We’re still between vans at the moment so I’ve been relying on public transport when workshopping. The train is always the best option for getting to Cardiff or Swansea from Wrexham and the direct line is pretty efficient but along the coast the service is a bit threadbare (literally some of the seats are falling apart). So it was depressing to read in today’s news that Westminster is intent on continuing to (mis)manage Wales’ rail services because they clearly have no interest in it. I’m thankful that at least Ken Skates (who is also a great championer of The Arts) is fighting for our best interests on this one – I hope he doesn’t let this setback deter him.
On the plus side, public transport is beginning to have some unexpectedly positive effects: arriving early for a workshop (the trains run hourly) means I’ve got time to sit on a bench in the sun in Shotton high street and write this. I’m thinking about my nan, who I haven’t seen for a couple of weeks but who was born, and still lives, down the road from here in Connah’s Quay. I’ll drop by on the way back if she’s in – at 97 she’s more active than most people I know so chances are she’ll be out at some club or another and I didn’t call in advance so she won’t be waiting around. I like to think I get my intense self-sufficiency from her.
I notice the Shotton UKIP office is now thankfully closed and, in a delicious twist of fate, has been replaced by a Polish shop whose offerings are a lot more palatable than their predecessor.* It was depressing to see UKIP make such strong political gains in recent elections across north-east Wales and this reflected in the Brexit vote with a higher percentage of people voting to leave the EU in Wrexham (59%) and Flintshire (56.4%) than the average in Wales (52.5%).
But the story is the same here as other northern working-class towns: high unemployment, mass industry redundancies with not enough new companies to fill the gaps; woefully underfunded social services and a population whose (understandably) negative and desperate attitude is preyed upon and twisted into hate by the right-wing tabloid newspapers whose elitist writers, editors and owners have probably never set foot north of the Watford Gap but who clearly love nothing more than to sneer down their noses at the working classes by slowly poisoning our communities with their acid bile, leaving us fighting each other instead of working to reclaim our rights, and our power.
Anyway – to finish on a positive note – I was here to run the last workshop in the Dream Big/Ewch Amdani pilot project that is specifically looking to increase confidence and writing skills in young women in north Wales through blogging. I’d love to see some of these participants find their voices, and the realisation that their opinion matters, and maybe start writing about it. Dream Big is a wonderful project and I hope it continues because we’ve made some truly eye-opening headway in just a few sessions.
*On reflection this could be an Alternative Fact because I’m not sure of the exact street number of the office-cum-shop – but it’s definitely on the same road so counts as far as I’m concerned.