Saturday, January 27, 2007

Book of the Month

Ivor Wynne Jones, the author of this book, is a former Liverpool Daily Post journalist who clearly doesn't like Welsh nationalists much or Saunders Lewis at all. The occasional pro-unionist prejudices do nothing to diminish the value of the book, however, which is full of interesting facts and original research about the activities of the security services in wartime Wales and the stories of Welsh born collaborators in Germany and elsewhere. There are some minor factual lapses, the Welsh Republican Movement of the 1950s and the Welsh Socialist Republicans of the 1980s were not the same organization, for example.

The book lists the names and addresses of all 156 individuals who appeared on the Home Office's Welsh Suspect List, a list of individuals under secret MI5 surveillance at various times during the war. Nearly two thirds of the names are foreign born; Italian cafe owners, the German wives of British subjects, Franco supporting Spaniards etc. There are a number of bar room bores and others reported by members of the public for expressing pro-Hitler sentiments. Only four leading Welsh Nationalists appear together with a handful of members of the British Union of Fascists. All in all a pretty unimpressive effort by the security services.

One name on the list has Radnorshire connections, Philip Huddleston Wharton of Llandudno was born in Llanddewi, Radnorshire in 1897. His English born father had a deck chair hiring business, although the family had moved to North Wales by 1901. Wharton was denounced by neighbours for listening to the German radio and praising Hitler and Mussolini, his mother, by the way, was born in Nantmel parish.

Much of the rest of the book consists of interesting research into Germany's Welsh National Radio station and Welsh speaking collaborators such as Guardsman Bill Griffiths and the mysterious RAF sergeant Raymond Davies Hughes. The double agent Arthur Owens and Hess's Welsh connections are also covered. All in all a book that covers some little known aspects of Welsh history and well worth reading, if you can find a copy.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 27

There are some fine elements in this praise poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi to Rhys ap Phelpod of Brilley and Mallt vz Ieuan of Bryncoch, Llansantffraid yn Elfael. The description of the hearth at the beginning and the description of the arduous duties of the bard are particularly good.

N0. 146. Praise of Rhys ap Phelpod and Mallt vz Ieuan

In Brilley there is a hearth
That provides gold and food for all,
A hearth heaped with warm ash,
Built high with slow burning oak.
A baby’s cradle, free from cold,
A table of charcoal between two cosy walls;
An altar of peat upon the floor,
A fire from an ash wood.
So very warm, this square fortress,
A great bed of charcoal and embers,
A hearth between four flagstones,
With twenty slates in its floor;
A banner shaped like a flitch,
A pen of fire on a fair floor.
The smoke of heaven in a carved stone enclosure.
It is manna within a hall.
Stone like the hearth of Rheged,
Very pale rocks in a warm castle.
The oak light of Urien’s home
Has been kindled in a blessed household.

A bard’s blessing, it is so beautiful,
This is the blessing I give.
Two hearths better than Dublin,
For our tongue’s sake have become one:
A hearth of Kington, one of our tongue,
A hearth of Bryncoch once more,
A hearth of Phelpod from the vale,
A hearth for a falcon of Elfael’s land,
And two like them, by the Holy God,
Hold the two hearths.
The Roland of Brilley, a defender,
Generous Rhys, an unassuming man,
You are the swan of Phelpod ap Rhys,
And his hart, an emperor from John.
Your custom, Rhys, while it be summertime,
To honour the most authoritative,
And Mahallt, the gem from Ieuan,
Gives clothing to the weak cripples.
Ieuan ap Cadwgan has been
The brave dragon of Emrys for Wales;
You and his daughter shall both
Be well filled with cheerfulness.
You are happy from the height of nobility,
Happy is Mallt pouring mead.

My office Rhys, to bring levity
To your court, Rhys, for an age to come.
To have the best ale in my hand
And to care for your mazer-cup,
To kiss, six hundred times,
The rim of the sparkling bell,
To wait upon it during the feast,
Caring for its lid and its carousal,
To have more gold than I merit,
And to dine in your court.
My blessing, Rhys, to you,
But to Mallt, the blessing of my God.
You are two who make me welcome,
And one despite giving a score of gifts.
Your old family have had two hearts
And one of them would seem like eight,
And your sons and your grandchildren,
And those to be born to them,
And every grandchild of your great grandchildren
Shall govern the houses of this hearth.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

In Auntie's Vaults

It's well worth having a dig around the BBC's experimental on-line archives. Brian Johnston interviewing Innes Ireland for the 1st December 1960 Roundabout programme looks interesting. Here's the programme detail:

Ireland describes how he took up the sport - his father owned a garage - and lists his other sporting interests. His first full racing season was in 1957. He is married, with a small daughter, and lives in the Welsh mountains. He is usually nervous before a race. He feels that one of his best wins was at Goodwood earlier in the year, when he beat Stirling Moss in the Formula I event.

The bit about his father owning a garage is news to me - a misunderstanding on the part of the transcriber I would guess.