We are all Welsh now

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The Independent Online

The prejudice against all things Cambrian is as old as Offa's Dyke. The Welsh, according to Dr Augustus Fagan in Evelyn Waugh's novel Decline and Fall, had no culture and no plastic art; they merely sang. Taffy was a Welshman, as the nursery rhyme reminds us, and Taffy was a thief. And yet now, courtesy of a few judicious kicks and passes and some spirited forward play, the events at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium yesterday afternoon look set to usher in a new golden age for the principality.

The prejudice against all things Cambrian is as old as Offa's Dyke. The Welsh, according to Dr Augustus Fagan in Evelyn Waugh's novel Decline and Fall, had no culture and no plastic art; they merely sang. Taffy was a Welshman, as the nursery rhyme reminds us, and Taffy was a thief. And yet now, courtesy of a few judicious kicks and passes and some spirited forward play, the events at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium yesterday afternoon look set to usher in a new golden age for the principality.

To say that it was a long time coming is to ignore a contribution to our national life that blinkered historians from the wrong side of the River Wye have wilfully ignored. Where would the Labour Party be without the influence of the "Taffia", which takes in every socialist notable from Aneurin Bevan to Neil Kinnock? Or poetry without Ted Hughes and R S Thomas? Or popular music without the Manic Street Preachers and the Stereophonics? Just as the novelist Anthony Powell (than whom no one, outwardly, seemed more English) was keen to emphasise his descent from a certain "Roger ap Howel" of Radnorshire, nothing henceforth will be as chic as a Cambrian connection. In the aftermath of this great victory, we are all Welsh now.

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