This, for those not familiar with my style, is a channelled post. I am occasionally visited by a very powerful Welsh voice (usually, but not always, female). Here it is once more…
There was the three of ’em, see? All old as the craggy tops of Cader Idris and thrice as stony; all sat on the one bench outside the ‘Fowler, Tre’r-ddol, all days that God gave, watching the buttery sun melting on the toasty fields and sipping best beer, look.
There was Dai Bont Goch – obvious, bach! Then there was old Farmer Prydderch (was said even his wife didn’t know the name thundered down in Chapel by the Preacher the day they chased the Devil out of him and bellowed the God in!) – and, always in the middle, like a tiny pebble, Diw, between two big cliffs, Dai Lemma.
Pipes, they had, of course, back in the day before smoking became a sliding slope to cancerous Hell – and, sucking contentedly of an evening, passing a thorny thrift of Welsh words, they plumed the air and fumed the midges into comas!
Argumentative, he was, Dai Two, but just the one point always, never more, as if so fixed and forced into the folds of his brain that no space remained! Evans was his rightful name – but Lemma, he became, when some hoity toity Saesneg student – you know the kind: Thought learning came through books and universities, instead of the good rich earth and the tides and the tales passed down from my Taid – got into a ddadl with Dai, and came up against his immovable precipices, like, and had his rhetoric cut to the bloody bone, and crept away scarred and battered.
But Lemma stuck – and, indeed, Dai grew proud of the name. He thought he’d been re-Christened with Highest Compliment! Love him!
When he sickened and faded, and the rheumy eyes wept copious pink into his frothing ale, and his ribs stuck out like a long dead ewe’s, he stuck to his one point, his silly prideful lemma, and spurned Dr Davies (who had delivered three quarters of the village and either cured or seen off the rest), who would’ve had him up Bronglais Hospital yesterday, and took the road of the stubborn – right into his own grave.
I see him still, when I shudder past that decaying old bench, now empty of all but the ghosts of three ancient men; I see him still in the farmers propping up the bar, trousers held up by fraying bale-string; I see him still in the rich golds of a summer evening, and smell him in old pipes handed reverently down as heirlooms. I hear him in the hacking coughs of the dying – and both curse and admire his bloody, blooded gift-stone which kept him straight those sixty-seven years and should have given him his full stature as scion of a long-lived tribe.
A dying breed, he was, even then, old Dai Lemma. I should know: He was my uncle – and the line ends with me.