CWTSH ME IF YOU CAN Blog: 24 Jan 2012

There is sometimes talk in Wales of ‘ English oppression’ just as there is occasional talk in England about ‘ Welsh depression’.

Are they just myths built up over the decades or are they based on truth?

Well, for a start it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to claim that there’s a wholly misinformed image of ‘ The Welsh ‘ held by some people who live outside the Principality. The image I’m referring to is that of the dour, miserable, self-pitying Taff with a chip on his shoulder the size of one of Katie Prices over- inflated bazoomas and a pathological hatred of all things English.

But the reality is, unless you’re a curmudgeonly hermit in a sheep-skin thong, living in a cave half-way up Mount Snowdon, sworn to have nothing to do with modern times, nobody in Wales who buys national newspapers, glossy celebrity magazines, books , cds and dvds, or watches tv, listens to the radio, goes to the theatre , cinema, music & rock concerts and comedy clubs, can truthfully, hand-on-heart hate all things English. Because it’s undeniable that we all absorb and enjoy English/British culture.


In the same way, the majority of people who think the Welsh are a race of whinging whiners have probably never ventured into Wales for any length of time, in which case they never enjoyed the benefits of the loveliest, most gloriously wonderful thing ever to come out of Wales.


No, not Catherine Zeta Jones. Or the Welsh cake. Though they both come pretty close.


I am of course referring to a cwtsh. Aahhh! The word itself is a deliciously delicate delight on the lips. Cwtssshh! Spoken softly it sounds like a miniature lullaby. If ever you get stressed, repeat ‘ cwtsh ‘ a dozen or so times and your mind will be in a much better place.


So, what is this ‘ cwtsh ‘ ?


A cwtsh, to the uninitiated ( and un-cwtsh’d ) is a warm, affectionate embrace that provides the lucky recipient with much more lasting comfort than a quick cuddle. There’s more to a cwtsh than just holding someone really , really tightly.


You’ve heard of a ‘ group hug ‘ right? Well as all-embracing (literally) one of those is, if you receive a genuine, honest-to-goodness one-on-one cwtsh from a person who really means it, it’s value is more than a dozen group hugs.


To me, the fact that over the centuries, we Welsh created, nurtured, developed and continue to freely practice the art of the cwtsh, is proof that we are a nation of warm-hearted, understanding people, always ready to hold out our arms to our fellow men and women when they need us.


There is no 100% accurate literal translation of ‘ cwtsh ‘ from Welsh to English, but the closest ( and at the same time the most appropriate ) is ‘ a safe place ‘.


Everyone needs a safe place when things get too much for us. Somewhere the world can’t get to us, where no one can hurt us or criticise us or look down on us or laugh at us or demand too much of us. And there will be times in our lives when inevitably we will all appreciate that such a place exists.


For a baby , the strong protective arms of a mother, father or grandparent will provide that safe place . Always.


And for a small child, perhaps frightened or upset or unwell, there is no more effective remedy that can help to wipe away the tears as quickly and as happily as a cwtsh from it’s Mam. Yes Dads can give good cwtshes, but all Dads know that when it comes to quality cwtshes, no one comes close to Mam. She is the Queen of the Cwtsh.


To paraphrase a well- known saying….‘ A cwtsh isn’t just for Childhood. It’s for life “.


Because when you’ve just received bad news….or had a blazing argument with your loved one that’s come to a head after a lengthy heated exchange of angry words that you now both regret…or when an item on the news upsets you so much it brings you to the verge of tears…or when your day has treated you so badly, so contemptuously, you need reminding that you’re not such a bad person after all….where better to find solace than in the safest of safe places? Held tightly within the arms of the person who loves you the most in a cwtsh that can last five minutes or all through the evening and into the early hours.


Remember, while a cwtsh costs nothing to give, it can be worth treble its weight in gold to the person who is being cwtsh’d.


Let’s make 2012 the year of THE CWTSH. The year in which you give as many cwtsh’s as you possibly can.


And in return, if ever you feel the need to be cwtsh’d yourself – and there will be times, I assure you – I genuinely hope that you are offered twice as many.