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Saturday 6 September 2014

Toby Young – Dim Kidding

[Update at end of post]

Those who still wonder how the loathsome Toby Young manages to lose friends and alienate people need look no further than his latest contribution to the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs, where he warns “Beware Americans heeding Obama's call to visit Wales: the Welsh can be a tad over-sensitive” and proceeds to demonstrate a staggering propensity to wilful ignorance.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Tobes has, it seems, visited North Wales (or Gogledd Cymru, if you prefer) on his travels. The Prez has, of course, been visiting the South of the country, attending the NATO summit at Celtic Manor, near Newport (Casnewydd). Yes, there are Welsh translations for place names, because Wales is a country with its own language. Tobes is not at all taken with the thought.

Back in 2001 ... I had an unfortunate experience in Bangor. I was heading towards the local BBC studio for a radio interview, but got lost on the way and called the studio manager ... ‘Where are you?’ she asked. ‘I’m standing outside somewhere called Gorsaf Station so I think I’m in a town called Gorsaf,’ I replied”. The original of this post mis-spelt Gorsaf as Garsof. I kid you not.

Given that Bangor’s bus station (gorsaf bws) is a short walk from the BBC studio, and that the likes of Tobes wouldn’t be seen dead on such a plebeian mode of transport, we can assume he had actually fetched up at the City’s railway station (gorsaf rheilffordd). There is only one railway station in Bangor. So Tobes is not only being deliberately provocative, but typically dishonest.

On top of that, he then proudly doubled down: “During the broadcast I retold this story, pointing out how ridiculous it was that all road signs in Wales are in Welsh and English when only a small percentage of the population actually speaks Welsh”. This might be true in parts of South Wales, but in the North of the country, and especially in the North West – like, er, Bangor – it is not.

Bangor, along with nearby Caernarvon, the island of Anglesey (Ynys Mon), the Conwy Valley, Porthmadog, Blaenau Ffestiniog, and the area around Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), is heavily Welsh speaking. The bilingual signs in the supermarkets are not merely for show, or political correctness. Tobes is incapable of assimilating this information: what happened to him next was someone else’s fault.

A listener had become so incensed at Tobes’ clumsy insensitivity that he turned up at the studio to give Young a dressing down. And there was no rear exit through which he could make his escape. He considers this to be a sign that the Welsh are “very, very chippy”, rather than they draw the line at their welcoming nature being used to enable gobby Londoners to take the piss.

And they let this clown run a school. That explains much that has gone wrong there.

[UPDATE 1705 hours: the Telegraph blogs story is in fact almost totally recycled from a piece Tobes wrote for the Observer in August 2002 (see HERE). I do hope he has settled any copyright issues with the Guardian Media Group, and that the Tel isn't paying him for this shameless self-plagiarism]


rob said...

Proabably just as well he didn't make it to LPG then.

Although they could have dropped him off over, or preferably into, the Menai Straits where he could have wandered off to admire the statue of a typically Welsh (hah!) hero Lord Nelson.

Pam Smith said...

Where and how was he heading towards the BBC studio in Bangor without knowing he was in Bangor? If he got off a train at the station he presumably knew he was getting off at the right station, and if he was in a car why had he stopped at the station?

Reminds me of being driven with a friend in Italy, who said very indignantly "Now there's a sign for Rallentare - where's that? It's not even on the map!' Fortunately someone in the car knew that it was the Italian for "Slow down". :D

Have to say one of the small pleasures of visiting Wales is trying to work out the pronunciation of the Welsh signs - they're all bilingual so unless you're particularly unobservant it's quite hard not to know what they mean.

Ceiliog said...

Nice one Sam. One of the bonuses received in cafes, shops, pubs, hotels and restaurants when you ask people how words are pronounced is you usually get a warm response.
Tobes method is like his crappy school.