This is the website of Rob Mimpriss, the short-story writer. Read reviews and samples of my books, contact me to organise an event, or learn how my writing has been shaped by the intellectual heritage of Wales.


A defence of EU membership
A defence of Welsh independence
Guest Post: Poems by Brett Evans

News from Rob Mimpriss (2016)

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Poster for book launch of Dangerous Asylums

Monday 10th October, World Mental Health Day
5-6pm,Lecturer Room 2, Main Arts Building.
Free entry

Dangerous Asylums: Stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital Told by Leading Welsh Writers

Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, A. L. Reynolds, Manon Steffan Ros, Simon Thirsk, Elaine Walker, Gee and David Williams.
Contributing editor: Rob Mimpriss

Published by North Wales Mental Health Research Project, Department of Psychological Medicine, Hergest Unit, Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor

‘In this exemplary collaboration between medical science and imagination, lives preserved in official records, in the language and diagnoses of their times, are restored not just to light, but to humanity and equality. This anthology is a resurrection.’ Philip Gross.

I have realised that if ever I am to gloat over the disfigured corpses of my enemies, I am going to need a bigger cat.

‘There is now a profound divide — what British politicians call “deep blue water” — between Remain’s growing constituency and Leave’s diminishing one. This will be the defining split in British politics for at least a generation. And yet the vast majority of practicing politicians are on the declining side of this divide, where the supply of leaders far exceeds demand for them.

‘The UK is approaching a fundamental political realignment, for which the current government is totally unprepared. It will come — probably quite suddenly — as soon as enough people recognize that May has, through little fault of her own, inevitably failed to “get the best deal for Britain.” As the economist Herbert Stein famously observed, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” So May’s government might last until May, but not much longer.’

Jacek Rostowski, former Deputy Prime Minister of Poland, analysing Theresa May’s predicament in Project Syndicate.

Picture of a Welsh Not

Photograph of a Welsh Not, hung from the necks of Welsh-speaking children as a sign that they were to be beaten

‘To many commentators, the curse of Wales was its distinctiveness — the fact that it was not English, linguistically and otherwise. That distinctiveness, it was argued, lay at the root of the Welsh readiness to riot, a readiness much exhibited between 1839 and 1844. The Welsh language was the quintessence of the distinctiveness... It was the existence of the Welsh language, argued the Rebecca Commission in 1844, that hindered the Law and the Established Church from civilising the Welsh. The attacks upon the language were interwoven with the racism which was rampant in nineteenth-century Europe. The undisciplined Irish proved that the Celts were shaped from materials inferior to those which formed the Teutons.’

John Davies, The History of Wales. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1990. pp. 387-388.

10th December: To mark Human Rights Day, on which the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, I quote Kate Roberts, reflecting on nationhood, colonialism and the creative process in Wales at the time of the First World War:

‘I’m a thin-skinned woman, easily hurt, and by nature a terrible pacifist. My bristles are raised at once against anything I consider an injustice, be it against an individual or a society or a nation. Indeed, I’d like to have some great stage to stand on, facing Pumlumon, to be able to shout against every injustice — like the terrible injustice I personally felt, that the government took the children of monoglot Welsh cottagers to fight the wars of the Empire, and sent official letters to say that those children had been killed, in a language the parents couldn't read. But some instinct told me that the short story wasn’t a soap box to stand on, and that I’d have to discipline myself strictly as a living human being, and as a writer trying to write, to stop myself getting bitter against everyone and everything. And the same reviewer says, ‘You don’t find one line with any hint of bitterness in her work.’ And another said they have no feelings of anger, ill-feeling, pride, self-pity or rage. Of course it’s no compliment that those elements are not to be found, because they can be read into some of the characters. But I want to say that the absence of these feelings from my stories doesn’t reflect my character. The things inside me are totally different, and I have allowed them into many of my stories. But it was a hard struggle; I had to fight like the Devil himself to curb my emotions, and to bring my characters to the same place of quietness.’

Read on

5th December: Read an open letter to Theresa May concerning funding for the Cornish language.

‘It’s not just that the public voted to Leave, or even the arrogance or condescension of Brexit politicians towards their European counterparts. It’s the fact that what they say literally makes no sense. It has no factual underpinning. It is logically impossible and intellectually worthless.

‘This would be disappointing and embarrassing at the best of times. But these are not the best of times. Britain is about to enter possibly the most complicated negotiations in its history, with very severe implications for our quality of life and our place in the world. These negotiations will not be conducted in the post-truth world of the Brexiters. They will be conducted on the basis of cold, hard facts.’

Ian Dunt, in The New European

On 10th November 2016, UKIP Arfon’s Twitter account ‘mourns the passing of the gas chambers.’ UKIP, vile beyond description.

Following the very warm reception of Dangerous Asylums: Stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital in Denbigh itself, Nigel Jarrett gives the book a very warm reception in Wales Arts Review.

Speakers and guests at the Carriageworks, Denbigh, 4th November

4th November 2016: Tea and cake, two songs by Elaine Walker, readings by the contributors, and a supportive and deeply appreciative audience marked a celebration of Dangerous Asylums, an anthology of stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital, in Denbigh itself. The anthology, for sale on Amazon and Gwales, has garnered its first customer review, and by agreement of the contributors, all profits will support the work of MIND.

Poster for Dangerous Asylums reading in Denbigh

Friday 4th November
6pm, The Carriageworks, Denbigh

Dangerous Asylums: Stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital Told by Leading Welsh Writers

Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, A. L. Reynolds, Manon Steffan Ros, Simon Thirsk, Elaine Walker, Gee and David Williams.
Contributing editor: Rob Mimpriss

Published by North Wales Mental Health Research Project, Department of Psychological Medicine, Hergest Unit, Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor

‘In this exemplary collaboration between medical science and imagination, lives preserved in official records, in the language and diagnoses of their times, are restored not just to light, but to humanity and equality. This anthology is a resurrection.’ Philip Gross.

Image of watch which stopped at time of Aberfan disaster

21st October: On this day, 1966, a slagheap engulfed the primary school and part of the village of Aberfan, Merthyr Tydfil, killing 116 children and 28 adults.

The collapse was caused by a build-up water in the shale, which was allowed by the National Coal Board to build up on the side of a limestone ridge above the village, containing water sources. Three years before the incident, Merthyr Tydfil Council wrote to the National Coal Board to express concern at the safety of the tip; in 1965, a petition signed by parents was presented to the school. The Davies Enquiry commissioned by the Secretary of State for Wales blamed the negligence of the National Coal Board and the mendacity of its chairman, Lord Robens.

The NCB paid out £160,000 in compensation, including £500 per fatality, while donations from the public received by Merthyr Tydfil council came to more than £1.6 million. The Charities Commission intervened to prevent payments to individual victims from the disaster fund, while government pressure forced the fund to contribute to the cost of removing remaining slag heaps.

Wales marked the fiftieth anniversary of the disaster with a moment of silence at 9:15am. The Wales Powers Bill of 2016 offers the National Assembly limited sovereignty over energy production in Wales.

While I am delighted for Bob Dylan, it is important that the Nobel Prize for Literature not forsake its primary purpose, which is to annoy the Americans.

‘Imagine in Remain had won by a tiny margin, and the government went for “Hard Remain” — Schengen, the Euro, multilingual signage. People would go apeshit.’

Rhiannon Lucy Coslett on Twitter @rhiannonlucyc

Photograph of hitman, the Baptist, in the film, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

And in other news, as the European Parliament appoints Conservative MEP, Sajjad Karim, to investigate the cause of Steven Woolfe’s injuries, news leaks that UKIP’s internal investigation will be conducted by a mysterious figure known only as ‘The Baptist.’

And elsewhere, a BBC internal email accidentally copied to a journalist states that the altercation between Steven Woolfe and Mike ‘Knuckles’ Hookem should be referred to in the news as a ‘gentlemen’s disagreement.’

The stench of racism emanating from Birmingham can’t be ignored. Amongst the Brexit jam jokes and the clown Boris adulation there’s the whiff of Weimar. It has a long history: of failed empire, self-entitlement, presumption of place in the world and discomfort at status decline.

Mike Small, ‘Brexit Means Racism.’ Bella Caledonia (5th October 2016)

A statement from the leaders of Plaid Cymru, the SNP, and the Greens, addresses the current social and political crisis:

The countries of the United Kingdom face a spiralling political and economic crisis. At the top of the Conservative Party, the narrow vote in favour of leaving the EU has now been interpreted as the pretext for a drastic cutting of ties with Europe, which would have dire economic results - and as an excuse for the most toxic rhetoric on immigration we have seen from any government in living memory.

This is a profoundly moral question which gets to the heart of what sort of country we think we live in. We will not tolerate the contribution of people from overseas to our NHS being called into question, or a new version of the divisive rhetoric of 'British jobs for British workers'. Neither will we allow the people of these islands, no matter how they voted on June 23rd, to be presented as a reactionary, xenophobic mass whose only concern is somehow taking the UK back to a lost imperial age. At a time of increasing violence and tension, we will call out the actions of politicians who threaten to enflame those same things.

This is not a time for parties to play games, or meekly respect the tired convention whereby they do not break cover during each other's conferences. It is an occasion for us to restate the importance of working together to resist the Tories' toxic politics, and make the case for a better future for our people and communities. We will do this by continuing to work and campaign with the fierce sense of urgency this political moment demands.

Signed by:
Leanne Wood, Leader of Plaid Cymru
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland
Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales
Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales
Steven Agnew, Leader of the Green Party of Northern Ireland
Patrick Harvie, Co-convener of the Scottish Green Party
Alice Hooker-Stroud, Leader of the Wales Green Party


A fable of Aesop:

An old man once sat under an olive tree outside a city gate, when a traveller approached him asked him what kind of people lived within. ‘And what kind of people have you come from?’ asked the old man. ‘Oh,’ replied the traveller, ‘they were without exception churlish and rude, and that is why I had to leave.’ ‘Then I am sorry,’ said the old man, ‘but you will find the people here no different.’

The traveller went his way, but another traveller approached, and asked the old man what kind of city he had arrived at. ‘And what kind of city have you left?’ asked the old man. ‘I miss it,’ replied the traveller, 'for it was filled with the most noble and hospitable people that a mortal man could know.’ ‘Then I think you will find,’ replied the old man, ‘that the people here are every bit as worthy.’

I missed this story at the time. But apparently Theresa May advised George Osborne, as an older sister, to acquire a soul by starving a child to death in a silver cage.

And a Brexiteer says in the Guardian comments that experts make up 99% of their statistics.

The ghettoisation of the Welsh: This article in The Economic Voice considers house pricing and immigration from England in the light of centuries of English colonialism, and considers what can be done to preserve Wales’s ailing culture.

This interview to be published in New Left Review comments, among other things, on the difference between hard nationalism and the national politics of stateless nations, on why Britain has never become federal, and why left-wingers constantly vilify and misrepresent Celtic nationalisms.

According to a British Election study reported by the BBC, views on capital punishment and public whipping were a significantly better predictor of Euroscepticism than class or income.

Mr Terry Nathan, UKIP councillor in Bromley, stressing the need to kill people who repudiate his views.

‘So why are you here?’
‘Oh, just a check-up and polish.’
‘Hmm... Any Heat magazines behind the back?‘

~Llŷr ap Gareth

Pictured above, a tweet by BBC researcher, Sam Proffitt, seeking an interviewee to ‘explain why the Welsh language should die.’ Perhaps the best defence for such views, and for the English obsession with destroying the Welsh nation which they represent, is to scream that the Welsh language isn’t a race.

‘The number of learners is increasing, and the public sentiment toward the language is more positive than it has been in more than a century. That’s the perception anyway. The reality is that Welsh is still very much a vulnerable language, and if some major social changes don’t take place in the next generation or two, at most, it will not survive as a truly living community language; it will find itself in the unenviable position that Irish finds itself in today, or worse.’

Robert J Jones, analysing the language’s prospects in The Pianosa Chronicle

12th July: Remember when David Cameron told the Scottish government that Scotland was either in or out, and couldn’t just cherry-pick the best bits of union? That.

11th July: Leave voters, controlled for age and education, were more likely to use block capitals than those who voted remain. Tweeted by @caprosser.

A Remainer friend of mine commented, the day the referendum results were announced, that at the end of the day, the sun still rises. I regretfully explained that it sets.

k thx bye, says EU.

As Plaid Cymru celebrates the solidarity of stateless nations across Europe, a cogent article on the costs of leaving appears on the London School of Economics website, and a poll of economists by Ipsos MORI shows overwhelming expert opposition to Brexit.

On the left, a Nazi propoganda film. On the right, a poster campaign by UKIP. Shared by
Johnny Marr

11th June 2016: England fans shout ‘Fuck off, Europe; we're voting out’ during violent clashes in Marseille. The mask of Brexit slips to reveal an ugly, racist English nationalism.

Martin Buber tells the story of a mystic who, after a long and arduous journey of the soul, finally knocks on the gates of heaven, and is asked by a voice from within what he wants. He replies, ‘I am a man of prayer. I have sought God all my life, and now I am here, I wish to speak with him.’ ‘Then go back!’ says the voice. ‘Your God is not here, for He has drowned Himself in the hearts of men.’

And in other news, a further blow to the Remain campaign as Anthony Bamford of JCB comes out in support of Brexit.

27th April 2016:

Dear Mr Cameron

To claim that during the junior doctors’ strike in England yesterday the Welsh border became a line between life and death would be both graceless and mendacious. I will therefore refrain from doing so.

Yours sincerely

Rob Mimpriss

26th April 2016: The day the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party drop a flyer through my door, asking what the Assembly has ever done for Wales, is the day junior doctors in England walk out of routine and emergency care, while services in Wales continue as normal.

2nd April 2016: According to the 9th century Welsh monk, Nennius, the legendary British king, Gwrtheyrn or Vortigern, was killed in his castle by fire from heaven after the monks of Britain prayed against him for three days and three nights. The calumnies which earned their condemnation included his marriage to one of the godless Saxons, and his ‘unnatural relations’ with his own daughter. It is not made explicit in Nennius’s account which sin was considered the worse.

Steinbeck, Forster and the Nobel Prize

Papers relating to the Nobel Prize released at the start of this year contained a number of revelations. In 1961, J.R.R. Tolkein was passed over on the grounds of poor prose and narrative technique, and E.M. Forster, whose last novel, A Passage to India, was published in 1924, was rejected because he was old, ‘a shadow of his former self.’ Ivo Andrić won the prize that year, and in 1962, John Steinbeck was selected over Robert Graves.

Graves was rendered ineligible because he was a poet, because it would be inappropriate to award an English poet while Ezra Pound was still alive, and because Pound was ruled out because of his war-time support for Nazism. But Steinbeck was a compromise candidate. Despite his social conscience, and the monumental nature of books like Of Mice and Men (1937), The Grapes of Wrath (1939), and East of Eden (1952), his work was marred by his ‘tenth-rate philosophising.’

At first glance there is little in common between Forster’s tight studies of upper class manners, and Steinbeck’s sprawling eulogies of working men...

Read on

The Wrestlers

Light strained through cigarette smoke became silver and granular; cast ridges of darkness on the knitted furrows of Gail’s top, on Chloë’s skirt of ruched velvet; glinted heavily on Calvin’s ring, Jason’s glass. The group’s rapt inwardness, the murmur of their voices, the stillness of that stone-faced man and the tear-swollen cheeks of the blonde, created a circle around them which no one transgressed. Only, in the foreground, a tattooed hand raising a pint glass to yellow lips would obtrude itself, or a barman come near to take their glasses, but turn away. The crowd thickened. A property developer watched the young farmer sitting beside him, examining street plans, and saw that his hands were still pink and clean. A girl in high heels slumped against the wall, breathing heavily, and saw the intent look on her companion’s face before he split into dizzying twins. The developer read the birth of his fortune in those hands; the girl would allege rape, but would not be believed...

Read the story

The human sacrifice scene in Apocalypto. It’s great to see women playing a leading role in public worship.

House of Fools

It must have been the professor’s death that upset her, for want of any substantial cause. She read his wife’s email during the hour before her last class; her lips tightened when she realised what it contained, and she pushed back her chair, getting up to stand in the window overlooking the quadrangle. The nearby hills were capped with cloud; the autumn day was drawing to an end, and it was going to rain. Two of her students were playing the fool, giving piggy-back rides near the Head of Department’s car, and she opened the window and called down to them, ‘You two! Get away from there!’ They ignored her. The students in the warmth of the reading room sighed over their computers. Mallt shut the window before her attic room lost its heat, and let herself sink down in one of the chairs she had set out for her students.

It was not that she and Herbert had been close since he took the chair at Oxford. She had seen him at the launch of his festschrift two years before, and had spent a few minutes near the wine glasses chatting with his wife. He had refilled his glass enough times to draw notice. And Mallt, who had never married or had children, whose flesh was sinking into the bones, had flattered herself that an onlooker might see in her face the fruit of dedication and uprightness and work, and in his the rotten leavings of a talent.

Read on

26th February 2016: Half of UKIP voters admitted racial prejudice in a poll conducted by YouGov, according to this article published by The Independent last year.


New Welsh Review 13

The room was in darkness. Only the light from the hall leaked under the door. The door opened a little, and Lewis reached through the opening, fumbling for the light switch. He found the switch, and let the door swing open. ‘This is the living room,’ he said.

The viewer looked over Lewis’s shoulder. He was a younger man than Lewis, and more smartly dressed. He looked at the gaudy catalogue furnishings of the room, the fireplace, which was dead, the door to the kitchen and the flight of stairs. ‘Can I look round?’ he said.

Read on

And in J.K. Rowling’s latest enchanting short story, adult Harry Potter forces adult Draco Malfoy to apologise for nasty things he said on Twitter.


A defence of EU membership
A defence of Welsh independence
Guest Post: Poems by Brett Evans

I am the author of three short story collections. Reasoning and For His Warriors, originally published by Gwasg y Bwthyn, Caernarfon, with Welsh Books Council support, now join Prayer at the End in revised editions at Cockatrice Books. My anthology of fiction, Dangerous Asylums: Stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital Told by Leading Welsh Writers, including work by Gee and David Williams, Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, Simon Thirsk and others, was published by the North Wales Mental Health Research Project, October 2016. I was a contributor with Nigel Jarrett, Rachel Trezise, Tristan Hughes and others to Brush with Fate, an anthology of Welsh fiction translated by Hala Salah Eldin. I am a member by election of the Welsh Academy.

I am the translator of Going South: The Stories of Richard Hughes Williams (Cockatrice, 2015), Hallowe’en in the Cwm: The Stories of Glasynys (Cockatrice, 2017), and A Book of Three Birds, the seventeenth-century classic by Morgan Llwyd (Cockatrice, 2017). In addition, I have translated fiction by D. Gwenallt Jones, Angharad Tomos, and Manon Steffan Ros.