Bits, Bobs & Tanners
An assembly of assorted anecdotes, artfully articulated to amaze, astonish and amuse
St Cenydd's Church, Llangennith
the Gower village where we live, is named for the local Celtic Saint Cenydd (pronounced Kenneth). He is believed to have been a contemporary of St David, around 600AD. The legend is that Cenydd was born following an incestuous incident between a local chieftain and his daughter. This was thought to have been a Bad Thing. Perhaps as a result, Cenydd was born with a withered right leg, also seen as a Bad Thing.
Not wishing to be associated with Bad Things, his mother (who was also his sister) put him in a basket and set him adrift in the river, to float out to sea. However, this was also seen as a Bad Thing, so it didn't really help.
Two wrongs don't make a right, but apparently three can. Cenydd was rescued by seagulls, who brought him up on a nearby cliff face. Fortunately they didn't try to teach him to fly. However, after being force-fed with mackerel for 20 years he really had no option but to become a Saint. Every July, on his saint-day or Mabsant, an effigy of a seagull is hoisted up the tower of St Cenydd's church, perhaps in retaliation for all that bloody mackerel.
(1862 - 1950) from Llangennith, was a source singer, one of the people to whom we owe so much for keeping this music alive. His father Isaac was a wool weaver, who boasted that he bred and raised the sheep, shore the fleeces, prepared the wool, wove the cloth and made the clothes he wore while raising more sheep.
Phil was nominally an agricultural labourer, but far more interested in singing and drinking. He kept alive not only the old songs but also old customs, especially those like the Bidding Wedding or Wassailing which promised free beer. Sadly, although he knew hundreds of songs and could sing for hours on end without repeating himself, we only have recordings of about a dozen.
Towards the end of his life, his admirers set up a fund to pay for his funeral. Somehow Phil got his hands on the money and spent it all on beer. He's believed to be buried in St Cenydd's churchyard, next to his wife Ruth, who pre-deceased him by many years, but there was no money to add his name to the memorial, and his grave is unmarked. Somehow, we're sure he'd have preferred it that way.
Two Llangennith 'Old Boys'
was born in Newport, Monmouthshire, though his parents were from London. How they came to South Wales is a long story, involving Adolf Hitler, a chain of tearooms and a scrap metal merchant. Concerned that their offspring were developing Welsh accents, they moved the family to Somerset, where Andrew started saying things like 'Oh ar, moi dear' and 'Drink up thee zyder'. Not convinced this was an improvement, they eventually emigrated to Australia.
Andrew discovered folk music in London, where he acquired, and ultimately learnt to play, the obscure Crane system duet concertina - hence Crane Drivin' Music. He played at many folk clubs from Exeter to Edinburgh, and on arrival in Swansea was invited to join Baggyrinkle, the Swansea Shantymen. It was while appearing with Baggyrinkle in Lancaster that Andrew met Carole . . .
was born in Horsham, West Sussex, though her ancestry includes a German Clock-Maker, an Italian Ice-Cream Vendor and the American-born daughter of a one-armed drover. Her family moved to the nearby village of Warnham, once home to the celebrated fiddle-playing churchwarden Michael Turner, famous for his waltz. Carole's musical talents came out early, when she taught herself to play recorder. She also, like Michael Turner, became an accomplished church bell ringer and toured widely.
Once she discovered folk music, Carole quickly became a valued resident singer at various Sussex venues including Horsham, Lewes and Ashurst. This led to her being invited to join the Shellback Chorus, a shanty and seasong collective with members all over the UK. It was while appearing with the Shellback Chorus in Lancaster that Carole met Andrew . . .