One of the more amusing facets of living in Cardiff is the fact that, perhaps because it is a cosmopolitan city where people come to work, you will occasionally run into people who really aren't all that fond of the Welsh. I'll think, "What are you doing living in Wales, then?" But I guess I was sort of the same way when I lived in Southern California.
I got a call Friday morning asking if I would come into the Radio Wales studios at 7 a.m. the next morning for an on-air interview. Since Radio Wales has a habit of bumping me from live interviews and because I didn't want to wake up any earlier than I had to, I squirmed out of it. They scheduled to have me come in at noon on Friday for a pre-recorded interview.
It started raining on my way home from the studios, so of course I ran into my neighbour, who had seen me on "Wales Today" the night before. I did my best to chat amiably in the wet and cold, ignoring my lack of a jacket and this damn illness that has held onto me for a full week now. Since my English-language blog is easily found, I should point out that my neighbours on both sides are all lovely people. I don't have a lawnmower, and they take care of my lawn. So, my inferring that I didn't want to talk to Julie comes only from the fact that I was cold and miserable and had a pounding headache and a cough.
When I got in the house, the child bride informed me that a reporter from the South Wales Echo had called.
The Echo is a newspaper here in Cardiff that suffers from a distinct lack of actual news. I may shoot myself in the foot by saying this, but I am not exactly the biggest fan of the paper. The headlines are tabloid-esque ("Victims Tell Of Ordeal At Hands Of Dirty Doc") and I personally think they possess a certain dislike of Welsh speakers. But I called the reporter back, anyway.
They will almost certainly end up getting the story wrong, claiming that I am a Navy veteran from Rhode Island, or that the child bride is 14 years old and only has one arm, but I decided it would be cool to have a story about me be in an actual newspaper (or something looking like one), so I can send it to my relatives who don't own computers.
I was up and out of bed at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday morning, which is a horrible thing to be, but I needed to be ready for when the BBC came to pick me up an hour later. Saturday was the event that the BBC was actually paying me to take part in, so I felt a certain need to be properly bathed and shaved and other such things.
I gave a complete rundown of the day's happenings on my Welsh-language blog, and I doubt non Welsh speakers would have a great deal of interest, but here are the highlights of the day:
- I got an enormous round of applause when I told the audience that one of the bonuses of the Welsh language is that it has given me an opportunity to live outside the United States during the presidency of George W. Bush. That made me feel a little uncomfortable; I was expecting a polite chuckle, not an ovation.
- I go to meet Welsh-language news presenter Garry Owen, who never stops smiling and is really cool in that way that I can't explain. I want to make a T-shirt with his face on it and the words "Mae posse gyda Garry Owen" ("Garry Owen has a posse").
- I got to meet Welsh-language soap opera star Gilian Elisa who was genuinely delightful and an all-around entertainer. There are increasingly fewer entertainers who can properly work a room, but you get the sense that Gillian is one of those people who is equipped to entertain three people at an old folks' home, or 3,000 people in an auditorium -- she could do either without breaking a sweat and both audiences would leave thinking she was the bee's knees. She also won massive points with me when she insisted that I should have my own show.
I also got to meet a group of Welsh-language bloggers. And as a result of all of the above, my attitude about Eisteddfod changed enough that I will probably go to next year's event.
A photographer from the South Wales Echo came to take pictures of me today. He was disappointed that I didn't have anything in the house that was "really American." I told him that if he wanted to drive, we could go get some Budweiser and KFC, but he opted for my wearing a baseball cap. At one point he also had me doing some sort of crazy thing where I was reading my pocket Welsh dictionary in the tree in my garden. This made no sense to me, but the photographer was considerably larger than me so I just did as I was told.
Good name for a band: The Old-Time Hurty Shits
*One of my more obscure titles ever, requiring you to know Welsh and catch my reference. I think perhaps Sarah might get it.