Monday, October 13, 2008

Special Day at Portmeirion.

No blogging yesterday. Left early for Portmeirion, William Clough-Elis's Italianate fantasia built on the estuary of the Dwyryd River, near Porthmadog, in North Wales. Portmeirion is one man's dream, inspired by his love for the Italian village of Portofino and all things Mediterranean, turned into reality. Today, the planning authorities would laugh such a development out of court - as might organisations committed to the protection of rural Wales. Is best known across the world for its role as the film set for 'The Prisoner', and the world famous china which takes its name.

I was there for a birthday party. This year, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales is 80 years old. William Clough-Elis was one of the original founders. Second day in a row we arrive to the clink and sparkle of champagne. And then it was to lunch. To my left was Derec Llwyd Morgan, former lots of important Welsh things in the academic and cultural world. He delivered the first Sir Kyffin Williams memorial lecture. Sir Kyffin left a lot of money in his will to CPRW - because he loved the landscapes he painted. And seated to Derec's left was Lord Elis Thomas, Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, another great man of Welsh culture. He delivered a tribute in memory of the much loved Merfyn Williams, former director of CPRW, who died recently. Didn't know until Dafydd El told us that Merfyn was, in his day, an uncompromising wing forward. I knew he was a good man.

To my right was one of the world's greatest opera singers, Bryn Terfyl. He had agreed to unveil our birthday plaque. Photograph's to follow. Bryn is a giant of a Welshman, in so many ways. Despite his world renown, I suspect that he's hardly changed at all since he began singing in the local eisteddfodau in Caernarfon. Suspect only because I didn't know him then. The CPRW feel incredibly fortunate that Bryn has agreed to become a patron. Only downside of his presence was that he ran me a long way in the promise auction as I sought to acquire a Bill Swann work of art that Mrs D had set her heart on. More likely, he knew its value and enjoyed forcing me to pay a decent price.

Stayed overnight in the Portmeirion Hotel, built in the 1850s, and once been known as 'Aber Ia', Welsh for 'Ice Estuary'. Walked around the 'village' this morning and bought the Daily Telegraph from a little shop. Portmeirion is the maddest creation that I've ever seen.


Prasit said...

To think poor old Kyffin left his money to be spent on expensive receptions, it's enough to make you cry!

Glyn Davies said...

Prasit - You are too cynical. Apart from our special guests, we all paid our way. In fact we used the event to make several thousands of pounds to help run our organation. Try to understand that those of us who care about rural Wales are willing to make a bit of sacrifice

Blodyn said...

In his rugby playing days, Merfyn Williams was known as 'Merf the Swerve'.

Just before Merfyn was interviewed for the post of Director of CPRW, another rather unpleasant man had 'taken the stand'. After he left the room, someone said "Well I doubt if he'll offer to take the staff out for a drink at Christmas and if he did, would they want to go?!"
After Merfyn's interview, the then Chairman of CPRW said "Well that was the famous 'Merf the Swerve' and the staff will enjoy a drink with him." One of the panel took it the wrong way and said "Does he drink too much then?"

I would add that Merfyn got the job on his merits, which were awesome.

I'm so glad that tribute was paid to Merfyn at his beloved Portmeirion, where he was of course at one time Chairman of the Trustees of the Second Portmeirion Foundation.

A truly inspirational man who left us all far too soon.

Glyn Davies said...

blodyn - Last year I met the other 'Merf(v) the Swerve' when we were both guest speakers at Welshpool Rugby Club's 40th anniversary. Mervyn Davies is also a great man. All of us back row men.

It was a wonderful day, and I'll be posting a really great photograph of us and Shirley when its emailed to me. It was indeed a loss to Wales that Merfyn died when aged just 58.

Cyng./Cllr.Gwilym Euros Roberts said...

Merfyn Williams was one of the founder members of Clwb Rygbi Bro Ffestiniog and our areas papur bro, Llafar Bro.
Not only was a good rugby player he was also a decent tennis player and a few summers ago on Sunday mornings he used to give me a lesson on the courts and we'd have a laugh talking about this and that... his passing was a tremendous loss to Wales and to Blaenau Ffestiniog.