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Letters: Reflect the new reality of Wales

Jan Morris certainly reaches a new “sentimentally mawkish” low in her piece on the Gleision accident (Wales owns this tragedy, 17 September). The familiar litany of stock images is paraded and we are left a proud, sad but ultimately comical people in our bereavement. Yes we own this tragedy and we mourn as a community, particularly those of us who have lost relatives who have been “killed in the pit” (for that is how we put it).

What is absent from Morris’s sentimental portrait is the anger that has traditionally followed these events and the demands that they should not have happened and should not again. She cheaply conjures deep emotions from the memories of the Aberfan disaster when perhaps the comparison was better made with Sengenhydd in 1913, when an explosion underground killed 439 men and boys. The difference in scale stands out from a time when life was held cheap – the coalowner was fined £24 – and output was in the millions of tons, to one where the industry is practically gone and a few men are left scrabbling for what is left in the thin veins under the hill.

We are also now different as a people, even as the shock of these deaths comes crashing in from the past. We will mourn, but we will not stand for this carelessness with life, or for the demeaning stereotypes peddled by those outside Wales who use us as the butt of some familiar prejudices. Once again we are forced to recreate Wales and, in the process, we are leaving behind some of the old hymns to Welshness. The Guardian should recognise this and more closely reflect the reality of Wales as it is, not as some wished it to be.
Martin Barclay
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