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Hiraeth & digital story telling

September 16, 2006

I was doing my daily watchlist check on wikipedia before a settling down for an early night. This was intended as a brief final act before having an early night, then hit the ground running on work early tomorrow. However the front page of the Wikipedia was enticing and then exciting so I spend more time than planned. In part I became homesick, in part inspired but this is the story. Skip to the end for the real meat.

I first discovered that the featured article was on the critical subject of Caffeine . This made me realise that I am missing my expresso machine badly. A plunger seems to produce mud in contrast. My third place, and yes I have fallen for the marketing hype is Starbucks for coffee, wireless and panini. Visitors to my Study back in Lockeridge know that one wall is full of science fiction, 1.5 walls full of academic books and one half of one wall is gradually being occupied by my growing collection of their City Mugs which I now search down on my travels. The remaining wall is window and a bookshelf, but just around the corner of the house and across the lane is one of the most interestingly named pubs in the UK. The web site has some great pictures of the areas and links to our local new age tourist attractions (we are a world centre for crop circles). I am now feeling nostalgic for my regular pint of 6X.

So thats two hedonistic things that I am missing, coffee and beer so I had better add in a bit of national culture for good measure. It was nice to be reminded (again by the Wikipedia) that on this day in 1400 Owain Glyndŵr was proclaimed Prince of Wales in rebellion against Richard II of England. It took the English over a decade to defeat him, he was never captured and as a result enter Welsh legend and is seen as the father of Welsh nationalism. Now I am getting really homesick, especially as the Rugby season has started.

It all brought me back neatly to the title of this post: hiraeth a welsh word of great profundity, meaning a deep longing to return to ones roots. Its often linked to hwyl which loosely translates as passion and pride. Searching for a web reference I was taken to a record on the digital story telling project of the BBC in Wales. This is wonderful example of the use of story. Over the years the BBC have taken their skills and their technologies into the communities of Wales and enabled people to make stories of themselves, their hopes cares and passions. They cover all subjects, the one titled hiraeth explains the word better than a defintion. I spent some time a few years ago with the BBC looking at this project but could not persuade IBM to get more involved. I remember, but cannot now find, a profound piece about doors and a brilliant story of a young girl who wanted to play rugby, but had to overcome male prejudice to be allowed to do so. They cover tragedies: one, weaving family history of a ten year old drowning in a lake with welsh legends. There is also self deprecating humour and http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/capturewales/background/malachy-odonnell.shtml”>social history. You can spend hours on this site and I just have! So its late to bed, but refreshed by the authenticity of stories told in their native voice.

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