I thought we’d end this week with a post dedicated to everything Cymraeg!
I’ve asked a few of my friends to help me out with this one so, please, pull on a rugby shirt, cuddle a sheep, climb a mountain or just sit down, grab a panad and let’s all say iechyd da to Cymru!
Did you know?
Wales’ royal motto is “Y Ddraig Goch Ddyry Cychwyn” which means “The Red Dragon Leads the Way”
Hello, WTOC readers! When Jo asked me to do a guest post celebrating the land of our university years – source of many drunken antics, embarrassing stories and literary adventures (she made me put that in) – I couldn’t say no. I also couldn’t think of anything vaguely serious or intelligent to write, so instead I present my list of
5 Films That Should Have Been Made In Wales
1. Harry Potter
One of the first things prospective/future students say when they arrive in Bangor and look up the hill is “Wow. That building is amazing.”
“It looks like Hogwarts.”
Now, they say pictures are worth a thousand words. So here is a picture of Main Arts, the building where your lovely blogger and I attended many a lecture and seminar.
Beautiful, yes? Here’s what it looks like inside.
And finally, here is the Welsh library it contains.
Unfortunately, this is only half of the building. Daniel Radcliffe and co would never have been caught swanning around ‘the new bit’ (actually built in the 60s) in their cloaks and colourful scarves. But the rest of it? Prime Hogwarts material.
Of course, Chris Columbus, David Heyman and co settled on Alnwick Castle, Lacock Abbey and studio sets made to look like Oxford colleges. So every Bangor arts student has the real Hogwarts all to themselves.
2. The Mist
I admit to never having seen this film (I am a massive wuss when it comes to horror flicks), but having sat through the trailer and read the synopses online, I feel qualified to write the following:
THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN FILMED IN BANGOR.
Actually made in Shreveport, Louisiana, the film focusses on a mist (surprise surprise) which steals over a small town one day and forces the inhabitants – including some scarily vengeful Christians – to lock themselves in the local supermarket while giant insects pelt the windows. It is my belief that Hollywood could have saved themselves a lot of money on dry ice and computer graphics if they’d seen this:
“It came without warning and transformed a town.”
But there’s more than just the 100% real, natural mist rolling straight off the mountains. The film – and the book it is based on – are set in Bridgton, Maine (a state which, coincidentally, also contains a town called Bangor. Which is the birthplace of the book’s author, Stephen King.)
Now that is what I call spooky.
3. Singin’ in the Rain
Now, I am not for a minute suggesting that this acclaimed film should have been shot anywhere other than at the MGM studios (it’s still their flagship musical and an icon of American cinema). Not all of it, anyway. Just the title sequence.
Come on, it’s Wales – I had to mention the weather! Rain is so commonplace that it has been known for residents to greet the sun as a sign of the apocalypse. So, instead of covering two outdoor city blocks on their backlot with tarpaulin and using overhead sprays to create diluted milk “rain” (which exacerbated the Culver City water shortage and gave Gene Kelly flu), MGM could have just set up in North Wales and waited for one of its trademark downpours.
(Did I forget to mention that there’s a huge cobbled square near the cathedral perfect for filming this? Plenty of room to swing an umbrella and lots of strategically placed lamp posts to jump on.
…Did I mention that I found this out, first hand, after one too many drinks?)
[Jo: This is a true story. This was followed by a perfect rendition of New York, New York much to the bemusement of a passing international student who, I must add, started to sing also. You can’t make this stuff up.]
Fun fact: I didn’t see this film until I came to Wales, met Jo and proceeded to horrify her with my extensive list of somehow unseen movies. (This included Sister Act, Mrs Doubtfire, and Kill Bill. Don’t worry, she had three years to fix me.) So, one afternoon we sat down in our house and watched a film which ensured that I will never ever go swimming the sea.
So why should Mr Spielberg have filmed Jaws in Wales? Well, it has a lot of sandy beaches along its coast – and all round the northern island of Anglesey – and on the rare occasions when the sun feels like shining, these swarm with people. The deep blue sea becomes dotted with boats, yachts and people riding inflatables. Welsh seaside towns rely on days like these to generate tourism revenue, just like Amity Island.
DUH DUH. DUH DUH. DUH DUH DUH DUH DUH DUH!
Bangor University also boasts expert marine biology and ocean sciences departments (the latter is one of the largest university marine science departments in Europe). A perfect background for Matt Hooper.
5. Wallace and Gromit in A Close Shave
Let’s play a word association game. I say Wales, you say-
Ok, that wasn’t much of a game, but hopefully you get my point. Even if you claim to know nothing about the fair country, you still probably know about its massive sheep population. According to my *ahem* completely trustworthy internet sources, there are a whopping 12 million sheep in Wales – that’s four times more than the number of people.
So it would have made a lot of sense for this Oscar-winning, sheep-based story concerning everyone’s favourite man-and-dog partnership to have been based in the Welsh countryside. Alright, so it’s claymation. And I’m not sure how many actual sheep could be trained to form a motorbike display team. And I don’t even want to contemplate the existence of a real dog that could be as evil and terrifying as Preston.
But you get my point. It’s a film about sheep. There are lots of sheep in Wales.
And finally, something which actually was made in Bangor…
Whilst walking past Main Arts one sunny afternoon in September 2010, I noticed a sign next to the gates that said ‘Bedlam Heights.’ Being me, I thought “they’re converting it into apartments? What an awful name!”
A few days later, one of my friends peeled an ornately shaped B made of felt off of a glass pane in one of the doors in the building.
It turned out that this was Main Arts being transformed into Bedlam Heights, the setting for a “supernatural drama” TV series set in an apartment block that was once a mental asylum, which now houses a lot of tortured souls with tortured pasts, as well as a few ghosts.
Did you know?
St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, is Welsh!
Some delicious recipes for Welsh culinary treats.
Did you know?Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch means “Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tysilio of the red cave” in English.
Bore Da = Good Morning.
Pronunciation: boar-eh da.
Pnawn Da = Good Afternoon
Pronunciation: P – n-a -ooh- da
Nos Da = Good Night.
Pronunciation: Pretty self explanatory but ‘nos’ should rhyme with ‘boss’
Iechyd Da = Cheers (Good health)
Pronunciation: Yeah- key- da!
[Added by Jo: WARNING. Welsh people will only know what you’re trying to say if you have just bought them an alcoholic beverage and are holding one in your own hand.]
Pob hwyl = Good Luck
Pronunciation: Pob (the “o” sounds like the “o” in more) Hoo- eeh- l.
Dafad = Sheep
Pronunciation: Da- vad
Not to be confused with Tafod (ta- vod) which means tongue. This could lead to some awkward situations…despite what you may have heard about us.
Ble mae’r chwaraewr rygbi agosa? = Where are the nearest rugby players?
Pronunciation: Bl- eh mar-uh rrrrrr (roll your rs)….
Did you know?
Reverend Wilbert Awdry, the man who wrote the Thomas the Tank Engine books, used to volunteer at Talyllyn Railway which became the inspiration behind the Skarloey Rainway.
I was a staunch Hornblower devotee, to the point were should any unfortunate person try to talk to me while Horatio was on screen, they would be fiercely shh’ed.
Despite the fact that Hornblower was light on romance and heavy on battle scenes, Horatio ranks pretty high on my list of swoon-worthy historical men. There’s something about an angular-faced man in naval uniform, running around on deck brandishing a sword, that I find rather dashing. Or perhaps it was that rakish hair. Regardless, I was twitterpated with Horatio/Ioan.
And while my interest in Ioan Gruffudd’s acting career has waxed and waned (Fantastic Four? No. Amazing Grace? Yes.), I look back on his days as Horatio Hornblower with particular fondness. And he’s still my favourite Welshman.
So, Ioan, this one’s for you.
Did you know?Robert Recorde, a mathematician hailing from Tenby, invented the ” = ” sign in 1557.
Position (Behave)- Scrum Half.
Position – Winger
Position – Centre.
Position – Winger.
See you guys in Pontypandy!
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