This is my translation of a superb praise poem verging on satire addressed to Maredudd Fychan of Garddfaelog, Llanbister by the bard Gwilym ab Ieuan Hen. Reflecting the sacrilegious nature of bardic poetry, Gwilym compares the praise meted out to Mareduud by a succession of bards as a chasuble that lends the subject authority and places him under an obligation. The relationship between bard and patron was one of equals not as many believe one of sychophancy.
I am young and bold, I sow praise,
Generous one of the land of Mael, the kingdom of Melwas,
By the Pope, I know who you are!
Maredudd Fychan, to the bards an equal of Ifor,
A spear, the red fire of war!
On nine occasions I've frequented
Your court with a fair design;
Often, in a good humour,
You give to us Maredudd;
A foundation in the headwaters of Maelienydd.
There is much talk of you,
Grandson of Meurig Llwyd, the great spear
who would meet wrath with anger.
Holy God turned away the violence of your enemy
With your great grandfather's clothing.
Wear it, Lord of bright llanbister,
The heavy cloak of fame!
Seed of Ynyr, it was designed for your body,
The worth of ten men.
Llywelyn, that elegant singer of praise,
Designed it, properly, in public,
The fair son of Y Moel, golden hostage,
Arwystl's goldsmith of eulogy;
Llawdden kept the bargain,
You are generous in his dye;
Earnest Swrdwal, craftsman of pleasant odes,
Has faultlessly sown upon this face,
No stitch he placed comes undone,
No careless work from his lip!
And no blunt needle was used
In Gwilym's long seam of praise!
Their work is good this praise of men,
Her tailors are an elect;
A chasuble of harmonious words
Consecrated by these beautiful chiefs of song.
Grandson of Baron Meurig, your cloak
Is like ( from what I know )
the mantle ( if they understand it
You'll have your song ) of ancient Tegau,
In the ancient days of Caerleon,
Where each morning she was tested,
For others it proved short ( short without doubt )
Yet long enough for Tegau.
Sustainer of the bards, this is the kind of
Cloak that I, a young man, have sown for you.
How strange that I am teamed
With a man who is not generous with his wealth;
He should not hide but share his gold,
Your doublet is expensive M'redudd,
Expensive, so you must give gold!
twenty pounds, famous offspring,
It has cost you so far!
By Cybi! There's a miser
Upon your brow, Morda' of the land of Mael,
He'll not give a farthing, less is the favour
Of the hostage who does not give openly.
It is not to be had for money or friendship,
Good clothes do not suit the fellow;
How rarely clothes such as yours are to be had,
They were designed from generosity!
Hiding myself, without fear
Within the song I've made,
Within the diligently tongued praise,
You have a complaint that must be met.
This is your praise, a fair contract,
Here fullness of Maelienydd,
When it deserts you, Mary will desert you,
By the blood of God, let him be generous!
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Eirane Naismith, better known as Paddy, although she herself used the spelling Paddie, was an actress and aviatrix who raced at Brooklands in the early thirties.
Driving the Salmson owned by fellow actor, pilot and sometime Labour MP for the Everton divison of Liverpool, Sir Derwent Hall-Caine, Paddie managed to get herself banned from the track at the final meeting of the 1934 season. This was the same meeting where Fay Taylour refused to come in at the end of a race and had to be black flagged. Two events that confirmed some in their belief that allowing women to race at Brooklands had been a great mistake.
Although her acting and racing exploits are long forgotten, Miss Naismith's image will live on, for Paddie was the girl seen in the very first high definition colour television picture transmitted by John Logie Baird in 1940 (see above).
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Ask the man in the street who is the voice of motor racing and the chances are you'll hear the name Murray Walker. Long time fans, those who place Fangio, Moss and Clark above the likes of Mansell and Schumacher in the list of greats, will come up with a different name - Raymond Baxter.
As well as being a commentator Baxter also competed in 14 Monte Carlo rallies, see the advert here for example.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
A couple more names to add to the list of drivers wives from racing's dangerous years. Marianne Ankarcrona, the wife of Swedish racer Jo Bonnier and Jacqueline Holter who was Mrs Richie Ginther during his F1 days. From a slightly earlier era, ski champion Christiane de la Fressange was the wife of the great French ace Jean Pierre Wimille; he was killed in 1949, thereby just failing to make it into all those "encyclopedias" which believe that racing only began with the World Drivers Championship in 1950. Haven't tracked down a surname yet, but that wild Belgian racer Willy Mairesse had a wife called Dorine.
Friday, September 01, 2006
In 1937 Dorothy Stanley Turner and Joan Riddell finished 16th at Le Mans driving Captain Eyston's little MG Midget. A notable achievement which saw them finish second in the Rudge Whitworth Biennial Cup section of the race. At least that is what nearly every Motor Sport site on the web says. Dig a little deeper and a different name for Stanley-Turner's co-driver comes to light - Enid Riddell.
Now Enid Riddell is a much more interesting character than the fictitious Joan. A member of Captain Ramsay's pro-German Right Club, she was interned in Holloway prison during the war. Like MI5's Director of Transport, the Earl of Cottenham, another motor racing figure, Riddell was a close friend of the Nazi spy Anna Wolkoff. After the war Enid moved to Malaga where she owned a club with the racing name 'La Rascasse', she pops up in April Ashley's memoirs smuggling whiskey. In 1973 Anna Wolkoff, the daughter of a Tsarist admiral, was killed in a car crash in Spain, a car driven by her old friend Miss Riddell. Enid seemingly returned to London, where she died in 1980 aged 76.