I am a Welsh Italian. Sounds like a confession! What does that mean, though? Thanks to an Italian grandfather, should I decide to strap on my rugby boots again I would qualify to play for Italy.......but I'd really hate to put Sergio Parisse out of a job! HOWEVER, I've always felt something of a mongrel. My grandfather, Carlo (or Charlie, as he came to be known in Tredegar, my home town), died two years before I was born, and although I was conscious from a very early age that I had some Italian connection (helped, it must be admitted, by annual summer holidays to Italy!), my upbringing, at least until the age of 8, was essentially a purely Welsh, and more specifically purely Valleys, one. To put it simply, I lived for almost the first decade of my life in a flat above a cafe which many people referred to and/or assumed to be an Italian one.......that had no full-blooded Italians living or working in it! As an aside here, should anyone reading this have access to a copy of the Welsh Academy's Encyclopaedia of Wales, take a look at the photograph on page 408, entitled "The Italian Cordani family's Market Cafe, Commercial Street, Tredegar, c1946". From left to right this shows my grandmother (just about as Welsh as they come!), my Italian grandfather, one of our shop employees and my half-Italian mother. Is it any wonder I'm confused?
Mike Thomas, Ledbury
Your stories >