I am sitting in a cafe in Y Trallwng (oh, alright, Welshpool), having travelled forty eight miles for my National Insurance Number (NIN) interview. I tried to apply in Welsh but the polite man on the phone told me the service wasn’t available in Welsh and that I must call a different number. ‘This is a bilingual country,’ my very-English-don’t-see-why-I-should-learn-Welsh friends tell me. ‘I should be able to speak whatever language I want.’

‘Correct, I tell them. ‘But have you ever thought Welsh speakers might like to be able to speak their own language – in shops, cafes, libraries, offices and surgeries?

So what is happening in my life? Apart from morphing into a rabid Welsh language fanatic?

Well, as you can see, I have an armchair, a magnificent development. Kindly donated to Stiwdio Maelor, I wasted no time in claiming it and, as Veronica has left the country and I am now womaning the stiwdio until early March, I have moved my desk and computer into her workspace. I also have a car. And her washing machine! In fact, I may not invite her back. Possession is nine tenth of the law and, once I get that National Insurance Number there will be no shifting me.

I had to tell the woman at the NIN interview how often I’ve come to Wales. I said, ten times in the last five years. But they don’t stamp passports anymore so I couldn’t show her the dates. Her Majesty’s Revenue will have to look them up. I hope I pass the test. It’s like The Battle of Britain trying to get a foothold in this place. I wonder if it was this difficult for the English when they took over half the world? 🙂

Oops! Rabid fanatic hat again. 🙂

On the subject of washing machines, I have now added plumbing to my growing list of accomplishments. After painting, hanging pictures, and learning how to frame art work, I have also moved a washing machine down eighteen narrow steps and re-installed it in Stiwdio Maelor. I didn’t do the job single handed. I have a very supportive, Welsh learning, ex-librarian friend who kindly offered her tools and expertise. Once we’d got the machine down the steps of Veronica’s house, driven half way to Corris, turned back to collect the part we had forgotten, and then unloaded the washing machine, we were pretty keen to accomplish the task without male intervention. Alas, we were thwarted at the final hurdle. Try as we might, we could not turn the knobs on the water outlets.

Since installing the machine, I have morphed into a non-tree dwelling duplicate of Enid Blyton’s Washer Woman. I have the clothes horses set up in front of the central heating and each time I walk past, I turn the sheets. Yes, there are quite a few significant changes happening in my life, I clean toilets, turn sheets, teach people to light the wood stove, unblock the drains and take the bins out. I will come home a vastly improved version of myself. Though, I’ll be in a different hemisphere. So it might be harder performing the tasks upside down.

Now in case you think I’ve lost sight of the wider world while in Corris, last Thursday, was Thanksgiving and, as we have an American staying in the Stiwdio, it was decided a turkey would be in order. I reckon the butcher saw us coming. It was the most expensive turkey in living history. But, we all ate ourselves silly and made a determined effort to use the left overs (vegetable soup with coriander and turkey stock being my particular contribution). In a couple of weeks, Corris is having a Christmas, Soup and Song evening and in an attempt to give the event an international flavour, I have been asked to make a contribution. I thought I might sing Six White Boomers (like we sing that all the time in Australia) but my preliminary research reminded me that the author was Rolf Harris so…oops! Probably not that one. Any ideas for an Australian Christmas song anyone? I’d hate to admit that we actually sing Jingle Bells in our shorts and sun hats while lighting the BBQ on Christmas Day.

Tan wythnos nesaf!