‘Where is the Welsh short story going? Wherever Rob Mimpriss takes it.’ John O’Donoghue. Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. ‘bathed in white fire in every sense... Borges would happily own them.’ Gee Williams on Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. ‘a work of great beauty and subtle force… a fine, distinctive voice.’ Jim Perrin on Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. Books: Fiction. ‘Dark, complex, pensively eloquent’ (Sophie Baggott, New Welsh Review) — Reasoning, For His Warriors and Prayer at the End, three short-story collections now published by Cockatrice Books. 10th May 2021: Following Richard Suchorzewski’s vow to ‘return to terrify’ the functional parties of Wales, I would like to announce that I will return to terrify the Nobel Prize for Literature committee. Books: Fiction. ‘Heaving with loss, regret and familial bonds.’ Annexe Magazine on ‘Gemini,’ a short story in Prayer at the End, published by Cockatrice Books. Books: Translations. ‘Lucid, skilful, and above all, of enormous timely relevance’ (Jim Perrin). Rob Mimpriss’s new translation of Morgan Llwyd’s allegorical masterpiece, A Book of Three Birds. ‘There is nothing ostentatious about his writing: most of his characters lead unremarkable, even humdrum, lives; there are few dramatic plot developments... And yet the best of these pieces express something important...’ Brian George, The Short Review. ‘These stories are a rare kind of joy. Even when they approach moments of discontent and danger they bring an optimism founded in human relationships. This is a wonderful collection.’ Prof. Graëme Harper, editor, New Writing. Books: Translations. ‘An invaluable translation.’ Angharad Price on Hallowe’en in the Cwm, the short stories of Glasynys, translated by Rob Mimpriss. ‘Humour and pity often arise from the characters’ inability to understand themselves and those close to them. In suggesting the truth and the self-deception Mimpriss not only engages our sympathy but makes us question our assumptions about ourselves.’ Caroline Clark, gwales.com ‘Quietly written, contemplative... whose powerhouse is the depth of its moral reflection.’ Siân Preece, Rhys Davies Competition on ‘Hamilton Park,’ published in Prayer at the End. ‘an immaculate collection.’ Nigel Jarrett, twice winner of the Rhys Davies Award, on Prayer at the End, a collection of short stories by Rob Mimpriss published by Cockatrice Books. ‘Through the stealthy movements of his prose, Rob Mimpriss enacts the quiet enigma of people’s lives and relationships. The result is an understated fiction of compelling intensity.’ Prof M Wynn Thomas. The story is called ‘Valiant’ in the collection, For His Warriors. I recommend it. Highly. It feels to me already like a classic.’ Fiona Owen, editor, Scintilla. A quiet writer with a loud voice... I’ll be listening for more.’ Michael Nobbs, gwales.com on Reasoning: Twenty Stories, published by Cockatrice Books. Books: Fiction. ‘In the most seemingly unremarkable of Rob Mimpriss’s pieces there is a skill, and a mystery and elusiveness to that skill, which other short-story writers might envy.’ Gee Williams. Books: Anthologies. ‘Industry in the Country of the Blind,’ new fiction in Land of Change, radical prose from Wales edited by Gemma Howell and forthcoming from Culture Matters. Books: Anthologies: ‘this exemplary collaboration’ (Philip Gross). Dangerous Asylums, an anthology of fiction by leading Welsh writers, inspired by Denbigh Mental Hospital, edited by Rob Mimpriss.

Image of Sebastian Haffner taken from Wikipedia

Trajectories of Failure: Neil Hamilton, Sebastian Haffner and the Campaign Against Welsh Democracy

In his book, Germany: Jekyll and Hyde, the journalist Sebastian Haffner, then a refugee in London from Adolf Hitler’s Germany, reminds us of Hitler’s inglorious beginnings and gradual descent into crime. First, he says, Hitler was an artist; having failed as an artist, he worked as a painter and decorator; having failed as a painter and decorator, he lived in a doss-house; not content with this, he became a snitch for the police; and then he became, first a member, then a functionary, and at last the leader of the Nazi party, thus continuing downward on the trajectory of his failure until he was Führer of the Third Reich.(1)

Neil Hamilton is no Hitler, of course, yet Haffner’s rhetoric seems applicable in his case. For having been a Member of Parliament, he was branded a liar and a cheat;(2) having been branded a liar and a cheat, he became, as he himself might put it, a media whore;(3) and having become a media whore, he sought to become a member of the European Parliament, for the purpose of campaigning against the European Parliament.(4) Having failed to become a member of the European Parliament, he became a member of the Parliament of Wales,(5) who now seeks to abolish the Parliament of Wales,(6) even though this consigns him to utter irrelevance,(7) and the country he supposedly loves(8) to extinction.(9) Those who genuinely wish to contribute or create will do so, and will find at least some fulfilment. But those whose motivations are selfish can never be fulfilled, for selfishness seeks not to create or nurture anything external to the self, but only to aggrandise and perpetuate the self. Hence UKIP greeted the referendum victory that completed their campaign, not with satisfaction or joy, but with gloating and self-pity,(10) with thuggishness and brutality,(11) and now they look for something else to destroy.

For Eric Hoffer, politics reveal character. The selfish, the bored and the over-ambitious are drawn to take part in populist mass movements,(12) while for José Ortega, it is the self-appointed ‘masses,’ not defined by class, but drawn from all walks of life, and defined by their materialism, their rejection of knowledge, and their indifference to the life of the mind, who embrace authoritarianism.(13) Tacitus said of the barbarians that they confused the material comforts of civilisation with civilisation itself, and the word implies a respect for the human personality in its potential that makes personal freedom, comfort and leisure meaningful and purposeful.(14) Neil Hamilton is no Hitler. Yet he has a history of involvement with the Far Right.(15) His political career has disgraced, coarsened,(16) cheapened(17) and degraded(18) democracy. And in his campaign to abolish the democracy of Wales he has found a cause worthy of his stature.

  1. Sebastian Haffner, Germany: Jekyll and Hyde: A Contemporary Account of Nazi Germany. 1940. London: Abacus, 2005. pp. 7-8.
  2. David Hencke, David Leigh and David Pallister. ‘A Liar and a Cheat.’ The Guardian, 1st October 1996.
  3. James Walsh, ‘Neil Hamilton: disgraced MP to Z-list celebrity to political comeback.’ The Guardian, 10th May 2016. For Neil Hamilton’s use of the word ‘concubine’ to describe his fellow members of the Senedd, Leanne Wood and Kirsty Williams, see note 17.
  4. Ross Hawkins, ‘Neil Hamilton joins UKIP’s Nigel Farage show.’ BBC News, 9th September 2011.
  5. ‘Welsh Assembly: Ex-Tory Neil Hamilton elected for UKIP.’ Video. BBC News, 6th May 2016.
  6. ‘Neil Hamilton calls for end to Senedd.’ Powys County Times, 28th May 2020.
  7. Will Hayward, ‘The evolution of UKIP in Wales: How the Senedd's Brexiteer politicians turned on each other and the institution that employs them to survive.’ Wales Online, 21st August 2020.
  8. David Williamson, ‘Former Tory MP Neil Hamilton on “hiraeth” and why he wants to be a Ukip Assembly Member.’ Wales Online, 19th May 2016. Philip Dewey, ‘This is the £1.4m manor house in England from where Neil Hamilton will run Ukip's AMs in Wales.’ Wales Online, 11th May 2016.
  9. David Williamson, ‘Wales “wouldn't really exist” if we’d voted No in 1997 – Carwyn Jones.’ Wales Online, 16th September 2017.
  10. ‘Farage tells EU Parliament: “You’re not laughing now.”’ Video. BBC News, 28th June 2016. Jennifer Rankin, ‘Brexit party MEPs turn backs on Ode to Joy at European parliament.’ The Guardian, 2nd July 2019.
  11. Jennifer Rankin, ‘Ukip scuffle: MEPs Steven Woolfe and Mike Hookem reported to French police.’ The Guardian, 26th October 2016.
  12. Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. 1956. New York: Harper, 2010. pp. 24-25, 38, 39, 51-53
  13. José Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses: Authorised Translation from the Spanish. 1930. New York: Norton, 1993. pp. 54 ff, 61 ff, 68 ff.
  14. The passage is quoted and discussed in R. H. Barrow, The Romans. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1949. pp. 12-13.
  15. Mark S. Redfern, ‘From Corrupt Tory to Friend of Fascists: The Story of UKIP’s Neil Hamilton.’ Voice.Wales, 15th October 2020.
  16. Ruth Mosalski, ‘Neil Hamilton called “heartless” after an interview about hospitalised Ukip MEP Steven Woolfe.’ Wales Online, 6th October 2016.
  17. ‘I meant no disrespect, says UKIP’s Hamilton on sexism row.’ Video. BBC News, 24th May 2016.
  18. ‘Neil Hamilton apology for Brexit “suicide” remark.’ Video. BBC News, 29th March 2017.

I am the author of four 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 and Pugnacious Little Trolls in revised editions at Cockatrice Books. My anthology of fiction, Dangerous Asylums, 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 am 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, and to Land of Change, an anthology of radical writing forthcoming from Culture Matters. My work has appeared in Albawtaka Review, Annexe Magazine, Blue Tattoo, Cambrensis, Catharsis, East of the Web, The Harbinger, The Interpreter’s House, New Welsh Review, New Writing, Otherwise Engaged, The Swansea Review, Tears in the Fence, Writing in Education, and elsewhere. I hold a Ph.D. in Creative and Critical Writing, and am former Artistic Coordinator of the North Wales Mental Health Research Project convened by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. In 2011 I was elected to membership of the Welsh Academy in recognition of my contributions to Welsh writing.

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.