From distressing deception to Methodist influence
I was reminded by your very powerful edition of the Friend focusing on Friends in Wales (17 November) of an incident some years ago which made me, as a well-meaning monoglot, feel very useless.
I called on an elderly widow who had been visited by a group of children. They claimed to have come to invite her to a tea party, telling her she would receive further details later. She was, at first, overwhelmed by such kindness. However, while she was talking to some of them, two slipped upstairs, found her meagre savings and sentimental ‘treasures’ and stole them.When she discovered their deception, she was all the more distressed that such young children should be so wicked as to take advantage of her trust so cruelly.
As I tried to comfort her I heard the strong Welsh lilt in her voice and gently suggested that she didn’t sound to have been born in Oxfordshire. She told me that her husband had come in the exodus from the Valleys when the jobs in coal and steel dried up. Tears made her incoherent as she tried to express herself in ‘my’ language.
I asked if she knew of other Welsh-speakers in the area (as there had been a strong contingent of her compatriots working in the blanket factories) with whom to chat in Welsh.
‘No,’ she replied, sadly, ‘only the Almighty and He never answers me.’
Words (in English) failed me.
I have been using Welsh at Meeting in England. Nearly forty years ago when I came first to Meeting in Winchester there were two Welsh speakers, and three women who had warm connections with Welsh or with Wales. I would naturally chat in Welsh or English with the other speakers.
From time to time I would minister by reading from Advices & queries, usually doing so by reading first in Welsh and then the same choice in English.
Later I came to the conclusion that it would be a great signifier of Quaker support for Cymraeg, Welsh, if all printings of Advices & queries were always published in the two languages together. Of course, I know that there are more than two native languages in the UK.
Even so, you should know how much of a thrill it is for a man from West Wales to open a Quaker magazine and see his mother tongue side by side with English.
Rwy’ wedi bod yn defnyddio’r Gymraeg yn y Cwrdd yn Lloegr. Bron ddeugain blynedd yn ôl, pen ddês i gynta i’r Cwrdd yma yng Nghaerwynt roedd yno ddau Gymry Cymraeg ac hefyd tair arall ddi-Gymraeg a oedd ganddynt cysylltiadau cynnes efo’r Gymraeg neu Cymru.Roedd sgwrsio yn Gymraeg a Saesneg yn hollol naturiol i’r ddau Gyfaill Cymraeg a mi.O dro i dro byddaf yn gweini drwy ddarllen un o’r Cynghorion a Holiadau. Fel arfer, byddaf yn darllen yn gyntaf yn Gymraeg, ac wedyn yn Saesneg.
Yn ddiweddarach des i’r penderfyniad falle fydde’n arwydd fod Crynwyr yn hybu’r iaith Gymraeg os bydde pob copi o’r Cynghorion a Holiadau yn cael ei gyhoeddi yn y ddwy iaith. Wrth gwrs, mae ‘na mwy na dwy iaith gwreiddiol yn cael eu siarad yn y DU.
Er hynny, dylech wybod sut hwb i’r galon yw i ddyn o orllewin Cymru i weld yr hen iaith mewn cyfrol yn ochr ag ochr a Saesneg.
Fi yw’r unig Gymro sy’ nawr yn dod i Gwrdd Caerwynt.
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