The Long View, Radio 4, Tuesday<br/>Free Wales Harmony: When Pop Went Welsh, Radio 4, Tuesday

That's the legal system for you &ndash; low on laughs
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The Independent Culture

You probably won't be overly surprised to learn that I support press freedom (which I'd put on a par with believing that the earth goes round the sun and that we shouldn't eat babies).

But what about Twitter freedom? The Long View compared the recent injunction/Twitter affair to the tribulations of William Hone, who was acquitted three times in 1817 of "seditious or blasphemous libel" after he had poked fun at the Prince Regent and the government in a parody of the Lord's Prayer. In court he exhibited, to much hilarity, cartoons that had not been similarly prosecuted. "Is laughter treason?" he asked. "Are we going to be executed for laughing?"

Hone's contemporary counterpart – a slight stretch, this – was the columnist Giles Coren, who found himself in bother after tweeting about an alleged footballing love rat with a super-injunction. He was clearly under the impression that his digital contempt of court will lead to a change in the law. It brought to mind the war reporter Gloria Emerson interviewing John Lennon, who said he didn't mind being ridiculed as a peacenik if it saved lives: "Oh, my dear boy, you're living in a never-never land ..."

The judge Sir Charles Gray was similarly dismissive of Coren, if more polite. "I don't think the law ever gets changed as a result of one person cocking a snook," he said. "Giles Coren says 'most people' [supported him] ... I would say relatively few people. Not everyone twitters or tweets." Quite so.

We've always been resistant in England to foreign-language pop music, which means we miss out on a lot of good stuff. The flowering of Welsh-language pop, alongside the campaign that began in the 1960s to reinstate the lingo, passed Anglos by completely. Now, some Welsh bands sing in Welsh, some in English, some in both: the renewed sense of nationhood, no longer looking over the border for approval, means it's not a big issue now. But back then, the likes of the psychedelia of Y Blew ("The Hair") and the folk-rock of Tebot Piws ("Purple Teapot") was instrumental in rallying a nation round its native language.

In When Pop Went Welsh, Meic Stevens, "the Welsh Bob Dylan", was one of those with reminiscences, none more fascinating than his account of boozing with Jimi Hendrix the night he died. Stevens was drinking burgundy. "Hendrix picked up the bottle and emptied it into a pint glass – he'd never drunk red wine before." And the rest, as they say....

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