All-Welsh twin towns is a magical idea from M[TM]n's leading druid; (And civic leaders can forget sun tan lotion on these freebies).



Byline: ian PARRI

IT'S a strange world. While we've waited nearly a year to see an archdruid in the flesh, suddenly you get three together. But it was good to see our berobed brethren getting a rare opportunity to air their sheets in public, and that in broad daylight, as the Archdruid of Wales and the presiding druids of Anglesey and Powys had a rare pow-wow at the proclamation ceremony for next year's 100th Eisteddfod Mn.

It can be difficult to take a druid too seriously, especially when he's all kitted up in laurel crown and his grandmother's favourite bedgown, and plenty of spurious claptrap has drifted from the druidic Logan stone into the ethereal never-never land over the years.

However, is an archdruid and his garb any more ludicrous than the House of Commons with its men-in-tights and all those farmyard impressions? He couldn't possibly be.

And, like politicians, he - never a she - is bound to come up with the occasional scorcher of a brainwave in between protruding his antennae to seek the muse and whacking his latest classic poem or bit of prose down on vellum or computer screen.

Anglesey's druidic boss Huw Goronwy - he of the literary variety, that is, rather than the dancing starkers around fires at night brand - did come up with a cracker of an idea in Bodff ordd. He called for communities across Wales to twin with each other. Simple, really, isn't it?

I've always wondered what the heck the average taxpayer gets for their money when the local burghers board that plane for the annual jolly to their twin town. It's the sunglasses, water wings and sun-tan lotion that give the game away, I suppose.

Not that I'm being suspicious, but have you heard of anywhere that's twinned with somewhere in the Faroe Islands, Spitzbergen or even Shetland? Answers on the back of a pounds 10 note, please.

More often than not it's somewhere rather more, well, warm. Our cousins in Brittany welcome more than their fair share of Taff-packs on freebies. Among those towns to have links with the laid-back Bretons are Holywell, Tregaron, Aberystwyth, Ruthin, Caernarf on and Dolgellau.

Bangor has tied the knot with Soest in Germany, Llandudno with Wormhout in Flanders, while Amlwch has a rather more exotic bed-partner in the Gambian village of Sankwia. Nefyn has a long-distance relationship with the Patagonian town of Puerto Madryn, while big brother Wrexham needs two to satisfy its needs - one in Germany and the other in Poland.

Meanwhile, as Porthmadog has been courting Wicklow in Ireland, Narberth in Pembrokeshire has settled for Ludlow just over the border. Oh well - there's no accounting for taste.

But the honourable druid has hit the nail on the head. If there are any tangible benefits to this twinning lark, at least let us share them between ourselves in the first instance. It would help shore up our own distinctive culture and customs, the very essence which makes other countries' communities want to twin with ours in the first place.

And how about the Gorsedd of Anglesey and its Powys counterparts setting the ball rolling? Meantime, hands up anybody who's up for a jolly in Merthyr, Bedwas, Port Talbot or Ferndale.

CAPTION(S):

Anglesey's presiding druid Huw Goronwy says Welsh communities should seek to twin with each other for the sake of the nation's culture Picture: ROBERT PARRY JONES

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