Thursday, 24 May 2007

It’s time for Wales to enter the Eurovision Song Contest

Although it’s now more than a week after the event, the hoo-hah over alleged block voting in the Eurovision Song Contest refuses to die down. The Guardian just published a poll carried out amongst its readers showing that 53% of those who expressed an opinion believe the UK should withdraw from the contest. We’re talking about the Guardian here, not the News of the World.

Intent on showing just how hip they are to the zeitgeist (or rather how much credence they give to the opinions of rabid, opportunistic, self-righteous tabloid editors) some of the Westminster politicians who didn’t make it through the undignified scrum to have their pictures taken with the family of Madeleine McCann, tried instead to show how much they felt the electorate’s pain by venting indignation at the unfairness of the Eurovision voting system.

Four MPs – I’m not going to draw attention to these parliamentary nonentities by naming them - even tabled an early day motion calling on the House to recognise that the Eurovision Song Contest is “a joke, as countries vote largely on narrow nationalistic grounds for neighbour countries rather than on the quality of the song; and that such narrow voting is harmful to the relationship between the peoples of Europe”. They went on to demand that the BBC “insist on changes or quit”.

This begs any number of questions, but prominent among them must be whether these people ought not to have something better to do and what moral authority gives them the right to accuse anyone else of ‘narrow voting’? I’ll deal with the ‘quality of the song’ issue shortly.

Even our own fluent Estonian speaker, Lembit Öpik, the Montgomeryshire MP who should know better given his personal interest in Eastern European pop (through a relationship with the Romanian pop-person – I choose my words carefully - Gabriella Irimia of The Cheeky Girls), added fuel to the fire by pontificating on the subject on Have I Got News For You.

It’s extraordinary how politicians can reduce an item of lightweight entertainment - more lightweight even than Deal or No Deal – to the depths of baseness by trumpeting the simplistic, cynical conclusion that ‘Johnny Foreigner’ must somehow be cheating when all the evidence is actually to the contrary.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to grasp what went on with the voting but, fortunately for my premise, Dr Alan Howard of Reading University has been studying Eurovision voting patterns for the last 10 years. His pre-contest survey of 1,000 Eurovision fans in 34 countries correctly predicted that the Serbian entry would win, not for political reasons but because respondents simply preferred the song. His analysis of voting patterns showed that, “The results do indicate some neighbourly voting between countries in Scandinavia, the Baltic, the Balkans, and (of course) Greece and Cyprus, but nowhere nearly enough to significantly skew the outcome of annual contests.”

To confirm Dr Howard’s findings, Derek Gatherer, a man who for no good reason has spent years studying Eurovision voting patterns, maintained that, “less than a third of the total votes for the winning entry were ones which seemed to have been influenced by block voting. It does make it rather harder for [the UK] to win, but that's not to suggest that all the votes are necessarily given out according to these local alliances.”

On the night, the winning song from Serbia received votes from 37 of the 42 voting countries, including votes from every Western European participant except the UK. It should be remembered that Serbia is effectively a pariah state in Europe because of its role in the Yugoslav wars and the fact that it still shelters alleged war criminals. Likewise, Russia in third place gained votes from 39 countries despite the animosity still felt by its former Soviet satellites. Yet it is apparent that each of these countries did receive proportionately higher votes from their neighbours. Why?

Let’s explore ‘neighbourly voting’ in simple terms for the benefit of the politicians and newspaper editors who plainly don’t have much of a grasp of European geography or recent history. What is it that the former Yugoslav republics, the so-called ‘Balkan bloc’, including Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Slovenia still have in common, given that their inhabitants were brutally slaughtering each other over their differences not so long ago? Do you imagine they’ve forgiven and forgotten the ethnic cleansing already? No, it’s that they all either speak Serbo-Croatian or, in the cases of Macedonia and Slovenia, they understand it reasonably well.

What connects Greece and Cyprus? What do Russia and Estonia have in common considering they are virtually at war over the removal by Estonia of a Red Army war memorial? The answer is language.

Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s leading daily newspaper, under a headline that read, “The Cold War is dead, long live the Eurovision culture-wars”, had the following to say about British attitudes: “What tends to be forgotten in all this griping is that the UK (five previous trophies, but 23rd in 2007) and Ireland (seven trophies and last this year) are guilty of a reverse variant of the football fans’ cardinal sin of ‘only singing when you are winning’”.

“[The British] were never heard complaining very loudly about the perceived injustice of the years when everyone had to perform in their own language, when someone trying to peddle a song in Portuguese or Finnish or Serbo-Croat had a tough fight on his or her hands against the might of Bad English, the lingua franca of the European continent. It is no great surprise that Portugal has never won Eurovision, or that it took Finland 45 years, a song in English, and a lot of latex and fireworks to pull the trick off.”

“In those halcyon language-restricted days from 1966-1973 and from 1977-1999, the UK and Ireland racked up most of the dozen wins they have between them, and it is a moot point whether the songs were so great - Boom Bang-a-Bang, anyone? - or whether instead they were simply ‘more accessible’ by virtue of the familiar language in which they were delivered.”

Helsingin Sanomat also had the following to say about British television coverage of this year’s event, which was hosted by Finland: “That old curmudgeon Sir Terry Wogan, beloved of British Eurovision cynics for his annual sarky remarks about the individual competitors and the contest on the BBC, weighed in even more heavily than usual with the ‘It's all fixed anyway’, ‘Baltic blocks, Balkan blocks, and Russian blocks’, and ‘They hate us, you know’ routine. Is it any wonder the British always seem to send the most rank and vile acts these days - nobody with any talent would stick their neck out to be ritually executed by Wogan?”

The Finns were particularly perplexed by Wogan’s accusation of a Finnish-Icelandic block. What do Finland and Iceland have in common? Language? No. Geography? No. In fact, Helsinki is in the East while Reykjavik is in the West, three time zones apart. The only thing Finland and Iceland have in common, according to Transparency International, is that they are equally the least corrupt countries in the world. Could it be that Wogan is just an ignorant, arrogant bigot who has been corrupted by years of trading in acerbic cynicism? And what does the fact that he’s popular say about us?

Another BBC DJ, Paul Gambaccini, told Radio 4's Today programme he thought about half of the voting was for political reasons. He said, "Britain's votes plummeted with the invasion of Iraq and have stayed in the basement with the occupation”.

Oh really? It has nothing to do with the UK entries being shit then? I admit I’m expressing my personal taste here and that other peoples’ will be different – that’s one of the lovely things about music and, indeed, about people - but by any acknowledged musical and lyrical standard, Flying the Flag was risible.

Actually, the song was so far removed from being amusing that the only appropriate responses were to vomit and make absolutely certain it didn’t get a single point. I was very disappointed when Malta and Ireland (both former British colonies) refused to play the game because it meant the message from the rest of Europe was not delivered strongly enough. Flying the Flag deserved the humiliation of null-points.

Personally, I would have felt embarrassed had it not been for the Finnish presenter referring to Scooch as the ‘English’ entry. Thereafter, I felt smug in the knowledge that millions of Europeans would understand the truth of it.

Who in their right minds would enter a musical pastiche of Euro-pap from 20 years ago and then lace it with camp sexual innuendo unless they were totally taking the piss? I wonder what the line, “Would you like something to suck on for landing sir?” delivered by an over-the-top caricature of a guy flight attendant, might mean to the average Byelorussian.

Have Britons really sunk to such low depths of despondency that they’re determined to show the rest of Europe two fingers, or has the outcome more to do with the BNP marshalling its members so that their prejudices now dominate any BBC phone-in, poll or chat room?

It should be easy to win the Eurovision Song Contest. All you need is a less than half-decent song, delivered with absolute sincerity. That simple formula was what won last year for Lordi, a Finnish heavy metal monster band, and this year for Marija Serifovic, a low-key Serbian singer of worthy ballads. (I must confess that I didn’t watch the contest before it became controversial.)

The Finnish and Serbian winning entries couldn’t be more like chalk and cheese stylistically, which proves my point because 90% of the entries seem to be attempts to guess the prevailing musical taste of the Continent (and a big chunk of the next continent). This approach is doomed to failure when you consider the differences in taste just between Britain and its neighbours, France, Belgium and Holland.

Rather than lobby for a change in the voting system, why not lobby for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to enter separately from England? Then we’d have a British block. Judging by the quality of the entries for Can i Gymru this year and the fact that we’d be released from the hostility many Europeans feel towards England, the Land of Song ought to have a chance of winning.

I’ll leave the final point to Dr Howard of Reading University. “Eurovision is a fun contest and those who politicise it are missing the point." Quite.

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Friday, 18 May 2007

Artistes Gallois Contre Sarkozy

La femme de le nouvelle Premier ministre de la France est Gallois. Merde alors!

From the tiny Welsh village of Llanover near Abergavenny to the Palais Matignon (which is a lot more swish than No 10 Downing Street, I can tell you, and the 7ème arrondisement is handy for getting to the Musée d’Orsay and le Tour Eiffel before the queues start, which I never managed to do when I lived in the 15ème). Hasn't Penny Clarke done well for herself, butt?

The rest of us’ll just have to keep buying the lottery tickets.

Click here to visit The Red Dragonhood

Monday, 30 April 2007

A Welshman, five Irishmen, an American and a Scot

I'm in a greasy yellow cab in New York with Jeremy McWilliams, the Grand Prix motorcycle racer, on our way to see Sean Lennon, whose gig will shortly prove to be worse than crap.

From Sean’s demeanour, I imagine his mother might have brought him up to believe that by merely addressing a microphone, magic would somehow tumble forth. It doesn’t, of course, and it didn’t, obviously. Although when he asked me at the after-show what I thought, I told him, as you might imagine, that it was great.

Genius, it seems, is not transmitted through the genes. When Marilyn Munro was introduced to Einstein she is reputed to have said, "Just think, with my looks and your brain, what a wonderful child we might produce." To which Einstein is reputed to have answered, " My dear, it would be just as likely to have my looks and your brain."

Anyway, the cab driver, his eyes addressing mine via the rear view mirror, says, "You in the music business?" to which I answer, "Yeah, kind of," although McWilliams contradicts me by blurting, "No, we're in motorcycle racing," which makes him feel more important than me (he being the star and me being just an oiler-of-wheels) but his response is going to mean less than nothing to a cab driver from Queens.

McWilliams yelps with pain as I put a powerful 'horse bite' on the muscle on the underside of his thigh. Unbelievably, he will blame his poor performance at the Japanese Grand Prix a few days hence on that, as he sees it, unprovoked attack.

To be honest, Jeremy’s answer is the true one at that moment, but I spent a lot of time in New York during an earlier career in the music business and I know to tell a yellow cab driver only what he expects to hear.

To prove the rule, the driver ignores McWilliams and persists with, “I know you, don’t I? You got a lovely voice. I’m sure I heard it in the movies.”
I think, “Oh really, a minute ago I was in the fucking music business.”
“Oh, thanks,” I say, hoping to end it there.
“Yeah, you sound just like that actor.”
“Which actor?”
“That Irish actor.”
“But I’m Welsh. Which Irish actor?”
“Hell, I don’t know his name. The Irish actor.”
“Peter O’Toole.”
“Richard Harris.”
“Gabriel Byrne.”
“Albert Finney.” (He’s not Irish. I’m getting desperate.)
“No! No! No! You know, James Bond. 0-0-7.”
“Ah-ha, Pierce Brosnan!”
“NO! The original James Bond.”
“Er, Roger Moore?” (I’m guessing. Isn’t Moore an Irish name?)
“Sean Connery?”
“Yeah! That’s the guy.”
“But he’s Scottish!”

The driver doesn’t hear my last pronouncement. He’s just delighted to put the wrong name to his wrong perception. Wales would mean less to him even than motorcycle racing.

McWilliams, meanwhile, is pissing himself laughing. He is Irish.

Click here to visit The Red Dragonhood

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Some people call me the space cowboi

The brilliant news is that I’ve made the Welsh Space Agency’s shortlist to become a Cymrunaut! How cool is that?

Unlike Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth, Greg Olsen, Anousheh Ansari and Charles Simonyi, the five intrepid 'space tourists' who have boldly been up before me, I don’t have to pay $20 million for the privilege of being fired into space and I don’t have to wait until Soyuz TMA-13 blasts off in 2008 either. Oh no, it’s only going to cost me a box of Chocolate Limes and two sticks of Lambert and Butler King Size.

Click here to dock with the Welsh Space Agency

Click here to check out The Red Dragonhood

Monday, 19 March 2007

And we were singing hymns and arias

It may have been St. Patrick’s Day but by the time we reached capacity and the doors were locked, more than two hours before the kick-off in Cardiff, the majority of revellers at the Famous Three Kings in West Kensington were Welsh.

There were a few folk in green shirts, to be sure, but this most multi-cultural of London’s sports boozers is not really the place you’d go to meet Irish people, especially not on St. Pat’s in a city full of Irish theme pubs.

There were enough city boys in England shirts to put up a reasonable rendition of Swing Low Sweet Chariot at the point where England temporarily drew level but it was carried home to the tune of She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain and a lyric that told them where their chariot could be stuck; in a good-natured way, of course.

The Famous Three Kings receives literally thousands of satellite television channels. If there’s a sport being televised anywhere in the world it can be watched from North End Road. So a handful of Slovakian ice hockey fans were ensconced on the mezzanine, willing Bratislava to victory in their national cup final, and a few Pakistani fans stood glum-faced in one corner, transfixed with disbelief as Ireland knocked their mighty
cricket team out of the World Cup.

But the party held by the Red Dragonhood overshadowed everything else that was going on in London on Saturday evening. Armed with lyric cards handed-out by, we belted out Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau with a ferocity you’d rarely encounter at home.

The Brains Dark had run out by half time but the SA kept flowing until well into the next morning. We sang Calon Lân and Cwm Rhondda with tears rolling down our cheeks and, for me at least, it was emotional to meet the lovely folks who came along wearing our T-shirts.

Good people from all over Wales celebrated a memorable victory and partied into the night, embracing each other in brotherhood and sisterhood in a city far from home. And the English wonder why it’s so important to us?

Click here to check out The Red Dragonhood.

Friday, 9 March 2007

It’s easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than find a disabled parking space

Disabled people in my area all seem to drive big, expensive German cars and SUVs; or perhaps I should say that the big, expensive German cars and SUVs all seem to display disabled parking permits.

I wouldn’t want to give you the wrong impression. I live in an ex-council house on a nice, friendly council estate, but it is surrounded by very expensive real estate and a big shopping centre. Council parking fines are fiendishly expensive. Cars often have to queue for, oh, minutes to park at the shopping centre.

Disabled parking permits are not personalised or restricted to specific vehicles, so the people who drive the big, expensive German cars and SUVs – the wives of city brokers and bankers mostly, with a smattering of diamond traders and businesspeople – buy the permits from the poor disabled people on the council estate. The black market price is a difficult-to-resist £600.

A permit saves rich people from having to queue or walk more than 50 metres from the disabled parking places at the shopping centre. It also means they can park on a single yellow line without risking a fine.

Of course, a genuinely disabled driver hasn’t got a hope in hell of finding an empty disabled parking space.

I can handle the myriad examples of inhumanity that assault my senses every time I switch on the television, but the fact of rich people masquerading as disabled drivers in order to get a better parking spot is somehow profoundly depressing.

Click here to check out The Red Dragonhood

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Some people have questioned my methods

The journalist from the tabloid newspaper opened in a sombre, world-weary, slightly accusatory yet slightly sympathetic yet slightly uncomprehending tone, much as I imagine a veteran Catholic priest might adopt to encourage an habitual sinner to explain in the confessional his latest bout of mindless, damnation-inducing transgression. He was enquiring about an enigmatic story I wrote to suggest that Jimi Hendrix might have recorded Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the Welsh National Anthem.
“Why’d you do it, Martin?”
“Why’d you do it?”
“To get over a complicated message that would otherwise go unheard if I’d used conventional methods of communication.”
“Yes but why’d you do it?”
“I’m not sure you’re asking the right question here. Have you looked at my website?”
“So you understand where I’m coming from?”
“Er, yeah, I suppose”
“Alright then. I wanted to be provocative, obviously. I also wanted to entertain. I wanted Welsh people to think about their origins; to kindle pride in their Welshness. But at the same time I wanted to ask questions about why we need the kind of endorsement of our national identity implied by the premise of my story to feel good about ourselves. I wanted to make a point about the myths of Welshness, most of which have been handed down to us over the centuries by English propagandists and Welsh apologists. I wanted to create a Welsh myth of my own to show how easy it is to do. Ironically, Land of My Fathers is one of the few ‘Welsh’ things that is truly, authentically ours. In my opinion it’s the most beautiful national anthem in the world, and John Ellis’ solo guitar arrangement of it illustrated that fact perfectly, even if he wasn’t actually trying to impersonate Jimi Hendrix.”
He quoted me thus: “I did it for a bit of fun.”

Click here to read the original 'Jimi Hendrix Welsh National Anthem' story
Click here to read the Tich Gwilym story
Click here to send a free ecard featuring John Ellis' 'Hendrix' arrangement

Friday, 2 March 2007

"Taff time-waster"

Several people have called me to ask why I didn’t nut Newsnight’s Steve Smith when he referred to me as a “Taff time-waster”. To be fair to Steve, we had poured a couple of pints of Brains Dark, a couple of pints of SA and a couple of large Penderyn chasers into him before we did the interview. That might also explain why Welsh BBC producer Meirion Jones failed to spot that I was wearing The Red Dragonhood Three Feathers T-shirt, which carries the feathers emblem - the personal property of Charles Windsor obviously - with the motto ‘Twll dîn pob sais’.

Click here to see The Red Dragonhood Three Feathers T-Shirt
Click here to see the BBC Wales News Item

Friday, 9 February 2007

The Red Dragonhood E-Cards

We’ve just added a new e-cards mini-site where some of our most popular designs have been developed into e-cards. The sender can attach a version of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau by either Tich Gwilym (recorded live at the Royal Oak, Cardiff, in 1998), Madge Breese (recorded in 1899, the earliest recording made in the Welsh language), Jones the Bass (only the names have been changed, recorded round his house a couple of months ago) and the mysterious New Flames track from 1970, attributed by some to Jimi Hendrix.

Click on this link to go directly to The Red Dragonhood e-cards mini-site

Monday, 29 January 2007

'Hendrix Anthem' mystery unresolved

The recording of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of My Fathers), the Welsh National Anthem, which was embedded along with a story placing its moment of creation tantalisingly close to the death of American guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, has now been taken down the page.

Since the story broke in the Western Mail on December 30, our website has taken more than 35 million hits. The Guardian and the BBC both carried the story and it travelled around the world on the Internet, often passed on by the Welsh diaspora in countries as far apart as Argentina, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. It provoked considerable interest in the US after being aired on ABC News and in France after featuring on TF1, the main French television channel, and in Libération, the national daily newspaper.

The story was also featured on the BBC’s flagship Newsnight programme, which happens to have a Welsh producer who is also a Hendrix fan, on two consecutive evenings. It went on to generate an extraordinary amount of media coverage right around the globe and it provoked a heated debate as to whether Hendrix was actually responsible for the recording or not. (I now know a lot about pickup types and whammy bar techniques, thanks to all those who contributed!)

I was a little the worse for wear in a pub in St Mary’s Street, Cardiff, when I got an email from a friend of a friend who was visiting Kathmandu, Nepal, to tell me that the story was on the back page of the Himalayan Times. People in the pub must have thought I was mad when I jumped for joy. I later got an email from some people in the Solomon Islands to tell me they were playing air guitar to Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

At the height of media interest, a Google search for “Jimi Hendrix Welsh National Anthem” produced 95,000 results, while a search in French for “Jimi Hendrix l’hymne Gallois” produced more than 10,000 results. These results represent the number of articles published on the Internet that contain a combination of the searched keywords.

It might be the case that Jimi Hendrix is now forever associated with the Welsh National Anthem, and one or two people have labelled this ‘cultural vandalism’. I can see their point. Nevertheless, I maintain it takes something like this to counter the English propaganda that has, over centuries, indoctrinated the Welsh with a lack of confidence in their own nationhood. You think I’m exaggerating? Look up the verb ‘welsh’ in the Oxford English Dictionary and compare what you find there with what was said by English racists on Big Brother.

If you live in another country, you’ll know that Wales is almost invisible to the rest of the world. It’s no wonder that CNN publishes a map showing only England, Scotland and Ireland, with Wales deemed a part of England, just like Yorkshire. Well, now a lot of people know a little bit more about Wales, even if it’s just that they can hum our national anthem.

So the story has run its course. We never found Viv Williams, the one person who might have shed more light on the veracity of the recording, but it would be wrong to say that we haven’t learnt anything new. In fact, we’ve found people we didn’t expect to find who revealed associations between Jimi Hendrix and Wales that we previously knew nothing about. These may be published, or may form the basis of a screenplay, once the facts have been checked.


On Wednesday, 3rd January 2007, the BBC showed archive footage of Welsh guitarist Tich Gwilym playing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau on Newsnight, fuelling speculation about the identity of the player, assuming it wasn't Jimi Hendrix.

Seeing this film gave us mixed emotions since Tich, whose real name was Robert Gilliam, was killed in a house fire in Cardiff in 2005. Yet it was wonderful seeing him play Land of My Fathers on television.

We may not know much, but we do know that our recording could not have been by Tich, even if the style of playing were similar, which it isn't.

So, for the benefit of the thousands of visitors who wanted a to make a comparison with the ‘Hendrix’ version, we’ve arranged with Tich Gwilym’s good friend and manager, Mike Monk, to make a recording available from our site. Simply click on the following link to hear it (or just copy the URL to your browser)

Having listened, you might wish to make a donation to the Tich Gwilym Foundation, a charity established in his memory, which helps to provide musical instruments and lessons for underprivileged kids in south Wales. There is a button on the page that allows you to do this directly via PayPal.

We have also arranged for Sain Records to reissue Geraint Jarman’s album Goreuon from 1991 for download on iTunes. The last track on the album features Tich playing a wonderful rendition of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

Play it loud and with pride! Remember Tich Gwilym, a fine son of Wales.

Cymru am byth!

Click here to go to The Red Dragonhood

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

I'm a father once again!

This time it happened without warning. Indeed, the first I knew of it was when Zarina brusquely marched into my workroom and dumped it on me. I was utterly flabbergasted, as you might imagine, but she dismissed my protestations, telling me not to be so selfish; she was off to see the Boyle Family and needed me to take a turn at feeding it, cleaning it and making sure it was happy.

On previous occasions I've had a full nine months to consider the awesome responsibility I'm taking on, more than ten months in one case. And each time I've been unable to come to terms with the reality before the fateful day has arrived. I'm just not grown up enough really, or responsible, and I'm too self-centred. But this time I just have to pitch in and get on with it.

I'm quite experienced now that I have three children, so the demands of fatherhood hold little mystery for me. Nevertheless, taking care of it proves very distracting while I'm trying to save the world, and not a little stressful. It eats, it sleeps, it plays, it shits; man, does it shit! It gets upset for no logical reason, it gets sick without warning, and it tries to fool you into feeding it nothing but hamburgers and ice cream and cake. (This particular ploy doesn't work on me, I must mention. I feed it on a diet of sushi and apples, a healthy option that doesn't seem to do much for its mood.)

As a general rule, my offspring tend to have combinations of Welsh, English, Finnish, and Pakistani names, those being the countries from which their genetic material is drawn. But this one has only a Japanese name; it's called Tamagotchi. I don't know if the craze is more widespread, but it's certainly the must-have toy amongst the classmates of my six year-old son.

He treats it much as he would the puppy he is pressuring me to buy. That's to say, having succumbed to peer group pressure and pressured his mother into acquiring it for him, he has shown no further interest in its welfare.

I do as I'm told (I know what's good for me) and dutifully see to its every whim while she is out chatting about art. I resist the temptation to take it for a swim in the sink… "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't think about whether it might be waterproof." Despite my careful attentions though, it doesn't like me and it seems to be pining.

Fortunately, Zarina isn't out for more than a few hours and she's a natural with it. Within five minute of her return, it is no longer hungry and its levels of happiness are restored to normal.

Click here to check out The Red Dragonhood.

Thursday, 4 January 2007

Tich Gwilym Playing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

I’m not ashamed to tell you that the archive footage of Tich Gwilym playing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, aired by the BBC on Newsnight tonight, brought a lump to my throat. If they’d shown more than a few seconds of it, I’m sure I would have cried.

Some years ago, Sky Television invited me to a boxing match between Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno, which was rather bizarrely held outdoors in the old Arms Park in October. Cardiff was lashed by torrential rain for the whole day, but it broke just long enough for Lewis to beat the crap out of a hapless Bruno and the actual fight was over in no time.

It was a strange set-up, with the curious Welsh locals in the cheap seats in the upper tiers, miles from the ring, and the proper boxing fans, mostly London east enders, seated in the expensive seats down on the pitch. The mid-price lower stands were totally empty.

Before the kick-off (punch-off), they played Hen Wlad fy Nhadau and someone, I don’t remember who, led the singing. The upper stands erupted in song, while all around me – I was sat at ringside in the front row - was uncomprehending silence. At that moment, I just wanted to be up there with the boys in the stands.

Click here to check out The Red Dragonhood