Guide Bred of Heaven: One Mans Quest to Reclaim his Welsh Roots

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How Welsh, in the end, is half-Welsh? My yearning, my claim, has always been for my Welsh half to swamp the rest. But it's hardly had a chance. I have never lived in Wales.


I could never pass myself off as a native. I have walked the length of Offa's Dyke. Above all, I've learned to speak Welsh. But it seemed to me that I couldn't strengthen my connection to Wales without summoning the ghosts of my Welsh grandparents. In the case of my grandmother it was easy.

BRED - Definisi bred dalam kamus Corsica

Dorothy, born in Porthmadog, was a loving presence in my childhood, the one who cooked Christmas lunches whose aroma I can still smell, who knitted and sewed outfits for cuddly toys, who wrote long, chatty letters to me at boarding school. And she lived to the age of Bert was a less knowable, more intimidating figure, dapper in plus fours. He didn't talk much: my father's theory is that the forceful, widowed mother-in-law he was obliged to house for 26 years clammed him up. I remember that towards one o'clock on Christmas Day, he would rise from his armchair in the corner nearest the fire and summon us to a small sanctum where he would dispense throat-rasping ginger beer.


I remember him tearing me off a strip with a cold blue-eyed glare. But I didn't know him. Who was he really? I started to ask questions of my father and my uncle, who for 10 years has been a Cistercian monk on Caldey Island in Pembrokeshire.

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Bert was born in and grew up on a small farm in Meidrim, a village 10 or so miles west of Carmarthen. There were six siblings above him, two below. The four eldest sons went into farming. The only daughter, who was the middle child, married a farmer. The next four sons all qualified as doctors and dentists. After the emigration of the eldest to New South Wales, and the dispersal of most of the rest to England, the nine siblings would not gather together again in one place for more than 40 years.

Bert stayed put in Wales, but for the training he acquired at Guy's Hospital in London. One drizzly morning, I knocked on the door of the chapel and was shown round a spectacularly vast room with gated pews for a thousand. The current minister, a jaunty figure in a bow tie, produced the register for , which recorded that the service was presided over by the minister John Dyfnallt Owen in the presence of B Davies, vicar of St David's. Church was keeping an eye on chapel. Among Bert's patients was Dylan Thomas, who would come into town from Laugharne and leave without ever, apparently, settling his bill.

However, others did, enough to pay for a large house on the hill overlooking the town in which he and Dorothy lived for nearly 50 years. Like all grandparental homes it felt semi-familiar to me as a child, a little bit wonderful, cluttered with random exotica. Built in the late s in the style of a pavilion in India, it had previously been in the possession of the family of the Soviet spy Donald Maclean.

Being very old, its floorboards creaked, and brass bits and pieces tinkled. And there was definitely a poltergeist in the attic bedroom where we slept.

When the NHS was created in , the farmers came down from the rolling Carmarthenshire hills and the miners came up from the valleys of the western coalfield and they queued to have, in most cases, their first dental care of any kind. The state reimbursed my grandfather handsomely. So prolific was his throughput that in the House of Commons he was held up as an example of dentists milking the system. Cystadlu Compete. Tyfu Grow. Cyflwyno Introduce. Credu Believe. Gweithio Work. Canu Sing.

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Siarad Speak. Chwarae Play. Eistedd Sit. Cerdded Walk.