29 March 2021

Eileen Beasley

I had finished my big Welsh book about Welsh slate! So it was time to start something else. Fortunately, one of the people in my Welsh class had a recommendation. We had been discussing the case of the Beasley's; people who are quite famous within Wales but probably generally unknown anywhere else. They were a family in South Wales who had received their council tax bill in English, and thought that was not on. The woman, Eileen, asked for a version in Welsh. And when that request was refused, they in turn refused to pay said bill. They thought it was outrageous that a Welsh-speaking family in Wales could not receive a Welsh tax bill from an entirely Welsh-speaking council. And they dug their heels in.
The council didn't like this at all, and just sent the the bailiffs after them. But the Beasley's just made do with the furniture they still had, and engaged the press. The more the bailiffs emptied their house, the more the press had good stories about how cruel the Llanelli Council was being. And after eight years, the council decided that the negative publicity was outweighing the sensitivities of the public servants who had so far stubbornly resisted the request for a translation, and as well the cost of changing the bill to a bilingual one. So finally, they received their next bill in both Welsh and English. Just one small family had triumphed over the system!

One man in Welsh class had mentioned there was a novel about this, and he recommended it. I found it online and bought it. I knew the rough outline of the story, but now I could read about the details. And it was a novel; I accept that some poetic licence might have been applied, but I figure they kept the important bits intact. It was very interesting.

The problem with this book was that it was clearly a children's book. The bloke had not said anything about that! So it was a bit annoying to feel patronised, but then again, I had just taken his word for it and not done an awful lot of research myself. And it being a children's book made it really fast to get through. I could start something else very soon afterwards!

I think Eileen Beasley is a sort of a 50s Greta Thunberg. Just one individual (be it with support from the family) who takes on a much bigger system and makes a big difference! That is inspiring. If Wales would ever get its independence I wouldn't be surprised if we find banknote with her face on it…

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