Howel Williams

Howel Williams.

The sweetest man I ever knew.  Handsome, strong, open. He looked you always straight in the eye, perhaps there may have always been an element of lip reading.  For all that though he took you in, he engaged in a way that is uncommon.  His generous spirit enveloped you like a warm handshake, firm and true.

He was first and foremost a father and family man who adored his wife and brood with extraordinary devotion, always steady, never taken aback, always rocklike as the foundation of the Williams fold.

Behind those blue eyes, there shone a humour, generous and quick.  A smile that dazzled the ladies and made the boys join in on the many jokes.  His sonorous baritone so boisterous so full of life, he was above all a happy man. “Yes, Yes.. “ he always enjoined before launching into one of his many ribald songs – so often, who could forget his rendition of “side by side”.

He didn’t have it all his own way by any means, except in the lifelong partner he found in Nina.  Nina, an example to us all of plain old fashioned love.  Love that endures still, love that laboured without loss, love that stood against the cruellest of fortune.  Love that makes us weep with admiration.

Love that only a man like Howel could inspire.

As a young man he was a prodigious sportsman.  A record holder to this day as a holder of most 1sr XI Llandovery,  a scrum half of brilliant alacrity,  a brilliant prospect so cruelly deprived by misfortune in his early twenties.   A by-product was his loss of hearing that affected him for the rest of his life.  Not that many of us noticed, not that he ever complained or moaned about what might have been.  That, in some ways, was the measure of the man. He was a splendid and very competitive Bridge player. Partnering him was not for light weight intellects. His athleticism, though, stayed with him through his seventies when he handed out many a thrashing to his golfing chums.

Nor did the setbacks of his earlier years diminish his zest for life: A career from London to Australia, adventures galore, but his greatest achievement lives on in his children, Jane, Sarah, David.  All a wonderful testimony to their lovely Dad. Now great husbands, wives and parents carrying the legacy of gentleness and love that was Howel.

Pembrokeshire was always his home, and although in some ways his return was not entirely of his volition, he loved the place with a passion.  From his beloved Cwm yr Eglwys to the sweeping vista over Parrog Beach, from the Prescelli Mountains to the rolling Irish Sea. It is the place of his youth, where he swam and ran and felt the wind in his hair.  It is where Howel belongs, for ever.



Globalisation vs Global Morality

Globalisation vs Global Morality?

Globalisation is a dirty word, well it is if you tend to be on the left of the political spectrum, but even if you are a staunch capitalist you must have pause for thought following the populism upsurge and the apparent rejection of global capitalism.

We have seen over the past fifty years the increasing despatch of heavy industry from the West to the East and the consequent loss of jobs.  There has been enormous benefits to the emerging economies of China, India and others in the east. Africa seems to have been left behind.

The export of ‘Old time skills’ from coal mining, steel-making to automotive manufacture have become much more evident in economic terms,  but the effect has been lagged and it is only recently that, from the rust belt of the USA to the mining valleys of Wales that the penny seems to be dropping.

Hence the rise in populism, the realisation that Capitalism has failed the middle and working classes of the industrial west.

You might remember that I analogised that the world economy was a street and that the rich at the top end exported all their dirty jobs down the street to the poorer end, hence Bangladesh producing cheap textiles which are marketed in the richer nations at low prices. These low price commodities have brought some improved but marginal wealth to Bangladesh (for example), providing cheap product to the squeezed middle classes in ‘The West’ and provided huge profits for the global traders who exploit the circle of economic opportunity.

There must be a number of lessons here;

1 When we pass the heavy industrial jobs down the street we must provide alternative employment in alternative fields.  That means one thing, education that is appropriate for productive knowledge that is beyond those industries that we have exported. I.e. Consistent knowledge based education, a system that looks forward rather than backward in both arts and science.

2 We should learn that we have to pay for goods in terms of real value, not consistently force the market ever downwards unaware of the suffering we are imposing on emerging economies.

3 We have to stop the profiteering at the expense of emerging markets and the disproportionate margins that typify the few super rich whose greed (Conscious or unconscious) drives the exploitative nature of globalisation which most of us deplore. This includes the competitive international taxation systems which encourages tax avoidance on a global scale.

Items 2 and 3 above do not come naturally. Ask any house wife, rich or poor and they will tell you to buy at the best price is clearly common sense.  Ask any man, rich or poor, and he will tell you that legally avoiding paying tax has to be a good idea.

Add to these entrenched ideas, of competitiveness and the corporate measure of success (shareholder value) and it is easy to see the unease with which global capitalism has come to pass.

The future holds great challenges, not least the transfer of wild consumerism from the West to the East.  The West as it becomes more deindustrialised is seeing a wider and wider disparity between rich and poor.  The loss of face of the poorer segments and consequently the loss of hope propels a sense of loss and hopelessness that knows no way forward except the desperate notion that any change will do.

Honest politicians have little if any idea how to create change to a fairer and more balanced economic world.  One thing is for sure, economics means nothing without moral foundation.