Friday, 16 July 2010

Someone needs to do something (Small Nations Festival, Cilycym, Wales)

The Small Nations festival, at Glandeswais farm near the village of Cilycym, near Llandovery, is a wonderful thing. It invites bands from small nations like Wales to a green and lovely area, and the farmer thanks everyone gathered at the end. It was nearing the end of the festival when we turned up on Sunday afternoon, and people were glad of the sun that arrived around the same time. We halved a one pound egg butty.

We were taken to a backstage area, a wonderful novelty for us with coffee and tea and fruit in a green and white striped tent decorated with the flags of small nations. The people were kind and friendly and told us stories of Welsh revolutionaries and rude bands and how one comes to organise a festival. When they spoke to each other it was in Welsh. It’s a beautiful sounding language. After our show was the grand finale band, Fernhill, singing in Welsh and English, interpreting songs from different folk traditions around the world. We loved them, their clear voices, the stories they told about the songs. Our show went well, in a huge barn festooned with giant Welsh dragons. People sat listening and then clapping their hands in time.

That night we were put up in an old old pub, the Royal Oak Inn, once a hunting lodge for the Crawly family, in the village of Rhandir-mywn. Mywn means both ‘gentle’ and ‘minerals’ and ‘rhandir’ means area. In the pub there were crisp white sheets and goats milk chocolate on the pillowcase and a variety of 70s-era wildly clashing carpets. Unused to such comfort, "it's so beautiful" I gushed to the owner. She said, “We like it.” I went for a walk and found an old church, a stream, tearooms, the pub, and a board with notices including the minutes of a local group. They were concerned about the lack of jobs in the locality, and the declining population. “The feeling was that someone needed to do something or the area is going to die.” Back at the pub I chose the table beside the elderly gentlemen so I could eavesdrop. Some of the elderly gentlemen were at the bar and speaking Welsh, so that was hard. When they spoke in English it was about bracken. The two men at the table next to me were English walkers. They talked about: the route to take the next day; whether they should have cream or custard on their apple crumble; how one of them had a friend who would embarrass him terribly at restaurants by asking whether the cream provided with the dessert came from a hairspray can (subsequently asking the same question of the Royal Oak’s owner); how the kite has made a comeback through educating the farmers that the kite feeds on carrion, not live sheep; how Shirley is a marvelous walker but she must first take an anti-inflammatory.

That night, with the World Cup final playing in the corner, I read a booklet called “Random Recollections of Rhandir-mwyn”. These included: how a local found a lead seam, but Lord Crawley got 99% of the profits; phantom funeral processions that pull you along the road even though there’s nothing there; Deio Ajax, the legendary sheep-farmer whose bride made him change his name to Jones as a condition of marriage; shearing days of long ago, with the community gathered at a farm for a day of work and eating.

What should be done? Something.
Who should do something? Someone

By Hula Hope

1 comment:

Shaggy said...

Shaggy misses you both.