Snowflake and Milkflakes

I’ve been thinking about “snowflakes” and “milkflakes” this past couple of days.

I’ve always struggled to recognise “snowflake” as a slur to be honest. Sure they’re fragile, but then so are we, humans I mean. Anyone of us could go in an instant. Gone! Just like that! Sometimes through no fault of our own. That’s pretty damn fragile if you ask me. Except this fragility goes for every single person on the planet.

So what else is there about snowflakes I thought to myself, other than their fragility?

Well, science tells us that every single snowflake is unique. Okay, to be honest, that sounds pretty much like everyone on the planet too, really. I might also add that I think snowflakes are extremely beautiful and exquisite in their complexity.

If you get a load of snowflakes together in one place at the same time then you get a breathtaking look at nature, an awe inspiring landscape. I’ve been to more than my fair share of political demos over the years and believe me, there’s not many public gatherings as inspiring and uplifting as a crowd of people fighting injustice and oppression together.

If you get even more snowflakes in one place of course, and I mean A LOT of snowflakes, then you’d better be careful, because no matter how amazing it might look, make one wrong move and you risk causing an avalanche. An individual snowflake is no more vulnerable to fate than the most powerful person on the planet, but alongside so many others it becomes a force to be reckoned with and respected.

 

As for “milkflake” let’s face it, it’s not even a real thing when you think about it. It’s the fragility of a “snowflake” added to a soft drink. And let’s not forget, maccie dee milkshakes have to be called “shakes”, sans the “milk”. That in itself should set alarm bells off for any right minded person. Why aren’t they allowed to use the word “milk” to describe their “shakes”?

Here’s what McDonalds says it puts in its Chocolate Shake Yummy! At least they contain some milk, so let’s be thankful for small blessings I suppose.

 

Taking all this into consideration I’m more than happy to accept the label “snowflake” and be proud of it, thank you very much.

And as for “Social Justice Warrior”, damn right I’m a “Social Justice Warrior”, and I’ve fought many battles over the decades. I’ve won quite a few too.

So sure, knock yourself out, and while you’re on a roll feel free to reintroduce “n****r lover” to the list and add “Muslim lover” while you’re at it. I’ll wear those caps too cos they fit.

In the meantime I’ll carry on calling out bigots, racists, homophobes, misogynists, right wing thugs dressed as the establishment, and the establishment dressed up as “the people”. Don’t make me laugh!

Actually, scratch that, I’ve found your recent humiliations hilarious, so please do carry on going around the country, so the country can tell you what it thinks of your lies and vile rhetoric.

 

Signed

A. Snowflake

 

 

 

Living The Dream #2 Mind Your Language

I was sitting sipping overpriced coffee from a tiny cup, in a nondescript hotel bar in the centre of the city. The wafer thin biscuit they’d put on the teeny saucer was no compensation for the miserly brew.

There were more mirrors than walls in the place. I guess the owners either wanted to make the bar look bigger, or were catering for a clientele that was very much in love with itself. I suspect it was the latter.

 

Anyway, I was there with a small cast of fellow actors. See what I mean about the clientele? (That was a joke by the way. A lot of the actors I’ve met are racked with self-doubt). We were rehearsing for two murder mysteries coming up later that month. I say “rehearsing”, but there are no scripts for these 3 hours + performances. They are totally improvised. What we were doing was cementing our characters’ backgrounds and connections.

 

If on the night of a performance for example, someone asked my character what colour my fiance’s front door is, my answer would match my fiance’s; or indeed that of any other actor whose character might have visited my fiancé on a regular basis. Yes, we go into that much detail, even though the chances of being asked to confirm the colour of a door are slim to say the least, but it has happened.

 

When we’d finished figuring out where we’d all been on what dates, and with whom, and what colours our respective doors were, we settled down for a natter, and I somehow had to find a way to subtly steer the conversation around to the subject of my imminent move to North Wales of course.

 

“Did I tell you I’m moving to North Wales next month?!” I declared, out of the blue; already swiping through my tablet, looking for photos of where I was moving to, which my girlfriend had teasingly sent to me via Messenger. And as for my grin, well I doubt I’ve worn a smile that wide since I was a child on Christmas Eve, telling my parents that Santa was coming.

 

“Yes”, said my poor beleaguered colleagues with a collective sigh. Undeterred, I continued. “It’s the language I’m worried about” I confessed. At which point, a young Polish actor piped up.

“Do not worry. Everybody speaks English there” she said, with a better grasp of English than many native speakers I’ve met over the years. Nevertheless, she was wrong.

 

“Not where I’m moving to. About 80% of the population are Welsh speakers where I’ll be living” I explained. Another actor (and fellow writer) confirmed this. “They’re massive on the language in North Wales, very passionate about it”.

 

To illustrate my dilemma, I mentioned about the time just recently, during a visit there, when I’d almost lost my cash card to the local ATM. I’d been on auto pilot at the time, and had forgotten to choose the “English” option on the touch screen. I was suddenly staring at a string of letters that made no sense to me at all.

I opted for the Big Red Button with a massive X on it, then snatched my card out of the slot, and started again.

 

Even after my move, it took me five months to figure out that we weren’t driving past Gwasanaethau Services every time we drove into the village, but that “Gwasanaethau” was the Welsh word for services. In my defence, I was usually distracted by the spectacular scenery during those journeys.

 

I have also had to tackle the toilet problem since moving here, not knowing the Welsh for either “Ladies” or “Gents”. Often there are pictures on doors to help you out; the basic trouser/skirt combination usually does the trick.

But a few months back, I did my first bit of acting work around these parts; as an extra in a Welsh Soap*. We were on location in a church, and during a break I needed to pee. Off I went to the loo, only to return a minute or two later. I approached another actor.

 

“Excuse me, I need the toilet and…”

“They’re just out the door, turn left, then left again” the actor directed.

“Erm…I don’t know which is the Gents” I confessed sheepishly.

The actor told me which door to go through, and I went off again, praying I wasn’t about to be set up for some traditional prank that the Welsh like to play on us English**.

 

I know two Welsh words so far; “know” as being able to speak them, spell them, and know what they mean. The first word is “Llys”*** and the other is “Diolch”. It’s a start.

 

Speaking of “starts” and the Welsh language, my first Welsh Beginner’s lesson is tomorrow morning; which also happens to be my 54th birthday. My girlfriend has suggested I ask her fourteen year old son (aka “The Youth”) to help me out, bless her naïve cotton socks. I’m sure we all know how that would work out.

 

ME: What’s the Welsh for “I like your hair”

 

THE YOUTH: Erm…it’s “Rwyf wrth fy modd â’ch gwaelod”**** (wanders off sniggering to himself)

 

It never crossed my mind not to learn Welsh once I knew I’d be moving here. Why would it? After all, during that rehearsal just over a year ago, my Polish friend never once expected us to understand Polish, in order for us to communicate.

 

“Ah, but Wales is a part of the United Kingdom, and the official language of the UK is English”, some have argued; to which my reply is “cau i fyny!”

 

Anyway, we’ll see soon enough whether it’s possible to teach this old dog some new tricks, but until then, diolch for reading.

*The soap is called “Rownd A Rownd”

**For the record, I consider myself a Yorkshire-man first and foremost

***See Living The Dream #1

**** This joke will only work if the translation is correct.