"Sorry Byn it's Private"; the low point of the week-end still ringing in my ears. I was sitting here last friday evening when I decided to go to Lorient to try to meet up with friends old & new, mainly Bretons & Welsh but a little Irish, augmented by Department 99 (Finistere is 29, Lorient is in Morbihan 56) it's done on an alphabetic basis by French centralized burocracy, 99 was in Algeria.
Being from Merthyr I miss the physical presence of my Welsh compatriots so when I meet them I like to chat, we'd speak to everybody on the train to Barry Island and we carried on doing it in the pubs later in life, in my bar I led the conversation, but out on the road it can be intimidating when a Merthyr man comes on to you without an introduction with my uncultured accent not helping, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't; but the way accent comes into it only applies to the English & Welsh, to the French I could be Dutch, Swiss or Belgian, it doesn't matter. One day in Lorient I went up to a member of the Dowlais Choir, told him I was from Merthyr, turned out we went to the same infant school and he walked away, friday night I tried to enter into a conversation with 'Carreg Lafar', it didn't work out, yet I met a lovely couple from Neath about the same age as myself, opera lovers who'd been on a voyage down the Volga, they were with the Morriston Choir; she had what for me was a homely home valley accent without a hint of snobbery, we had a long chat and got on well.
When I arrived at 6.30pm I went straight to base camp 'Tavarn ar Roue Morvan' to show my face then went to the 'Palais des Congrés' to pick up a programme, I found a Welsh agenda, saw there was a concert with 9bach going on in the Dome so off I went; as I walked in I espied Arfon Gilym & Sioned Webb who joined me at the bar, later we were to drink together at the Tavarn. The following day on again referring to the Welsh agenda I noticed that Arfon & Sioned were to be present at the ClubK so as is my wont of supporting Welsh acts, particularly friends and especially as the harp is my favourite instrument, having been spoiled by Elinor Bennet's virtuosity when she & Dafydd lived in Merthyr, I walked to the concert hall but on arriving I was informed that it was by invitation only, that being the case it shouldn't have been on the public agenda of the Welsh cabaret programme; anyway on my telling the people at the door that I knew the artistes I was allowed in on condition that I could prove it, so in we went, I greeted Arfon, he reciprocated with "sorry Byn this is a private party", I was escorted back to the door and out, I walked numbly back to the Tavarn where my morale was raised by the joyful and unexpected welcome given to me by Piau Genson & 9bach where we chatted, drank a glass together and photos were taken before they went off for a meal.
I've previously mentioned our lamentable Welsh pavilion's complete lack of effort to participate, to contribute, the Cornish & Scots made a big contribution, the Irish left it to 'Guinness' who are experienced in this type of thing, there was a significant Galician presence, but the easy 'gold medalists' were the Acadians (who? you may well ask, particularly in the context of Celtic culture, they were the original French Canadians). All in all I'm happy with the new friendships made over the two days, the number of old friends encountered and the general camaraderie, music & dance of the 'Tavarn ar Roue Morvan'.
I woke up this morning and drove to Henbont (Hennebont) to photograph the ramparts. (notice it would have been Cymraeg/Welsh if the French hadn't interfered; the Breton for 'old' is usually 'cozh' but in this case it's 'hen'.)