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This report is taken from PN Review 204, Volume 38 Number 4, March - April 2012.

A Sense of Belonging Neil Powell
Attached to a letter-rack, which is the only suitably metallic thing in my study, is a little magnetic plaque brought back to me from Wales by the composer and musician Roger Eno: it had amused him and he thought it might amuse me. It shows a splendid red-on-green Welsh dragon and above that, in suitably Celtic caps, is this sentence: 'EVERY MORNING WHEN I WAKE UP I THANK THE LORD I'M WELSH.' Roger was perfectly correct: it does amuse me. At the same time, I take it terribly seriously, with all the special seriousness of a Welshman who grew up in Surrey and Kent, whose parents were born respectively at Ponders End (which is in North London) and Benoni (which is in the Transvaal), and who therefore doesn't seem to be Welsh at all.

But perhaps I am. Some years ago, the Observer published an intriguing supplement about the 'top' (i.e. commonest) 500 British surnames: each entry contains, among other things, not only the place where the name is most likely to be found today - which, thanks to twentieth-century social mobility as well as immigration and emigration, doesn't tell us much - but also, more interestingly, the place where it occurred most frequently in the 1881 census. Then, it seems, you were most likely to bump into a Powell in Llandrindod Wells. That struck me as apt and pleasing: Llandrindod Wells is in Powys, not far from the Herefordshire border, and it sounds a very proper place for ...


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