Friday, November 23, 2007
Cyfres y Ceirw I: Hag
Gwasg Gwynedd is a publishing colossus that bestrides the Menai Straits like a man, or woman, made totally and utterly out of Welsh books and no others. It runs a list of popular biographies devoted to Gwalia's worthies entitled Cyfres y Cewri (The Series of Giants).
Keen observers of the Welsh cultural and political sidduation have long noticed lacunae in this list, and so the rice-paper publishing and summary-execution wing of the Cymru Rouge has resolved to supplement it with Cyfres y Ceirw - The Series of Deer - so called because the notables honoured therein are nimble hornèd beasts of Cambritude.
And so the first Hart of Hearts is Hag - Councillor Robert "Hag" Harris - owner of Hag's Record Shop and Ceredigion kingmaker, seen above in his official uniform as quondam Mayor of Lampeter. His roll of honour is as follows:
- His election as the first truly scary Burgomeister gave Lampeter some much-needed Universal Horror glamour.
- His shop has played a vital role in keeping students tricked into attending Lampeter University from going stir-crazy and trying to break out of the Cardigan Cordon, which is patrolled by the Daughters of Rebecca wing of the Young Farmers (Provisional).
- His militant baldness is a literally shining example to all of us whose heads grow too fast for their hair.
In keeping with the official Cymru Rouge philosophy of Existentialist Nihilism ("I think, therefore it does not exist"), we cannot endorse any of our candidates for Ceirŵaeth without personal testimony, so here is mine.
Hag used to take his vinyl circus of second-hand records around South Wales campuses in the 80s, and one visit to Swansea University prompted a rare foraging trip for me out of the Hendrefoelan student internment camp.
Before heading off I asked Ward, the coffee-based leech-tamer in the shadow of whose sound system I lived, whether there was anything I could get him.
"Ask Hag what he'd give me for a full set of Genesis albums," muttered the Sage of Wyrley from behind a stack of 2000 ADs.
And so, a little later I beckoned to one of Hag's creatures across a pile of Soft Cell singles, only to hear the reedy, disingenuous voice of a caller to a social disease helpline say "I have a friend who'd like to sell a set of Genesis albums". The voice was mine.
"Oh, you have a fri-END who'd like to sell some Genesis albums, have you?" leered Hag's little helper with troglodytic glee.
"Oi, Hag! This one's got a firrrr-END who'd like to sell some Genesis albums!" the Morlock yelled across the room.
Hag, like Count Orlock in a Clash t-shirt, emerged hungry from his crypt and glided across to feast on the bared neck of my mortification.
"Right, you've got a FUH-UH-UH-UH-RRRRRRENDDDD who'd like to sell some Genesis albums, eh?" he beamed, sweeping a roomful of women who would now never sleep with me into the conversation.
I thought of taking the Lawrence of Arabia amendment and declaring "He. Was. My. Friend," but realised that there was not crawling out of the well of prog-rock purgatory wherein I had hurled myself.
The crowd of loafers in German army surplus eventually shuffled off with their Elvis Costello records, leaving Hag to lean across and whisper "I'll give you 15 quid for the lot".
"Seven quid's his final offer, Cooper, take it or leave it," I reported back to Ward as he adjusted his java drip.
I learned a valuable lesson that day about music, finance and friendship, and all at the cloven hooves of Hag - a Welsh.