Wednesday, 30 September 2009

On what makes Cornish culture

46: summer 2006

I went to Flora Day this year, the same that I do every year without fail.

This year had an added significance, for I was very grateful to be invited to be the principle speaker at the Mayor’s luncheon in The Guildhall.

This is a huge honour as I was brought up in Helston and have danced the Flora eight times. The list of previous speakers reads like a roll call of the famous and titled in The Duchy.

It was a short, humorous speech (I hope) and I was nervous, such a room full of dignitaries would have probably heard more after dinner speakers than the Duke of Cornwall. I speak a fair bit in public and no matter how much I do it, I always suffer from a dizzy head and sweaty palms just before I stand up and speak. Maybe I should refrain from holding my breath in the minutes before my discourse.

Anyhow, I stood up, took a deep breath and through my speech could hear a jolly chortle followed by a soft rattling of mayoral chains (there were around ten Cornish mayors in attendance, tempted as I was, I pulled back from calling them the chain gang).

The speech went well (either that or everyone is being very polite to me) and I was very proud to propose the toast to the town of Helston and tradition was duly preserved.

I’m all for keeping tradition going, it is tradition that is a huge part of Cornish culture.

There’s a big debate rising in Cornwall at the moment regarding Cornish culture and what it means. On one hand there is a campaign to promote Cornwall as a region of culture while there also appears to be a move to promote Cornwall as a marketable brand.

Some of those engaging in this Cornish culture conundrum seem to have equated culture with postcards and media-friendly images. However, what these people have not grasped is that the true meaning of culture comes from identity and belonging.

Pictures of pasties, nice beaches and St Michael’s Mount do not make a culture; it is people that make a culture.

It is the Cornish people, past and present, and those who live in Cornwall who are the guardians of Cornish culture. People the world over have their Cornishness in their hearts and these feelings go much further than pictures.
Pasties, standing stones and Cornish flags, among others, are icons of Cornwall that serve to reinforce our culture and identity. So Cornish people around the world, and people who live in Cornwall, have a duty to preserve and its traditions to share among others. After all, it is this culture that has brought so many together and to Cornwall.

Speaking of tradition, the hallowed custom of picking up your Cornish World every three months is soon to change. Due to demand and popular request, Cornish World is going bimonthly.

This move has been enabled by Cornwall Enterprise and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation who have realised the value of Cornish World as an asset to Cornwall.
Cornish World will now cover more topics, more news and more issues. Please keep writing, contributing and supporting Cornish World.

Sowena, Nigel Pengelly,
Picture of Flora Day by Phil Monckton, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Press.


Jacob Little said...

Really enjoyed reading this...I couldn't agree more. Keep up the good work!


cornubian said...

Yup it's a great blog. Keep up the good work and lets see if we can get Kernow blogging.

Jacob Little said...

Sounds good to me!

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