I am passing this on because as a Welsh learner, I know how important it is to be able to buy books in the language. Without books, languages wither and die, and e-books are the way forward for books, so it’s vital that Welsh can continue in this form. So why has Amazon decided that it won’t publish books in Welsh for the Kindle? They publish books in other minority languages..Image. Welsh is one of the ancient languages of Britain and we should be proud of it! 

Here’s the details of the petition:

Amazon E-book Petition

Thank you for signing the petition calling on Amazon to allow the publishing of Welsh language e-Books on Kindle. It has been signed by over 4,000 people to date. We will close the petition on Friday the 12th of July. We will be sending copies of the petition to the headquarters of Amazon in Seattle and Luxemburg and to Amazon’s Director of Public Policy in Brussels. Copies will also be sent to Meri Hughes, the Welsh Language Commissioner and to Carwyn Jones, the First Minister of Wales.

So far it has been extremely difficult to get any response from Amazon and we would appreciate any suggestions on how we can get Amazon to change their minds. You are welcome to call on friends to sign the petition by following this linkhttp://www.deisebelyfrau.org/

Pob hwyl

Garmon Gruffudd


 I would appreciate people helping with this one… If only because Welsh is beautiful and deserves the best chance possible to survive.

A day in the sun for the spring lambs

The lambs are happy today: the sun is shining fit to bust, the birds are cheeping, it seems that summer has finally come. And I love the dear little lambs – it seems no time before they settle down to munch on the grass like miniature versions of their mums but while they are young, they are seized with the whole joy of being around, on such a lovely day. And who wouldn’t be? Perhaps we should all try skipping about like a spring lamb for a bit, just to see if it makes the day go better.

Lexie - pickle dog is ill...

This is Lexie in typical hairy, skulky mode… She is a great little dog with bags full of character – I’ve described before my experiences training her, which have left me with a very deep love of this funny little girl.

Odd how life turns though – she’s been very quiet and down, and so we took her to see the vet, who has diagnosed that she has diabetes. Yes, dogs do get diabetes! And the procedure is much the same as for humans – she has to have daily injections of insulin and her meals have to be timed and monitored too, to make sure they match the peaks and lows of her blood sugar.

Naturally, I am finding the injection process terrifying. I didn’t sleep the night before the first one. The vet had shown my husband how to do the injection, and he had done his best to show me, but nevertheless, the idea of sticking a needle into my best buddy…

These things you can only do because you hope and pray it is for the best for her, so I did it, after a completely sleepless night, then burst into tears. Two days on, three injections under my belt, I am feeling a bit less worried but I still spend hours checking she is breathing.

She’s also got a snazzy pair of incontinence panties for the days when she drinks too much and leaks in her sleep. She is bearing it all very gracefully, even the needle, bless her. What a wonderful dog… Hamish and I are being as supportive as we can – Hamish is being very encouraging, bless him, offering tennis balls and indeed to help her eat her food. You can’t say better than that!

Fairy lights in Busan

Photo taken on a shopping expedition with my friend Cat, in a Busan department store – looking up through many floors from the atrium. I did a good impression of getting very lost – good job one of us had some sense of direction and managed to find the way out!

In the UK and abroad, news of the death of Baroness Thatcher has been greeted with both sincere sorrow and savage elation. That one person could polarise opinion in such a dramatic way is testament to an incredibly strong personality and unwavering beliefs that, while not universally admired, were undoubtedly sincerely held.

An instinctive Conservative, Mrs Thatcher’s credo was that of the housewife writ large – don’t spend what you haven’t earned. She was not only the country’s first female prime minister, she was also the author of a resurgence in Britain’s fortunes for which she has been rightly credited by politicians in all parties in the short time since her passing.

In 1979 she inherited a country reeling from a winter of strikes for which there are few equals. I have some personal memories of that time…

I recall garbage piled high in the streets of Newcastle, and trying to steer our baby in her pram past the vast rubbish mountains full of rats the size of cats. I remember days when we had no money to eat, because the local authority staff were out on strike and no benefits could be assessed or paid – every little we had went to feed our child, not us. I remember a gravedigger’s strike that left the dead unburied. I recall watching cheerful, well-fed and well-dressed civil servants waving their placards on the streets, while shivering in the winter winds in my thin summer jacket. I remember crying tears of joy when Mrs T was elected.

All of that may seem like a long time ago and very far away, but mine is far from a unique perspective on that era. The unions, at that time, were all-powerful. They could call a strike without consulting members, and send ‘flying pickets’ to any site they wished to enforce a strike. Mrs Thatcher made them introduce democracy, and for that she has never been forgiven by the Left.

She was also the chief author of many contentious reforms that are at the heart of much of the dislike. In dismantling vast, hugely expensive state-controlled monoliths and exposing them as businesses to the free market, her policies led to significant unemployment, particularly in the north, as  inefficient businesses failed in the face of competition. She also took on the miners, under the militant unionist Arthur Scargill, which led to great deprivation in the coal-mining heartlands of Yorkshire and Wales as well as bitter clashes with the police. It was a short step from here to the death of the UK’s underground coal industry. 

Her government was also responsible for the Poll Tax, a deeply unpopular revision of the domestic rating system. This tax was devised out of a belief that it was fairer to charge individuals for local authority services rather than houses, on the basis that it is individuals that use these services, not buildings. 

While this was undoubtedly true, it was perceived as unfair to the poor – a rich man in a castle might pay considerably less than a family of seven in a terraced council house, for example. As such, the Poll Tax caused huge dissension that led to riots, and one of the few u-turns made by this formidable woman. 

I am not a political creature, having voted for almost every party except the Monster Raving Loonies (and only because they have sadly never cared to campaign in my area). But I offer this as a personal view, and an explanation of a kind as to why she has evoked such strong feelings. Mrs Thatcher’s policies and beliefs, painful though they were, provided the foundation for modern Britain. Her unwavering support for Ronald Reagan is also widely acclaimed as having been instrumental in ending the Cold War.

It is possible to argue endlessly about whether the reforms of that era were good or bad and probably logical to conclude that they contained elements of both. I do not judge. I do, however, as a human being, believe it to be wrong to celebrate her death.

One thing she did give us, for which I am very grateful, I can explain in another small concluding anecdote. When Mrs T was finally ousted from power, my two girls appeared to be extremely worried. When I asked why, the older girl explained: ‘There are only men trying to become Prime Minister mummy – is it possible for a man to be Prime Minister?’ 

I realised then that for the whole of their lives they had known nothing but a female PM. What seemed extraordinary to the rest of us was normal to them, thanks to her. She shattered a glass ceiling so profoundly that generations have grown up since in the sure knowledge that they can aspire to any post, no matter how high. For that, I would like to thank her. 

The beach in Busan, South Korea.

Being harmlessly sidetracked by blogs is a vice that is excusable on a slow day… I believe there is a medical term for it – procrastination…

I found myself thus sidetracked a short while ago, by a blog that said the situation in North Korea ‘is not all that it seems’. Fair enough, I thought, what ever is? 

In this instance, to my astonishment, I found myself reading a thesis that claimed a) North Korea is a US puppet state b) the US has been secretly taken over by Nazis and c) Kim Jong-un is the son of a kidnapped teenage Japanese bikini beauty (so the DPRK by this logic is extremely close to Japan). My brain having, by this stage, completely boiled over I decided to stop reading – just about at the point where I think the Daleks were being blamed for the failure of the global economy.

Unreal though this may seem, it proves that whatever the apparent facts of a situation there will always be those who claim the polar opposite to be true, and to be able to ‘prove’ this. Which gets me back to the basics of decent journalism and what used to be known, before blogging threw reality out of the window, as ‘standing up your story’ – that is, it having some basis in fact rather than a claim that the CIA ‘know all about this’. It’s very simple to suggest that the entire Establishment is hiding Something (probably because they undoubtedly are, but the Something is equally likely not to be what we might guess it is). It is much harder to prove this.

However, in writing this I can sense the ghost of an old boss (editor) curling his metaphorical lip. This particular gentleman was an enthusiastic Communist who maintained, in the face of tv coverage and reams of newspaper reportage, that the massacre in Tienanmen Square had never occurred. This formidably bright man was utterly convinced of this. And as we all know, there are plenty of people who believe that the US government in some way ‘engineered’ 9/11. In neither case can I understand how the contrary view can be true, but there it is, and there are people who claim to have ‘proof’ that these things are true. One thing is for certain, and that is that just because a lot of people say something it doesn’t mean it’s true, or indeed that it isn’t true… It just means that a lot of people say it.

It’s tough, as a journalist, to maintain impartiality largely because so many facts are like this – they are ‘givens’. North Korea is a rogue communist state; Al Qaeda was behind 9/11; Chinese troops killed students in Tienanmen Square. Yet all of these ‘facts’ are a product of our Western mindset and undoubtedly, were we from the Middle East or Asia we would argue with one or more of these statements. So what we write is a product of our environment as much as it is of ‘fact’. That is almost inescapable. 

Do I give up on journalism, or blogging, on this account? No, I don’t think I do, but I think we must accept that what we read and indeed, what we write, is by definition partial, and take that as a starting point from which to try to do better – to find the concrete facts such as they are. But try as we may to shake off the shackles of our presumptions, there are some that will always ensnare us.

I would certainly be interested in the thoughts of others… Meanwhile, I must go and find out if Kim Jong-un is really going to become King of the Daleks next week!