Blood, Sport, Language, Music and the Feeling I'm Here on Probation

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 2, 2012 | Go to article overview

Blood, Sport, Language, Music and the Feeling I'm Here on Probation


Byline: ELAINE MORGAN

THAT was a great day, last Saturday. The skies said it was the first day of spring and the newscasts said we'd just beaten the English and won the Triple Crown.

Oops! My computer's spell-checker just corrected that. I had typed "triple crown". That showed a lack of respect, like typing "great britain".

I have to be very careful when referring to anything in the field of sport, for fear that my patriotism is being called into question. I was born and bred in Wales, I've lived here for 86 years out of 91, and I'd never want to live anywhere else. But there are four things which can occasionally make me feel I'm still here on probation. One is blood, the others are the language, and music, and rugby.

There's no denying that I'm a mongrel: my mother came from Somerset. My father's mother was a pure-blooded Welsh-speaking Welsh mam with a pedigree no-one could question, but the man she married was half-Cornish. So I suppose I'm something like seven-eights a third-generation immigrant.

As for the language, I can belt out Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau and Calon Ln and five or six Welsh hymns as to the manner born, and I've never been tempted to say things like "Thlanberis".

I support the measures designed to keep the language alive, and when the Western Mail prints a column in Welsh I can get a good idea of what it's about and whose side it's on.

But the language of the hearth is always the mother's, so my Welsh is only County School Welsh. Being taught to enunciate: "Sut yr ydych chi heddiw?" doesn't always enable you to understand words like "Shwd ych 'eddi?".

And I can't do music. It would never voluntarily occur to me to go to a concert and sit there for a couple of hours listening to it, though when I've been hauled along to one I've quite liked some of it.

Especially male voice choirs. There's something visceral about that noise they make.

As for rugby, you've got to believe me; I'm delighted that we won. It made so many people happy and it's great to see their smiling faces. I can in a way understand blokes getting hooked on it, and when I read propositions for women's rugby teams I say: "Sure, if they want to, why not? …

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