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This is a question Family Feuds

Pooster tells us that a relative was once sent to the shops to buy an onion, while the rest of the family went on a daytrip while he was gone. Meanwhile, whole sections of our extended kin still haven't got over a wedding brawl fifteen years ago – tell us about families at war.

(, Thu 12 Nov 2009, 12:24)
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Some of you may be aware from past QOTW's that my father chose to stop speaking to me about 18 months ago, just before I graduated from uni. Back then I was just about to sit my finals and had decided that the sleepy Welsh town where the parents live wasn't for me, not only because I didn't know anyone there as they'd moved there when I was living abroad for uni, but also because the job prospects for a graduate were atrocious.

The first thing you would notice about my father is that he is very, very, very Welsh. He learned how to say "Wales" in French when they took me to Paris during my A-levels simply so he could correct anyone who called him English. The fact his father was born in Bexleyheath and he doesn't speak a word of the language is irrelevant: my father is Welsh, and he is proud of it (when Wales won the Grand Slam a few years ago I didn't hear the end of it for weeks and he was lording it over the neighbours). Aside then from the fact he raised his only child - me - in England, so she doesn't have the accent, and doesn't identify with his love of the country beyond it being pretty when it's not raining.

My father is also reasonably easy to get on with unless you disagree with him about anything: his right-wing (he reads the Mail) debates with my socialist grandfather were legendary. In my case, this manifested itself in what I should do at uni, and where: I knew I wanted to do French and I knew that because of his nature I wanted to be as far away from him as possible, and I chose Latin simply because I enjoyed it, was good at it (my teacher told me I should go for it) and knew I'd continue to enjoy it. This was not what Father wanted: once I started applying to places he got extremely annoyed that I wasn't applying to Cardiff, or Swansea, or Aberystwyth, or Bangor, good WELSH universities. I discounted Cardiff straight off the bat because my family live in and around Barry and Cardiff and I didn't want to drink in the same pubs as my cousins and have elderly relatives beating a path to my door when I might be doing something important like having sex or working, and between him and my mother - who's somewhat on the overprotective side - I wanted to learn to be independent. Father did not like this, and he liked even less it that I was going to be studying what I wanted to study, rather than what he wanted me to study: German, so I could teach him German and he didn't have to pay for classes. I was quite sick of German after having been taught by the same incompetent Bavarian pervert for two years at A-level and wanted to concentrate on something else.

Uni goes reasonably well, other than Father cutting snippets out of the newspaper about Abstinence and Silver Ring Thing and all that bullshit and sending them to me periodically (no letter enclosed, just an article in an envelope). He was constantly on my back when I was home about no sex before marriage, and simultaneously wondering why I erupted in teenage style when he asked "so, any news on the romance front, then?". This is a man who told me, when I was ten, that if I ever found myself unmarried and pregnant, like my cousin had just done, he would kick me out. He doesn't even have the excuse of being religious; he's a committed atheist. He made it clear that any man I brought home would be subjected to the kind of rigorous screening you see in sitcoms: "and if he gets you pregnant I'll make sure he won't do it again".

I never told my parents about anyone I was involved with until my final year of uni, when I met my last boyfriend. He had to coerce me into telling my parents I was seeing someone, and when they eventually met (forty questions later) all seemed to go swimmingly, until I went home for Christmas - the last time I have ever done so. My mother went out for the day and he spent the entire day bitching about her and her family - how all of them are spongers and wasters, even the ones with jobs, how pathetic my mother can be for looking after her dying father (of which more later) when he was clearly going to outlive us all. He also spent a long time telling me how proud "your mother and I" were of me, and if I was to move in with my then-boyfriend, this would make me an uneducated tax-dodging sponger and he would be so disappointed in me.

Come the summer, this is exactly what I intend to do, and tell my mother I'm looking for a job so we can get a flat together. Mother says to keep us posted and takes it a lot better than I was expecting, given that I'm having to apply to bottom-end jobs because I have no experience. Father, on the other hand, stays silent till he sends me an essay of an email, which calls me a selfish little bitch, accuses me of not loving my parents and wanting them out of my life, how dare I want to live with a man and a man who is 'beneath' me at that, how he doesn't care if him saying all this will cause a rift between us and again how selfish I am. Naturally I'm not happy about this, and am even less happy that it upsets the boyfriend, who is upset enough to want to run (I managed to talk him round when I explained it wasn't him but the fact he had a penis, with which he had defiled his precious daughter, that was the problem).

At the end of term, the parents come down and Father is still so furious he cannot be in the same room as me for more than five minutes. When I get my degree result on the intranet, mother and I dance and rejoice and he sits on the bed and screams at me "I have come down here to knock some sense into you and make you stop being a silly little girl and come home!" As it is, I already have somewhere to stay to conduct job-hunting from and carry on seeing the boyfriend so we can get the flat together, and eventually Father realises, after much emotional blackmail, that I am not to be persuaded. They go back to Wales and Father does not contact me.

They come down again for my graduation and again Father tries to persuade me to stop looking for a job and "come home". He tells me the boyfriend is a 'waster'. He calls me selfish again. He accuses the boyfriend of not caring about me because, as well as a 10-hour shift on his feet, he did not help me move, and, on the happiest day of my life, he spends the afternoon belittling me in front of people I have respect for as friends and academically, telling them all in a very loud voice that I am being a STUPID LITTLE GIRL who needs to COME HOME because she is MAD to think she can be independent, this is the BIGGEST MISTAKE OF HER LIFE and she should LISTEN TO HER PARENTS, which, being as it was in front of my lecturers, mostly, stung. Gratifyingly, most of them let him finish his rant and then asked me the same thing again when he had exhausted himself. They then went back to the car to go back to their hotel and he says "so, if you get a job, this is goodbye, am I right?". I have not heard a word from him since, and I did get a job a fortnight later, and a flat a month after that.

In the meantime, my mother has been to see me twice, I've sent them both Christmas and birthday cards and presents, and got thank yous from my mother, but never him. I've acknowledged Father's Day both years without so much as a text from him. I've spoken to my mother and never once has he come to the phone - he sits in his armchair and watches John Wayne movies and grunts at her.

My parents' marriage has been going slowly down the pan since I was a young teenager, when he had to give up driving because we thought he had epilepsy, and from then on nothing was his fault - I was pathetic, mother was pathetic, I talked crap, I had no friends and should get out and join a club or something, I was a selfish child who did nothing for anyone, the works. My grandfather did die a couple of months later and I think then he was sorry that he'd been so dismissive. The last time my mother came to see me, she told me he's making her life hell for a similar reason: my grandmother is not long for this world and she lives a 45-minute drive from my parents' house. My father begrudges her the petrol to make this journey once a week to check on her mother and make sure she's okay, when in reality she would like to go much more often, simply because he doesn't believe she's dying when it's apparent to me when I've only seen photos of her lately, that she very much is. My mother has talked to me about separating from him, but I don't think she has the strength to - once my nan dies he's all she's got in the immediate vicinity and she's never been with anyone but him, but I really think the relationship does her more harm than good - he controls everything she does.
(, Sat 14 Nov 2009, 22:28, 18 replies)
of luck to you. It's a vicious place to be in, loving someone because they're part of your family, but hating what they do
(, Sat 14 Nov 2009, 23:14, closed)
Thank you :)
To be honest he's a hard man to love and I find myself thinking less and less of him seeing what he's doing to my mother now I'm gone. I won't be going back there for this Christmas either.
(, Sat 14 Nov 2009, 23:40, closed)
I live near Bridgend and am also English- family moved here when I was 16, so I know exactly what the Welsh patriotism that you speak of is like. It can be crippling if surrounded by a group of them.

Good for you for getting out of there and good luck with the bf.
(, Sat 14 Nov 2009, 23:27, closed)
The boyfriend and I are, alas, no longer together (he moved out of our flat today and we split in March)
- I didn't tell the parents for months because I knew Father would say I had no reason to stay here now and demand I "come home" in spite of my having a job and friends here. He was so determined I move back that when I said "what about my friends?" he said "oh don't worry about keeping in touch with them, you'll make new ones." He has one friend in all the world who I call Creepy Brian, because he is - and I'm amazed he's kept hold of him. The man is a sociopath and the rabid patriotism is one reason I like living as far from him as possible - you have my eternal sympathy!
(, Sat 14 Nov 2009, 23:41, closed)
He's "Welsh" but can't speak the language?
Then he's ENGLISH, according to my family anyway. Now they are rabid Welsh Nationalists, South Wales is England to them, burning holiday homes was good family fun for cold winter evenings. There's only one thing worse than an Englishman living in Wales and not being able to speak the language, and that's a so-called Welshman who can't. When I queried this as being a bit extreme, I was asked what I thought of Asians who live here but don't bother to learn the language. I gave them their matches and petrol back.

(They also think my old man is a traitor for escaping to England and marrying the enemy. Luckily we're all good friends.......well at least I think we are, I haven't got a fucking clue what they are on about when they all get together.)
(, Sun 15 Nov 2009, 13:06, closed)
He was born and brought up in the South along with my mother, so he has the accent
and the roots there (my mother is ancestrally Irish/French and he doesn't like that much). The accent comes back stronger the more he rages and the more time I spend in the company of my family the more I sound like them, which I'm not fond of (especially when I go into work with it and my colleagues take the piss).

I'm a traitor for sleeping with the enemy and then deciding to live with him, even if he doesn't live here any more and they don't know that...
(, Sun 15 Nov 2009, 15:54, closed)
Been there seen that
Welsh Nationalism. I was brought up in England, though my family has its roots in both Scotland and Wales. Lived in the principality for a few years and learnt to speak a bit of the local lingo.
It completely fuses people if I wander into a shop in a monoglot Welsh area and ask for something in Welsh with a broad brummie accent.
You can see the cogs whirring between "We need to encourage more Welsh speakers" and "An ENGLISHMAN? Speaking the language"

They all need to get out more
(, Sun 15 Nov 2009, 17:12, closed)
^ This last line, x over 9000
My father has no interest in any of his living relatives, just the ones who are dead and have been for some time. He has never been able to understand why I tell him "I am not Welsh, Father!" as this sends him the colour of a beetroot and makes him yell even louder.
(, Sun 15 Nov 2009, 17:52, closed)
Mate of mine in the Valleys
Still lives with his parents.
He's in his fifties FFS

I hear all the talk of big plans, and travel, but when it comes down to it he's still living in the village he was born in, in truth, He'll die and be buried there, and to be frank its a common scenario.

I moved to Wales for a Degree, and if there had been work there that paid more than minimum wage plus the bonus of a mars bar at Christmas I'd still be there. I like Wales, hell even married a Welsh Lass, but in her defence she moved out to England to get her education, 'cos as she said she wanted to see something of the outside world. I would say that out of all the lasses she went to school with, 98% haven't moved out of the area.
Heritage is important, but FFS live a little, experience other things, so if you choose to go back to your heritage, you will value it for what it is and what it means to you.
(, Sun 15 Nov 2009, 23:19, closed)
The reason I never went back is because I knew
once I was "home" I would never, ever, ever escape - simply because of the stagnated job/property market and because my father would always have made a fuss whenever I decided to leave. I've never been more sure of anything than I was the day I decided to stay here - as far from Wales as possible - if I'd had to go back I would be dead or sectioned by now, no question.
(, Sun 15 Nov 2009, 23:55, closed)
Sounds exactly like my dad. Only he's Aussie.
Visiting my parents only every couple of years, and not telling them anything that makes dad go into Fury Lecture Mode, is much easier when you live abroad :)
(, Mon 16 Nov 2009, 1:51, closed)
If I didn't suspect he was a repressed gayer, I'd say yes.
I've not visited the nest for nearly two years and need a van to bring the rest of my stuff back here but the concept of going there, where HE is, is not a fun one...
(, Mon 16 Nov 2009, 1:53, closed)

If your next boyfriend is English, you'll have the satisfaction of imagining your dad having to explain to his Welsh friends why his grandchildren are English.

I can also suggest that someone films a meeting of your next bf meeting your dad and places the video on Youtube.

As for your mum, I'd suggest that she find a support-group for women stuck in unhappy marriages.
(, Mon 16 Nov 2009, 22:19, closed)
Oh, he'll be anything but a "nice Welsh boy". In fact the more English, with tattoos/piercings/stubble etc, the better.
In fact the more English and more offensive (and not some soppy non-sexual thing like Father would want me to be with) the better. I'm not planning on having any kids, simply because I'd hate for them to have a grandfather as cantankerous as mine was (and my father is already nearly there).

I would love to see some boyfriend who is deliberately trying to provoke Father filmed and ending up on youtube - I'd probably circulate the link myself for the lulz!

I don't think my mother wants to admit she's married a bastard, just like her mother and her sister did (the first time). It seems to be a worrying trait in my family...
(, Mon 16 Nov 2009, 23:53, closed)
Well hello
English, stubble/beard, tats, gobshite, offensive. CHECK.

There are more road signs written in welsh than there are people who can speak welsh. True story.
(, Tue 17 Nov 2009, 15:31, closed)
All you need now is a video
Of certain biological shenannegans on a St. Georges cross bedspread whilst shouting "What ho chaps!"

Either that or put a picture of Johnny Wilkinson on the bedroom wall.
English: Check
Plays Rugby occasionally : Check
Very occasionally beats the Welsh: Check
(, Tue 17 Nov 2009, 19:07, closed)
With added St George's Cross-patterned handcuffs
just for the lulz.

Am not a big fan of Jonny Wilkinson - my father referred to most of my teenage crushes as "poofs" for having long hair and beards so I'm thinking Russell Brand would make him rage more. (The man is wasted on Katy Perry, wasted I tell you).
(, Tue 17 Nov 2009, 21:38, closed)
Promise not to laugh at my love of Sex and the City and the music of John Denver
and we're good to go.
(, Tue 17 Nov 2009, 21:37, closed)

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