“Tell My Father” it’s jam and Jerusalem with Poppies too.
Another busy week has just passed. It’s 9am on Monday morning and I’m trying to recall everything and get this column written before the midday cut off. So what have I done? Yesterday I had my first Welsh lesson, and although I’ve procrastinated about doing this for years I thought that a “tipyn bach o Gymraeg” for social events might be fun and the key to success is no pressure in the learning. Well after Es i gyda, Es i i’r & Dw i’n mynd i’r there was plenty of pressure. In fact I was rather overwhelmed and although I have a bit of Carmarthenshire vocab my lovely teacher has her work cut out as do I. So I left my lesson a little deflated and went straight to buy myself a Sunday roast to calm the nerves. I opted for the Welsh lamb as I was praying that any Welsh intervention might help me recall and digest the last hour. Homework this week Gwyliau a tywydd…… o diar! Last Thursday was one of the most fun evenings I have ever spent on stage. An Evening avec moi and my incredible band to mark the centenary of the WI. Flower arranging, suffragettes and naked calendars – they are certainly more than just jam and Jerusalem. They are a bunch of truly inspirational ladies who also happen to make lush jam. I had no idea until last Thursday that the WI was formed in Wales. Another huge tick for our small but big punching country. The striking octagonal pavilion on the seafront in Porthcawl was packed to the rafters and the welcome was simply wonderful. I hope I wasn’t too cheeky in offering the WI my iconic Victoria sponge recipe which I did suggest that they might want to write down. Saturday night I returned to the Lyric, my stomping ground as a child. This building that carries so much history and love for me that I can’t begin to express how emotional it is to perform there. Saturday was a particularly special night launching the poppy appeal in South West Wales for The British Legion. I was in great company with Ceredigion soprano Gwawr Edwards singing beautifully, award winning Pendyrus Male Voice choir under their very talented conductor Stewart Roberts, MC the eloquent Brian Sullivan and the icing on the cake 215 City of Swansea Squadron RAF Air Cadets Corps of Drummers. To see the iconic red poppies falling around the theatre really did bring a tear to my eye but I know I wasn’t alone. A very fitting and moving evening to remember paying tribute to our fallen heroes. Thank you to Cerith Owens and Squadron Leader Phillip Charles Flower MBE DL RAFVR(T) for asking me and to the people of Carmarthen for packing out their theatre. One of my bucket lists still has to be to perform “Tell my Father” at the Royal Albert Hall for the British Legion. I know we could raise so much funds for the appeal and for our Welsh Guards. What do you think? Can we make that happen? This article was originally published in the Carmarthen Journal in Mark’s weekly column for the paper.