Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau

Today I do not feel haunted, as I did in my Fresh Ties post (http://www.freshties.com/index.php?action=blog&subaction=showpost&pos...), by what my parents might think, for your support leads me to experience my inheritance as “yn annwyl i mi” (dear to me).

Anyone who knew Dad will tell you “Delme would give you the shirt off his back”. When Julian Dobson tweeted “Muck is like money. Not good
except it spread.”, I was transported to a launderette in Tottenham, newly appointed young nineties research executive, and spending my
weekends watching pants dry. Dad said “Do a service wash”, then explained his take on economics, or as I like to think of it, cash flow.

Over the past 25 years, I've often pondered the what ifs of my family's financial losses. What if my folks had bought the flats on Regent's Park and not Y Bwthyn (the cottage)? What if their bank manager hadn't suggested selling our London home, to take up living in rural West Wales? What if Dad had sung Peron in the original West End production of Evita? What if Mum's grandfather had not been cut off for illegitimate partner and kids? Or Dad's grandmother likewise for an ill advised marriage?

When I first moved to Birmingham in 1991, I lived in Sparkbrook – a three bedroomed terrace on Dearman Road. Within days of giving Mum the
address, I learned that Mary Dearman was in fact my great, great, great, great, greatgrandmother and that neighbouring Lloyd House was her family home, shared with her husband, Sampson Lloyd of, you guessed it, Lloyds Bank. What if...

But my inheritance is not an income of wealth, so much as the capacity to overcome and a passion for welfare. Take the Cadbury's investments in social housing, education and health or the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's work – good Quaker families both, with whom my connection is one Elizabeth Fry, not Turkish, but, delightful in visiting prisons so long ago.

My family could have bequeathed me a fortune, but for one reason or another our line was cut out or off, culminating in that most taboo of debt devised poverties, my personal bankruptcy of 2002. And yet, there is no purpose in crying over spilt milk. I firmly believe that in adversity, we learn our inner most strength. But then, I do come from rather a long line of dreamers:

“Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri” (land of poets and singers, famed for honour)

Yesterday, I had the great fortune to spend time with an old school friend, Sian Phillips, formidable folk fiddler, and a Buddhist. We hugged as I left and somehow talked briefly of a funeral in the chapel opposite (Welsh fetish!). “How can you sing hymns, when you're a Buddhist?” she'd been asked. “I sing out of respect” she cried.  25 years ago, we'd never have guessed what that meant. 

Thank YOU!


Posted @ 12:31:41 on 25 August 2009

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