Eluned Bengoch


Eluned Bengoch

Cyfle i weld portread o'r ddiweddar Eluned Phillips o Genarth o 1984. Another chance to see this1984 portrait of Eluned Phillips who won the National Eisteddfod Crown in Llangef...


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-It was 1967 at Bala - everyone was

-amazed to see a woman standing up.

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-Is there a reason why women have not

-been important poets in the past?

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-I don't see why that should be.

-Women do everything nowadays.

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-I don't understand it - I've worked

-easily alongside men all my life...

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-..but when it comes to poetry

-they don't want to know you.

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-When I won my first Crown,

-I stood up nervously.

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-As I did so, a man behind me

-tugged my skirt...

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-..and said,

-"Sit down, I want to see!"

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-I remember Dilys Cadwaladr

-warned me at that time...

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-..I wouldn't be admitted into poetic

-circles, as she herself experienced.

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-I discovered that quite early, when

-I first started writing poetry.

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-I was aged seven

-when I published my first poem.

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-There was a forester living near us,

-employed by the Cawdor estate.

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-He told my mother it was impossible

-that I could have written my poem.

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-So she took me into the house,

-sat me down...

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-..and told Morgan, this fellow,

-to give me a subject.

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-The subject he gave me

-was 'The Forester'!

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-Unfortunately, he'd cut down

-a tree I used to enjoy climbing.

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-I was really fond of that tree,

-and I couldn't forgive him for it.

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-So I sat down and wrote about him

-as a murderer.

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-Oh dear, he wasn't happy about that!

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-Mam was pleased I'd written the poem

-but I almost got a good hiding...

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-..because Morgan used to give her

-left-over branches for firewood!

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-Elizabeth Watkin Jones's book,

-'Luned Bengoch' (Red-haired Luned)..

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-..was published when I was a pupil

-at Cardigan Grammar School.

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-I'd already had enough jibes!

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-In Cardigan, WH Smith had displayed

-eight copies of 'Luned Bengoch'.

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-Naturally, I never heard the end

-of it, particularly from the boys.

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-Well, enough was enough, so I

-decided to do something about it.

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-In our garden we had many pretty

-flowers, wild daffodils and so on.

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-I cut them

-- I stole them from Mam, really!

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-I sold them to her friends, and with

-the money, I bought the books...

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-..and to my shame

-I burnt all eight copies!

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-I'd never burnt a book before that,

-and I hope I never will again.

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-I'm still ashamed of it.

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-There was another woman in

-the village who had red hair...

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-..and she took me under her wing.

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-In the village at that time,

-the Women's Institute was strong.

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-I think I was about eleven years old

-- no taller than I am now!

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-She'd take me to the meetings.

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-Once there was a competition,

-and she encouraged me to compete.

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-I had started writing poetry then,

-though not so much prose...

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-..and everyone knew

-I was that way inclined.

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-But anyway, she was insistent

-that I should compete.

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-I wrote an epic play,

-'The Fall of Jerusalem'.

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-It was in English, of course, as was

-everything in the WI at that time.

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-There were scenes of children being

-eaten, I don't remember exactly...

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-..but I'd got all the details

-from Josefas for my great epic play!

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-Well, the adjudicator

-was SB Jones, Y Cilie...

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-..and I knew nothing at the time

-of the Cilie poetic tradition.

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-SB Jones said there was

-a touch of Shakespeare in my work.

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-That was it -

-I was going to be a writer.

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-There was no doubt about it.

-That was what I was going to do.

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-There's still something

-about me and my hair!

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-My first minister had the poetic

-name of Gwallter Ddu - Black Walter.

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-I thought the world of him.

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-I'd walk with him,

-holding on to his arm...

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-..because he'd listen to my poems

-- I was about seven years of age.

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-And he told me I ought to publish.

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-It was he who first encouraged me

-to start publishing my work.

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-Gwallter Ddu - DD Walters -

-was our minister at Bryn Sion.

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-This is where I was brought up,

-and I still think of it...

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-..as a place to retreat to

-from time to time.

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-My religion is simple -

-it's my own personal religion.

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-I love coming to Bryn Sion

-for that intimacy.

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-I wanted to be an auctioneer

-as a child!

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-But Mam put her foot down,

-because it wasn't ladylike.

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-I wanted to be a chemist, which was

-worse, because I wrote poetry...

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-..and Mam said I was absent-minded

-and would end up poisoning someone.

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-I wanted to be a preacher. My sister

-and I used to preach in the house...

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-..and to be honest, people would

-have more fun when it was my turn.

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-But unfortunately, I just couldn't

-pray in front of people...

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-..and I used to go under the table!

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-But my sister, to her credit,

-continues to preach today.

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-I never knew my father - he died

-three months before I was born...

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-..and then we all went

-to live with my grandmother.

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-That was a special influence on me.

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-She had a gift for storytelling

-- the stories she used to tell me!

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-We lived in the Cwm Cuch area.

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-She would tell me the story

-of Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed...

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-..and I imagined his white hounds

-weaving their way through the trees.

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-They were marvellous stories which

-really did fire my imagination.

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-My grandmother was also a midwife

-to the gypsies...

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-..and that was

-a real child's paradise.

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-Here was Banc y Shifftwn...

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-..which was my paradise as a child.

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-There would be two, three

-or more caravans...

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-..and you wouldn't believe the

-beautiful treasures inside them.

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-I remember one night, a son had

-been born to one of the Lovells...

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-..who were genuine Romanies.

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-Mamgu was a queen by then, and I was

-allowed to go to the bonfire.

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-It was a proper festival -

-a fiddler, dancing and singing.

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-All kinds of merriment, and in

-the middle there was a fire...

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-..with a huge ball of clay

-at its heart.

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-When it was time to eat,

-they split open this ball...

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-..and inside it there was

-a roasted hedgehog.

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-I had a hedgehog at home as a pet...

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-..which I used to feed every day

-with a saucer of milk.

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-All they saw of me that night

-were my heels...

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-..and sadly I broke all contact

-with the Gypsies forever.

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-That was sad - I used to love them.

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-Auntie Hannah was another influence.

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-She lived with us after her husband

-died - she was a great storyteller.

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-She was also well-known

-as a fisherwoman.

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-This place is very important

-to the village.

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-It's the only street we ever had

-- we used to call it Fish Street.

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-Behind me here is where

-Auntie Hannah used to live.

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-There used to be two cottages

-and one two-floored house here.

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-She came to live here from the farm

-because she wanted to go fishing.

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-That's why she moved here,

-and that's where she used to fish.

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-The pool has been named after her

-- Hannah Rees's Pool.

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-Her husband, Peter, was blind.

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-He'd sit here in the doorway

-while she was fishing.

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-She'd take the alarm clock with her

-and put it on the rock beside her.

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-Otherwise, she'd forget

-she had to cook for Peter!

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-Morgan the cat would go fishing

-with her, too.

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-He was a sensible creature.

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-She'd catch the fish,

-loads of them...

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-..and Morgan would carry the fish

-back, without touching them...

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-..and he'd put them

-down by Peter's feet.

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-Auntie Hannah never lost anything.

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-She had a pocket under her skirt.

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-She'd put the small fish that she

-was supposed to throw back, in there

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-Hannah, just as thrifty as everyone

-else, would put them in the pocket.

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-She used to say there were

-terrible ructions...

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-..when the bailiff

-came to look under her skirt!

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-The river's important to everyone

-who's ever lived in Cenarth.

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-You must know the names of the pools

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-When they'd fish from coracles

-they'd start at Pwll Defed...

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-..then over Y Dalar,

-and down either side of the island.

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-Each side had a name

-- Gwar Beben and Bwlch Bach.

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-Then down to Pwll Siencyn,

-and Pwll Drysu.

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-I remember Pwll Drysu well -

-there was a tree...

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-..which had fallen across the river

-- it was an ideal spot for poaching!

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-One night the Archdruid of Brittany,

-a very accomplished poet...

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-..was staying with us, the night

-before some eisteddfod or other.

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-He'd heard about this poaching, and

-wanted to know what we got up to.

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-So, we moved out on this fallen tree

-and cast our net...

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-..and that was how we

-caught the fish, the salmon.

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-He caught his spectacles on

-something and they fell off...

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-..and he fell into the river!

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-The biggest fish I ever caught!

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-Poaching's a lot of bother.

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-Poaching's a lot of bother.

-

-That's half the fun!

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-I don't know how many girls

-used to go out poaching.

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-Perhaps I used to do things

-others wouldn't.

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-But tell me, what made you

-go out poaching?

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-Well, if money's scarce, and you

-need money for fags or something...

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-..it's better to go out and catch

-a fish than to steal the money.

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-You didn't break the law then.

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-After all, you're promised five

-loaves and two fish in the Bible!

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-I had the urge to write 'cynghanedd'

-even before I could write poetry.

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-They didn't teach it in school,

-as they do these days.

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-Mam would pay for me to have lessons

-at Newcastle Emlyn, three miles away

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-They were very good lessons,

-by Mrs Clement Davies...

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-..wife of the Baptist minister

-at the Graig at the time.

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-It was through her that I sat

-the Gorsedd examination.

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-I sat three exams at one sitting.

-They don't do that any more.

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-So I was accepted into the Gorsedd

-when I was about 16.

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-That's how I started off.

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-Ever since then, the Eisteddfod's

-been in my blood for good.

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-For some reason, I was sent

-to boarding school in London.

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-I think the reason was,

-and I didn't like the reason...

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-..but I think the family

-wanted me to be a teacher.

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-I think they thought boarding school

-would sort me out.

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-Well, it didn't work!

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-I had a friend called Joan there,

-and we were a like-minded pair.

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-We wore high heels and lipstick...

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-..and we'd go down the fire escape

-in the back, into Fleet Street!

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-That's where I met Dewi Emrys,

-at long last!

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-At that time,

-you weren't considered a writer...

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-..unless you were starving

-in a garret.

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-So I found a place in Bayswater,

-and met Norma from New Zealand.

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-I wrote romantic love stories,

-before Mills & Boon existed...

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-..and we sent them off, but Norma

-acted as my agent, my only one ever!

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-I need someone like that, because

-I'm no good at asking for money.

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-So she'd collect any money

-that came in.

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-And I simply couldn't write these

-romances under my own name...

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-..living in Wales at that time.

-I had to hide this from everyone.

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-So she'd send these stories out

-under all kinds of pseudonyms.

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-I've no idea what she called me.

-Certainly not my own name!

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-Anyway, the first two I sent off

-were rejected.

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-But the third time -

-third time lucky for a Welshman!

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-I succeeded,

-and received three guineas.

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-I was at home, and Mr Roy Evans

-from Newcastle Emlyn called.

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-He was the Magistrates' Clerk

-at Newcastle Emlyn.

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-He'd come to ask my mother

-whether I could work for him...

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-..because his partner

-had to go to War, apparently.

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-He wanted me to start immediately.

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-I didn't know what to do,

-but we both went to the courtroom.

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-He ran three courts. Newcastle

-Emlyn, Llandysul, and Pencader.

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-While I was at those three courts,

-there were large crowds...

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-..as many as a hundred, sometimes,

-especially in Pencader...

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-..and I believe that was their

-answer to the theatre, at the time.

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-Because you'd have the same crowd

-of regulars every time.

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-I knew nothing of the law...

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-..so I had to read Stone's Justices'

-Manual in bed every night.

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-So while while I was in that job,

-I had to read up every night...

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-..on the next morning's cases.

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-I remember one that had a terrible

-effect on me, in Pencader.

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-In court was a man who had broken

-into the Post Office in Pencader.

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-He had no fixed address.

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-He was Irish,

-and I'm usually very fond of them.

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-But there was nothing we could do

-but send him to jail.

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-I cried all night.

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-When I came back to Wales,

-Dewi Emrys had come back, too...

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-..and he lived in Talgarreg.

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-He'd founded Sefydliad y Fforddolion

-and I was asked to join.

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-We had a dinner one night

-in Newquay.

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-The guest speaker was John Griffiths

-of the BBC in Swansea.

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-I didn't know who he was, because

-I'd been out of Wales for so long.

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-In fact, he was the strangest man

-I'd ever seen, at the time.

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-He kept saying, "You've no chance.

-I already have enough scripts".

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-I couldn't understand.

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-Apparently, somebody had told him

-I was a writer, home from England.

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-I think he was worried that I

-was going to ask him for work.

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-But that hadn't crossed my mind.

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-Well, I lost my temper, eventually.

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-"Look here," I said, "I don't know

-who you are, but whoever you are...

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-..don't imagine for one moment

-that I'd write a script for you."

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-And that was that.

-I kept my distance from the man.

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-And a very handsome man he was too,

-but I kept my distance.

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-But in the end,

-two days after I'd gone home...

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-..after falling out with him...

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-..I received a letter

-asking me to write him a script.

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-From then on,

-we became good friends.

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-He was the kindest-hearted man

-I ever met.

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-I wrote Welsh language features

-for John.

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-I'd always drag Dewi Emrys

-into them wherever possible.

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-I knew he needed the money.

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-Of course, one of the highlights

-of the year for us...

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-..would be the pilgrimage

-with Dewi Emrys to Pwll Deri.

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-It was wonderful.

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-We'd sit with him on the stone

-where he wrote 'Pwll Deri'.

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-From Pwll Deri,

-we'd go on to Pwll Gwaelod.

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-There was nothing there

-but a quiet little pub.

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-We'd all go there, and about 2 in

-the morning when we'd had a few...

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-..Dewi would have a glass

-of Creme de Menthe in his hand...

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-..and one night

-he recited 'Pwll Deri'.

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-I never heard anything like it.

-It was wonderful.

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-This is the memorial

-to Dewi Emrys at Pwll Deri.

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-I'm sure I can hear his laughter

-floating on the wind.

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-They've given him two years extra.

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-He was born in '81, not in '79.

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-I was asked to join the people

-who wrote 'Teulu Ty Coch'.

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-Later on came 'Teulu'r Mans',

-with John Griffiths, again.

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-It was great fun, believe me.

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-I became very fond of the character

-Joe Long - Manny Price, you see.

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-Joe Long was named after a village

-character called Sam Long.

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-We had a lot of fun with Sam Long.

-He looked a bit like Manny!

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-Dilys played Annie May.

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-But the boys were adamant. They had

-a name for the minister's wife.

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-I was surprised when they said it

-was Eluned. She was named after me!

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-My head swelled up!

-At last, I'd been noticed!

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-I was the respectable

-minister's wife!

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-But this respect didn't last...

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-..because they decided that she

-was to be a very eccentric creature.

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-She smoked, and swore.

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-She did everything

-that a minister's wife shouldn't do!

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-Winning the second Crown wasn't

-as thrilling as the first time.

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-It was well-received eventually.

-It's been translated by now...

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-..to English, French, Spanish,

-Italian, Sinhalese, and Tamil.

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-And last week,

-a German professor wrote to me...

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-..asking for another copy of the

-poem for somebody else to translate.

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-So some good has come out of it!

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-But I still write, and write poetry.

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-Usually when I'm seriously

-writing poetry...

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-..there'll be somebody ill at home

-and I'll be up with them all night.

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-But on the whole,

-life has been good to me.

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-These days, though I still go

-to Eisteddfodau, of course...

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-..and meet the odd

-interesting character...

0:22:260:22:29

-..I'm not sure if it's as much fun

-generally as it used to be.

0:22:300:22:34

-People seem to be a lot more

-respectable than before.

0:22:340:22:38

-People don't have the same harmless

-fun that we used to have.

0:22:390:22:42

-Cynan was one of the greatest

-Eisteddfod characters for me.

0:22:440:22:48

-We got on like a house on fire.

-We quarrelled, and soon made up.

0:22:480:22:52

-But something funny happened once.

0:22:550:22:58

-I remember one afternoon we were

-in HTV making a programme...

0:22:580:23:02

-..and Cynan happened to be there

-too, making another programme.

0:23:030:23:07

-He saw me, and asked me

-to sit at his table for lunch.

0:23:070:23:11

-Of course, I sat by him nicely.

0:23:120:23:14

-He had a lighter, and it wasn't

-working. It was leaking gas.

0:23:150:23:19

-He said, "Listen to this",

-and he held the lighter to my ear.

0:23:200:23:26

-I was more than happy

-to oblige Cynan.

0:23:260:23:29

-But at that moment, his finger must

-have slipped, or something...

0:23:290:23:34

-..and the next thing we knew,

-my hair was in flames!

0:23:350:23:39

-If it wasn't for the teacher

-sitting with us...

0:23:400:23:44

-..I'm sure that would have been

-the end of Eluned Bengoch!

0:23:440:23:48

-S4C subtitles by

-TROSOL Cyf.

0:24:170:24:20

Cyfle i weld portread o'r ddiweddar Eluned Phillips o Genarth o 1984. Another chance to see this1984 portrait of Eluned Phillips who won the National Eisteddfod Crown in Llangefni,1983.