Sunday, March 19, 2006

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 10

This poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi to Lewis ap Gwatcyn of Painscastle uses the popular medieval device of a discussion between the body and the soul.

No 133 Praise to Lewis ap Gwatcyn of Painscastle

I live to receive more,
Without stop, in this big world.
There is a tiresome argument
Within my body, for my soul:
The soul cares not a jot for what
The body loves, the great emptiness of lust;
If my little body had his way, he would
Allow nothing the soul desired;
My soul, if he had his wish
Would have heavenly food;
While the body desires,
Without restraint, wine and feasting.
My soul is more innocent,
Yet they both exist like two little men.

The body desires , when full of ale,
Something more than innocence;
The lively little body is eager
For drunkenness and carousel,
He demands bragget and wassail,
At dead of night, and gets them,
He asks for feasting,
He asks for more mead,
There are dice? Cheapside chequers?
There are cards? There is friendship?
There are dances and games of chance?
There are carols? There is more beer?
Is there a single spot in Is Mynydd
From which you cannot walk before nightfall?
The rasbi wine is famed throughout Spain,
Well things are twice as good in Painscastle.

Lewis ap Gwatcyn, the tower of Bredwardine,
Is kind to the court poet,
A Roland of Llanbedr and Rhiwlen,
A champion of the race of Rhosier Hen.
For ages he’s had a pennant,
The shoulder and the height of Gwallter Sais,
A chieftain for Warwick’s seal,
The province of Gruffudd ap Hywel,
A brave emblem from his grandfather’s root,
The silver arms of the Iforites.
Upon Elfael, Lewis is
The lion’s claw, and a leader.
There’s no profit for a man, come what may,
To test him for the wages of war.
He wears about his rib cage
The royal hawk’s harness.
He is made on the banks of the Edw,
A leader, captain of the Wye bank,A
nd if aliens with a hundred guns
Should venture into our land,
Lewis, a second Eli and Joab,
Will turn them away like Trollope.
I turn, without entering below,
To call the muse to Lewis,
Until my cheerful body returns
From Lewis’s court and his white hall,
When it be fair summer
I’ll send my soul to the corporation.

Tom Pryce

Every source you ever read says that Tom Pryce was born and raised in Ruthin, but is this just another case of an error being repeated without anyone bothering to check the facts?

The GRO Index shows Pryce born in the Wrexham registration district and seemingly this was in the village of Rossett - a place just on the right side of the border. Some more interesting information from a childhood friend of Tom's on the BBC's North East Wales site informs us that the great man was brought up at Nantglyn, a tiny village on a backroad some way outside the town of Denbigh.

I wonder what David Tremayne's soon to be published biography "The Lost Generation" will say?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Charles Jarrott, Welshman?

The Dictionary of National Biography is quite clear that Charles Jarrott, the famous racing motorist and winner of the very first circuit race - the 1902 Circuit des Ardennes, was born in Pimlico, London. The GRO index for 1877 confirms the fact. His mother Martha Rosser was born in Newport, Monmouthshire and his elder sisters were born in Newbridge. His blacksmith father seems to have moved to Wales, married a local girl, started a family and then moved on to London.

Now we come to a intriguing entry in the Census of 1901, where we find Selwyn Edge and his wife living in Tavistock Chambers, London. Edge, described as the 33 year old Managing Director of an Automobile Company, had a visitor staying on census night, none other than the 25 year old Charles Jarrott. His birthplace is given as Wales, Newport. One wonders why?

Another interesting fact about Jarrott, he was born the son of a blacksmith's labourer and he married the wife of an Earl.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Welsh Nurburgring

Back in the Mid-Sixties you were more likely to read about Llandrindod Wells than Laguna Seca in Motor Sport magazine. The reason for this was that its editor WB had come to live in the locality, so suddenly features on the town's art-deco Automobile Palace were jostling for space alongside the exploits of Jimmy Clark and Graham Hill.

Given this it was no surprise to find an article in the May 1964 edition entitled "Interview with an Optimist" in which Mr Douglas Jones of Knighton and the Llandrindod Chamber of Trade were pushing the idea of a Welsh Nurburgring. This was to be a 30 mile circuit with race headquarters in Llandrindod and paddock facilities at the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd. The map above which was published in MS shows the proposed track which would have run in an anti-clockwise direction.

Now even in 1964 such a circuit was a non-starter, after all the RAC had squashed the idea of car racing on the Isle of Man back in the Fifties. WB was fairly enthusiastic describing the circuit as splendid but more suited to GT rather than GP cars. The need for an Act of Parliament to close these public road was of course a major stumbling block, leaving WB to muse "but if Welsh National Rule ever came about?" As a youthful enthusiast for Home Rule I was pleased that my favourite magazine had come up with yet another good reason for escaping the dead hand of London rule.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 9

This is a request poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi addressed to Angharad vz Ieuan, the wife of Ieuan ap Philip, the constable of Cefnllys Castle.

No 172 Request for a Frieze to Angharad vz Ieuan

Good day to the good woman who gave
Me wine at the end of my life,
She is the best from her dominion handing out money in Cefnllys.

Angharad, in manner a Mary,
The daughter of Ieuan, unsullied,
The moon of Hywel ap Madog,
A moon who trusts in the Cross.
As good as the Duke’s payments
The customs of this grandchild of Meurig.
Her custom is to heed the priest,
To make and give her food to the old folk;
Not that Angharad, for all that,
Would allow a young person a moment’s hunger.
Angharad, daughter of a good father,
Is like Anna in Maelienydd.
Anna and her wedded husband
Gave alms to the poor and aged;
She, ‘Ngharad and Ieuan,
Pay well to the poor, the weak.
Philip’s prince, he is a hand and a pillar,
The very post of sweet wine.
He is rooted from the root,
The roots of bardic song.

Angharad has, in the fair country,
The name Angharad Silver Hand.
I was her supplicant,
Since then I’ve been her fond bard;
And for her bard let there be a gift,
A coverlet, protection from the cold snowdrift.
The books of the moon predict
Ice and a world of bitter cold,
At this very moment the fish
Are freezing in the ocean;
With the rod frozen
I’m colder than Llywarch Hen,
And I don’t know, for I’m so weak,
If I’ll live as long as Iolo.

Ieuan’s daughter, to save me from the cold,
Gave me a warm Arras cloth.
Some Lombard with silk brocade and muslin
Embroidered the cloth with a hand loom,
Placing the branches of a woodland
On the green bordered chasuble.
A likeness for the flag of St David’s diocese,
It is the banner of some German,
Groves of marigolds fill up the white sheet,
A multi-coloured picture in cloth.
Like a window upon fair Westminster
With a branch of yew woven above it.
With the golden thread of heaven’s angels
It has been glazed down to the edges,
It is wool from the sheep of Paradise,
Twenty pounds of peacock fleece.

A long life to Angharad,
She gave me a great load of leaf from her estate,
And her wine from a Greek island
I’ve received freely in Cefnllys,
And her tapestry of tiny clover
And a poem for Ieuan’s daughter.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Grand Prix Wives, 2

Some often photographed wives include Jochen Rindt's wife Nina Lincoln, Patty Broad who was Mrs Bruce McLaren and Louise King the wife of Peter Collins. Not so well known are Innes Ireland's wife Norma Thomas, he later married Edna Humphries and then Jean Howath, the fiancee of Mike Hawthorn at the time of his death. Fenella Warwick-Smith married Tom Pryce and that lesser known Welsh racer Jack Lewis was married to a Pembrokeshire girl called Andrea Larson. More to come but two to finish Sue Hindmarsh, Mrs Roy Salvadori and Marguerite Freddi the wife of Lorenzo Bandini.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Grand Prix Wives, I

It couldn't have been much fun being a Grand Prix driver's wife in Motor racing's dangerous years. Here are a few names:

Ronnie Peterson's wife, the tragic Barbro Edwardson. Bette Shubrook is almost as well known as husband Graham Hill and son Damon. Arleo Bodie was Dan Gurney's wife in his racing days, later he married Evi Butz. Stirling Moss was married to Katie Molson, then American Elaine Barbarino and third wife Suzie Paine is now Lady Moss. Lynn Condon was married to Mike Spence, her sister Gaile Condon was Mrs Tony Maggs. Sally Curzon was married to Piers Courage, Ceril Heycock became Princess Ceril when she married Bira, Guisepina Resegotti is better known as Pina, wife of Tony Brooks. More to come.