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Bloody Eisteddfod

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  • Bloody Eisteddfod
  • ISBN: 9781845276300
  • Myfanwy Alexander
  • Publication July 2017
  • Format: Paperback, 198x128 mm, 278 pages

Myfanwy Alexander is better known for her TV and dramatic writing than for novels in English, but her satirical talents are much in evidence in this book. It is also very clear how well she knows her square mile and the media world which some of her characters inhabit.

There are many interwoven plots in the novel centring on the activities of Police Inspector Dafydd Dafis, so it will be hard to avoid spoilers.

Daf, as he is generally known, is a busy, conscientious and humane professional who knows his patch and does his best to protect and improve the lives of those who belong there and those who come in. In August 2015 the Welsh-speaking world did come to Meifod, near the small town of Llanfair Caereinion, and the author imagines what might have happened.

Daf is married into a prestigious farming family, the Joneses of Neuadd, who are the acme of respectability, and his wife, Falmai, is a prize bitch a horribly comic creation out-doing even Dylan Thomass Mrs Ogmore Pritchard. The familys contempt for Dafs profession (because it brings him into contact with nastiness and undesirables) is extraordinary. Daf and his equally despised sister-in-law, Gaenor, have united in rebellion against the Joness small-minded snobbery. Daf is, in his way, a proud Welshman who loves the land, its language and poetry but he has no great fondness for other aspects of the Eisteddfod. When the visitors renting Dafs bungalow turn out to include his respected professor, Talwyn Teifi, and his son Gethin, who was a friend of Dafs at university, Daf looks forward to some congenial company, but the Teifi household is responsible for many ensuing disasters.

Supporting characters such as Gaenor, Chrissy and Bryn Humphries are drawn with great warmth and affection, but the selfishness and shallowness of most of the media types and the eight-inch nails are mocked without mercy.

Through Dafs eyes we see some of the harsh realities of life in rural Wales: hard, isolated work on family farms for shrinking returns, which leads to debt and desperation and also a cultural separation and lack of communication between generations. Daf is no saint, but he and his colleagues generally respond with understanding and pragmatism rather than condemnation.

There is plenty of comedy and even farce along with the mysteries and dangers but also enough to care about in the predicaments of both Dafs and Gethins families. Myfanwy Alexander suggests that, within the traditional world of rural Wales and the Eisteddfod, some things continue to be genuinely valued but the younger generation are (for better or worse) making their own rules.

Caroline Clark