Saturday, 2 August 2014


The world really is a strange place but sometimes a microcosm of the world comes together for a particular event and it reveals itself as a place of beauty, of passion and of community. This is no more evident than at the Eisteddfod in Llanelli. I don't mean the executive businesses with state of the art exhibition stands and equipment, nor the publicly funded institutions selling their own particular way of educating people. I am referring to the community organisations who took up smaller, modest stands somewhat on the fringes of the maes. These were the churches, the chapels, the W.I. Merched Y Wawr, Cylch Meithrin and a myriad of other organisations offering help, support, friendship, belonging, caring and participation. Here were people who make up the community and appear to me at least to be the heart and soul of the Eisteddfod. No corporate images, no high prices. A cup of tea, a glass of squash, some Bara Brith or Welshcakes all for a donation of your choosing. They are happy to talk to you and tell you of their work like one of the teachers at Ysgol Heol Goffa or the people running the Josef Herman Foundation keeping the memory of Joe Bach alive. Then there are the competitors from all four corners of Wales. Brass bands, choirs, dancers, poets and artists as well as many school children making the long journey to perform on one of the biggest stages of their lives. So it was that I entered the kingdom of heaven ever so briefly as I watched and listened to a mixed choir. I closed my eyes and the angelic voices transported me to somewhere away from the terrible imagery of women and children being slaughtered in Gaza. As those images snuck into my head again coupled with the unearthly combined voices of ordinary men and women, I shed a few tears. Today was a blue sky day where families enjoyed the open air and warm sunshine. Children played, painted, sang, danced and ran freely. I was thankful that they could do that and I was thankful that for a while, this wonderful festival enveloped and embraced me and I am sure the many hundreds of other people far away and free from war.