Monday, August 04, 2008

On the 'Maes'

Clare was up and out very early, to log in and collect her steward's vest and take her place in the big pink tent, the 'Pabell Bink', that serves as a 3,000 seater auditorium. Today was my first opportunity to visit the Eisteddfod, so I went over and joined her on the Maes at lunchtime, for a bit to eat and a wander around the site, which is about a third of a mile square, with a village of tents and other structures arranged in a grid street pattern, as one might find at any big show ground event, all dominated by the huge circus-type 'Pabell Bink'.

Apart from the watering holes and the eating places, and the broadcasting places, and the ranks of enterprises show-casing their produce, from harps to sustainable houses, there are performance spaces, an art gallery, and a wide range of governmental, NGO and voluntary organisations with a public presence. A whole industry of public relations, diplomacy, wheeling and dealing, happening in Welsh and in English. A place to do business, to meet friends, to have fun and relax. Above all a place to compete more for the joy of doing something well than for the glory of beating others. Everyone who takes part gets their 'da iawn'. The atmosphere is warm, happy, friendly, and marvellously confident without a hint of arrogance. The people of Wales in their element, on their own terms.

I couldn't help noticing how clean it was everywhere - in contrast to the Big Weekend venue where there was enough fast food litter to merit a rare comment in the 'Western Mail' report. But I couldn't help noticing people using the bins, (plenty of them) and I saw a waitress taking time out to pick up some rubbish that had blown on to the floor away from the area she was minding. People taking pride in their environment. Pontcanna fields look good at the height of summer - all those tall trees and thick grass. The people who come to the Eisteddfod like it that way.

I had to go into town to meet a couple about a wedding at tea-time Beyond the Maes perimeter, on the town side, I crossed the open field heading for the cycle path beside the Taff where a squad of soldiers were out doing fitness exercises. In one corner of an otherwise clean field, an empty plastic bag, a food box and half a dozen paper napkins scattered in the grass. stood out like a sore thumb. Coming away from the Maes, feeling proud, the sight filled me with disgust and anger. Some people don't have any pride, in themselves or their city. I gathered up the litter, and had to walk all the way down the trail, and cross the footbridge into Bute Park before I found a bin to deposit the bag - oh yes, and for the record, it was all 'Chicken Cottage' branded. Makes a change from KFC, Macdonalds and Burger King branded disposables. Curse them all for the plagues they inflict upon civilisation.

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