I was a sales rep in the 70s…
selling art materials to education in deepest Wales
Back in the day those in the far West were passionate.
There were tales of fervent nationalists who didn’t like the English for what they’d arrogantly done.
scouted round for the nicest cottages just for weekends.
These were early Yuppy trends.
They invited down Drusilla, Rupert, Jacintha & Giles
and other poncey friends.
for Pims and Taramasalata and Lava Bread…
“made from seaweed’? Such Fun!
There was a spate of ritual burnings of the cottages
of the weekend renovator’s pride
It was a powerful statement of the Welsh anger at those raiders from… well, the other side.
Cottages burnt regularly caught wider attention on the international news…
so, many understood the Welsh, their hurt, their motives, their PR and their views.
but it was my job to travel the principality hawking paint to primary heads and secondary art teachers
So the nationalist bar was set high. It was their home game and mine only just features
powder and poster paint, brushes, plaster and clay… But I wasn’t daunted… no way!
It was Cardigan, Aberaeron Primary to be precise…
That was my next call.
And I stood perplexed, staring blankly at the notice board in the entrance hall.
Until recently signs had always been bi-lingual.
I glazed over….Today… worryingly they were just single!
All I saw was “Pennaeth, Campfa, Neuadd Fwyta, Swyddfa'r Ysgrifennydd, Ystafelloedd Newid
So… I snapped out of it and took a guess… This Newid one… Girl’s Changing Rooms!!… I flew!
Thanks heavens nobody saw me… I got back to the notice board and re-viewed the list anew…
Thank the Lord, just then, I heard female voices as they clip clopped along the parquet
I turned nervously and said “excuse me I’d like to see the head Mr Meredith… Is he in today?”
with the sweetest smile the lady said… “Mr Mer-ed-ith? Yes I’ll have word…
She disappeared behind the door that said “Pennaeth”…
“Head” I thought! Mmm.
“Mr Mer-ed-ith would like to know if you are a Welsh speaker? “Fraid not I said… I’m from Yorkshire”.
"In that case he says Na! I’m sorry I mean No. Your company should employ a Welsh speaker to sell to us in Wales".
If only I’d been able to say “Rwy'n siŵr mai'r dyn sy'n cymryd y swydd pan fyddaf yn gadael fydd eich dyn!”
Instead I said… If you tell me where I can pick up a phrase book I’ll give it a go! Diolch am eich help, hwyl fawr!