‘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. 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. 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. 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: Translations. ‘An invaluable translation.’ Angharad Price on Hallowe’en in the Cwm, the short stories of Glasynys, translated by Rob Mimpriss. Click to read: ‘Quietly written, contemplative... whose powerhouse is the depth of its moral reflection.’ Siân Preece, Rhys Davies Competition on ‘Hamilton Park.’ 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. Journals: Stories. ‘Traveller M. in the Land of the Cynocephali,’ new fiction just published in Otherwise Engaged: A Literary and Arts Journal 6:2 (Winter 2020). 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. Latest article — read a selection of Welsh folk tales compiled and retold by T. Gwynn Jones, taken from his book, Welsh Folklore and Folk Custom. Latest comment – ‘Decency’s Limits — Abuse and Blocking on Virginia Crosbie’s Page’, a response to hate crimes and harassment on the Facebook page of Ynys Môn’s Conservative MP.

Image of Virginia Crosbie taken from Wikipedia

Decency’s Limits: Abuse and Blocking on Virginia Crosbie’s Facebook Wall

On a post dated 26th March 2021, the Conservative MP for Ynys Môn, Virginia Crosbie, announced an amnesty for all those who had been banned from her Facebook page in response, she claimed, to rudeness and abusiveness to herself and others.(1) The same post refers her readers to a pinned post outlining her house rules, among them the claim that her Facebook page as MP for Ynys Môn is not a place for ‘discussing policy’, and the warning that she will continue to block those whose comments are ‘irrelevant’ or ‘inappropriate’ or ‘rude.’(2)

An article on North Wales Live, published on 25th February,(3) describes some of the rudeness and abusiveness to which she has been subjected, and not always by her constituents: descriptions of her as a ‘slag’ and ‘cunt,’ and comparisons of her with the grey squirrel, also an incomer to the island, that must be ‘culled’ to protect the indigenous population. She compares such language to the racist abuse meted out to Marcus Rashford and the racist and sexist abuse meted out to Diane Abbott in response to their politics, yet she also points out that the people of Ynys Môn are not hostile to the Conservatives as a group, since they have elected one as their MP. Her thinking here may be flawed. To feel oneself the object of hatred and contempt because of things one cannot or should not change – one’s sex or sexuality, one’s race or religious background, one’s nationality or language – is to feel a sense of moral revulsion and of utter powerlessness at this violence against one’s personhood, one’s very right to exist and flourish. When compounded by burdens of history, of poverty or powerlessness, such violence causes great psychological harm,(4) and the sense that there is nothing one can do, no change one can make to earn the respect and acceptance to which one is entitled by birth, is a part of that suffering. By contrast, many of the 59% of Ynys Môn’s electorate who voted for local and left-wing candidates, and who feel that Virginia Crosbie has utterly failed them as their MP, would be mollified by changes in her politics.

To hear such language used against an MP, to hear, as her comments in the newspaper state, that female MPs consistently suffer more online abuse than their male colleagues, will also cause those constituents profound concern. And to hear her expressions of solidarity and understanding towards other victims of discrimination and hate would be encouraging, were it not for the casual racism and sexism of her Prime Minister; were it not that he and a criminal friend plotted actual violence against a reporter;(5) were it not for the manufactured victimhood of her Conservative colleagues, Lucy Allen and Simon Hart, who seemingly faked evidence that they had been subjected to hate crimes;(6) if she acknowledged that hate crimes against minorities have risen under her government’s rule;(7) if she took respectful note of the rising abuse of left-wing lawyers, and of academics such as Tanja Bueltmann,(8) neither wealthy nor powerful, who has been abused as a ‘bitch’, a ‘cunt’, a ‘dumb slut’ and a ‘dirty EU whore’, and threatened with ‘gang rape’ and ‘Coxing’ for her opposition to the government’s British Nationalist policies; or if she acknowledged those calls for the extermination of the Welsh as a people and the open expressions of fascism which have been emboldened by her government’s rhetoric.(9) Such omissions might arise from a failure of moral understanding, a failure to imagine the experiences and perspectives of people who have suffered or died under austerity, or suffered hate crimes following Brexit, and whose rightful moral demands upon her, however ill-expressed, will not be met by mere neighbourliness or niceness.(10) Yet her comments in North Wales Live also seem disingenuous, for they say nothing of the abusiveness of her supporters, who remained at liberty on her wall to bully and harass her critics, or of those critics who were banned for politely questioning her voting record, and whose comments in my hearing in response to their experiences, and hers, have shown remarkable compassion and restraint.

Yet I have another reason for thinking her comments disingenuous, since I am among those who, contrary to her claim of a general amnesty, remain banned from her Facebook wall. She may have chosen to preserve the bans of those who are not her constituents, in contrast with Leanne Wood, who has also been a victim of hate crimes,(11) and who engages with her critics, allows discussion of current affairs inside and outside her Rhondda constituency, and allows impartial observers to judge for themselves whether those who hate Plaid Cymru or those who support it are the more reactionary and vile. Yet as a resident of neighbouring Arfon, I have been repeatedly included in mass mailings of her constituency newsletter; some of those who were abused by her supporters and then blocked are my friends; some of those abusive supporters were reportedly from outside the area; some of my friends were left shaken and distressed by their racist remarks about the Welsh people; and she herself, along with her colleague, the Conservative MP for Shrewsbury, has taken the liberty to comment on Welsh national matters which are not her concern, even while supporting government policies which have caused her constituents great suffering.(12) Moreover, my banning was a response not to abusiveness or threats, any more than it is to the Conservatives as people that I feel hostility. My anger is aroused by the jobs that have been lost,(13) the lives cut short,(14) the town in her own constituency ruined beyond repair,(15) the local housing crisis worsened by Brexit and by Covid, and the local health crisis deepened by second home owners’ contempt for the rules;(16) and the futures blighted by her party’s misrule.(17) My reminders of these realities necessarily took the form of moral condemnation. No doubt she would not be alone if she considered such morals ‘irrelevant’ or such condemnation ‘inappropriate’ or ‘rude’, and perhaps she would not be alone in accounting such ‘rudeness’ to be a greater injustice than the pride and greed of wealth and power that have led to the suffering I refer to. For those whose behaviour falls far from decency, who support a government which is degenerate,(18) negligent,(19) callous,(20) mendacious,(21) profligate,(22) and corrupt,(23) will claim that they themselves are the victims when they are told what decency demands.

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 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 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.