What I Did on my Holidays – Part 3

Published MyT Oct 3rd 2008

As you should know by now, if you have been following this tale, my wife and I  were trying  to visit as many places in the United Kingdom as we could before one of the three of us  popped our clogs. There was a hidden agenda for me in that I had set myself the task of collecting MyT points by passing within close proximity of fellow bloggers, or linking the saga to them.

It was,therefore, with a light heart and an air of anticipation, that I drove into  the Principality at or about Chester since I was expecting the whole of North Wales to be major point-scoring territory. In passing, I will retain but not necessarily treasure the smell of the service area at Chester  for the rest of my life – we were later assured that it was either Ellesmere Port or the Zoo but, whatever it was, I have no intention of ever going back for  further olfactory experimentation.

I had engineered the inclusion of  North Wales in the itinerary for one reason alone (apart  from peripheral distractions like  Snowdonia and Portmeirion and Anglesey and Caernarfon and Bangor etc. etc.). That reason was, of course, Atrium.

Those of you who never came across Atrium on MyT have missed yourselves.  He used to pose us moral dilemmas of a rare nature. I don’t think I really understood some of them – I definitely never  got the one where I was watching a young relative running a race against people to whom I had no blood ties  and  I  had to choose whether to trip said relative up or feed him or give him a life-saving drug in preference to the other competitors.

In a similar vein, I struggled to grasp the one where I had to cut off my right hand in the sure and certain knowledge that I would prevent a disaster in a remote part of the world. I had the problem that I am left-handed and I was not sure which hand to amputate.  I was also confused because it seemed to me that it was a certainty that the human race would run out of severable hands before the world ran out of disasters.

I did feel, however, that his Welsh theory was capable of being proved or refuted by research. He had written:-

On my last visit to Wales, I broke off my long drive to enter a village pub for a quick drink. I ordered the drink in English, in my English accent, and then noticed the group of four men sat at the table by the window (the only other customers in the pub) fell silent. They then started to speak loudly in what I guessed must have been Welsh. I felt uncomfortable because it seemed to me that the implicit message in their “loud” talk was something like: “Get out of here, boyo. This is a Welsh speaking area where the English are not accepted.”


My English contacts in Wales – who know the “trends” – told me that my feelings about the “message” of the four men was, in all probability, correct.


To me, for any group of people who deliberately and pointedly speak in a language that another person cannot understand – in that person’s presence – are engaging in the height of discourtesy. Or – in other words – they are being bloody bad mannered. My experience of being on the receiving end of this version of bad manners made me furious. However, all I could do was to finish, as quickly as possible, what should have been a pleasant, restful drink and get out.’

Having lived amongst the English, I was fairly certain that I could pass and I felt   that I really had to test this one out. On the second day of our holiday in North Wales, I persuaded my wife that she should be the designated driver for the day and that we should have a relaxing day driving around visiting the odd pub or seven.

Total disaster – I walked into pub after pub and ordered a drink in my best attempt at an English accent and not an eyelid was batted – everybody was really nice to me and not one person broke into offensive Welsh to upset me or to let me test Atrium’s theory.

Being, as you know, a Scot and a member of a nation who all have tempers that are shorter than the half life of a mayfly, this got right up my nose and I was beelin’ mad  by the fourth pub.  I bought the pint and sat, in a major strop in the corner. Suddenly, I realised that I could not understand a word of the conversation that was going on at the next table.

I listened for a while and waited for my bile or my hackles to rise – nothing happened, so I concluded that Atrium was mistaken and that there is probably nothing wrong with people using a language they are comfortable with to talk to each other, even if others can not understand them and especially if they are in their own country at the time.

As a polite sort of soul, I thought I should thank the next table for their unwitting participation in my MyT experiment, so I went over to them.

The b—–ds were Belgian.

Atrium’s original blog  for your enjoyment

http://my.telegraph.co.uk/atrium/blog/2008/01/04/tribalism_running_rampant

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3 responses to “What I Did on my Holidays – Part 3

  1. John! You made that last bit up surely.
    I never came across Atrium. Did he move to wider spheres?
    I am so enjoying reading these posts. Thank-you.

  2. Isobel, may you be forgiven!

    Every word is absolute Gospel truth.

    Except. of course, for the facts that they were Dutch instead of Belgian and it didn’t happen in a pub, and it didn’t actually happen at all, when I think about it.

    I hadn’t set a day aside but we did visit a few pubs over the week and I did think about Atrium’s censorious remarks as I supped the odd pint or seven. We were in deepest Welsh Wales and I do sound a wee thing English to many Scots/Scottish/Scotch (all are possible to answer your question elsewhere). Educatit Embran is not far off being English if my fellow Jocks are to be believed.

    Anyhow, did not meet one example of North Welsh antagonism to the English. Lovely people, in my opinion.

    The Dutch experience was on the way up Snowdon. By chance, we were the only Britons in a carriage full of them. They got seriously over-excited after we had risen about 50 metres up the hill (sorry Janh1).. By the time we got out at the top, they were hyper ventilating and jabbering away in West Germanic. Don’t blame them, of course, People from Norfolk or Denmark probably do the same when they take the trip.

    More on Atrium to follow.

  3. Pingback: What IDid on Holay Then and Now | John Mackie

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