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A Caernarfon Story

Postby Bacsie » Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:00 pm

One day in 1950 Dai Roberts walked across Castle Square in Caernarfon to his son Victor and his son’s fiancée Josephine Thompson and, dispensing with any pleasantries, asked Josephine if he could borrow five pounds. It was the only time my Welsh grandfather met my mother.

In April 2013 I was lucky enough to spend 48 hours in Caernarfon, partly with the aim to see where my Dad was born (in a back bedroom on Hill Street) and where my Nain came from, and partly to give my infantile Welsh a few nervy test runs. For all the various methods of learning Welsh I have tried down the years it’s really only having my brain worked over by Aran and Cat’s voices that gave me the wherewithal (knowledge plus confidence?) to try to speak in a Cymraeg stronghold. Sometimes it just seemed to be a gaggle of ‘diolchs’ - but a big cheers here to the lovely people at Oriel Pendeitsh (‘beth yw bonheddigion?’), Caffi Maes (‘bara wy hen ffasiwn a paned o de’), Palas Print (‘mae’n ddrwg gen i, fy nghymraeg yn ofnadwy’), the Black Boy Inn (‘Seithennyn - yr un peth eto!’) and even the slightly scary woman at Na-Nog (‘dim saesneg’ - though not to me!).

And great it was too to eavesdrop, to note that even over 48 hours I was getting my ear in (so to speak) and to hear Cymraeg properly - not a language to be learnt, or saved, or pored over, or dissected, but as the living culture and the means of expression for people of all ages to love, laugh, swear, moan or dream in.

One day in 1914 13-year old Margiad Jones moved house with her family from Caeathro to Caernarfon. Nobody left the village in those days so all the locals turned out to watch them go, and they moved by hand, dragging all they had with them down the road to Caernarfon. 99 years later her grandson replicated the walk.

Diolch am darllen, a diolch i SSiW.

Steve Roberts.
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Re: A Caernarfon Story

Postby Aran » Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:23 pm

Posts like this make it all worthwhile.

Llongyfarchiadau mawr, a diolch o galon i ti...:star:
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Re: A Caernarfon Story

Postby Dee » Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:09 am

Aran wrote:Posts like this make it all worthwhile.

Llongyfarchiadau mawr, a diolch o galon i ti...:star:

I agree 100% - made me come over all teary reading that :D
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Re: A Caernarfon Story

Postby Iestyn » Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:59 am

Diolch yn fawr, Steve. That is beautiful!
The SSiW mantra: "Don't worry. If you say something slightly different to me, people will just think you are from a different area / village / street / family to them, or more likely not notice at all!"

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Re: A Caernarfon Story

Postby debw12 » Sat Apr 20, 2013 1:10 am

Steve, a beautiful story and beautifully told as well. I really enjoyed reading it. You managed to express so well the mystery of what family is.
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Re: A Caernarfon Story

Postby dinas » Sun Apr 21, 2013 1:04 pm

Good post, Steve!
Another one I've just come across is that the word for the locals "COFIS" actually comes fron an old english word - cove - meaning chap, a fellow, a man. That it probably came from the Romany word - Kova - meaning man.
I'll ask my Romany/Welsh friend, Flem, when I see him soon.
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Re: A Caernarfon Story

Postby dreamsofwales » Sun Apr 21, 2013 1:13 pm

Lovely post Steve, thanks for sharing this personal and inspirational story.
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Re: A Caernarfon Story

Postby Bacsie » Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:52 pm

dinas wrote:Good post, Steve!
Another one I've just come across is that the word for the locals "COFIS" actually comes fron an old english word - cove - meaning chap, a fellow, a man. That it probably came from the Romany word - Kova - meaning man.
I'll ask my Romany/Welsh friend, Flem, when I see him soon.


Thanks everybody for your beautiful comments. I was so sorry to leave and notice how what I was hearing was fading back into English the further east I went. I've extracted a promise from my partner that I will have at least one day this August wandering around the Eisteddfod!

Dinas - one thing I had real difficulty translating was the Cardia Cofi I came across (www.cardiacofi.co.uk) - though I get the impression that many of them are not intended for a family audience!
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