Meic Stephens, Welsh cultural giant (1938-2018)

October 3, 2018

 

Meic Stephens grew up in the little welsh village of Treforest and became one of the leading cultural figures of his generation in Wales, as a writer, editor, poet, and arts administrator.
We grew up together in two close families living in one of the ribbon streets of the villages lining the South Wales valleys.

In the 1950s, Meic was a few years ahead of me at Pontypridd Grammar School. One of my earliest recollections of him at the time is our experimenting together at home with one of the new-fangled tape-recorders. Meic choose to declaim with appropriate hwyl, from Under Milk Wood. Even then he had become committed to the nationalist politics, and culture of Wales.

Our paths after our schooldays diverged. I became nomadic, Meic stayed close to his roots. He became more than fluent in Welsh, and a distinguished author and poet narrowly missing the converted crown at the National Eisteddfod. His passion became the development of the Anglo-welsh cultural voice.

Sam Adams, writing in the Guardian, noted his achievements. Academically, he was able to join the University of Glamorgan, ‘a stone’s throw from his birthplace’, on the site of the old School of Mines. He became professor of ‘welsh writing in English’.
One of his interests was reflected in the obituaries he wrote in The Independent, mostly for other literary figures in his extended network.

During my extended exile in America and then England, my main contact with his burgeoning career were those obituaries. I even missed the one written for him, being by then a less-regular subscriber to the i.

I retain some comfort from my  memories, and a story I like to relate of a childhood in which the South Wales valleys were brim full of poets. I was not, I like to say accurately,  even the most celebrated poet in the village. I was not even the most celebrated one in the street.


What shall we do about the Brits?

November 9, 2015

CalibanPolitical tensions provide opportunities for leadership interventions. Sadly, they often result in scapegoating and unwillingness to see beyond a restricted perspective on complex issues

An example recently can be found in the various pressures felt through the movement of people in search of safety, economic advancement, or even pursuit of a life style choice.

One relatively unexplored perspective was raised in an article in The Independent, this week:

So many Brits now live abroad that they’re causing immigration debates. Oh, the irony. In an ideal world, every time your local racist started referring to that pesky problem of immigrants “stealing our jobs”, every British immigrant would appear, singing a heavenly chorus of: “Britain has more immigrants living abroad than India, China, Bangladesh, Poland and Hun-gar-reeeee!”

 

The article prompted me into producing a few lines of verse.

What shall we do about the Brits?

They take our jobs

Are idle slobs

And don’t like working down the pits.

What can’t they stay where they belong

Instead of taking up our beds

And living in our garden sheds?

The stress they cause us is all wrong.

 

Replies in verse or prose welcomed.


Recent research into leaders [to the tune of the Eton Boating Song]

June 24, 2012

Reading a draft paper about leadership recently, I was moved to poetry by a remark about “…recent research into leaders by Bryman, Northouse and Daft”. The following can of course be sung to the stirring chorus from The Eton Boating Song:

“Recent research into leaders
by Bryman and Northouse and Daft
implies that heroic figures
owe less to their genes than their craft

And subsequent studies reported
on leaders’ dilemmas and maps
suggest that conventional wisdom
still has a number of gaps

The definitive story of leaders
As masters whose interests we serve
Is being replaced by the concept
Of leaders we really deserve”

Note for students of leadership

Eton School provided the formative education of the current Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is regarded as symbolic of the British class system, where what is learned on “the playing fields of Eton” becomes values imbued in a disproportional number the country’s future political and military leaders. [Harrow School can claim to have produced more Prime Ministers, which is interesting, particularly to Old Harrovians].

For the sociologically-inclined, The Eton Boating Song may be an interesting topic for a Foucauldian analysis of power and privilege, including reflections on and interpretation of the leadership styles of David Cameron and George Osborne.

Such a scholarly initiative would benefit from including the best-known parody of the song [“The sexual life the Camel”], and from my poetic efforts above.

Acknowledgement

The image of Eton Boys was found on the excellent sporting website Arcadin Cricket Club


The Ballad of Northern Rock

November 26, 2007

pirates.jpg

Weap not for me my Darling
my days are not yet numbered
for Good Sir Richard comes for me
while all around him slumbered

Fear not for me my Darling
of any knavish plot.
Soon I shall be his virgin queen,
his court a Camelot

Rejoice with me my Darling
for this I’ll be remembered
I have survived the primal jeers
and shall not be dismembered

Prepare the house my Darling
order the bridal gown
for I shall be his Northern Rock
the jewel in his crown


Ralph Stogdill at Ohio State

October 16, 2007

ghana-learning-examination-services-school-exams-gce-image-2.jpg

Sic Transit Gloria Theoria

Ralph Stogdill at Ohio State
helped weaken the status of ‘trait’
But then we grew weary
of State sponsored theory
which suffered a similar fate

Proposed examination question on Leadership 101

Discuss the role of Stogdill in the decline of interest in trait theories of leadership.

Image acknowledgement

British Council