Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Column, April 11, 2006

WHAT on God's good Earth is a Welshy?
I only ask because I want to know whether to take umbrage or not.
It has been said that this was a term used by a Question Time panellist about us, Inspector Knacker of North Wales Police has become involved and now national newspapers are asking whether we are the touchiest nation in the world.
All very messy, and even the H-bomb of racial debate has been deployed - it has been dubbed, wait for it, political correctness gone mad.
And I haven't even had me two penn'orth yet. Do you ever get the feeling you've just arrived in a bar after everyone's had a good scrap?
Anyway not wanting to miss my chance to saddle up my high horse if Ms Odone had cast even the slightest aspersion in our direction I did a little research into what she actually said.
I've found out, and I have to say I could have saved a lot of police time as well as a couple of acres of rainforest in newsprint if they'd all just come to me for a proper interpretation.
In fact, I'm thinking of offering it as a media service from now on - Banksychecker - if you're worried that you're insulting the Welsh, run it by me first, I'm on a hair trigger, if I respond with a string of expletives and a month of columns you know you've overstepped the mark.
But back to what Ms Odone actually said, and let's put it in context shall we, because having heard her before I suspected that she hadn't just leapt onto the Question Time panellists' panel and started shouting 'Little Welshies' at the shocked audience.
Here is what she said, when asked one of those easy-peasy questions at the end, this was about Wales's chances of hosting the 2012 Olympics after the latest Wembley setback:
"The Welsh, I can tell you, are whooping it up already," said Odone. "They are saying 'We are going to have a whole English football extravaganza up here.' And from now on, they [the English] are not going to be talking about the 'leeks', and they are not going to be talking about the 'little Welshies'. They are going to be saying 'Excuse me, could we come in here, could we please?' "
So, she did utter the words 'little Welshies' didn't she? But for heaven's sake, will you look at the rest of the sentence?
If you've got half a brain you can work out she wasn't insulting us, in fact quite the reverse, she was saying that any English people who have patronised us in the past with talk of leeks and little Welshies won't be doing so any more because we've nicked the FA Cup from under their noses.
So, let's be clear, there's is absolutely nothing wrong with anything that she said, other than the fact she clearly doesn't know some of the names we get called.
Leeks and little welshies, I'm telling you, if that was all I'd heard over the years from grunting neanderthals who don't like us I'd count myself a very lucky man.
I've never heard anyone use the term welshy and if they did I'd be more likely to think them a bit odd than any sort of racist.
But that's all by-the-by, the fundamental point is that Cristina Odone was not calling us little Welshies, she was saying that is what some people have called us, but they won't be able to any more because we host lots of English football finals.
That's it. It might be a tad short on the logic side, I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced that the Millennium Stadium is going to halt all anti-Welsh jibes nationwide, but it's a nice thought.
So North Wales Police should have saved their resources on this one. They've got bigger fish to fry...like Tony Blair.
Now, if they can spin that investigation out a bit longer I'm all for it. It might have no merits, but if it's getting up the nose of Alastair Campbell then they can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned.
Can they not arrange for him to be taken in for a bit of questioning? You know, in the custody suite, remove his shoelaces and tie for his own safety, and a little chat with a grim-faced DI.
You wouldn't be so brave then Tony, without your backbench mates behind you. Five minutes of good cop, bad cop and he'd be singing like a canary.
And by the way, it was The Guardian newspaper that asked if we were the touchiest nation in the world, while deploying the Alf Garnett defence - where's your sense of yoomah - to what was said about us.
The answer is of course that yes, we are the touchiest nation in the world, just as every Guardian reader is a sandal-wearing beardy lefty who knits his own yoghurt.

AND talking of birds, can we just take a deep breath and calm down about bird flu? Please?
Two things have got to happen before this becomes any sort of threat to human life in this country.
So before you think about despatching you pet budgie in a pre-emptive cull, you might want to consider the following.
To spread to humans in any numbers the bird flu has to mingle with human flu in order to mutate into a virus than can be passed from human to human instead of bird to human.
To do this you need large numbers of humans with human flu in contact with large numbers of birds with bird flu.
We don't have that in this country, we tend not to live with flocks of hens around our ankles at the breakfast table.
Even in the Far East, where people live in far closer contact with large poultry populations, H5N1 has still not mutated into a pandemic human flu virus.
So worry more about the traffic outside your door, as a speeding driver is far more likely to hurry you off into the hereafter than any swan with sniffles.

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