Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Column, March 21, 2006

GOOD luck to Mold in its quest to become Wales's first slow city. It has to be said that the pace of life there has never meant it was going to challenge the likes of Chester for fast living.
Now at least it is acknowledging its more sedate aspect and is biding to become the first 'cittaslow' in Wales. 'Cittaslow' or slow city come from the Italians 'slow food' movement, a reaction to the relentless expansion of fast food outlets across the world.
When McDonalds opened an outlet on the Spanish Steps in Rome, food and wine writer Carlo Petrini had had enough and he founded the slow movement which aims to 'protect the pleasures of the table from the homogenisation of modern fast food and life.'
The idea is that you buy local produce from small outlets who acre about what it is they are producing. And the you take the time to coo a proper meal rather then whacking something plastic wrapped into microwave that will be ready in minutes but will taste of nothing.
I suppose I should wish Machynlleth and Llandeilo well in their challenge for the title too, but Mold is closest to my hometown, so my allegiances must lie there.
But luck is what they'll need, or rather an appreciation of the beauty of slowness by bosses who want everything done yesterday.
You have to remember that the slow movement was born in a country where lunch takes two hours and coffee another half after that. And that's only a warm-up for dinner.
What do you think are the chances of that catching on in Wales? Tell you what, run that suggestion by your boss this lunchtime, that you're off for a healthier, slow lunch and you'll be back in a couple of hours.
What was the reaction, bulging eyes, spluttering, reaching for the company rulebook to see just how fast he could sack you?
You see Mold, and its competitors may have a nice high street and more of their fair share of venues to accommodate the slow food enthusiast. But it's ringed with business parks where speed is king.
It's all very commendable Mold adopting the slow food ethos, but if businesses don't play ball you might as well whistle.
Most bosses want noses firmly pushed to the grindstone. Remember the hissy fit they had when the working time directive came in limiting the hours people can work. Contrary to expectations it did not signal the end of Britain as an industrial power (some would argue that happened 20 years ago when the Tories began car-booting or closing every manufacturing industry we had.)
Strangely enough the world did not come to an end when they could no longer force you to work 80 hours a week, back-to-back shifts, without breaks.
But try convincing them they're better off with a better-rested workforce. Now you've got to show them that eating well from locally-sourced, properly- cooked food is the answer to all your, and their, ills.
They'll be barricading you out of work and getting your job done by a call centre worker in Azerbaijan before you've even started the first course.

JOHN Williams was less than happy with my comments on the new guidelines for the teaching for drama, published in the wake of a teacher's suicide after he was accused of abusing his yoiung pupils.
This is what Mr Williams wrote: “Dear Sir, I was appalled by the crass insensitivity and lack of understanding shown in the article written last week by David Banks, and disappointed that a newspaper of your high moral standing allowed it to be published.
Unbelievably he was writing cheap jokes and smutty innuendo about the activities of a former drama teacher from South Wales who was the subject of an Inquiry instigated , quite rightly, by the Children's Commissioner for Wales ,even though the teacher in an attempt to pervert the course of justice committed suicide the day before the Inquiry was due to commence.
This wicked, wicked man has blighted the lives of countless children in his care , his vile practices continued for a considerable number of years.
These former pupils, in adulthood, carry the scars of shame and humiliation which he bestowed upon them. Thankfully some of them were brave and courageous enough to face their demons and publicly denounced him to the Police.
His former pupils will have to spend the rest of their lives tainted by the obscene experiences and degradation suffered in these Drama Classes , the Drama Classes that David Banks regrets missing out on.
Yours faithfully John P Williams RHYL”

MANY thanks to David Attenborough for keeping Wales in its pre-eminent position as the international unit of measurement for something...ooh,,,pretty big.
On his Planet Earth programme this week he breathlessly informed us that Lake Malawi, though reduced by drought, was still bigger than Wales.
He blotted his copy book a little later by telling uis that somewhere was as big as England. Means nothing David, stick to Wales or multiples of Wales, you're on safe ground then.

MEANWHILE well done to Blackpool for giving us yet another reason not to visit it. Not only is it a sinkhole of depravity with little to illuminate it other than a tawdry light-show. Now, it seems, you're not welcome in some hotels if you speak Welsh. But perhaps Blackpool's city fathers have missed a trick here, maybe this is the thing to revive its fortunes – baiting minorities on the Golden Mile.
You could start off with a little anti-semitism by having your trams head through an arch over which the legend freads 'Arbeit Macht Frei.'
Then what better way to illuminate the seafront than with some burning crosses planted in the sand? Hooded Ku-Kux-Klan members may be played by the many out-of-work actors hanging around the theatrical guesthouses now that the pantos have finished.
The pleasure beach affords all sorts of opportunities to offend our Muslim brethren with a few waxwork likenesses of the prophet and then sacrifice a few cows on the pier just to make the Hindus feel included.
Just when you think you're getting somewhere in Wales with regards to the right to speak Welsh, stories like this serve as a reminder that there are those out there who would just as soon see the language dead

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