Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dubai 1981

Back in 1981, 4th December to be exact, Brummie promotor Martin Hone organised a race meeting in Dubai which included an all-star race for identical Citroen CXes. The race was won by Bruno Giacomelli with Mark Surer second - both were current F1 drivers at the time - with another young charger David Kennedy in third place. Fourth place went to, you've guessed it, a 51 year old Innes Ireland heading the likes of Watson and Tambay as well as fellow old timers Gurney, Moss, Salvadori, Brabham, Salvadori, Bell and Phil Hill. Forza Innes!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

L. G. Hornsted

The motor sport world seems to have convinced itself that the holder of the world land speed record between 1914 and 1922, L. G. Hornsted, boasted the unusual forename Ligurd. No sign of him in the public records, although there is a Lydston G. Hornsted. It seems that Lydston was born in Russia circa 1884, the son of a Britsih vice-consul, and that the family name was originally Hornstedt. So is it Lydston or Ligurd?

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 22

A run of the mill praise poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi to three brothers from the descent group of Meilyr o Ddiserth.

No. 149 Praise to the Three Sons of Dafydd ap Hywel

The three sons who yet improve,
No better three ever joined the host;
Three brothers like three eagles,
Three falcons, none more venturesome.
Bedo Chwith who owns the house,
Then generous Hywel y Fron,
And Ieuan Du, by the day!
The third authority of the three.
The rods of Hywel ap Meilyr,
A fair vine and earth’s increase,
A strong foundation for Elfael,
Fair saints, three generous pheasants,
Flowers, in a place where there is loyalty,
Fair Buallt, there is no better land.
By Melangell! There are no better
Young adventurers than these three men.

Three roads, a score of roads, I’ll take
To your homes from the furthest land:
The poet’s road, it runs straight
To the house of Bedo, through the countryside;
A road through the centre of Llys Colwyn
To the second lad and his kind expense;
Another road in the tracks of power
I know to the house of Ieuan Du;
A road I know by heart,
To the houses of the swans through Rhiwlen.
I strike out for the three sons of Dafydd
With the skill of a trained falcon in the forest.

Noah had three sons,
They were raised to be three eagles;
In Elfael there are three patrons,
Three branches which have been dressed,
And that land and the vale above
Are the third share of these three.
Three kings went to their feast
To Cologne, through yonder glen,
Three of equal rank bearing three gifts,
One of the three was fine old gold;
Three fine presents for a good person,
The weighty gold of these three.
Three wax candles will be placed
On the three arms of the Cross.
The three bucks of a generous great grandfather,
The three elements of the land of Elfael.
Teilo had three living bodies,
Without finish, between two sheets;
There are three bodies for one corporation
Over the gentle folk of Uwch Mynydd;
We see three fervent swans,
Three griffins, three strong wings,
Three apostles of Llys Colwyn
Three hands of mead, three gentle lions,
Three men, three good flowers,
Three oaks of a nobleman,
Three generous branches of Elfael and its men,
Three lifetimes for the three eagles.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 21

This interesting praise poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi to Bedo Coch of Rhayader describes an early form of plastic surgery.

No. 182. Praise to Bedo Coch

The brave one from about Rhaeadr Gwy,
Who draws blood from three wounds.
Bedo Coch, without sparing villeins,
Engrave your name once more in prophecy.
The estate of Maredudd rolls
To your hand among eight liberal lines;
The tax of Hywel Gethin
There with the other among nine liberal lines.
From the height of the line of Einion Llwyd
You were counted upon in warfare,
And your sires in Gwerthrynion
Loved single combat and justice.

It is not easy to light a fire
In the waves, and against nature,
No easier, face to face,
To overcome you with arms.
The essence of your being, Bedo,
A generous body that hates flight.
The most cowardly, the most vain in retreat,
Is wounded on the back of the neck,
And the bravest of all, for the sake of justice,
Straight in the face.
From your courage,
like that of a martyr,
A cut has been opened on your face;
So, like the work of Afallach,
Heavenly teachers make you well.
God has sent, with the Holy Ghost,
His shield and ointment to you.
Ptolemaeus long, long ago,
Was your doctor so James says.
Hippocrates, an honest fellow,
But best of all the work of Rhiwallon.

The skill of Doctor Ieuan’s son
Dwells like gold upon your cheek.
Gruffydd’s orthography is good,
A graceful indentation from cheek to teeth,
A letter above the jawline,
A golden S to charm us.
It was soldered, no-one has sown it,
A silken web across your face.
A cement like an enamel cross,
God’s signet on your forehead.
Son of Maredudd, it is as if
The scar on your cheek is gilded;
Dabbed with angelic ointment
Made from frankincense and myrrh.
From the prayers of the twelve,
And by God’s miracle, a beautiful scar.

From now on your life will be healthier,
Bedo stay for four lifetimes.
Your forehead is carefree,
Unworried by any treason,
Without care, without pain,
Without halt, without sickness;
Without refusal to anyone
Your face is without blemish.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


So which one did you fancy, the blonde one or the brunette? No, not Agnetha or Anni-Frid, for back in the early sixties this question could just as easily have been asked about Christine Keeler and that minx from Pontiets, Mandy Rice-Davies.

Now there is a motor racing connection of sorts to the Profumo affair, for just as the scandal was about to break Miss Keeler was whisked away to Madrid in a plane piloted by “racing driver” Paul Mann. At least that’s what the papers called him, although no-one now seems to recall a driver of that name. Some sources claim that Mann worked for MI5.

This reminds me that it’s said that Jock Horsfall - the MI5 officer killed at Silverstone in 1949 - used his battered Ford transporter to carry the body of “Captain Martin” - in reality Welsh vagrant Glyndwr Michael - to a submarine at Holy Loch. Perhaps you remember the film The Man Who Never Was about this successful attempt to mislead the Germans into thinking there would be an invasion of Sardinia.

Rebecca in Radnorshire

Here's a report of the Rebecca rioters in 1840's Rhayader. In the main Rebecca's activities in Radnorshire were concentrated in those parishes that were still mainly Welsh speaking in the mid-nineteenth century - Cwmteuddwr, Rhayader, St Harmons, Llanwrthwl (OK so it's in Breconshire) and much of Nantmel and Llanyre.
It's as well to remember the causes of these actions. For example a ton of coal cost 16 shillings in Brecon but in order to transport it to Rhayader a total of 9 shillings would have to be paid in tolls. It wasn't as if the Trusts used the tolls they collected to improve the roads, in many cases the local population had to mend the roads at their own expense just to keep them passable.

Radnorshire Bardic Poems. 20

This praise poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi to Hywel ap Rhydderch and Annes Aubrey suggests to me that they lived in what locals now call the Mount, above the churchyard in Aberedw. I believe that many of what are described as sites of motte and bailey castles in Radnorshire were in fact re-used as fortified houses in the fifteenth century.

No. 148 Praise to Hywel ap Rhydderch and Annes Aubrey

The fond husband, the over generous wife,
A fair centrestone in Elfael.
The gifts of Hywel ap Rhydderch
He gives me with his loving words;
Annes Aubrey’s gifts of silver
And her ale cause benefit.
Oh God, good their store
Of invitations for a musician.

Hywel, who serves the mead,
Has a name above descent and nobility;
The descent of the lion above the churchyard
Is that of Hywel Fychan;
The descent of Elystan, more than the eighth part,
Even more, the descent of Rhys Michell.
The descent of Annes Aubrey of Brycheiniog,
Generosity that lasts for an age.
God created her from
The heart and ribs of Gw’ater Sais.

Within an old manuscript roll
I found these memories,
They’re had from Rhydderch Hael himself
And from his wife Arddun, the words of a poem;
Ifor Hael and Efa since then,
From the land, were the second couple;
Dafydd in his cywydd
Gave this name to them.
Hywel and Annes, in Elfael,
Were closer to Holy God.
Let their generosity be praised,
The young stag and his maid.

In the orbit of the star of Venus,
Every two stars will be many;
There are many silver coins for me,
Like showers, in the parish of Cewydd.
Bread and corn are as common
In Blaen Edwy as in the Wye vale;
An upright table full of every drink,
White bread, the best work of the bee.
Is bragget not the drink of the house,
Made with the first drawing of Weobley ale?
Hywel, by Derfel, is a father
From the generous of the south lands;
Annes, the daughter of Morgan, is a mother
Of the goodness of the blameless wives.
Hywel is St Elien
And Annes is St Gwen.
Hywel is the generous wine from the wood
And Annes is the vine.
Hywel is gold in the house of feasting,
Annes is gold of the same value.
Two in the peaks of Uwch Mynydd,
Two who are good for meals.
Good Hywel, an angel of plenty,
Annes, too, is so good.
Dewi and his mother bless him,
Let God himself bless her.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Book of the Month

Now I can't say I'm very interested in speedway but I am interested in pre-war Brooklands lady racers and also in the parallels between that alliance of left wingers, upper class anti-semites, fascists and pacifists who opposed the Second World War and their intellectual descendants in the present day anti-war movement. A biography of Fabulous Fay is therefore a must-read for me, although it has to be said that this book concentrates on her earlier speedway career and not her motor racing exploits or her pro-Hitler politics. A second volume covering her post-speedway life is promised.
This first volume is very well researched and well written. It held the attention of even this non-speedway buff. There is nothing as good as this about any pre-war Brooklands racer. male or female.