Ceilliau Harry Secombe

I visited Wales for the first time over the weekend. At over 50 years of age, my inaugural sojourn to a nation the Welsh dub ‘lad of my fathers’ long overdue.

This tardiness at sampling the domain famed for dragons, leeks and daffodils consequential of my preference to holiday at the nearer beach resorts; predominantly on the UK’s east coast. This, along with GJ Strachan’s alarming indifference to the topics of dragons, leeks and daffodils.

It has to be said, though, I was wrong to wait over half a century to sip from the delights of the Cymru chalice. It’s contents far more agreeable than I’d previously anticipated; this Celtic nation’s cup overflowing with spectacular scenery, including numerous unspoiled beaches.

Within the Wales border yours truly didn’t feel the pull of my roots as I do when visiting lands of my forefathers Scotland or Ireland. Caledonian sojourns providing GJ Strachan with a magnetic draw that’s almost tangible. That being said, at the weekend it was fascinating to witness first hand another country within the United Kingdom & Ireland which contributes to these islands unsurpassable beauty.

It was interesting to note road sign wording wasn’t just brandished in the English dialect, but also duplicated in the Welsh language. Drivers and passengers alike presented with roadside instructions in the UK’s predominantly utilised tongue, along with Cymru versions of the words for it’s patriotic nationals.

Witnessing these road side directions opened my eyes to the quirks of the Welsh naming convention. In particular, their love of utilising adjacent double consonants in their words; not to mention an apparent lack of enthusiasm of using vowels within their text.

I speak absolutely no Welsh, however the Cymru version of some words weren’t overly challenging to guess (even if they’d not had the English translation written above them on the sign). For instance, the town of Flint was easily recognisable as in Welsh it’s Fflint. A perfect example of where the reader wouldn’t need to engage the services of Hercule Poirot to ascertain the meaning.

It has to be said, though, all word or sentence translation into Welsh isn’t alway as easy to understand. For instance, if I saw ‘Ceilliau Harry Secombe’ on a road sign, without the guidance of a Cymru speaking compatriot, or a google translation app, I’d never be able guess it’s actual meaning of ‘Harry Secombe’s Testicles’.

On reflection, perhaps the above sentence wasn’t the best example of what I’m attempting to explain. After all, I’d be surprised if there’s any road sign in the world that gives directions to the late Goon’s bosker browns, never mind in Wales. In fact, I’d go one further and proffer there aren’t highway directions anywhere on the globe that guide you to an entertainer’s gonads, dead or alive……. Talking of Highway!……


Some may deem the later subject matter within this narrative as brash, uncouth and/or coarse. However I’d counter that by arguing, although discussing the late Sir Harry Secombe’s testicles may not be everyones cup of tea***, if nothing else my monologue has at least taught you the meaning of the Welsh language word Ceilliau.

*** – There’s a gag about tea bagging somewhere in there…… However, it’s probably best I give that a wide berth.


1 Comment

  1. So enjoyed your post this morning…. your faithfulness about writing daily, and of course your wit and candor about how you see the world in your own unique way. We “Strachans” often occupy a parallel universe. I think and ponder mine and you so faithfully are the scribe for your observations. Your trip to Wales struck me as I had just visited my son, and got to know my new baby granddaughter Ava born on August 29th. I got reacquainted and reset my relationship with my son Jordan who will be 45 next week; and last but not least I learned of Wales first hand from my two year old grandson Miles who is quite enamored of Welshman Fireman Sam. No one was too very interested in my trip to Scotland and the clan Gathering; not so much because they didn’t care, but they were preoccupied with the work of building and expanding the family and clan at the time. We build connections all the time. I learned about Wales from the two year old who at moments of stress and wanting to return his new baby sister asked for Fireman Sam to rescue him. So with Grandma’s tablet & touch screen he smiled and taught me all he knew about across the pond. politics notwithstanding. Fireman Sam provided all the inclusivity I need. Keep writing.

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