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Bllog February 22, 2008

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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Our village is small. And getting smaller by the day what with the mine closing. When I go out on my bike to start my rounds, I see fewer and fewer of the houses have smoke swirling out of their chimneys. It’s an insult, almost, to the coal our community was built on. But Bllog still keeps its beauty. The grey stone cottages with their slate roofs. The chapel. The Glyndawr community centre.

News travels slow in the village. It was a couple of days before word got to me that Blodeuwedd was ill. Well, she’s right at the other end of the village. Had a right case of the sinuses on her. Stuffed up like nobody’s business. I made sure my cap was on straight, that my medical kit was ready and wheeled my bike up onto the hill.

“Hallo Nerys!” shouted Brythonwen from the post-office.

“Oh, hello Brythonwen! Just off to see to Blodeuwedd. She’s got a right case of the sinuses on her!”

“You never stop, Nerys…”

“Hullo Nerys!” said Creiddylad from the tea-room.

“Can’t stop, Creiddylad. Blodeuwedd’s got the sinuses. Give my love to Rhioganedd and the kids.”

“Dw i’n codi’n gynnar bob dydd. Codaf yn gynnar yfory,” mumbled Llwybyr, the village idiot, incoherently.

“Sorry, Llwybyr, didn’t catch a word o’ that. You know I don’t speak Welsh. Just got the accent, like.”

Language is a problem round these here parts. Right in the middle of the village, there’s a 4-million strong community of German guest workers. Ber-y-llyn, we call it. They came over when the mine was going great guns. Well, they’ve stayed and they’re a productive, hard-working bunch, I’ll say that for them, and though they keep themselves to themselves, they’re all right. Haven’t mixed much. It’s meant a right run on the German evening classes at the Glyndawr community centre. ’cause the Germans have got most of the businesses, see. Clever the way they done it and they’d creamed off all the opportunities before we could recover from the shock of the mine going the way of the dodo.

Well, I was hesitant as I made my way to the chemist’s. Had to stock up, see. That’s German-run too and they don’t like it much when us Welsh come in. Primitive, they find us. Won’t speak a word of local. Six years I been going to the Glyndawr for the classes but I still feel funny having to talk to the Germans. In Bllog! I know all the medical words of course but I still don’t like going and discussing Blodeuwedd’s Nasennebenhöhlenentzündung with just anyone and I’ve never much liked that Mrs. Waltraud Llewellyn what works there, even if she has married a local, Anynnawg, what runs choir practice down the Glyndawr.

But I was right pleased with myself this time. Mrs. Llewellyn was in a better mood and my classes down the community centre have really paid off. I chatted away about Blodeuwedd’s sinuses no problem like and Mrs. Llewellyn even went and wished me, “iechyd da!” as I rode off down the village lane on my bike.

Well, poor Blodeuwedd was in a right state. I administered her the medicine and told her to get some more coal on that fire. Made her up another hot water bottle and told her not to leave the house before Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant. Well, it’s only next week.

I rode home feeling right pleased with myself and with Bllog. Bllog has its fair share of problems but we’re a lovely little community. I rested my bike against the cottage wall, took my cap off and put the kettle on the stove in preparation for a good litre or two of tea. Got the buns out of the larder. Put the wireless on in the background. Cole Porter came crackling out. I love him. One of my favourites, along with Max Boyce. You can right imagine yourself off in a different world.

Then I don’t know what it was, if I’d accidentally taken a hallucinogen or something, but everything changed. The four walls of my grey stone cottage fell away. The whistle of the kettle on the stove fell silent. And Cole Porter got louder and louder.

“She can speak. Sie kann sprechen sprechen.
She c’n’inquire. In den Apotheken.
Be it Nasennebenhöhlenentzündung or nay,
Sie kann German talken und German walken any day…”

My nurse’s uniform was replaced by a lovely long white frock. All frills and sequins it was. My hair went all lovely and curly and had a great big feather sticking out of it. And out of nowhere appeared a huge great staircase, all illuminated and leading from nowhere to nowhere and I was right at the top of it. And on every step on the way down, on either side, there was a great big hulking man in black tie just waiting to swirl me down to the bottom. Like a feather I was as I blew from one man to the other, cascading downwards in their big strong arms.

“She can fly. Sie kann fliegen fliegen…”

When all of a bloody sudden I did hear the whistle of the kettle from the stove after all and the walls of my cottage sprang back up around me.

Maybe I’ll start a musicals club down the Glyndawr.



1. bowleserised - February 22, 2008

Darling, I have prepared a tribute.

2. marshaklein - February 22, 2008

Ah, there’s lovely for you. Glad to see you’re keeping a welcome in the hillsides!

3. d.z. bodenberg - February 22, 2008

Have you been watching Pobol-y-Cwm again? And before Leon mentions ‘the greatest coal in the world’, Tower Colliery closed down at the end of last year.

I visited a chemist the other week and let myself be educated on Nasenduschen. There are at least three types. I chose the cheapest, of course, which is named after some kind of doctor, as is the slightly more expensive version. The cheapest one’s made from glass, and looks like a Playmobil bong. In fact, it could be a children’s drug-imbibing thingy, if it were not made of glass. The medium-priced one is just like a glass egg with a bit of glass tubing, and the most expensive one is named after some man who became a millionaire after selling salt sachets he nicked from service stations to ill people via chemists’ shops for about 5 euros each, is made of plastic, looks like a shampoo bottle, and comes with two ‘free’ salt sachets (paid for in the price).

Apparently shoving cold water up one nostril and out the other will keep you healthy until the age of 97.

Musicals club: I passed through your end of Brent on the tram again, in the daylight this time, and that was-once-famous-I-believe-in-the-DDR Tanzbar at the end of your street looks like it could do with reopening. How about it?

4. Le Welsh - February 22, 2008

Sa’i’n diall y context o gwbl rili; wedi bod yn rhy fisi i bloggo’n properly efe? Ond, dwi’n hollol caru Bllog a ti hefyd – wedi neud i fi’n gwenu reit dros wyneb fach gymreig i! :) xx

5. d.z. bodenberg - February 23, 2008

To change the subject: Turkmenbashi news over at the Guardian (My new year’s resolution is to find my note with the html-linking tags on it, and use it):


6. marshaklein - February 23, 2008

Ooh, ooh, I’ve got a cockroach story too! During my beetroot-eating days in the Sudan, I celebrated my 4th birthday and my dad and a friend of ours took me to the local (Greek) cake shop to buy my birthday cake. On the way home, a cockroach popped out of a hole in the icing, did a lap of the cake and jumped back in the hole. I screamed. Dad and his friend took me back to the shop and we exchanged the cockroach cake for another one, probably working on the basis that 4-year olds aren’t that fussy about food hygiene.

I can’t recall ever telling my mother though…

7. pleite - February 23, 2008

Marsha, that’s the first cockroach I’ve almost managed to have sympathy with. Burrowing its way out of cake to do a little sugar-induced performance for you. But then I remember them in my flat in St. Petersburg and all is quickly unforgiven.

DZ, no need to learn how to link. Well, unless you’re desperate to, but at least the bit of text knows to make itself into a link anyway… And this is Turkmenbashi mark II, of course, whose surname I don’t have the time to type. But he’s being a right old liberal, allowing foreign languages classes again and perhaps even cancelling Rukhnama Studies at the State University… And do you know anything about that old Tanzbar? I’ve mentioned somewhere before that a taxi-driver told me it was a right old raunchy joint in its heyday but I still can’t quite imagine people wearing silk and glittery headgear and taking opiates in Ruislip. But, yes, let’s reopen it tomorrow as long as I don’t have to provide any money or really have to do anything practical.

Oh no, Le Welsh, the online translators haven’t been much help at all. Nothing at all comprehensible for the first sentence and only, “Except I am being heartburn dead love Bllog I go you also you deny say I I heartburn smile right over face hook she persuading I!” for the second so now I’m worried you’ve written in to express your disgust and I can’t understand. But then you ended your comment with a smile and two kisses, so my fears are vaguely assuaged. Worried about your heartburn, though. You want to get that seen to. You a nurse ‘n all, and a Welsh one at that. (Have you deliberately not linked to yourself? I could edit you in, or would that count as manipulation and be anti-freedom-of-speech?)

Diolch yn fawr iawn, Blodeuwedd. And I was quite a babe in my nerysian youth, wasn’t I? Anyway, I’m having an anatomical crisis because I’ve always thought sinuses were things. Things that you could have removed. Like tonsils and appendix and hair. But the German word for them has made me realise they are just a hole, or a gap, or a cavity. So I must have invented the operation, or I’ve met a lot of malades imaginaires who’ve gone into hospital to voluntarily have holes removed. Actually, I’m down to have a nostrillectomy soon. No need for presents but do feel free to make a contribution to your local nostril charity.

8. ThePenguin - February 23, 2008

I don’t know about removable sinuses (sinii?), but you can (or could) get portable ones from Deutsche Telekom.

9. bowleserised - February 23, 2008

I think KMS might be too young to know about Nerys Hughes, District Nurse!

I couldn’t even find it on YOUTUBE!


10. bowleserised - February 23, 2008
11. Le Welsh - February 23, 2008

Apologies, didn’t mean not to link in…
What I said was roughly… “I don’t really understand the context; been too busy for proper blogging of late (isn’t it?). But I totally love Bllog and you too – you made me smile right across my little Welsh face”. Yours was a better translation though; let’s stick with the heartburn and I’ll get some gaviscon.

12. d.z. bodenberg - February 23, 2008

No, no, I am well aware of Nerys and her bicycle, despite (still, just) being a youngish whippersnapper.

13. pleite - February 23, 2008

Le Welsh, thank you, and I quite understand that you have far bigger fish to fry at the moment. I have a nervous breakdown at the thought of having to switch the dishwasher, which we call the answering machine, on so I would be very bad at organising buying houses and getting married and all that sort of stuff. And, look, I’ve tampered with history and even linked up your last comment.

Blodeuwedd, I got culture shock clicking from Michelle Obama to Nerys Hughes. She rather epitomises frump in that first District Nurse picture, doesn’t she? And now I’ve conflated her with Elkie Brooks, not a single song of whose I can remember. Except now I’ve just remembered Pearl’s a Singer.

Penguin, so maybe sinusectomies are simply another of those embarrassing practical operations where people have removed from their anatomies things which should never have been ingested in the first place.

14. pleite - February 23, 2008

DZ, we overlap. Though I also thought it might be your youth catching up on you. I think that Nerys show was one I actually found too depressing to watch. (British TV seems good at those.) Last of the Summer Wine was another. And Emmerdale. And anything, actually, probably, about life in the countryside. Would probably love them now.

15. Mangonel - February 24, 2008


See, this is what Dylan Thomas actually meant to write.

Why has no-one mentioned Little Britain?

16. pleite - February 25, 2008

Mango, I don’t know Little Britain well enough to comment but I did consciously avoid the name Myfanwy. But now, of course, I’m desperate to go and listen to that famous recording of Richard Burton. Oh look, I can! And I’m secretly livid with myself for not having so much as a Llan- or an Aber- in the village name but too late now. (What would have been a good Llan- one, going on the same Llareggub/Llamedos system?)

17. Mangonel - February 25, 2008


Best I can come up with. That, or just pretending that I never saw your last comment.

18. bering - February 25, 2008

i know i’m just a visitor round these here parts and so don’t quite have enough material for an inside comment (which is like an inside joke though not necessarily funny, and possibly even more elliptical), but i would like to state for the record that you have brightened a rather dim day and led me to laugh and snort in what would have been an embarrassing manner, had anyone been around at the time.

19. pleite - February 26, 2008

Bering, then that is good news and, again, justification for me not deleting the whole bastard blog. And, yes, I went a bit ethnocentric in this post, or Welshocentric, pretending to be the nurse from a depressing British TV show from the 80s set in a depressing-looking (or depressing-atmosphere-creating) Welsh village. The cartoon version of my fantasy Wales is much nicer. See the youtube clip here. Just look at how comforting that grey sky is.

Mango, I didn’t get any further than Llaneno and even then had to worry about dispensing with the apostrophes. It’s no good being a purist when trying to invent Welsh names from naughty palindromes. But what was even more frustrating was not being able to think of a single word (or group of words) that ended in -reba. Aberatihswoh, or something, but I’ve got nothing against BA, especially as I’m strictly an Easyjet man and when I DID fly BA recently it felt so luxurious that I had to go and self-flagellate afterwards.

20. mary - February 26, 2008

I’m just saying ‘Hello’!

21. IsarSteve - February 27, 2008

I suppose I’m rather late in commenting you are Mr Jones the pleite.. but I just wanted to thank you for trains-sporting back into the middle 1960s to the days before I-pods, I-tunes, I-macs and I-phones.. when I used psssh-tkooff, psssh-tkooff, all the way home from school to watch I-vor, the first “kettle on wheels”… wonderful, Mr Pugh the penguin….. land of heaven .. land of heaven… where have those innocent days gone to?
Worse still, the german “side” of “my family” doesn’t understand it at all.. oh dear.. there you are.. Mrs Thomas the fish…

22. Sylvia - February 28, 2008

your blog is totally surreal. At least it makes a change from the rest! My experience of Wales? the fabulous Portmeirion for my husband’s 50th and a wet week near Tenby – not so fabulous – with lots of small children. And I forgot the nappies….

23. Arabella - February 28, 2008

No need to avoid Myfanwy – you are among friends.

24. pleite - February 29, 2008

Arabella, I had such a filthy dream last night and I’m sure it was inspired by your comment. Still feeling guilty and it’s gone midday. David Essex wasn’t involved, though.

Sylvia, still haven’t been to Portmeirion, though it’s unconsciously on the agenda and I’ve just google-mapped it and seen it’s in a very satisfactory part of Wales indeed. So need to get back there. I think the last time I went to Ireland with my parents – I think I was 11 – we drove to Holyhead and probably got lost and drove through such staggeringly breathtaking landscapes around there.

Isar, episode 2 might actually make you cry. Look at that sky! I know it’s only a cartoon, but I’ve seen that sky. So low you could scrape your head off it. I remember being around the Brecon Beacons once and in a horrible car that car enthusiasts like where you’re practically sitting on the tarmac and it was all very dark and eerie. Lovely lovely though.

Mary, I’ve got my best boy detective hat on and have decided conclusively – and I won’t be disagreed with – that you are mother to the great Annie Rhiannon. Am I right? I was careful not to use the name Rhiannon for a Bllog-dweller too, in case it seemed like taking the piss and I still remember that nice Rhiannon that won Blockbusters. So there couldn’t have been a Rhiannon. And I feel so grown-up, having a blogger’s parent in. It reminds me of when I went to dinner at my ex’s mother’s house when he was away and it was just me and her and her husband and her friend and… and… Thank you galore for dropping by, even if you aren’t Annie’s mum.

25. annie - March 1, 2008

Nerys, did you get my letter? I hope so. I stuck what I thought was the correct amount of stamps on (as getting to the post office is impossible with my working hours…)

26. kean - March 2, 2008

from ’50 arts secrets revealed’, http://arts.guardian.co.uk/theatre/news/story/0,,2261381,00.html

“Q What’s the hardest accent to adopt?

BC: Welsh. I can always guarantee a laugh from my girlfriend when I try it.

DM: I can do them all apart from Welsh. I always try it on my girlfriend, but I just end up sounding Indian.”

27. pleite - March 2, 2008

Kean, there was a children’s programme – was it Magic Roundabout? Can’t think – with a Welsh character, presumably not being played by a Welsh person, and I never knew if it was meant to be a Welsh person or an Indian. Actually, it might have been an Indian whom I mistook for a Welsh person. Anyway, glad to hear it’s a tough accent. My impressions of New Zealand are pure Australian.

Annie, diolch yn fawr iawn, Brythonwen from the post office did, indeed, get your letter to me. Normally I’d have got it the regular way but she was so excited at the London postmark that she ran right down the village lane and dropped it into me. She upset Rhodri’s coal scuttle as she went. Right mess.

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