Sunday 31 October 2010


The secret of a good walk is not to make the mistake of using it to consider matters back at home or work (it doesn't help much, does it?) but instead to observe and contemplate what you see, hear, etc out on your walk.

Like last week I head for a castle, this time nearby Dinefwr with its fantastic view from the I8th c. gothic look-out stuck on top of the original keep. This is the stamping ground of local capo Rhys ap Thomas who, by throwing in his lot with Henry Tudor when his rebellion still looked pretty hopeless, thereby arguably drew a line under the whole Mediaeval era by assisting him to win at Bosworth. Rhys is believed to have personally dispatched Richard III with a poleaxe when he couldn't get any takers for his kingdom in return for a horse (should have tried e-Bay). After Bosworth the new Henry VII used Rhys as his enforcer to put down the remaining Yorkist rebellions while Henry himself transformed government irreversibly by oppressing his rivals fiscally - before Henry there was death, after Henry (and to this day) death and taxes. It is often said that it was Scots who made the British Empire but before that it was Welshmen who forged the modern British state.

I recall seeing an eccentric outdoor production of Richard III in Dinefwr Park where the king was played by a woman who, while soliloquising, would wander into the audience and pinch food and wine from our picnics. Nobody complained as she was quite imperious but there was some relief when she got the chop in Act v. It must also be the only production where the report that "Rice ap Thomas with a valiant crew" had joined the Lancastrian project got considerable applause from the parochially-minded (and evidently well-read) audience. I feel fairly neutral about the Wars of the Roses though I did once write "Harri am byth!" in very large letters in a "book of remembrance" placed in Bosworth Church by the ludicrous Richard the Third Society (I'm sorry - he did kill the Princes in the Tower as any fule kno).

Back home I see the annual debate on telly about the meaning of Hallowe'en between assorted hand-wringing bishops, cockney neo-pagan priests with cod-Celtic druidical titles, and the predictable whingers about "commercialisation" (big pumpkins 50p each in Lidl last week - if that's commercialisation bring it on). I'm surprised not to see Prof Dawkins weighing in to claim it for the atheists.

My picture shows the now roofless folly seen on top of the castle in the print above.