Llamhigyn y dwr and other monsters…

February 3, 2018

By Sandra Clubb - Wales

Somewhere around the middle of 2017, my head exploded. Looking back, I realise that last summer I instigated my own, personal, Universal Declaration of Independence. In my head. I gave up FaceBook. I stopped looking at twitter (for a while at least). I took to the beach, to the woods, to that safe, warm place in the nape of my baby girl’s neck.

We re-started our Netflix subscription…

Because what’s going on?

I mean, what in Bendigeidfran’s name is going on? I should mention at this point that Sion Corn brought ‘Chwedlau ac Arwyr‘  Top Trumps to our house this Christmas, so forgive me if, temporarily, I can’t reach for a profanity without accidentally dropping a character from the Mabinogi

When exactly did everything turn quite so totally and utterly, weird?

I turned off (the news anyway) at about the point that Real Life (or the parody of it that appears courtesy of our State Sponsored Broadcaster) ceased being believable. When it became clear that we have slipped into a peculiar kind of underworld… into the upside down (by we I refer to all those of us currently strapped into the runaway circus train that is still, for now, watch this space, known as the UK).

A place where nothing makes any sense at all, but in which everyone has agreed not to mention it, except under the hashtag #FBPE.

I had thought I was pretty much through with ‘Being British’ before (because of stuff like realising it kind of missed the point, and undermined my sense of what it means and feels like to be Welsh and also English). But I certainly am done with it now, until we reclaim the term at least.

Now that Being British apparently equates to closing your eyes and thinking that this means that no one else can see you. Which quite frankly even my daughter (who technically speaking is a toddler and not a baby) has realised by now doesn’t actually make you invisible, or a super hero. Or more likely to successfully strike a trade deal over the breakfast table when everyone else can see that you’ve got Weetabix stuck to the side of your face and no one is telling you (but it’s OK because they are the Best of British Weetabix and everyone knows that you can build your way out of any kind of fix with that stuff once it’s dried).

I’m done with that.

I’m on to the next bit, in my head. I just occasionally forget that not everyone has fully caught up with me, and my UDI.

But they will.

Sooner or later all this Weetabix is going to come flying off, and get stuck in some really awkward places, the sort where you have to cut it out with a pair of kitchen scissors (remember to trim the other side of the fringe too or it looks wonky).

People are going to notice, and when they do… Boom. As in, not a bomb, but more like…. break dancing probably, mixed with a touch of dawnsio gwerin. The point is that more and more people are going to realise that they want something different, and more interesting.

Because right now, those people that are actually paying attention, the thing that they (we) are all doing is just making that noise – the one you make when shit just doesn’t make any sense and you shrug your shoulders and hold you hands out and just say ‘huh?’

This is the noise that sums up 2017.


It’s clear we are going somewhere, at quite high speed. But who knows where? A much worse version of where we started?

If I didn’t know better, I’d think that this was the work of Caswallon (who stole the crown of Britain by deceit and with the help of his magic cloak), but actually it wreaks more of Llamhigyn y Dwr (dweller of swamps and ponds, and not so strong or able).

(If the Chwedlau references are lost on you, don’t fret, there’s a key at the end and you can buy your own copy of the game here).

It puzzles me that there is so little discussion of our intended destination in any case. I like to know where I’m going. I’m a hiking boots and compass kind of a person. If we’re going to walk all day, let’s have a goal in mind… A mountain to climb or a hen gaer to find…

So what’s our goal in the UK? There doesn’t seem to be an obvious one, and that’s the biggest reason, to be honest, that I’m disillusioned with the whole thing. Where’s the vision of a better future? I’m just not sure we are headed for anywhere worth going, and I have very little faith that even if those ‘in charge’ do have a destination in mind, that it’s likely to have any benefit at all for the vast majority of us (ask yourself what you have in common with Jacob Rees Mogg, really).

Call me soft, but I would like to think we are aiming for a better life for everyone, without breaking the Earth. A society where we look after each other and stuff actually works. A society where people don’t slip through the cracks, where there aren’t increasing numbers of homeless people on the streets of Cardiff and we aren’t drowning the oceans in plastic.

Just as a for instance.

Kind of a Welsh speaking Sweden if you like, but with more daylight hours. If I had to put my finger on it.

Now Sweden might not be your bag, Welsh speaking or otherwise, and that’s OK. You might not care about the plastic content of the average sea bird. But what do you want? Where do you think we should be going?

It’s a fair question.

And one that people are asking. Along with other, very pertinent questions…

Like who speaks for Wales? (Now where have you heard that recently?)

Because the thing about having a vision, is that it is vital to effective leadership. And at the heart of the model of leadership I subscribe to, lies a very important principle. Leadership is earned, not given. It is in people, not institutions. It’s not the same thing as power, but it is empowering.

Anyone can choose it.

Leading is just about having an idea for something better than what we have already, and then telling the story well enough that people want to build that future with you.

So if you haven’t yet watched this, then you should (and then we can start answering the question ‘Who speaks for Wales’ with the answer – you, and me, and all of us, and anyone who dreams of better for their community and for Wales).

Because there’s not just a leadership void in Westminster – one that has been alarmingly filled with a grotesque distortion of political stewardship, there’s also a bland empty space in Wales where leadership should be. A kind of Lleu Llaw Gyffes to Westminster’s Crafanc.

Politicians in Wales are mostly either asleep or panicking from what I can see. Grasping myopically for a magical fix-all. If this is Top Trumps Chwedlau style, they don’t hold any of the right cards. They have a zero score for swyn. Only 5 for dewrder. 

At best, they are the Llygoden…

And right now we need Y Ddraig Goch (as I’m sure you know, if you hold this card it’s hard to lose at Top Trumps Cymraeg).

Clearly life is a little more complicated than Top Trumps. But you have to admit, we do hold some great cards in Wales, like oodles of natural resources, creativity and the world’s oldest language (OK one of the world’s oldest languages).

Notably, this list of fantastic things we have going for us does not include marketing ourselves to the world as ‘Narnia’, based on our abundance of wardrobes and unicorns, or on declaring Wrexham the capital of North Wales.

North. Wales. Is. Not. A. Country.

(Talking to you Ken, and friends).

So…. Let’s pull our socks up, is it? Because we aren’t making the most of all that we have going for us at the moment, and that has some pretty dire consequences if we don’t turn things around.

We need a plan. A vision. A clear idea of where we are going, and then we are going to make it happen.


I’d personally suggest we aim for self determination, a Welsh Nation state, with a crowd-sourced constitution guaranteeing our human rights and the basic principles of a fair society, for ever. Let’s cut the likes of Boris, Jacob RM and Theresa May out of the equation, once and for all.

Let’s make our own decisions.

Let’s make 2018 the year that we decide where we are going and how we are going to get there.

Awn ni amdani?


Geirfa pwysig ar gyfer Chwedlau Cymraeg – some useful words

Cryfder – strength

Medr – ability

Swyn – magic/spells

Dewrder – bravery

Llamhigyn y dwr – an evil creature from Welsh Folklore that lived in swamps and ponds. Below average in Top Trumps.

Llygoden – mouse, obviously, but in Chwedlau terms not a great card to have. Boliog, harmless, and generally low scoring.

Lleu Llaw Gyffes – the blandest of the bland amongst the Chwedlau characters – scores a middle of the road 40 for everything… Blaaa.

Crafanc – ‘bwystfil sydd yn cipio ebolion unnos oed, a babanod’ (the monster that steals day old foals and babies – pretty high score for fear… low on ability and magic)

Gwawl ap Clud – ‘Arglwydd trahaus a chefnog, ond un hawdd i dwyllo’ – the Jacob Rees Mogg of Top Trumps Cymraeg.

Y ddraig goch – kicks ass

Bendigeidfran – also pretty hard to beat, but not impossible… prone to losing his head

You can follow Sandra Clubb on twitter at @tywodlyd and at her blog page indymam.wordpress

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *