Max Boyce

Jan 4, 2022

person holding lighted sparklers

Happy New Year. And it’s always an honour to be able to write this column. Now is the time to announce the royal honours for this dame or other or knight after knight. The most perplexing step was to make Tony Blair, for his deadly ventures in Iraq a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. Noble? What another wound for all the families of lost soldiers in Iraq.

And now, all health officers have been given honours. Why now when we still have this virus raging? Is it to lift our mood? A rather unfortunate word. ‘Iechyd da’ – drink a toast to them for doing something so premature. Perhaps it’s better to be grateful for the life and good works of someone like Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s and his contribution to the world and to his country. It is difficult to think of any other wise, influential figure who transformed the attitudes of people around the world and in his country in replacing the apartheid regime (except Mandela!). He gave so many people faith, the spiritual, and the natural kind, and did so with joy. Seeing his simple coffin, of his own choosing, was so different from the pomp and thrill of the Queen’s honours. He, as a lone and lonely voice, continued to criticize what he saw in Palestine and likened it to the kind of ‘apartheid’ regime that oppressed his people in South Africa at one time. He once said he was not interested in picking crumbs of mercy thrown overboard but wanting to see the full menu of human rights.

Which Welshman do I want to acknowledge in 2022? If there was a folk hero – he is a singer, a poet, a comedian from Glyn Neath who is beloved by the old and the young — Max Boyce. A  substantial hardback volume of his poems and songs was published thanks to the vision of the Parthian press and inspired many of his supporters. Some of the titles of his poems/songs are enough to make one smile like ‘I gave my love a debenture’, ‘The Divine Intervention’. Welshness became joyful for the Welsh, just as Dafydd Iwan managed to uphold the protesting spirit of another wave of Welsh people. It is good to see the poem about the miners’ strike there and ‘Hymns & Arias’ which is now another national anthem. He was born a month after the death of his father in a coalmine and has a poem about the Miners Strike period that is a pearl, and another sorrowful one about ‘Aberfan’ which closes like this:

And I will plant a flower there and tie a small balloon
And wonder why in Aberfan did autumn come so soon.

Thanks Max for a classic between two covers. You deserve every recognition from your country… for Welsh people you are far more than a knight and a Sir!


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