FOR THE BENEFIT OF PHIL PARRY AT WALES EYE,
WHO CLEARLY NEEDS ME AND MY BLOG FOR INSPIRATION
It was a cold and dark January day threatening snow when (the late) Glyn Rowlands and I drove down to Lampeter in the vehicle I’d just carjacked. (Took me ages to get the bugger out, and then another ten minutes to get used to the disabled driver controls.) To break up the journey we set a couple of holiday cottages ablaze on the way down. At one point we got chased by cops but we forced their car into a hedge just outside of Llanrhystud. Oh, the fun we used to have in those days!
Arriving at Glandenys it was wonderful to see the stately pile look so warm and inviting. We were stopped at the gates by members of an elite unit of the Free Wales Army who, together with their dogs, were patrolling the grounds. We were escorted up to the main entrance and there he was, our host – Commandant Julian Cayo-Evans of the Free Wales Army, looking every inch the officer and the country gentleman.
We were ushered into the big dining room where everything was prepared for the ceremony: the roaring fire, the flickering candles casting their eerie shadows in a room full of invited dignitaries. There was the KGB representative, a man from the IRA Army Council, an imposing individual from ODESSA with an eye-patch (surely not Skorzeny!), a top capo from the Chicago Outfit, and assorted emissaries from Argentina and other countries that had a beef with England. In fact, there was very little space to move in that vast dining room. Additionally, there were of course many high-ranking FWA men.
Before the ceremony began there was the customary mingling, small talk, and exchanging of business cards. I found myself in a fascinating conversation with a charming fellow from the Orient. I’m not sure if he was trying to sell me a rubber plantation or offering me his sister in marriage. (The hand signals are very similar.) Whatever, not being sure what I’d end up with – and having no need for either – I smiled politely, declined his enticing offer, and insisted that we have a skinful next time he was in my neck of the woods.
All the while the drinks flowed, and before John Barleycorn could take his disruptive hold of the proceedings our host called for everyone’s attention. “Friends, comrades, even those of you who’ve just turned up for the booze, we are gathered here today to present our comrade Jac with his medals”. “Hooray” went the shout around the room, “Good old Jac” was heard echoing from the throng.
I stepped forward – careful not to trip over the entrails of the virgin we’d just sacrificed – and stood facing our Commandant. “Jac” said he, “you’ve been an absolute bastard lately, and to show our appreciation I am presenting you with these medals”. Well, I was overcome, tears welled up as I thanked Cayo and the assembled host . . . among which I could see the man I had previously been talking with, still making hand signals, only this time it looked as if he was propositioning me! But as I say, the gestures are easy to mis-read.
The ceremony over, we all got down to serious drinking. The man from the KGB jumped up onto the long dining table and did a Cossack dance before falling off onto the prostrate figure of a Salvation Army Colonel who’d overdone it on the single malt. Next it was the turn of the Papal legate to denounce, in Latin, the evils of drink, whilst emptying his second bottle of Sambuca. Everybody was having a great time, but then we noticed that the snow was now falling rather more heavily and so, despite Cayo’s insistence that we stay, Glyn and I grabbed a few bottles and staggered to the car for the trip home.
What a trip it was! First we knocked down a couple of old ladies on their way to chapel in Felinfach, then we hit a cow just outside Aberaeron! I know we shouldn’t have been in the field, but it was snowing and we were pissed. After that things got a bit better . . . though that cyclist in Aberarth was definitely asking for it. We got through Aberystwyth without hitting too many pedestrians and eventually reached home. What a day!
OK, maybe it wasn’t quite like that. But the day I got my medals was certainly a snowy Sunday, and Cayo and Glyn were definitely there, but after that it gets a little hazy. It was all a long time ago . . . but not too long that it can’t be twisted by a vindictive little bugger with an ignored blog who relies for readers on his fat friend at Llais y Sais and other contacts in the colonial media.
I cherish those medals; I wear them at Cilmeri and to old comrades’ funerals. They belong to a time when it looked, if only for a while, as if we Welsh had re-discovered our self-respect, and decided to stand up for ourselves. Sadly, that bright dawn of the 1960s was soon overtaken by the reaction to it, to the point where, today, people who really should know better believe that our sham devolution is some form of self-government. When in truth it is the antithesis of self-government; more decisions about Wales are taken in London today than ever before. And all the while, those who claim to love Wales refuse to challenge the system that is making us a minority in our own country.
And the medals, what were they for? That’s between me and men who are all dead. Better men than the despicable scribblers who denigrate and ridicule those who are unable to answer back. Vermin!