The picture was taken at great personal peril. I had to take off my executive shoes and socks, roll up my pinstripe trousers and walk to the edge of the beach. I am not sure if the photo will win any prizes.
It was noon on Swansea Beach and the picture captures the tallest building in Wales. The burghers of Swansea are rightly proud of this architectural feat.
Just as the citizens of Dublin look down on the people of Cork, (rumour) so the citizens of Cardiff, the Welsh Capital, look down on the Swansea folk (fact). So it is with immense pride that they can point to having the tallest building in Wales. Cardiff had been planning a taller one, designed by I. Carus, but the credit crunch burnt away his wings and his plans. So for the foreseeable future Swansea holds the bragging rights.
Swansea now also boasts of being the wettest city in Britain. I am not sure if it is the very thing I would advertise, but the Swansea folk mention it and are proud of it. I did not need an official from the met office to give me statistics. My sodden shoes last summer attested to the fact that when it rains in Swansea it does so horizontally.
Dylan Thomas unkindly remarked that Swansea was the ash tray of Wales. The city centre is certainly unimpressive. Of course it was the fourth most highly bombed UK city during WW II.(boasting an important port and a big source of iron and coal).
But once you travel a hundred yards utside the city (still imperial, God save the Queen!) you hit the sea and the most wonderful beach in the UK - 10 miles of sandy beach that stretches into the distance as far as The Mumbles.
I took the photograph because it marked my last assignment in Wales for the foreseeable future. I came to love Wales and especially Swansea. I believe the Welsh are our not too distant cousins.
They love language. They speak Welsh much better that we speak Irish and they speak English much better than the English themselves.
They share with us a love of music and language, rugby and rain. They share with us the emancipation from a bigger neighbour. They have valleys and beaches, mountains and streams. A Martian, or even an Australian, if brought blindfold to Wales, could well think he was in Ireland. I love the Welsh because they have had to scrimp and save for many years. They are justly proud of their roots and are enjoying their independence of Assembly. The Welsh are religious and noisy, they drink and they dream and they never lose their DNA.
Neighbours of mine in Dublin have seen Wales on a clear day - early in high summer mornings as the rising sun comes from behind the Welsh Mountains. Perhaps we should rename the pond between us as the Welsh-Irish Sea which for centuries has joined as much as divided us.
Tonight I will drink to Wales and her wonderful valleys.