OF WALES & THE WELSH
Greg Lance – Watkins
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so So just who are ‘the crachach’? …
The word Crachach dates back to the origins of the Welsh language but its meaning has changed over the years.
“It used to mean scabby and was a term of contempt.
Around the 12th century it meant contemptibility and dwarfish, but more recently it came to mean gentry, upstarts, snobs.
At one time it meant anyone who was better off than you – if someone had an inside toilet and you didn’t, they were crachach.
Now it means a ruling elite. But don’t use my name, I’ve got to work with this lot,” said one academic.
“Cynulliad y werin, nid Cynulliad y crachach,”
Carolyn Hitt was once a witty writer, before her ‘Pilgrimage to Patagonia’ saw her become part of the Crachach. This 2006 article is a good take on the Crachach. There’s absolutely no way she’d write something similar nowadays:
So just who are ‘the crachach’?
By Carolyn Hitt
Journalist and broadcaster
They are the elite who look after one another – the powerful, great and good of Wales. Somehow the Senedd opening just would not be the same without their presence – the crachach.
So with tongue firmly embedded in cheek, social commentator Carolyn Hitt ponders the status of crachach in today’s Wales.So what does it mean to be crachach in modern Wales?
In an outrageous slur on my character, I was once accused of being valleys crachach because I grew up in a house with bay windows and my parents had a three- piece suite from Leekes.
But Rhondda was never a hotbed of crachach society.
The term used to denote local gentry but 21st century crachach is the Taffia, the largely Welsh-speaking elite who dominate the arts, culture and media of Wales and to a lesser extent its political life.
Rhodri Morgan reckons there’s no place for stuck-up sorts down the Bay. “Cynulliad y werin, nid Cynulliad y crachach,” as he once famously declared – “An assembly of the people, not an assembly of the establishment”.
If in desperate need, they can usually be spotted here…
But the crachach just think most assembly members are a bit thick. See the recent Arts Council of Wales rumpus for details.
You don’t necessarily have to be rich to be crachach, a direct bloodline to writer Saunders Lewis will do nicely.
Their natural habitat can range from the Gorsedd of the Eisteddfod to a Welsh National Opera opening night. They have their names inscribed on chairs in the Wales Millennium Centre and take over Tier One of St David’s Hall.
They are never short of a committee to chair nor an international rugby ticket complete with canapés at half-time.
If the crachach had a coat of arms, the motto would be that old chestnut: ‘It’s who you know not what you know and make sure you’re belonging to someone on the committee’
The Vale, Pontcanna and Whitchurch are crachach property hotspots while barn conversions in Llandeilo and cottages in Newport, Pembrokeshire, provide weekend retreats.
Supremely confident in all social situations, you can spot them by their habit of looking over your left shoulder as they scan the room for someone more important than you to talk to.
While they may be vicious about each other in private they rarely fall out publicly unless they are fighting for position in the queue for the latest Kyffin Williams exhibition.
Older crachach can be fiercely Welsh nationalist yet not averse to receiving gongs from the Queen. Younger arty crachach will always get their projects funded, however rubbish they may be.
Media crachach are perhaps the most obnoxious members of the species, especially when misbehaving at the crachach bacchanalian extravaganza that is the Bafta Cymru Awards.
Crachach society is not a meritocracy. If the crachach had a coat of arms, the motto would be that old chestnut: ‘It’s who you know not what you know and make sure you’re belonging to someone on the committee’, albeit written in medieval Welsh in cynghanedd metre.
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