Thursday, June 8, 2023

Boys’ Gram old boy’s new book celebrates ‘Welshness’

Former Llanelli Boys’ Grammar School pupil: Peter Daniels

A book written by author and returning Welsh exile Peter Daniels is a celebration of Welshness and Welsh people.

Peter Daniels is a Llanelli Grammar School Old Boy, who also studied International Politics & Economics at Aberystwyth, before spending 50 years in London and the south east working in market research, marketing and advertising. He has now returned to Wales to live in Llantwit Major in the Vale of Glamorgan.

His first book, ‘In Search of Welshness’, was published in 2011, and this new book, ‘Finding Wales’ was the Welsh Book Council’s September Book of the Month.

Finding Wales identifies in the Welsh a distinct personality, born of their humanity and natural friendliness, an image designed to counter the almost dismissive attitude towards Wales adopted by both the ‘British’ press and the UK government in Westminster.

As a Welsh exile in England, Llanelli-born Peter Daniels had a successful career in market research, but the strong ties he retained with his homeland through the London Welsh RFC and the London Welsh Association led to a fascination with national identity, especially amongst those living outside of Wales.

‘In my own case, it was the move to London which actually raised my consciousness both of my own Welshness and of the disregard for Wales held by British institutions’ said Peter.

In his first book, In Search of Welshness, which was published in 2011, Peter charted the ways in which exiles living in England preserved their Welsh identity. In this latest work he delves into the reasons many of them one day return.

‘Some are forced to return because of family responsibilities or economic necessity. Others speak of ‘the good life’ to be had against the scenic backdrop that is the hills and coastline of Wales’ explains Peter, ‘Many returning exiles also yearn for the friendlier community spirit they feel exists in Wales. And there are those with an even deeper hiraeth for either the Welsh language and culture, or for a more socialist, less class ridden, way of life.’

‘And finally there are those who want to more proactively contribute to the challenges facing Wales in the 21st century, to the preservation of the language, the culture, and the economy’. Suggests Peter ‘Our returning exiles must play their part, however small. They must give something back’.

Whilst Peter admits that they are not all of the same political persuasion, he discovered that they mostly believe that Wales should have more of a say in its own destiny than has previously been the case.

But national politics, unless it directly affects their livelihood, or previously their faith, has never been that important to the Welsh. For them, living is about people and not politics. And in this regard, to quote one returning exile, ‘Wales: the best country in the world’.’

Finding Wales – Reflections of Returning Exiles by Peter Daniels (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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