Sunday 24 October 2010


Q: What do Llansteffan Castle and the Barcelona branch of McDonalds have in common?

A: Both have repeatedly been attacked and occupied by the locals at times of political upheaval.

On an early Sunday morning walk in warm sunshine around the castle I contemplate that for the Norman General Infantryman a posting to Llansteffan meant drawing the short straw; and the extreme apprehension they must have experienced may be evidenced by the unusually large number of garderobes (toilets) still evident in the ruins. For the record the castle was captured by the Welsh in:-

1146 by Rhys ap Gruffydd
1189 by Rhys again
1215 by Llywelyn ab Iorwerth (the "Great")
1257 by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (the "Last")
1403 by Owain Glyndwr (yes, him again)

My American friend Mike who lived in Barcelona says approvingly that the local McDonalds is systematically trashed during protests about anything including global capitalism, American imperialism, the environment, animal welfare, healthy eating, low pay, the Madrid government (?), etc. Not that McDonalds can be blamed in any way for any thing being an ethical business operating with scrupulous probity - and being an aggressive litigant in defence of its good name...

Welsh patriots may be heartened by their ancestors' successes in Llansteffan but I'm afraid the record does rather show a failure to consolidate, to put it mildly. I can't help thinking that these Welsh tough guys needed some sage advice from a mediaeval Peter Mandelson along the lines of:

1. Adopt your opponents' family policies (primogeniture in particular to avoid all that fratricidal faction)

2. Develop a rounded and credible defence policy (don't just rely on your doughty guerrilla longbowmen but build some warships and stop being outflanked by sea)

3. Deliver on your pledges to coalition partners (i.e. turn up on time for the Battle of Shrewsbury - see this post)

Eating our picnic on the beach below the castle (carrot soup, savoury muffins) I reflect that the Welsh did finally get the castle back (from the Ministry of Works) and it is presently free entry - but Cadw should consider the fate of previous occupiers before ever trying to charge.