This Week's Fish Wrap (№43): We're Not in Kansas Anymore, Toto

Oddly enough, this hasn’t been the expected result of being born in British Columbia of two parents who were both also born in the province, and two of whose parents in turn were born in Canada (one of the other two being born in Newfoundland, which at the time was a British Colony; the other in Northern Ireland), and as far as I can tell there’s more English and Irish than anything else about me, but what can I do when the facts of the matter are clearly delineated?

Atomic Fez Publishing, apparently, is a Welsh outfit, and is part of a cabal bent on promulgating the Welsh agenda of dominating the world with the literature of the country “where the land meets the sky”: Cymru. From Bro Morgannwg to Ynys Môn, from Sir Benfro to Wrecsam, around here it’s all about the “land of my fathers”, even if it doesn’t happen to have anything to do with any of my fore-​​fathers or mothers (see above).

Baner Cymru
Baner Cymru

Some of you might be wondering what I’m blethering about, and the rest no doubt are merely reading this far in order to discover if there’s a new sale price on something or a contest, or whatever.

I’ve occasionally joked about being secretly Welsh, or that I only have dealings with Welsh people. This was usually after someone had pointed out the number of Welsh authors Atomic Fez has published. Given that the books Wicked Delights and Twisthorn Bellow by John Llewellyn Probert and Rhys Hughes (and with names like that, what else could their Country of Origin be?) formed 50% of the initial catalogue, who could blame people for the confusion?

The thing is, it doesn’t stop there, you see. The covers of Twisthorn Bellow, Ponthe Oldenguine, and The Terror and the Tortoiseshell were all done by Steve Upham, who runs Screaming Dreams and was both born and raised in South Wales, where he continues to be quite Welsh. The cover for Dirk Danger Loves Life was done by Terry Cooper, who lives in Cardiff Bay (the area; he doesn’t actually live in the bay itself). This brings the number of book covers being designed in Wales to four out of the seven total titles.

Carrying on, any order placed by people in the United Kingdom (which is comprised of Wales and the bits on the other side of the Severn River [England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and various tiny islands around it]) or Europe receive their book(s) thanks to the continuing packaging and posting efforts of one Christopher Teague, who runs Pendragon Press from a teeny-​​tiny post office box located in Maesteg at the northernmost end of the Llynfi Valley, close to the border with Neath Port Talbot; and its name, plus the names of the other locations – plus their singular shortage of vowels – ought to tip you off about the country it’s in.

Now, with all of that, you’d think we were done. But no.

It turns out that the winner of the signed copy of Dirk Danger Loves Life happens to live in Newport (or Casnewydd), a city and unitary authority area in Wales, which stands on the banks of the River Usk, is located about 12 miles (19 km) east of Cardiff, and is the largest urban area within the historic county boundaries of Monmouthshire and the preserved county of Gwent. Plus, as if that’s not enough, they are a distant relative of the author of the book, Chris Rothe, and that side of the family has substantial roots in Wales. Thus, three of the books in the catalogue of sent titles are written by Welshmen.

Later this week I’ll be meeting and signing a publishing agreement with an author whose book will not likely be released until the spring of 2013. Their novel is based in and around the country of Wales. He lives in Wales, and a few months ago lived in a part of the country which was so very Welsh that one couldn’t get any further from other countries without the need of a dory. His girlfriend is not only Welsh, she speaks Cymraeg and is fluent, fer Pete’s sake!

Thus, I give-​​up. Yes, there’s Terribilis by Carol Weekes, the story set in and around the Ottawa region where she is born and bred; certainly there’s The Beautiful Red by James Cooper, who lives in Nottinghamshire; absolutely there’s The Terror and the Tortoiseshell by Wakefield’s finest John Travis; without a doubt Andrew Hook, author of Ponthe Oldenguine, lives and set his book in the area of Norwich… these are nothing but an artifice covering the truth of the matter: in actual fact Atomic Fez is run specifically for the betterment of those who know that while it’s true mae na orsaf petrol yn Yr Orseddond mae does dim byd yna i weld yno (there is a petrol station in Rossett, but there’s nothing to see there).

If you wish to experience the Welsh tongue [pauses for someone near back to chortle with filthy intent] there are a number of places on the web to gain some language skills. You would be wise to be careful about the matter, however, because one site providing a list of phrases in the native language disturbingly provides something akin to a run-​​down of dialogue during an encounter with a particularly unsatisfactory result:

Croeso I Gymru!!
Croeso I Gymru!!

I can’t speak Welsh [well].
Alla i ddim siarad Cymraeg [yn dda]. (Alh’a ee thim SHARad kym-​​RYE-​​g [uhn tha])

Do you speak English?
Ydych chi’n siarad Saesneg? (UD-​​ich ch’een SHARad SAYES-​​neg?)

Is there someone here who speaks English?
Oes rhywun yma sy’n siarad Saesneg? (Oyss RHEEW-​​in UMma seen SHARad SAYES-​​neg?)

Help!
Help! (Help)

Look out!
Hendiwch! (HEN-dyoo’ch!)

I’ve not changed a thing with that order, nor left anything out. HEAD HERE to confirm this (scroll down a teensy bit to locate its start).

I can only conclude in the obvious way: Cymru am byth!!!

“This Week’s Fish Wrap” is an on-​​​​​​going series of posts summing up the news of the previous seven days in the publishing industry, and/​or announce the latest news Atomic Fez has about the publishing house, and appears here each Monday. It’s also quite possible that the posts merely serve as a dumping ground of links so that Atomic Fez Proprietor Ian Alexander Martin can find articles later to include in his occasional rants about how ‘EVERYONE ELSE IS ENTIRELY WRONG’ about various things.

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