Sunday, 3 March 2013

A Clockwork Plaid

"What's it going to be then, eh?"

It starts with a phone call, "Meet at (undisclosed location) in three hours." Slowly but surely, delegates descend on the chosen site to terrorise another part of Wales.

The site is littered with VW camper vans adorned with smiley face stickers blasting out hardcore jungle. Many approached tooled-up, wearing white overalls and bovver boots in preparation for lashings of the old ultra-violence.

Yes, Plaid Cymru are holding another conference.

There was a roaring trade in Moloko plus Vellocet, and illicit lozenges – with slang names like Victory Vs, Fisherman's Friends and Altoids. I asked one reveller, whose eyes watered as they writhed to Dafydd Iwan vs Skrillex, what they took that evening."Everything!" they said. "The works – Tunes, Lockets. It's like a breath of fresh air!"

Just after midnight, a fresh legion of cycling woman emerge from Ty Gwynfor, travelling to all four corners of Wales, giving the impression of being in many places at once. Leanne Wood made her mind up about which constituency to stand in – all of them. This will enable your friendly neighbourhood Leanne to knock on every single door in Wales several times a day - with the goal of 1 trillion conversations by year's end.

Plaid's cloning centre hasn't been entirely fruitful. One of the Leannes was defective. She's proposing building coal-fired smoke machines in the Valleys, concreting over railways and turning them into private toll roads as well as a flat income tax.

After a speech to UKIP members in the Vale, they got so much Wood, that when they stood to sing "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" they were knocking over tables and pint glasses with their pitched tent crotches, primed for a bit of the old in-out real horrorshow. They don't really care whether it's Wales, Britain or Europe they screw over.

"Hi, hi, hi there! Viddy well, droogs!" Leanne holds aloft a new groundbreaking, paradigm-smashing document. Co-authored by Adam Price and Ffred Fflintstôn, entitled: Wales? Understanding Misunderstandation Yabber Dabber Doo 2023, it describes the new initiative in a 60-page nutshell full of nice-looking graphs and lines.

"By takin' the radical decision to encourage both support, and opposition to, our own policies, Plaid Cymru The Party of Wales will become the natural 'ome to all opinions," Leanne said. "By actively encouraging all views within-a party we' put the party in party - right, right? Ymlaen!"

The police are quick to clamp down on scuffles. I asked one officer what strain these pop-up festivals do to police resources. He said, "We're not the sort to turn down the opportunity to give someone a slap, but the issue is that Wales has been waiting for a Messiah figure since England first beat us at rugby.

"You would think it doesn't need to be a single person. All it needs to be is a group of politicians with enough charisma, intelligence and good common sense to produce a workable plan towards Welsh independence, combined with a bit of patience from supporters and teamwork. You would think Plaid are close to ticking most of the boxes."

Some disagree. He points to people posing atop a bracken-covered hill, looking off into the distance with pensive, serious facial expressions. Force ten gales batter them, carrying what to their ears sounds like English laughter with each gust.

"Once one thinks they're the Messiah, someone else stands up like a meerkat thinking it's really them and that all others are sell-outs and apologists. It's as though they're all competing to be on the front of the cheesiest, most testosterone-poisoned Manowar album cover possible. It's the Red Bull talking, not Owain Glyndwr's ghost.

"You end up with twenty 'party leaders' doing that," he points to them again, "wondering why nationalists aren't supporting twenty incrementally different, understandably cynical but slightly brusque, clunky and electorally suicidal views on the same thing.

"From the outside it looks like being at a music festival full of hipsters."

As the event drew to a close, tensions rose amongst the delegates. I wasn't there when it kicked off, so I asked one seasoned veteran - wearing a necklace of vertebrae - their take on events.

"After an afternoon of passive-aggressive debate, we finally approved the motion – Picard is better than Kirk.

"Then, at the last minute, the Portmeirion branch threw in Sisko – saying he was better because once his wife got pregnant, he hid in a higher plane of existence as a statement on father's rights.

"The Plaid Women group stormed off when nobody endorsed Proposition Janeway. They spent the rest of the afternoon sulking and twitching away in a corner after eating caffeine-laced chocolate from a Central American co-op. Once they got wind of the reasoning for the Sisko amendment all hell broke loose."

Another person in the area at the time described the scene, "There was yellow, green and red everywhere. It looked like the inside of a clap clinic's bin.

"It was 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' in rain jackets. I've never seen Trebor Extra Strong Mints used as a shiriken before. There's also something poetic about a Greenham Common veteran strangling someone to within an inch of their lives with a translation headset.

"'Threads' was the scariest thing I've ever seen until someone shouted out that 'Downton Abbey' was better than 'Borgen'. All bets were off," they pointed to a police cordon, developing a thousand yard stare."There's sights down there that will leave your soul screaming in the middle of the night."

They broke down in tears, "Why can't we all just get along for once?"

I caught up with the police officer I spoke to earlier, whose head was wrapped in a bloodstained bandage. "This is what happens when you give them too many E-numbers," he said. "I saw the Refreshers and Flying Saucers going around. We'll be here all night trying to get them to bed."

A dischevelled man descends the bracken-covered hill, wearing a deer carcass pelt, dragging a dead rat behind him attached to a piece of string. He runs a blog in Bridgend about damp cats and nationalism – Soggy Moggy Bloggy.

"My years of huffing paint thinner under a motorway bridge and snorting Sherbert Dips off a hooker's arse have convinced me that Welsh independence might be achievable in my lifetime," he said.

"If some people are perverse enough to enjoy Branston Pickle flavour, I believe it's their right to do so. Live and let live. However, it's both funny and terrifying at the same time how quickly an argument over crisp flavours can escalate into ABH," he sighs, shaking his head. "Doobie doob, a bit tired maybe, best not say more. Homeways is right ways, O my brothers."

He stumbles off into the distance, wearing carrier bags as shoes, rambling to himself about a fifteen-part blog on an independent Welsh crisp policy that nobody will read. He sprays something over his nose and mouth, stuttering, "Mr Sheen shines ump...teen....Hueh! Hueh! Hueh! Brrr!" He collapses, his eyes pointing in opposite directions.

Soon, the illegal political rave dispersed. A Senedd plenary debate was played over loudspeakers, causing some to fall asleep, sucking their thumbs as they were carried away.

As Leanne was loaded into the back of an ambulance, she gave a thumbs up, and managed a smile even though half her teeth had been knocked out.

"Aye!" she said. "Went really well this yur!"


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