DENOUNCED AND DISCREDITED!!! The Guardian, the Ex- National Poet of Wales,Gwyneth Lewis and Tax-Payer funded Welsh Publisher’s, Seren Books!

THE GUARDIAN HAS JUST CONFIRMED THAT WELSH POET GWYNETH LEWIS’ ATTACK ON ME LAST FRIDAY (4.1.13) IN THEIR NEWSPAPER, WILL NOW BE CORRECTED TO INCLUDE THE ELEVEN THOUSAND POUNDS TAX PAYER HANDOUT SHE HAS RECEIVED FROM LITERATURE WALES.

THEY ALSO CONTACTED SEREN BOOKS, LEWIS’ WELSH PUBLISHER (AND TALFAN DAVIES’), WHO CONFIRMED THAT HER CLAIM OF A THOUSAND ODD COPIES SOLD OF GERAINT TALFAN DAVIES’ AUTOBIOGRAPHY ‘AT ARMS LENGTH’ WAS AN ‘INTERNAL’ FIGURE – WHATEVER THAT MEANS?

 SEREN ALSO ASKED THE GUARDIAN ‘NOT TO PUBLISH THE EXACT TOTAL’. NOW WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THAT IS? THEY KNOW I WILL DEMAND TO SEE VERIFIABLE EVIDENCE, THAT’S WHY!

THE GUARDIAN HAS ALSO ADMITTED THAT LEWIS’ ARTICLE ‘SHOULD HAVE BEEN CLEARER’ AND THAT THEY WILL DESCRIBE THE SALES FIGURE PROVIDED BY SEREN AS ‘THE PUBLISHER’S FIGURE’ RATHER THAN THE ‘TRUE FIGURE’ 

DOESN’T THIS SPEAK VOLUMES!

THEY WILL ALSO REMOVE THE LINE ‘SO MUCH FOR THE QUALITY OF RUCK’S INFORMATION’. LEWIS IMPLIED I WAS A LIAR, IN RESPECT OF BOTH TALFAN DAVIES’ BOOK SALES  AND THE PECUNIARY AMOUNTS OF GRANT ALLOCATION TO THE WBC AND LITERATURE WALES. 

A RETRACTION HAD TO BE MADE, SHARPISH. 

IN OTHER WORDS, THE  GUARDIAN CONSULTED THEIR LAWYERS AND DECIDED THAT CORRECTION AND ADMISSION BE THE BETTER PART OF LIBEL. 

A FOOTNOTE WILL NOW ALSO BE ADDED TO THE ARTICLE, TO EXPLAIN THAT MY INFORMATION COMES FROM THE REPUTABLE NIELSEN DATA BASE (WHICH THE GUARDIAN RIGHTLY CHECKED), WHILST LEWIS’ COMES FROM HER PUBLISHER’S, SEREN BOOKS, WHO LIKE LEWIS, HAVE NOW LOST ANY KIND OF CREDIBILITY THEY MAY ONCE HAVE ENJOYED.

SO MUCH FOR THE WELSH ‘LITERATI’S’ ATTEMPTS TO SMEAR ME. THEY HAVE ENDED UP SMEARING THEMSELVES, YET AGAIN!

CAN THEY SINK ANY LOWER?

NB IN THE INTERESTS OF FAIRNESS, IT MUST BE STATED THAT THE GUARDIAN WERE CO-OPERATIVE AND PROMPT IN ALL COMMUNICATIONS AND CONDUCTED THEMSELVES WITH IMPECCABLE JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY.

IT IS A GREAT PITY, THE WELSH ‘LITERATI’ ARE UNABLE TO BEHAVE IN THE SAME WAY. SO FROM NOW ON, TO YOU ALL, ‘PUT UP OR SHUT UP!’

Wales’ erstwhile National Poet, Gwyneth Lewis and the Guardian…….

The venerable and learned M/s Lewis decided to state her case as it were, or perhaps more accurately, her defence of state funding for Welsh poetry, Welsh literary tomes of excruciating genius and of course the effortless scribblings of Welsh celebrity and sports star ego-trip, in the Guardian last Friday (see below).

M/s Lewis, also felt compelled to imply that my statements in respect of the above, verged on the mendacious – don’t these academics get their knickers in a twist, when they feel their ivory towers are under siege?!

Well M/s Lewis, infantile mud-slinging and getting all personal, isn’t really my style; unlike your good self, I have been living in the real world  too long for that, so I will confine my reply to fact only, and verifiable fact at that.

My reply then, is as follows:-

1 The very title of M/s Lewis’s ‘defence’ is misleading and inaccurate. Nowhere, have I attacked tax-payer funding for Welsh language writing, indeed I have advocated the opposite ie if less money were wasted on questionable English language titles, there would be more money in the pot for the promotion and preservation of Welsh language writing, and I defy anyone to prove that I have ever said or written otherwise. Read the posts on this blog (including transcripts of public talks etc); my position is clear and unequivocal.

My writings and talks have concerned English language books only.

2 M/s Lewis rather insultingly asserts, that I have ‘duped’ the press and that I also have ‘a strong imagination’, particularly in respect of Treasury money to the Welsh Books Council and Literature Wales. Had she taken the time to properly research her facts, she would have quickly discovered that the figures she quotes in her ‘defence’, are exactly the same as those stated in the transcript of my public talk.

What the Daily Mail and Telegraph choose to publish is their own affair. The figures didn’t come from me.

3 M/s Lewis implies that I am lying, in respect of Geraint Talfan Davies’s autobiography ‘At Arms Length’ ie that since its publication in 2008 it has sold 176 copies. This figure was obtained from Nielsen Book Data, the most reliable and respected data base in the world for both UK and international retail book sales. Indeed, if it is good enough for the Times, it is good enough for me.

M/s Lewis claims four and a half times this figure. Well, let’s see her evidence for such a fanciful pronouncement. Verifiable evidence, M/s Lewis. Verifiable evidence.

4 M/s Lewis rather quaintly, or perhaps she is just a trifle on the modest side, omits to mention that she was a Special Assistant to Talfan Davies when he was Controller of BBC Wales.

5 I apparently, ‘completely misunderstand the complex relationship between the subsidised and commercial markets’. So, M/s Lewis is an expert on the commercial publishing industry, albeit that all her work has been tax-payer funded, her Welsh publisher Seren tax-payer funded, she has never had a literary agent, she has never had to live on an income from book sales (‘literary’ writing and poetry earn nothing) and has minus zero experience of the hard-core commercial world of London publishing.

She is a tax-payer funded poet, for heaven’s sake!

6 Indeed, she fails to mention one NESTA hand-out of £75,000 she received to swan around the world in a yacht,  looking for exotic ports with ‘a Cardiff connection’, her home town no less – yes I know, it would be laughable if it wasn’t true. £11,000 from Literature Wales (who probably put her up to the Guardian article in the first place!).£20,000 plus from Creative Wales Awards………good money if you can get it, you have to agree.

M/S LEWIS IS A RECIPIENT OF GENEROUS PUBLIC PURSE FUNDING, WHICH THEREFORE TOTALLY INVALIDATES HER CASE TO DEFEND IT

I must mention here, that I have never received one penny from the tax-payer for my own work, neither indeed have I ever even applied for it. Let M/s Lewis dare to call me a liar on this point, or any of the other points raised above.

7 M/s Lewis refers to her publisher receiving only ‘seed money’. What arrant nonsense. Welsh publishers are paid by the tax-payer for the whole lot, from commissioning through to production, printing, marketing and distribution. Y Lolfa even demands a contribution from the author, if they think the grant won’t cover all the costs.

8 M/s Lewis asserts that because funding is devolved, it is of no concern to readers outside Wales. Really? And who is giving Welsh publishers the money to publish their books and poetry? As far as I know 80% of Welsh GDP comes from the rest of the UK. I imagine English, Scottish and Northern Itreland tax-payers would have something to say about that! ‘Devolved’? Ha! Ha! I’d stick to the Mabinogion if I were you Gwyneth.

9 I am apparently a ‘self-described’ author. What does that mean? Is it not simply a rather unimaginative put-down?

10 She maintains that public subsidy supports books of value. Oh, does it indeed? What value and to whom exactly?

11 She argues that the Welsh Books Council and Literature Wales are investing in a cultural sector which cannot operate under usual market norms – why not?

12 She again asserts that public funding supplies important gaps in the market – erm, what gaps exactly? Books that don’t sell are hardly filling any gap, apart from those gaps which exist in the coffers of Welsh publishers!

Our Gwyneth, lionises a number of Welsh writers, Rachel Trezise, Flur Dafydd, Deborah Davies…….well, put simply, if they are so good, what the hell do they need to nobble the tax-payer for?

She mentions Patrick MacGuiness, published by tax-payer funded Seren (£600,000 over the past couple of years) and winner of the Wales Book of The Year. What she doesn’t mention is that the said Mr MacGuiness, is also a  director of Seren. Conflict of interest? Don’t be silly, this is the Welsh ‘Literati’??

M/s Lewis alludes to the ‘commercial success’ of Welsh publishers, enabling them to subsidise works of ‘literary’ merit but commercial duffers. Madam, what planet are you on? Welsh publishers wouldn’t know commercial success if it beat them over the head and why? They don’t get any grant, unless ‘the title is expected to run at a deficit’! Mad, I know but fully verifiable.

Without the tax-payer, there isn’t ONE Welsh publisher that would last five seconds in the real ‘commercial’ world  M/s Lewis, and you know it. Or at least you should.

Welsh publishers never, ever lose, their risk is non-existent. And why? They don’t have to sell books, because the tax-payer pays them anyway! I have the FOI data to prove it, what do you have M/s Lewis??

To conclude, I challenge you Gwyneth Lewis to prove me wrong on all the above facts, in a public arena, with plenty of press and media around – English press and media!

BBC WALES etc cannot be trusted to be impartial, as the blog post above makes patently clear.

Meet me in a debating chamber and state your case, but please make sure you have irrefutable evidence and data to back it up.

The squeaky leather armchairs of an academic staff room are all very well, for the lyrical protestations of artistic outrage, but they don’t really cut any ice in the real world, do they? – if you want to write poetry and books that no-one reads, apart from the smug so-called Welsh intelligentsia, who sit all day in pretty Cardiff coffee shops sipping Cappuccinos, self-publish, blog the material or whack the stuff up on Amazon. It won’t cost the tax-payer a penny.

I know exactly what your answer will be. The same as the Welsh Books Council’s, Literature Wales and every single Welsh publisher.

No evidence to back up your claims. No Nielsen Book Data. No sales figures and no response to my challenge.

Now, why would that be?

Put your tax-payers’ money where your mouth is M/s Lewis, and if you can’t (or more likely won’t, because you have none of the evidence I speak of or if you do, it would be far too embarrassing to place in the public domain), then may I respectfully suggest, that you remain caressed by the more comfortable, rarefied and less worldly arms of academia.

Believe me, you are not cut out for the ruffian tactics of commercial fiction thugs like me.

If we ever meet up, I’ll buy you a large whisky and we can kiss poetically and make up. I might even share a roll-up with you!

No hard feelings.

JR

PS Forgive me, but I’m still trying to work out these ‘Buy Time Bursaries’ ie Welsh writers can sting the tax-payer for thousands of pounds (gold-plated dole if you like), courtesy of quango Literature Wales, to stay at home and write, regardless of whether the work is published or not (M/s Lewis has received two, as already stated, amounting to £11,000). I mean, call me a Philistine and all that, but how long does it take to stay at home to write a stanza or two?

My contributions to the Jeremy Vine Show and The Telegraph….never let it be said!

Here are the links to both the Jeremy Vine Show (BBC Radio 2) and the Telegraph article:-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pgrhz

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/wales/9774410/Taxpayers-fund-millions-of-pounds-in-grants-to-keep-Welsh-authors-writing-books-no-one-reads.html

NB It should be noted here, that the two presumed ‘trail-blazers’ of the Welsh media ie BBC ap Wales and the Western Mail, refused outright to broadcast or publish the exact details of my FOI data, particularly in respect of tax-payer hand-outs to Welsh ‘celebrities’ eg BBC ap Wales presenters, and the fact that its former Controller Geraint Talfan Davies, had his own autobiography paid for from the public purse.

It took London to deliver the goods – and what have I been saying about the ‘Welsh Establishment’???!!!

This time, I really do rest my case….for now anyway.

JR

The Rotten Hearts of Welsh Institutions.

Since my delving into various ‘Welsh Establishment’ institutions about a year ago, with Freedom of Information requests etc, I remain shocked, profoundly disappointed and in many respects utterly disgusted with the endemic 1950’s cronyism, nepotism and ‘jobs for the boys’ mentality, that still infuses its insidious way throughout Welsh public life.

Yes, we all know it goes on. It’s the price we pay for democracy.

Northern Ireland, Scotland and England, all have their problems with the political classes, the self-serving elites, vested interests and the liberal intelligentsia etc etc  – actually, the Welsh ‘intelligentsia’ are far from liberal, most of ’em still think another translation of the Mabinogion to be cutting-edge 21st century literature, not to mention books on ‘Independent Bus Operators in North Wales’ and re-printing titles that no-one had heard of sixty years ago, let alone now!! All, courtesy of the tax-payer of course.

Wales is however, different.

It is extraordinarily blatant about it.

Scrutiny? Accountability? As I have said before, don’t be silly, this is Wales. The tax-payer gravy train must keep on going at all costs!

All the following institutions I have encountered, have done nothing but evade, prevaricate, pass the buck and on occasions been downright dishonest:-

BBC ap Wales – they have been one of the worse offenders, when it comes to truth and honest journalism, and I’m not just talking about Savile and McAlpine. I always thought that part of the BBC’s remit was to scrutinise those with influence and power. How positively naive of me. BBC ap Wales is nothing less than a tool of nationalist Welsh zionism and yet another sop to Welsh language extremism.

Impartial?

The organisation is an abject mockery of the word, and does nothing but bring the distinguished reputation of the BBC into disrepute. It would do Lord Patten and the BBC Trustees no disservice, to cast more challenging eyes upon the ‘goings on’ at BBC ap Wales – they might also teach the  book worm presenter, Top Shelf Phil Rickman some manners,while they’re at it!

Western Mail – not far behind the above.  It led me down a grand old garden path made of broken glass, and clobbered me for freebie articles in the process. It should change its name to ‘Western Shiftiness’.

Welsh Government – they make the late Tommy Cooper and Morcambe and Wise combined, look more bland and serious, than a GP’s surgery on flu-jab day, with their total and amateur disregard for how tax-payers’ money is spent. The examples are legion.

Huw Lewis, the Welsh Government’s Heritage Minister, also appears to have writer’s block where the distribution of tax-payers’ money to the Welsh literary elites are concerned.

Wales Audit Office – this lot couldn’t audit the accounts of a school tuck shop and are in the pockets of the Welsh Government anyway. Yet another farcical take on so-called ‘Independence’.

Institute of Welsh Affairs – a self-indulgent, nationalist propaganda machine, set up by the so-called Welsh intelligentsia and paid for by the tax-payer, that will have no truck with honest debate. ‘Independent?’ Don’t make me laugh! Another ‘Institution’ not keen on the truth.

NB Our Geraint Talfan Davies was one of its founders. In case you have forgotten, Mr Davies was once the Controller of BBC ap Wales and is now Chairman of the Welsh National Opera. Oh and lest we forget, the Welsh publisher of his autobiography ‘At Arms Length’, Subsidised Sour Seren Books no less, was paid a handsome sum by the tax-payer to publish it!

Literature Wales – this good for nothing bunch of deluded ne’er-do-wells, add a new dimension to the words ‘transparency’ and ‘openness’, and frankly are below contempt. You have as much chance of squeezing information out of this sorry lot, as you do of buying a bacon sarnie in a kosher restaurant on Ben Yehuda Street!

Omerta is the name of the game, as is the case with all the tax-payer dependent Welsh publishers – but then they are the Taffy Mafia, so what can one expect?

Arts Council of Wales – ‘scrutiny’ and ‘accountability’? Again, don’t be silly. In spite of having been hauled before a Westminster Public Accounts Committee in the past and being denounced by both Houses of Parliament, it continues to carry on in its own supremely arrogant and secretive way.

Welsh Books Council – they mean well, but do not operate in the real world and have yet to understand the new publishing reality. The academics running the WBC show are hardly likely to be any threat to Branson or Sugar are they? Most of them wouldn’t know one end of a balance sheet from another, or hard-core commercial awareness, if it hit them on their collective heads!

Does the WBC honestly believe, that books no-one wants to read, are going to sell at £15-20 retail???

When one speaks with all these little coteries and self-serving bastions of Welsh nationalism (BBC Wales is a salutary example, oh and not to mention its Medici-like propensity for ‘keeping it in the family’, nepotism on a grand scale in other words), one cannot help but be reminded of times gone by.

Attlee and Wilson are alive and well in Wales.

The crude, unsophisticated and bully-boy tactics of tin-pot Council Chamber cronyism and preferment, rule the Principality waves. The Welsh establishment stinks to high heaven with the odious stench of ‘it’s not what you know, but make bloody sure your Christian name is ‘Dai’ or at the very least a Welsh translation’, but worse than all this put together, the madding hoi-polloi of Welsh public life are forcing Wales into a  downward spiral and a slow death from backwater ignorance, ‘Old labour’ rough and tumble obsessions with an inglorious past and xenophobic schizophrenia.

Wales is better than this, it has courage and it has indomitable spirit.

It is time the Welsh people stood up and said ‘Enough!’

JR

A ‘bitter and twisted man’, so reckons slithery Top Shelf Phil Rickman of BBC Radio Wales!

Yes, this was our Phil’s opening shot at a pre-recorded interview a few months ago for BBC Radio Wales.

Nothing like making a guest feel comfortable is there? – of course, he wouldn’t have said this had we been ‘live’.

Far too spineless and I’m hardly renowned for being the retiring sort.

Never mind, sadly, constant misrepresentation, insult, abuse and juvenile name-calling, seem to be the only forms of attack that the Welsh ‘literati’ can level at me. Perhaps one day, they might actually come up with some substantive and verifiable arguments to support their case.

I doubt it though.

They’ve had not far off a year and still nothing but steam and hot air.

JR

 

WHSmith, Reading…lovely day, lovely staff!

All copies of ‘The Bent Brief ‘sold, apart from two left for the book shelves! I doubt I would have sold one, were it not for the support of the charming duo Lucy and Sharon. Enthusiasm tucked up with a cake and hot coffee, made the fraught business of book signing all worthwhile.

Having insulted a camera or two with my ageing and beta-blocked chops, we all agreed that the ‘Silver Songsters’ (please see my website) will be launched at Reading next year – all things being equal that is, I refer here to the novel in question, editors and proof-readers can be a capricious lot!

My sincere thanks to all the staff for their smiles and patience.

Julian

Birmingham and all that!

It was good to be back in B’ham yesterday.

A quick in and out of WHSmith, 40 copies gone, smiles of all shapes, colours and creeds to help them on their way and plenty of reader ‘chats’ to finish off!

I spent six happy years messing about on the trams, getting drunk in Broad Street and going multicultural on lips from all corners of the globe. Divorced, full of hell and laughter, I had a grand old time. Urdu one minute, Punjabi the next and God knows what in between!

It was good to be back in open mental spaces and frightening city chaos, readers were interested and indulged Ruck’s written words – no doubt, I will find out soon enough if their ‘indulgence’ was well placed or not!

JR

‘Revenge Reviews’ on Amazon

I never fail to be astonished by how low some people can get. Now those who don’t like the truth are writing unpleasant ‘reviews’ about ‘The Bent Brief’ on Amazon.

It is obvious to anyone with even a modicum of intelligence, that you have not read the novel and that you are in dire need of help, but if such activity makes you feel better then by all means, do carry on.

JR

Book Signings!

London as usual, proved interesting and colourful.

Plenty of ‘Bent Brief’s’ flogged without too much flogging, sexy passes from a 68 year old and a desperate sort in an invalid scooter, reminded that my looks were going fifty shades of grey and beyond, but never mind.

For a while, a debate ensued about the unreadability of ‘literary’ perfection, the educated and pukka classes in particular seemed fed up with it all, but nevertheless hated the ubiquitous ‘beach books’ and hastily written clit-lit penny-packets that kept intruding upon their ‘good story’ lives.

Intelligent and sometimes saucy repartee was the order of the day, but who was I to complain – it sells books! Never mind the quality feel Ruck’s width! Damn that’s a bit near the bone eh? But only those in wrinkly twilight zones like me, will know what I’m on about!

These days, book signings are all about good looks, charm and a smile that can hypnotize a tiger about to pounce – of course the readability of one’s wares helps, sometimes anyway. At least, I wouldn’t like to to try doing them without a blazing sense of humour and a smart Windsor knot – my ‘looks’ don’t count for much after all!

It was good to be back in London, the mix, the multicultured chaos, the never-ending life. It was good to blend and be a passing face with nothing to say.

JR