Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Keeping Up with the Joneses; the Welsh Are Back in the Limelight, to the Delight of One London Welshman, as Their Stars Shine in Music, TV and Sport

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Keeping Up with the Joneses; the Welsh Are Back in the Limelight, to the Delight of One London Welshman, as Their Stars Shine in Music, TV and Sport

Article excerpt

Byline: SIMON JENKINS

THERE is nothing as strong as blood. London's Welsh community may have lost much contact with its homeland but even a half Welshman such as I am must feel a patriotic surge when Wales beats England at rugby or when a Welsh star is born. For both to occur in the same week is thrilling.

Duffy's remarkable voice already qualifies her as heir to Wales's Shirley Bassey. Her success in the Brit awards is a moment to savour, and wonder if Wales might just, after decades of selfdeprecation, lay aside its victim culture and be recognised as a proud component of the United Kingdom.

To be Welsh in London has been to belong to a lost tribe. As a boy I was taken by my father to dark London Welsh chapels where I would sit uncomprehending through interminable sermons as he tried hopelessly to drill some roots into me. If this was Welshness, I wanted none of it.

In return, London regarded the tribe as composed of dairymen, teachers and dodgy politicians. While the Scots and the Irish had real countries to fall back on, and a noble sense of historical grievance, the Welsh had only rain-soaked misery and Dylan Thomas. As a result, they were in a perpetual sense of origindenial.

While a Scots performer would never dare miss a date back home, it was said that if a Welshman kept a date in Cardiff, his friends would frown and say: "What's the trouble, Dai, things not going too well in London?" Now the sun is shining on the valleys.

Wales has recently produced a torrent of sporting and performing talent. Its rugby team, with antipodean help, has for the past two years been reinventing the tactics of the great game and sweeping all before it. The climactic career of Swansea's Joe Calzaghe left him as the only British boxing champion never to have been beaten.

From Bryn Terfel and Katherine

Jenkins to Super Furry Animals, Charlotte Church and now Duffy, Welsh musicians no longer shed their Welshness and become British. …

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