For those of you who knew him, or maybe just bumped into him somewhere on his wanderings, Barrie Edwards of Harlech has died after a short illness.
There is to be a service of celebration at Jerusalem chapel, Harlech, 11am Monday the 28th, followed by cremation in Bangor.
I first met Barrie some forty years ago, when I was in Coleg Harlech and he had just left the Navy. We realised we shared certain loves: Wales, good music, booze and women. Although I was married soon after; which left us with just the three. But the missus liked Barrie; he was one of those blokes that women wanted to ‘mother’. I remember one time we were staying in his little cottage under the castle, and she cleaned it from top to bottom. Barrie was disorientated for quite some time.
In the summer he could often be found busking outside the castle, and engaging in regular spats with the CADW staff manning the pay desk, some of whom objected to his presence – him a Man of Harlech playing traditional Welsh airs, or his own compositions, and them . . . jumped-up little English Jobsworths. A cameo for much of what’s wrong with our country today.
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His love of music wasn’t confined to the harp. The ‘penny whistle’ was another instrument he loved to play. Though he started his musical career early with the town band and carried on in the Navy. I remember him telling me how he’d ‘guested’ with local bands from Cornwall to Scotland, depending on where he was stationed. And he’d played some bloody big venues. Had he devoted himself to music he could have made a genuine career from it but, as I say, he had other ‘interests’. On the left you’ll see a little leaflet he wrote a few years ago to give out to those stopping to listen; I typed it up and printed it for him.
We had some rare old times. But it took its toll, and his health deteriorated, leaving him in his later years with a stooped walk. Latterly I used to call to his little flat down in ‘Legoland’, and never failed to be amazed by his collection; not just of old music, but books, prints and other echoes of a lost Wales. And of course, the dog (or, rather, bitch) for he was never without a faithful collie.
There are quite a few stories I could tell . . . but had better not. Though here’s one you’ll enjoy; one of the best put-downs I ever suffered. We’d had a few jars one time, and I asked him if he knew Battle of the Somme. “It’s a lament”, said I, helpfully. His withering riposte was: “It wouldn’t be a f***ing jig, would it!” Thank you, Barrie.
In his later years he took to wearing the ensemble shown in the picture above: red beret, poncho-type blanket over his shoulders and trousers tucked into knee-high boots or socks. Looking for all the world like a displaced gaucho. As if he cared! God bless you, Barrie; you were a good man, and a good Welshman. I’ll miss you.
The small chapel was full to overflowing. The service went well; respectful without being maudlin, and the atmosphere lightened by Barrie’s sister giving some personal recollections and reading from his notebooks. It was a good send off for a good man. He could be a pain at times, but I’m still going to miss the old bugger.
After the service I went for a coffee before being persuaded to join a few others in the Lion for a drinky-poo (not that I had a drink, because I was driving – honest, officer). The pub is run by the daughter of a first cousin to my wife. My wife has kinfolk everywhere, they have spread like a rash all over Wales, even down to Swansea and Cardiff. Australia and the USA have not escaped. They are bent on world conquest!