|MIKE PARKER||Books: Neighbours from Hell?|
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Books by Mike Parker: Neighbours from Hell?
The idea for this book came to me one Sunday, as I was reading some columnist's drivel in, I think, the Sunday Times. He'd just come back from a weekend in Wales, and had filled his weekly thousand word quota with a diatribe about bilingual road signs and the Welsh language generally. At one point, he dipped into the well-scooped cliché pot and complained that Welsh had no vowels and sounded like spitting. I suddenly realised that I'd read this same lame point time and again, and every time presented as something new, something funny and something worth saying. It's none of them.
Centuries of opprobrium
The idea of the book was to collect an assortment of haughty English put-downs of their nearest neighbours, and give them the ribald piss-taking that they so richly deserved. There was no shortage of material, and soon I was wading through centuries of opprobrium towards the Welsh character, landscape, language and culture. The book almost wrote itself.
Neighbours from Hell? also gave me one of the strangest experiences I've ever had - an appearance on Richard & Judy, before they were shunted off to UK Gold Plus Extra. Sharing the (surprisingly shabby) sofa was weather forecaster Sian Lloyd, 'BB' Aled from Radio 1 and some tosspot of a northern comedian brought in to wheel out the old sheepshagging jibes. Ha well, I thought in the cab on the way back to Euston, at least no-one I know will have seen that, before turning my phone back on and receiving a score of OMG! messages. Including one from the then National Poet of Wales. What the hell was she doing watching crap teatime telly?
Buy the book
Neighbours from Hell by Mike Parker, published 2007 by Y Lolfa, £8.95
From the reviews:
"Informed and informative, hilarious, enraging and, ultimately, moving. This book should be compulsory reading for anyone thinking of crossing Offa's Dyke. What England has been waiting for, although it doesn't know that, yet. But it will" - Niall Griffiths
"Required reading for the English, and more importantly, for the Welsh" - Byron Rogers
"A funny and fearless lament... articulate, amusing and passionate" - Western Mail
"Fascinating... a great read" - Richard Madeley, Richard and Judy
"Very colourful, very strange and sometimes, dare I say, too near the truth for comfort" - Roy Noble, Radio Wales