Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More from the Summer of '62

Still August 1962 and future Grand Prix racer Brian Redman takes his Morgan through Woodcote in that year's Six Hour Relay, before handing over to Builth Wells driver .... I'll repeat that for effect Builth Wells driver ... Bob Duggan.

The Morgan team covered 298 laps and finished a close second.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Apologies to regular readers of this blog for the lack of posts recently, it's due to connection problems. Anyway in the meantime here's a picture of Miss Enid Riddell - Le Mans racer and Nazi sympathiser - standing next to a fat bloke with a Hitler moustache.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Jack Turner

Interested in Welsh sports and racing car manufacturer Jack Turner? You could do worse than read this on ebay. If there's a record for the most informative ebay item description this must be in the running! I guess it will only be up for the next week but well worth reading in the meantime.

By the way I notice that I've overlooked some requests for information that have come-up in the comments sections of various posts. Apologies. I'll switch on the function that emails me when comments are placed on the site.

Crockett, the Lion-Conqueror

James Crockett, the Lion-conqueror was born around 1831 in Presteigne, the son of a circus musician and the 6'9'' Miss Cross, the Nottinghamshire giantess. His Radnorshire birthplace is confirmed in the 1851 census as well as in contemporary newspaper reports.

At first Crockett followed his father's profession by playing in the band of Sanger's Circus, but weakened lungs saw him take on the role of lion-tamer. In 1861 Crockett shot to fame when his lions escaped into Astleys Amphitheatre, killing a young lad in the process. Armed only with a whip the lion-conqueror succeeded in returning the beasts to their cage.

Having played in Paris, Berlin, Vienna and St Petersburg, Crockett crossed the Atlantic to the United States in 1864 and it was there the following year that he died. The Lion-Conqueror dropped dead after having spent the morning riding in a 4th of July procession in Cincinnati wearing a tin helmet inspite of the intense heat.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 43

It seems ages since I posted a translation of a bardic poem addressed to a patron in what became Radnorshire. I haven't run out there are dozens more to come I'm afraid! This is one of Lewis Glyn Cothi's praise poems addressed to Ieuan ap Llywelyn of Crug Eryr, Llanfihangel Nant Melan and his wife Edudful vz Maredudd. Clud by the way is the Welsh name for Radnor Forest, metheglin was a spirit made from honey.

Poem 167, Praise of Ieuan ap Llywelyn and Edudful vz Maredudd.

In Nant Melan there is a hearth
Within the palace of a fair, cheerful prince;
God's blessings to the wise goodman,
Good day to a wise and gentle goodwoman:
Light, bright, swift Ieuan,
His name and his claim are under Clud;
Edudful with her dark blond husband
Fill all with food and drink.
Land and fire cannot be mentioned
Except in the context of the swan of Nant Melan,
And Edudful's diligent bard
Has called her "a second Sunday".
Llywelyn Fychan like Ilar,
Was twice as strong as an oak;
Ieuan, his son, possesses
The same strength and quality.
Maredudd Fychan, the best in Britain,
Generous, of the main line of old Noah;
Edudful, his daughter, came
With his hand and his greeting.

If over Maesyfaidd, Iefan
Has the status of Joachim and his roots,
Then every Sunday Edudful is
Like an Anna in Maelienydd.
A wife and husband in pure white fur
Who give their gold, these two,
Who give alms to the poor,
Who feed ale to this province.
Every day, every night, he is
Before the table of the wise folk,
Foods, vegetables in summer,
Butter, soups in the winter,
Metheglin from the bees of the woodland,
The first drawing of the Weobley ale,
This is the court that is
Full of the nine joys,
People of good humour,
A hundred there, or more.
Their two sons, by the Sacrifice!
Will become one increase and power;
Gwilym and Rhys are two columns,
The strong roots of the tree of paradise,
The two shoots fill the earth,
And wise Ieuan is the old oak.
His children both grow
On the ancient vine of Nannau;
One is a post in Llanbister,
A yew tree that keeps his word,
The other is the pillar of Crug Eryr,
That grows like a fir tree.
Two roots from the grandfather's cot
Who count the gold of the Iforites,
Two princes of Bran's royal blood,
Two green oaks of the wood of Elystan
Two sons like Gradifael,
Truly Jesus will form them.

Good health to the mother and father, amen,
Were old Noah indeed healthy,
Were any one of their land old,
Gwilym and Rhys will live as long.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

It's 1959 and the London-Devon Rally is hardly one of the major events in the calendar, but yes, the organisers have somehow persuaded Miss Jayne Mansfield to flag the cars away. Could have got hold of a bigger flag though.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Llandrindod Uncovered

What to say about this book about growing up and living in Llandrindod Wells in the 1950s and beyond? It isn't well written but it is certainly a page turner and the rhymes, while giving McGonagall a run for his money, usually have something interesting to say.

Mr Roberts certainly doesn't echo the words of the Reverend Eli Jenkins' prayer, he seems to prefer to see the worst side rather than the best in quite a few of those who cross his path. The book can seem cruel and thoughtless, only the author's opinions appear to count, with little or no regard for the feelings of others. It has all the fascination of the gossip column and will no doubt prove a gold-mine for local historians in year's to come.

Growing up around the same time as the author and living not a million miles from Llandrindod Wells, I recognize quite a few of the characters who populate this book. Somehow, I never got to meet Ken Roberts and on the evidence of No Stamps in My Passport that's a fact for which I am fairly grateful. A book that is well worth buying and reading, although some may wish to contact a solicitor after doing so..

Saturday, January 05, 2008

A Film Show

I'm afraid I blame most of societies present day ills on a combination of project work in primary schools and the malign unforeseen consequences of Jeremy Sandford's influential television programme Cathy Come Home. The later helped create our social problems while the former means that no-one will ever get around to actually doing something to cure them. Whatever, it was interesting to read Jeremy's account of a film show held in New Radnor in the house of local doctor and amateur film-maker Dick Jobson. It's quite a long piece but you can read it here. One of those in attendance was "racing motorist" Innes Ireland who turned up in a Ferrari. In all probability this was the Ferrari 250 GTO in which he won the 1962 Tourist Trophy. Innes quite often used this as a road-car, indeed his wife used it to do her shopping.

Book of the Month

Yet another worthwhile book from the excellent Herefordshire publisher Logaston, please check here for details.

One of the most annoying things about the many films and television series about Elizabeth Tudor is the way in which they nearly always deny the presence of English regional accents at the Queen's court. Despite the historical inaccuracy everyone is shown as speaking with Received Pronunciation, indeed there was a controversy in the press a few years ago when Mary Queen of Scots was played by a Frenchwoman. A few critics couldn't bear the fact that the actress did not speak RP, even though the historical Mary spoke French and Scots.

These films and television series also exclude the many Welsh speaking individuals at the court of a Queen the historian A. L. Rowse described as a "red-haired Welsh harridan." Not the least among them was Blanche Parry, the Chief Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber, the Queen's companion and confidante for 56 years.

It says a lot about the relationship between Wales and England that this is one of the few English penned books to use Welsh bardic sources to illuminate the history of the period. The author has had nine bardic poems translated and two are quoted in full in the book. It will no doubt come as a surprise to many to learn that Herefordshire south of the Wye - Blanche Parry was from the parish of Bacton - was Welsh in speech in the sixteenth century and beyond; and that the gentry of the area were such great supporters of the bardic tradition.

Many Welsh readers are, of course, aware of all of this, but it is rare indeed see an English book using bardic poems as source material. In the same way it is rare to see a book from Herefordshire that recognizes the Welsh character of large parts of that county.