Wednesday, 23 September 2009

45: On being a tight Cornishman

Issue 45, spring 2006

As each issue of Cornish World passes, I feel that the celebration of Cornish culture is getting stronger and prouder.

The St Piran events all over The Duchy (and indeed all over the world) most definitely get larger and more numerous each year as more people come forward to toast Cornish culture.

The annual march and play at Perranporth now attracts more than 2,000 patriotic Cornish, and members of parliament, councillors and religious leaders were present among the joyful throng.

The feeling at these events makes one feel wholesomely proud to be Cornish. I also feel that many of the Cornish groups are now opening dialogue with each other, planning events and agreeing on common goals; this can only further Cornish awareness even more. At the Cornish World office, I get telephone calls from telesales people in call centres far from Cornwall.

These calls always start off with something like: ‘Can I speak to the business owner, please?’ As soon as I hear these words, I check to see if my wallet is safe in my pocket and I then I begin to ask the questions.

‘Do you know where you are calling?’ I say. I proceed to ask the caller five questions on Cornish culture.

If they fail (they all fail, but I do set hard questions), then the conversation ends as abruptly as it started. Once I was canvassed by a man trying to persuade me to take out a hot drinks vending machine for the office and he answered four of the questions correctly, then started speaking fluent Kernewek. I would have taken his vending machine if we didn’t have a kettle in the kitchen.

Getting money out of a Cornishman can be a challenge. As a farmer’s son, I’m so tight I squeak when I walk. Father was even tighter, and I’m sure my grandfather’s wallets had moths living in the folds.
He used to say: ‘what ’e can’t afford, you ’ave to wait for. Never borrow money, never lend money. That way you’ll knaw where ’e stand’.

I think there’s some truth in that as today we are encouraged to overspend on things that we don’t essentially need. One thing that I do feel the Cornish are generous with is their time. It is this time that is increasingly being spent in the company of other Cornish people as the number of Cornish groups across the globe continues to grow.

More and more people are coming together to celebrate a common ancestry and many new friends, and relatives, are being found. As links between Cornish groups and Cornish people continue to develop, more events will be organised that celebrate Cornish culture; events like St Piran’s Day.

So thank you for supporting Cornish World and I hope that the magazine still serves to promote and foster all things of a Cornish nature, in turn bringing Cornish people together. Have a nice spring.

Nigel Pengelly, Editor


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