Mark Wildon's Website: Satire

‘A short guide to Swansea’ (Pympyhllnynt cwrt y Abertawe)

Swansea is a small fishing village on the South Wales Coast, its only surviving heavy industries being cadmium mining, from the deposits of rechargeable batteries left by the Vikings, and bicycle theft. Its University, which consists mainly of a large, but highly contested, carpark, is also worthy of note.

An interesting local feature is Swansea's wide sandy beach, which is ideal for the local sports of wind surfing, wave surfing, kite surfing and infanticide. Observations of wind speed on this beach were used in the early tests of the finite-element method; this is a tedious method for solving differential equations promulgated by the disturbingly powerful engineering faculty at Swansea University.

Visitors to Swansea may care to try their hand at the indigenous language, which is notable for its superfluity of vowels, the main ones being u, u, u, u, u, w, w, w, w, w, w, w, y and z (the reader is warned that Welsh accents rarely survive the traumatic passage across the web). A brief and inconclusive war was fought in 1324 over the introduction of ‘a’ and ‘e’; while now in common use, there are many who still feel that their sounds can adequately be represented by ‘u’ and ‘w’. Adjectives appear after the noun, except when they don't, and there is hardly ever any definite article.

The main employer in Swansea is the Ostler and Horse Licensing Agency and by far its largest building is that occupied by the National Puddle of Wales. After the persistent failure of the Prince of Wales to succeed (in doing anything), it was agreed that he could become the principal sponsor of the Puddle; it is said that if the Prince should ever tell a genuinely funny joke, the Puddle will immediately evaporate.

Swansea's most celebrated local personality is Jack, a dog. Jack is renowned for saving 27 people from drowning in a sea of turgid metaphor by barking loudly during a recitation by the local poet, Thomas Malais Dylan.

Another important local literary figure is Caradog Pritchard. Pritchard's achingly depressing magnum opus, concerning the lives of mathematicians employed on temporary contracts in provincial universities, did not receive wide attention until it was translated—and satirised—by Martin Amis in his book ‘Unlucky Jim’. Owing largely to this work, Martin Amis was recently appointed Chair for the Public Misappreciation of Literature at Swansea University, opposed only (but vociferously) by his son, Kingsley.

Last modified: 13/6/23. Email: