Olympic Shame but no Surprise!

We Cornish are used to assaults on our identity. It’s been happening for centuries. So it didn’t really come as much of a surprise that the Olympic Torch relay would be used as such.

In the preceding days before the relay, several Cornish campaigners were visited at their homes by the Devon police in Cornwall and warned off any protests should they be thinking of having them. In scenes reminiscent of Speilberg’s ‘Minority Report’, it now seems D&C Police have a ‘Future Crimes/Not Actually a Crime’ unit operating in this ‘democracy’!
Sgt Tom Cruise said, “We will show those pesky ‘Oo-Arrs’ a thing or two!”.

With the Olympics being a sporting event (and not a thinly veiled corporate/commercial juggernaut), lots of people in Cornwall were bewildered that Julie Kitchen – the Cornish woman ranked no.1 in the world for ladies Muaythai boxing and also a 14x world champion was overlooked to carry the torch. They were even more bewildered when a lot of the bearers didn’t even come from or live in Cornwall!

Next, is the archway at Pen an Wlas or Land’s End. A bilingual sign with the Cornish coat-of-arms and the flag of St. Piran proudly displayed. Not any more!

No Cornish Please…

…We’re English!

New paint job and no Cornish, just as the world’s media descends on Kernow! Coincidence? Apparently not. The re-painting of the sign was only part of an ongoing refurbishment programme and had nothing to do with the torch relay event the management explained. However, an ITV reporter noted the smell of fresh paint the morning of the relay…
It’s not all bad though for Kernewek: “Cornish is displayed prominently as well as other languages on another sign within the attraction” say the bucket&spadebrigade entertainers. Great, lost with a multitude of other European languages.
See what Maga: the Cornish Language Partnership had to say here: http://vimeo.com/42544690

And so to Andrew Ball: the last runner in Kernow. In Saltash and carrying the flag of Cornwall along with the torch on his journey to England. Unconfirmed reports suggest the flag was unceremoniously ripped from his hand by one of his Metropolitan stormtrooper escorts.

The Met man, he no like Baner Peran!

Apparently the flag was ‘political’ and therefore could not be carried past all the Union flags being fluttered and flown! Orders had come from above ie. LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games), who seemingly now tell the police what to do!
I wonder, will the Welsh and Scottish people be stopped from running with their flags?

As a collegue pointed out: ‘Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Human Rights Act states that:  “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION on any ground such as sex, race, colour, LANGUAGE, religion, POLITICAL OR OTHER OPINION, ASSOCIATION WITH A NATIONAL MINORITY, property, birth or other status”.  (My emphasis).
LOCOG and its partners breached this at least twice on Saturday.’

Very early on in the day the Met were already getting fired up!

Met police getting ‘heavy’ with a local

I expect old Adolf would have approved…

On a lighter note, David Beckham kindly thanked everyone at RAF (sic) Culdrose! Nice one Dave!


**** NEW FOOTAGE OF FLAG GRAB – check here: https://anhelghyer.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/flag-grab/ ****


29 responses to “Olympic Shame but no Surprise!

  • mawkernewek

    It is not entirely clear to me from the photograph that the police were trying to take the flag from Andrew Ball – do you have any more about this allegation?

  • An Helghyer

    Murrasta why for the comment.
    Having seen a video of this section, I can confirm the policeman in the front of the picture helped Andrew Ball display the flag for a short time (approx 30 seconds) and then it appears the policeman behind grabs the flag at the traffic lights – as per the pic above.

  • Anne Kennedy Truscott

    There were 4 torch bearers on the run through Liskeard and the torchbearer in the section I was in (Castle Street) was the former Olympic swimmer, Duncan Goodhew — who as far as I know comes from a goodly distance beyond the far side of the Tamar ! I don’t know who the other three were, but I’d be surprised to learn that any of them were Cornish !

  • Tony Kenny

    This is getting highlighted in Scotland.

    Keep up the good work it will pay off by the awareness of your people.

  • Liz

    Can you imagine the Welsh being happy about the painting out of a Welsh language name? The majority of us Cornish were snubbed when they didn’t have the torch passing through Camborne/Redruth areas. We Celts need recognition!

  • An Helghyer

    Just thought I’d post this bizarre and (in many respects) wholly erroneous reply to the above which had been posted on democraticunderground.com
    Please get it right
    Do not insult the Devon and Cornwall constabulary by saying by saying they would employ Mr Cruise or that they would say “show those Oo-arrs” a thing or two – because a fair few of that force are those same “Oo-arrs”

    Next, the Lands End site is a private site and repainting decisions are the fault of that (London based) company. The rather tatty archway is not a protected structure and if they had wanted the company could have painted it sky-blue pink with purple polka-dots, At least they did keep the Black and Silver colours.

    Now the Cornish Language – which version? The stuff taught round Camborne/Redruth, the type preferred in St Austell or the version from the Padstow crew? Let me give you a hint – none of them are “Authentic” because Dolly Pentreath lived in Mousehole and died in 1777. No-one since her has spoken Cornish as a native or even first tongue and for more than 150 years no-one gave a tinkers curse. Living and working here I can say (with some certainty) that the vast majority of native Cornish have not the slightest interest in this tongue and they believe that most of those learning it are Grockles or Emmets (neither of those words is Kernowek in origin, BTW).

    St Piran’s flag, I agree a bad decision by the Olympic Committee but it had no practical effect. Certainly the roads from Penzance through to Falmouth were lined with bunting of black and silver and black and gold. I suspect that the real problem was that the flag has been adopted by Mebyon Kernow (a political party) as their symbol. I did hear from a Stannary member that MK had once wanted to use the arms of Cornwall but that was – err, vigorously – squashed by the Stannary Parliament people; certainly there is no love lost between them.

    Finally, the “Met” does not police Cornwall. They may have supplied a few officers “on loan” but so might Bristol or Birmingham


    • A Concerned Person

      with all due respect intaglio how the hell do you know whether people speak or have spoken Cornish as a native language, despite your obviously learned insinuation that Dolly Pentreath may have been the last “native ” Cornish speaker, i would love you to have said that to my Granddad (who would’ve promptly walloped you) who has spoken it from birth, to my shame i only showed interest in the language later in life but please refrain from making RIDICULOUS accusation that have NO BASIS IN TRUTH about who might or might not know the Cornish language , you shame yourself through ignorance! agreed Lands End is a corporate site and may do with it branding as it pleases but for heavens sake base your so called fcts in reality pal because that is a poor excuse for dialog on most parts

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  • Hamish Burgess

    I see your second last post appears to be by a white settler. I note he says, ‘…living and working here’, but nothing about belonging here. We get the same type in Scotland; White Settlers who know better than the simple natives. London is and London rules! Time to kick the lot of them out of our Celtic lands along with all the apparatus of latter day imperialism.

    • vole

      Don’t be an arse. Scotland belongs to the Picts not the Celts.

      That’s typical of the Celts, they come over here and think they own the place.

    • James K

      oh, do fuck off with that borderline racist white settler bullshit.

      I obviously can’t speak for that other numpty, but having lived in Cornwall since I was 3, been educated there etc etc i consider myself Cornish, if not ethnically Cornish, obviously.

      And I do know that for most back home the important issues are less to do with a nice to see around, but frankly mostly irrelevant, language, and more to do with the shit state of access to affordable housing, and lack of good jobs that force many many youngish people to have to leave a place they love and consider to be their home to get work that pays well enough for them to be able to afford to live on their wage.

      as for the rest, that seems more than a little heavy handed, stupid and thoughtless, especially the flag thing

  • Mrs Vanessa Greenslade

    For centuries the Cornish people have had their own flag and language.
    Why then did the powers that be deem it necessary to remove the Cornish Flag from the Olympic torchbearers hand and from the entrance gate to Lands End? Also the Flag was taken down in Liskeard! Where were our Cornish Council officials, who are suppose to work for the Cornish people and uphold their heritage?
    Will the Olympic officials be removing the Welsh and Scottish flags? The Olympics are supposed to be above politics but in this case obviously not!

  • will

    My children and I watched the convoy go past our house all the police vehicles the coaches the coca-cola lorry etc but no runners as we are on the main road between Falmouth and Truro ..we stood outside and waved a huge Cornish Flag but when we watched the “live feed” that we recorded on the computer we were not there,,was it pre-recorded to avoid displays of this kind???

  • Jeremy Bear

    The circus passed our house in Wiltshire yesterday, led by a motorcycle outrider from Devon & Cornwall Police. Obviously the threat isn’t over yet.

  • Hiraeth

    “I suspect that the real problem was that the flag has been adopted by Mebyon Kernow (a political party) as their symbol.”

    The BNP use the Union flag as their symbol. It’s still flown. There are ifs and buts to be made for all of the rest – if the sign is under private ownership then it is their call to repaint it, although to answer Liz’s question above; yes, the Welsh would be livid if a bilingual sign were repainted in English only and actually have laws to prevent that from happening (yay Welsh Language Act!). But nothing excuses preventing someone from waving the national or quasi-national flag that they feel represents their identity. It’s *not* the flag of a political movement. It’s the flag of an area, that has been appropriated (as flags often are). That’s a different thing.

    During the Beijing Olympics the Chinese banned all unofficial flags, because they didn’t want people waving Tibetan ones. That meant no Welsh flag. Fortunately, the various Welsh athletes perservered and grabbed the dragon off any fan nearby who’d smuggled one in, and ultimately, there was very little the Chinese could do; it’s easier to oppress your own people than someone else’s. And crucially, when it happens on the spur of the moment, it’s not really possible to stop people without looking like a fascist. It’s probably the case that Andrew Ball got to wave the Cornish flag for as long as he did because it surprised the escort, who couldn’t then immediately take it away or it would look too obvious. What I find most worrying is Will’s story above – that he was somehow edited out. That could be a co-incidence of some kind, but I’m dubious.

  • Adam

    It appears they don’t recognise the Cornish flag or the Royal Navy! Being as its a Royal Navy Air Station!

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  • Big Fuss

    What’s this got to do with Nazi’s and Adolf Hitler?

    • An Helghyer

      Time to brush up on your history pard. The idea for the torch relay came about for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, which just so happened to be organised by the Nazis.

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  • Mawkernewek

    As I understand it – and commented on the other post here – the reason the flag was taken was because it had writing on it – this is one of the things that is forbidden to the torchbearers.

    I see why it is easier to have a total ban on written material than to expect police officers to make a snap judgement between the harmless (the “Cornwall – Kernow” on his flag) and otherwise – and potentially open up a nasty can of works re: politicisation of the police etc.

  • Bargos

    I’m troubled by the general willingness to belittle, or at least not defend, the Cornish language. Let’s look at the history – at the time of the Reformation, west Cornwall – from Truro west – was almost wholly Cornish speaking. When Shakespeare was knocking out his ditties over the border, the good people of Cornwall wouldn’t of understood a word (if he had been a Breton, or Welsh, it would have been much easier). From this point, the attrition rate was high because there was a forced, politicised campaign to kill it (look at the Prayer Book Rebellion and what happened to Glasney College). However, the idea put forward by the gentleman above, and many before him, that it was just lovely old Dolly bumbling around Mousehole cursing people and then in 1777 it was all over is utterly ficticious – a lie propagated by those that want to undermine the language. A small amount of reading will reveal a number of fluent native speakers well past that date, amongt them the person that wrote her epitaph as well as William Bodinar into the 19th and then various people carrying the language up until the 20th century. Here i’m talking about native Cornish language speakers, not people speaking a dialect form (derived from Cornish and carrying forth its late pronunciation) of which there were, and are, many thousands. Henry Jenner published his Handbook of the Cornish Language in 1904. Clearly, if there’s a gap we’re talking 10 years, maybe 20. It stumbled, it didn’t die out. And importantly, the language people speak today is the same language that was spoken before (there are neologisms for words which didn’t exist before, as there are in all languages including English). To prove this, look at the passage comparing the original and revived Cornish versions of Gwrians an Bys at the bottom of this post.

    The chap above said the form of Cornish taught in Camborne differend from that in St. Austell etc etc. Perhaps this is so, in terms of minor differences in spelling. However, spelling disputes have now been resolved with the SWF, they were always minor and most importantly never affected how the language was spoken (i.e. what you’re saying in a Camborne class is the same as in a St. Austell class). This is all a bit of an irrelevance today anyway with the continuing rise in strength of the SWF.

    Learning Cornish means you can understand the thousands of place names, field names and river names around you. Through these, Cornwall has always sung out richly and beautifully in her own language but many supposed proud Cornish people have little clue or interest in this. Perhaps because they fear that admitting a lack of knowledge of the Cornish language will somehow undermine their Cornishness. The point is, this Cornishness was taken from them by people over the border because they knew it was the foundation stone of their identity, but the good news is it’s their’s to take back. To do so would be the greatest choice a Cornish person could take to help bolster and assure the survival of their homeland. It has the happy benefit of allowing them to access Welsh and Breton. They would join an increasing throng of people – enough to see the creation of a nursery school in the language, and children brought up as native speakers. Look at the maga website (google it) to find your nearest class, and don’t worry one iota about what “form” they teach because it’s all the same!

    Gwrians an bys – original spelling
    An gwase a vynsa leskye
    agen esowe in tevery
    ny yllan perthy henna

    Gwrians an bys – Kemmyn version
    An gwas a vynnsa leski
    agan ysow, yn tevri.
    Ni yllyn perthi henna.

  • kirse

    nyc post. 🙂

  • landofplenty2012

    Thanks for make us aware of this culture imperialism by the London Paymasters on your excellent blog. Greetings from a fellow Celt from Scotland!
    Where is the Olympic Spirit in all of this. Unfortunately it appears to have been lost – meanwhile the Lord Coe Corporate Bandwagon trundles on!
    Keep up the good work!

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