COMMENTS UPON 'AN
A-Z OF WALES AND THE WELSH' published by Christopher Davies Ltd., April 2000
This important book was featured on BBC Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3, Radio Wales 'The
World Today', Radio World Service, The World (USA), GMTV (two transmissions featuring the
author, an Elvis Presly impersonator, the Haverfordwest Male Voice choir on 5/6/2000, with
articles in The Daily Mail and The Guardian, and interviews on many radio shows including
Capital Gold with Dave Lee Travis (6th June), Radio 1, Radio 2 Richard Allinson Show (6th
June), BBC Radio Ulster (8th June), radio 4, Radio Wales (Roy Noble and Owen Money) and
the BBC World Service. The piece about Elvis was even picked upby the Sidney Morning
Herald, French television and radio flashed across the web overnight, including Elvis
sites and Reuters, ITN and BBC News online sites. (The book has also been featured in the
News of the World, National Enquirer, New York Times, Daily Express, Times, Sunday Times
and upon French radio and TV).
South Wales Echo, April 14th, 2000, by Penny Taylor
The author wants the world to know what Wales has to offer alongside the Cool Cymru
actors and pop stars, there is a wealth of information on more traditional Welsh culture,
history, legend, art, literature and so on.
All Things Welsh to the Letter in A-Z. If it takes you more than a song by Catatonia to
feel proud of being Welsh, then maybe you should take a peek into a new book by Cardiff
lecturer Terry Breverton. 'An A-Z of Wales and the Welsh' is the author's personal
contribution to his country. And within its covers, alongside rugby, choirs and coal, are
entries as diverse as Assassination, Atlantis, Crachach, Bogs, Heroes and Inward
Investment. The book was a labour of love for Terry, 53, and took four years to compile,
plus another two to get published. He fitted the work into his evenings and weekends,
around his full-time job at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff.
But the man who specialises in marketing, corporate strategies and writing about
multinational tax avoidance, sees the A-Z as far more than an interesting bed-time read -
he wants the world to know about what Wales has to offer. His reasons for writing the
book, he says, have become something of an obsession. "I have worked all over the
world from America to the Middle East," he said, "And I was really fed up with
telling people that Wales was not a subset of England. When I came back to Cardiff three
years ago, I could find nothing about the totality of Wales to show my children, who were
born in England." "Then I realised that even the people of Wales did not know
much about Wales. I felt that this book filled a gap in the market."
Unfortunately the publishers did not agree, and Terry wrote to 80 or 90 firms before any
(Christopher Davies from Swansea) took an interest. "I suggested they do it as one of
four, with an A-Z of Ireland, England and Scotland, but they weren't interested, they saw
it as a niche market," he said. Undeterred, Terry is also getting 1000 copies of his
book printed in America, where he says there are about two million Americans who describe
themselves as Welsh-Americans. And he hopes to update the book every two or three years.
Terry had no problem with subject matter for the book - he reckons he is interested in
just about every subject there is, from the Manic Street Preachers to Merlin (the wizard,
not another pop group). "I have an attic and a garage full of books, you can never
stop learning," he said. And there is a fair amount of humour in his selections, as
well as political comment, which sees Prince Charles referred to as "Prince of
Anywhere-but-Wales", and Wales seven wetlands of international importance listed
under 'Bogs'. But alongside the Cool Cymru actors and pop stars, there is a wealth of
information on more traditional Welsh culture, history, legend, art, literature and so on.
"Wales is an absolutely fascinating country, I don't think there is another country
of its size with so much to offer, we are almost up there with Italy and Greece. We also
have almost a pacifist, socialist tradition which is very attractive," says Terry.
"I think that schoolchildren in Wales should have a one-hour slot every fortnight to
learn about their culture and history, and another hour about healthy eating and dieting,
we are not a healthy nation."
Returning to Wales after many years, he says, was like coming home to a warm blanket. But
seeing the country with such travelled eyes also meant that Terry was deeply angered by
the gap between the Welsh standard of living and that in England and elsewhere.
"Cardiff is an absolutely fabulous Capital City, and I have been to 50 or 60 of them.
There is a buzz about Cardiff. But then you go to places like Barry, Builth or Conwy.
Cardiff seems to suck in all the resources and there is a shabbiness about the rest of
Wales. The country is suffering economically and hurting really badly. There is almost a
semi-depression about it, there are parents who know their children will never get jobs,
at least not in Wales."
Part of the problem, believes Terry, is that Wales has been badly served by a London
government. But he is also concerned that politicians do not live in the real world and do
not really know how to bring about economic success. "How can you run an economy when
you can't even run a chip shop - or a whelk stall?" he asks. It may be no
alphabetical coincidence that the entries for "Inward investment" and
"invasion" appear on the same page in his book. Rather than call centres or
assembly jobs for companies based outside Wales, Terry sees the answer to Welsh economic
problems in indigenous industry.
And that brings us back to the book. The entries on food, say, or festivals, are more than
curiosities, they are to his way of thinking opportunities for tourism and industry to
thrive. "It is disgusting that there are so many Irish theme pubs in Cardiff, but no
Welsh theme pub. Why don't we have a Welsh pub with Welsh beers and Welsh food? We could
have cawl, and laver bread curry, for example. Did you know Southern Comfort is based on a
Similarly, Wales ancient holy wells, each of which is said to cure a different disease,
could be opened up for tourism, instead of filling with litter. Or saints' weeks could be
reinstated for at least some of Wales 800 saints - who incidentally are the subject of
Terry's next book - again with huge potential for tourism.