05 May 2022

Book launch

I hadn't finished my previous Welsh book when the next one arrived! I have been struggling for a long time with a book recommended to me by the linguist with whom I practice Welsh; it had been written by his grandfather and it was very interesting, but also very hard going. The language used was late 19th century and early 20th century Llanrwst dialect, and I struggled with that. But now Peredur, the linguist, was having his own book published. I announced this in January, but now it was time for the official book launch! I was honoured that he had invited me. So after a day in the field I had a shower, put some more presentable clothes, did some more work, and set off for Bangor. When I walked into the building I already saw a small crowd, and in the corner I saw some lighting and/or audio equipment stick out. It looked like the live broadcasting of the ceremony had already started! Some presenting lady was talking to the camera, and later Peredur himself was too.

Interviewing in progress

Peredur was, somewhat predictably, the only person I knew there. But I spotted someone else standing alone and I just walked up to him. I told him I look like he didn't know anybody either, and he confirmed that. Now we both had someone to enjoy the ceremony with! It turned out he was PhD student in the School of Welsh. He didn't know Peredur personally but already know about his writing.

After a while we could go into the room where it all would take place. There was a stand where you could buy the book, and there was a table with a camera aimed at where Peredur would be interviewed by S4C presenter Aled Hughes, and there were drinks. Peredur came up to have a chat, and he said they were starting for 10 minutes, so I quickly bought myself a book, and so did my companion who turned out to be called Llyr. And soon after that it started.

A lady (from the publisher, I think) introduced Peredur (left) and Aled Hughes (right)

The book is called 'Pumed Gainc y Mabinogi'; the fifth branch of the Mabinogi. The Mabinogi is the national epic of Wales, and it comes in four branches. I was wondering if it would make people's neck hair stand up if he would brazenly write a fifth! But the review seemed to have been full of praise. And the interviewer was too, but I suppose that was to be expected, as otherwise they wouldn't have chosen him.

Apart from it apparently being very good (I clearly had not read it yet as I had just bought my copy) there was a bit more information about what it was like. It was sort of several things at the same time. It was a book set in the present day, about various narrators who all somehow came across, or otherwise had interaction with, a long lost fifth branch. And that fifth branch was one that contained rather disconcerting material. It should have been destroyed but it hadn't been! So the only surviving copies were in obscure places; hence that only now they were discovered. I'm not sure if in the book more than one copy is found, but I will soon find out. And it turned out that this fifth branch was somewhat Lovecraftian in nature. And if you carefully read all the stories in the book, maybe you would manage to puzzle together how Peredur had imagined some other world separate from the usual one.

I will now lay aside his grandad's book and focus on this one. I suppose I need to read it closely! If I can't figure out what he had in mind I will look like a right dunce. At least it is set in the present day, so no 19th-century dialects. And I understood from Peredur that the narrators were from all over the place, including south Wales, so there will be some dialect in there that is not from the Bangor area. But I'm sure I will be fine!

The interview was sometimes interrupted by some choir singing. Peredur is a proper North Walian so of course he sings in a male choir. It was not a big choir; only 11 men, but I enjoyed it.

Hogia Llanbobman (the Boys of All Over The Place Church, or something) in action

When both the interview and the singing was over I had my book signed. I wasn't, going to let this opportunity pass! But I had been close to the front of the queue and most of the audience was still queueing. I figured it was time to go. I said goodbye to Llyr and went home. It would be very busy Friday, and even though there was a long weekend after that, I know I would have to spend some of it working. So going home and getting a good night's sleep was a good idea! But I was glad I had showed up; I had never been to a book launch, and now I had! And this was a special one with singing.

The next thing I need to do is now read the book. Watch this space!

Official picture

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