the House of Romanov need not apply.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Plant y Cerrig

"Nid yw hi'n amhosib yn yr oes sydd ohoni i ailddarganfod hen ysbryd meddylgar y derwydd a'r dderwyddes. Ie wir, mae'n hanfodol".

Some fireside Phalangists have complained about a plaque recently unveiled on Primrose Hill, London, in honour of Welsh poet, antiquarian and geezer Iolo Morganwg.

In a touching display, Mr Malcolm Kafetz of the Friends of Regents Park feat. Primrose Hill blustered that a crook and forger like Iolo deserved no such memorial on his manor. In our Welsh world it is precisely because he crooked and forged with such panache that Iolo deserves to be remembered.

The Welsh language lacks native words for "private", "honest" and "locked car-door", so the narrow Saxon mind takes this as a Sapir-Whorf sign of our leanings towards larceny. On the contrary, it indicates our 360º altruism - not only are we generous with our own goods, but we are also ready to share the credit of others:

  • Classical Colossus Ralph Vaughan-Williams said he never had any conscience about cribbing intermissions and riffs from other composers;
  • An entire suburb of Chester woke up in Flintshire not so long ago; and
  • The list of warlords, public gatherings and geographical features claimed by Cambria includes Marshal Timoshenko, Johann Sebastian Bach (but not the other Bäche), the Mandan tribesmen of Missouri and England itself.

It is therefore quite in keeping with our national sacra for Iolo to have shared the wealth of his imagination with the pinched world of Primrose Hill. Mr Kafetz might call him a "bankrupt and a forger. A bloody criminal", but Iolo dealt in a currency more choice than the Hanoverian ha'penny, and what he forged was not merely a sheaf of sprung rhythms but a complete Celtic cosmology. All Welsh, all ours, and all made up.

HP Lovecraft wrote that slobbering sacks of brackish bile created our world just for jolly, and would tramp through a crack in the firmament one day to stamp us back into the brine. So did Iolo Morganwg dream that our own Druidic Elders had outlasted the Roman and his troubles, weaving our own era into the oak garlands of theirs as if Marcher Lords and monks had been a passing parson's fancy.

This web blog is more Gerry than Benedict Anderson, but the latter got it right with his "Imagined Communities". Iolo could have sliced a swathe through the Silurian sludge by concocting Owain Glyndŵr's last Will and Testament, or claiming a Tudor lineage for some clubable drone with a couple of hundred arces near Harlech.

But instead he had the class to base our national story on the Druids - skirted dope-fiends who organised military resistance to Caesar by getting naked and talking tactics with a space badger they met while chomping their way through a field of fly agaric.

Many modern nationalisms are built on the exterminatory ecstasies of paper-lipped professors, so an epos propped up by a few pagan porkies is all right by me. While some celebrate invasions, conversions, displacements and defenestrations, we have an annual toga party and give one another big wooden chairs for the best poem.

All this was thanks to Iolo and his Fitzrovia drinking pals, and they first tried it out on domed Primrose Hill.

As Danny Abse said of his fellow bard, "He was a great, great scholar, and he fooled everybody. I don't know if he was a drug addict, but he was certainly the best poet that went to Cardiff jail."

And that's a worthy plaque inscription if I ever heard one.

(Pointy black hat doffed to The Dog of Deceit (and Hypocrisy), who found the copy of the Camden News Journal in the Dutch Window public house and brought it to the Cymru Rouge Historical Grievances Department that I may get a better look at it.)