Monday, 7 September 2009

The semantics of Semtex

One Welsh word that never fails to make me laugh is “carcus” (pronounced carr-kiss). Unfortunately it means “careful” so I can't help worrying that one day I'll be walking on the maes at the National Eisteddfod and someone will shout, “Carcus!” at me, meaning don't fall down that hole/step in that gargantuan cowpat/walk slap bang into the Chief Druid and I'll be laughing too hard to avoid disaster.

Yet the English spoken in Wales can also throw up some brilliant words. I'm especially fond of “tamping”, which means incandescently furious.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am tamping.

This situation can be blamed on a pusillanimous British government that chose not to pursue the Libyans for compensation after they sold Semtex to the IRA just in case it interfered with trade – specifically oil. The Americans were compensated, but for the Brits who lost relatives or experienced members of their family being maimed in the IRA's decades long campaign of terror – nada.

I have no desire to annoy my American friends by claiming that the attack on the Twin Towers was anything less than appalling, but what they don't seem to realise is that many countries in Europe have experienced years and years of terrorism. Spain has the ongoing problem of ETA and Germany had to deal with the Red Army Faction during the 1960s and 1970s, to name but two examples.

In Britain we had to battle the IRA; I attended school with a girl whose boyfriend was left a paraplegic after the Guildford pub bombing. The IRA hung over our lives like a noxious cloud in a way that I can easily recall. On the day of my graduation from Mountview Theatre School (July 20th 1982), London was in lockdown after an IRA bomb exploded in Hyde Park. Courtesy of that nice Colonel Gaddafi, no doubt.

Yet, it's not just the Libyans that are to blame; the IRA was able to continue its campaign for as long as it did with the assistance of American money. How many of Boston's Brahmins were encouraged to part with hundreds of thousands of dollars after being seduced by a Sinn Fein charm offensive featuring a load of sentimental old tosh about “the auld country”? The Kennedys alone probably funded at least a decade of murder and mayhem.

Putting it crudely, wealthy Irish-American families like the Kennedys paid for my mate's boyfriend to be permanently confined to a wheelchair. Pity they couldn't have stumped up a bit extra and paid for a state-of-the-art wheelchair.

Now, I know that I am to political comment what Katie Price is to gentility and good taste, but once every few years an issue emerges that is so outrageous that even I feel equipped to stand up and be counted.

Americans, you are not the world authority on terrorism or its tragic results. In fact when it comes to pontificating on the issue I have one very well chosen word for you.


1 comment:

  1. The Americans are remarkably naive and it was not until the Twin Towers and 9/11 that they realized terrorism ain't funny. The substantial Irish contingent in the New York police and fire departments learned a tragic lesson that day.