Where I Live by Dave Oprava

Whales. What can one say about Whales? Largest of the mammals, eats lots of small shrimp, great source of oil and blubber, if you are into that kind of thing. Oh, you mean Wales. Well, that is another kettle of laverbread and cockles altogether. This lovely principality shoved onto the arse-end (or willy end, depending on how you look at it) of England is a veritable coal mine full of history, intrigue, genuine people, and an amazingly well promoted, albeit obscure and relatively inconsequential Celtic language. Founded in 1923 by John Wales, Wales grew out of the industrial period that demanded such global necessities as coal, rugby, and strong, warm, flat beer. Lacking any great imagination, John Wales named all of his children either Jones, Evans, Williams, or Jones. With not a lot of industry and lacking in real jobs, he sent most of the men off to star in the 1964 movie “Zulu” starring Michael Caine (who is not Welsh) and narrated by Richard Burton (who is Welsh). When they returned from the movie set, the men went back to the coal mines and the woman continued to make rarebit for them. The Welsh never talk about sheep. Everyone knows why. In the 1980’s Margaret Thatcher had a fling with the then aging John Wales. He jilted her and in retribution she shut down all the coal mines and threw everyone out of work. The entire country has been on the dole ever since, thanks to money that comes from England. Nowadays, most Welsh people sit around and drink remembering the good old days when Dylan Thomas used to walk the streets of Swansea and throw up wherever he felt like it. Yes, Wales is a great place. And so are whales.

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