With my surname, it’s no surprise that I have an affinity for Wales and the Welsh. This isn’t to say I am Welsh. Wales is the land of my great-great-great grandfathers, so I am now a fully accredited Englishman (with a fair smattering of Irish and Scottish into the mix, as is common in this country). But the tenuous ancestral link with an unknown part of Wales is my excuse for enjoying the sound of a Welsh choir in full chat.
All unsuspecting, yesterday I stumbled over none other than the world-famous Treorchy Male Choir in my favourite haunt, the Brooklands Museum. I first noticed the group of Welshmen, most of a certain age, in their smart blue blazers as they enjoyed a coffee in the Sunbeam Cafe. I put two and two together rapidly. Earlier today was the England-Wales rugby match at Twickenham, which lies between my home and Brooklands. Evidently, the choristers had taken a coffee break at the Museum en route to Twickenham.
Where’s the video button?
But, as I’ve heard, a Welsh male choice cannot go anywhere without bursting into song. Within minutes they were lined up in the Vickers Vimy hangar, chomping at the baton on a sunny but rather cold afternoon. I captured a few shots on the M11 and, as they broke into the first song, I ran my fingers hopefully over the camera’s top plate in search of the video button. Quel dommage! S’gibt kein Video-Knöpfchen! Donnerwetter! I then remembered that I’d fought to have the video button removed. Never would I need video, I maintained, but this was probably the one occasion when I felt the pull of the moving picture.
The hobbled M-Elf was consigned to the Billingham and I produced the iPhone to make a very amateur video complete with interesting wind noises. I’m ashamed to post it here, but I tell myself the occasion overrides the technical shortcomings. For, you see, this is the Treorchy Male Choir’s impromptu but polished version of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the stirring Welsh national anthem. It was a rehearsal for the gala version to be sung at this afternoon’s rugby match at Twickenham.
If you enjoy it, here’s your opportunity (below) to learn a bit of Welsh from the wonderful Jason of the Learning Welsh Podcast. I’ve always had an itch to learn the language of my great-great-great grandfathers but, despite the coaching of Jason, I’ve failed miserably. I should have realised this at an early age.
In my youth, I was riding a very heavy BSA Golden Flash twin down an icy and snowbound North Wales pass when I came across a minor accident. Soon, the local bobby arrived in his Ford Prefect cruiser and collared me as a witness. As I handed over my driving licence, he addressed me with words to the effect of, Mr Evans, yr ydych yn bell o gartref. My blank look told him I wasn’t a true son of Wales, despite the deceptive surname. I realised it would be a long learning process.
So how’s about it? Should we all learn to sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau? Jason, below, will set you right, word by tongue-twisting word… On our next reunion, we can all have a bash — but we’ll never be as good as the lads from Treorchy.