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Dyddiad: 31/07/11

Yr Eisteddfod

England flag indicating that there's an English translation of this piece

"Myfi a aeth i'r Brifwyl ddoe
I gael rhyw sbloet, a gweld rhyw sioe.
Ond mi oedd hi'n bell, a finnau'n hwyr
Ac mi aeth y peth yn llanast llwyr."

Y tro diwethaf i'r Eisteddfod Genedlaethol ymweld ni yn y parthau hyn oedd 1977, a gan mai dim ond pymtheng mlwydd oed oeddwn i a heb fawr o afael ar y Gymraeg bryd hynny, thrafferthais i ddim bicio draw i hen faes awyr Borras i'w gweld.

Dwi wedi bod yn aros nes i mi agosu at fy hanner cant am gyfle arall (er i mi fynd i fyny i'r Wyddgrug ar gyfer Eisteddfod Bro Delyn ym 1991), ond dyma hi'n dychwelyd eleni. Felly, mi oeddwn i'n benderfynol o fynd iddi.

Mi oedd 'na un peth yn sicr roeddwn i'n torri croen fy mol isio gweld, sef Rownd Derfynol Y Talwrn. A finnau wedi gwrando ar y beirdd ers dros chwarter canrif, a gan fod gen i recordiad o bob Rownd Derfynol ers 1987, roedd yn rhaid i mi fanteisio ar y cyfle i weld y Ffeinal ei hun, oedd i'w chynnal ar brynhawn Dydd Sadwrn cyntaf yr Ŵyl.

Wrth edrych ar weddill y rhaglen ar gyfer y Babell Ln, mi welais ddarlith ar dafodiaith Y Rhos yn gynharach yr un diwrnod. Felly, chost tocyn dydd yn 17, roedd hi'n gwneud synnwyr i mi fynd i honno hefyd a chael gwerth y pris.

Lleolir y Maes eleni ar dir fferm Bers Isaf ar bwys Ffordd Rhuthun, a gan fod hynny ar fy ochr i o'r dref, meddyliais y basa'n syniad i gerdded i lawr a'r tywydd yn braf. Rŵan, blynyddoedd maith yn l, faswn i'n cerdded yr holl ffordd i lawr i'r dref i ymuno rhai o'm ffrindiau yn y Nag's Head ar Nos Wener. Mi ddechreuwn i o'n tŷ ni ychydig munudau cyn saith o'r gloch a chyrraedd y tafarn wrth i gloc San Silyn daro wyth. Felly, mi oeddwn i'n meddwl y basa gadael rhyw awr a chwarter am y daith y tro yma'n ddigon, ac mi benderfynais i ddechrau arni am chwarter wedi canol dydd, gan ystyried fod y ddarlith soniais i amdani uchod i'w dechrau am chwarter i ddau.

Ond, pan godais i fore ddoe, mi gefais neges oedd yn golygu treulio rhyw ugain munud ar y ffn. Erbyn i mi orffen hynny, a chael cinio, mi oedd hi wedi troi ugain munud wedi deuddeg. Eto, mi oeddwn i'n ffyddiog y gallwn i gyrraedd y Maes mewn da bryd.

Isod y mae map sy'n dangos y ffordd gerddais i (dilynwch y smotiau coch o'r gogledd-orllewin i lawr):

Map o ffordd rhwng fy nghartref a Maes yr Eisteddfod/Map of the route from my house to the Eisteddfod Field

Mi oedd y tywydd yn gynnes ac yn chwyslyd braidd, ond erbyn rhyw hanner awr wedi un, mi oeddwn i ar ben Ln Bers ac mi droiais i lawr Ffordd Rhuthun, i ble (hyd y gwyddwn i) safai'r Brif Fynedfa.

Ond mi ddaeth yn amlwg ymhen byr o dro nad oedd yr un fynedfa (prif neu fel arall) i'w gweld yna, er i'r map o'r Maes oedd ar wefan y Brifwyl awgrymu felly. Y cyfan oedd i'w gweld ar bwys y briffordd oedd rhesi di-ben-draw o garafannau a phebyll. Yn sydyn, mi welais i binaclau'r Pafiliwn Pinc ymhell y tu draw i'r rhein, a dechrau sylweddoli mae reit ar ochr draw y safle oeddwn i fod. Mi wyddwn i am fynedfa arall, neu felly oeddwn i'n meddwl, ond roedd cael hyd iddi yn golygu i mi fynd yr holl ffordd yn l i ben Ln Bers a throi fanno.

Ac felly a wnes, ond doeddwn i ddim mewn hwyliau da erbyn hyn, gan iddi ddod yn bur amlwg y baswn i'n rhy hwyr ar gyfer y ddarlith. Mi oedd rhan o'm meddwl i am fynd adref erbyn hyn, ond mi oedd atyniad y Talwrn yn gryfach ac felly dyma fi'n bwrw ymlaen.

Ar l rhai munudau, cyrhaeddais i fynedfa i faes parcio, lle mae Ln Y Bers wedi'i chau i drafnidiaeth o'r de. Gofynnais i'r hogyn oedd wrth y git a oedd hi'n bosibl gyrraedd y Maes o fanno (gan fy mod i wedi fy nrysu'n llwyr erbyn hyn, ac wedi melltithio safon giami yr arwyddo mwy nag unwaith). Dywedodd hwnnw ei bod hi, dim ond mynd trwy'r maes parcio a dilyn yr arwyddion. Ac felly y gwnes.

Ymhen ychydig funudau, dyma fi o'r diwedd yn prynu fy nhocyn a mynd ar y Maes. Mi oedd hi'n tynnu at hanner awr wedi dau erbyn hyn, ac roedd gen i dros awr cyn dechrau'r Talwrn. Felly, mi es i am dro o gwmpas y Maes, yn y gobaith o weld rhywun yr oeddwn i yn ei adnabod (neu rywun oedd yn fy adnabod innau). Ond er i mi weld a chlywed pobl eraill yn cael y mn siociau o adnabyddiaeth (oedd yn fy atgoffa i o'r wythnos gyntaf yn Neuadd Pantycelyn ddeng mlynedd ar hugain yn l, pan ymddangosodd i mi fel petai pawb arall oedd yn dechrau yno yn adnabod eu gilydd yn barod), chefais i mo'r profiad hwnnw.

Doedd fy nhymer i ddim wedi gwella rhyw lawer erbyn hyn, ond roedd hi'n ddigon i godi'r ysbryd rhywfaint i weld cyn lleied o ddidordeb oedd gan y torfoedd yn stondin y Blaid Geidwadol - dim ond tri pherson oedd yn eistedd yno golwg prudd ar eu hwynebau.

Gan ei bod hi'n gynnes iawn o hyd, mi benderfynais i fynd yn l i eistedd yng nghysgod y Babell Ln am sbel a gwylio'r bobl yn brysio heibio, gan gynnwys un heddwas tal a thenau a oedd - yn l y golwg arno fo - wedi ei recriwtio o'r pumed dosbarth y diwrnod o'r blaen, a bod dim angen arno fo ddod yn gyfarwydd rasal am sbel eto chwaith. Mi welais i un wraig o'n swyddfa ni a oedd - dwi'n meddwl - wedi bod yn cystadlu ar y llwyfan, gan ei bod hi (a'r wraig oedd efo hi) wedi'i gwisgo mewn gwisgoedd duon smart iawn. Ond welodd hi mohonof innau, a hithau'n brysur yn siarad rhyw ddyn oedd yn eistedd o'm blaen i.

Llun o Bafiliwn yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol/A picture of the National Eisteddfod Pavilion

Gan fod y munudau'n llusgo eu traed yn enbyd, mi benderfynais i fynd i brynu copi o'r Rhaglen Swyddogol, ac felly wnes i - unwaith i mi ddod o hyd i stondin Siop Y Siswrn eto.

Yna, yn l i'r Babell Ln eto i ddisgwyl cael mynediad iddi ar gyfer y Talwrn. Ond, fel efo cael hyd i'r Maes, roeddwn i'n cael trafferth efo mynediadau trwy'r dydd. Roedd y Talwrn i fod i ddechrau am chwarter i bedwar, ond roeddem ni gyd dal yno'n disgwyl i'r digwyddiad blaenorol orffen ymhell wedi pedwar. Roedd y peth yn rhedeg yn l Amser Eisteddfodol; hynny yw, gallwch chi gyrraedd hanner awr ar l yr amser hysbysedig a chael mai hanner awr yn rhy gynnar oeddech chi wedi'r cwbwl.

Yn y cyfamser, dim ond sefyll ac aros amdani, yn gwylio rhyw griw teledu yn cynnal ymweliad 'r bardd ifanc Ifan Pleming, oedd hefyd yn aros y tu allan i'r Babell ar ei sgwter (aelod o dm Aberhafren yw Ifan, un o'r timau oedd yn cystadlu). Yna o gyfeiriad Sywddfa'r Maes ddaeth sgwter arall, ac ar gefn hwnnw eisteddodd Y Meuryn ei hun, Gerallt Lloyd Owen, golwg eithaf ffyrnig ar ei wyneb, efallai fel mynegiant o ryw ddicter ynglŷn 'r ffaith fod yn rhaid iddo ddefnyddio'r math declyn i deithio'r Maes bellach. Mi oedd cryn dorf o flaen y Babell erbyn hyn, ac mi wnaeth y bobl lwybr iddo foduro ymlaen, ond doedd hi ddim yn gwbl eglur ai trwy barch neu drwy ofn o'r canlyniadau oedd hyn.

"Ac yna ddaeth Y Meuryn
Yn sbidio ar ei sgwter
I'n herio ni, selogion lln
A'n sgubo oll i'r gwter!"

Yn wir, mi oedd yn drist i weld un o gewri'n cenedl yn ymddangos mor eiddil nes bod yn rhaid iddo ddibynnu ar rywbeth fel hwnnw, ac mi welais i'r un tristwch ar wynebau rhai o'm cyd-ffyddloniaid oedd (bid siwr) ar fy ngwyneb innau.

Yna, ddaeth rhyw ddyn yn ceisio creu rhyw sylw i'r cylchgrawn newydd Y Glec tryw tanio un o'r 'party poppers' bondigrybwyll yna. "Mae hwnnw'n hen drawiad, 'ngwashi!", ddywedais i.

O'r diwedd! Mi glwyais i glapio o du fewn i'r Babell ac ychydig munudau'n ddiweddarch dyna'r drysau'n agor a chynulleidfa Cymdeithas Owain Cyfeiliog yn dod allan. I mewn ni felly, a dyma fi'n cael sedd ar ben rhes tua'r canol ac rhyw bump neu chwech rhes o'r blaen. Ar y llwyfan, roedd criw yn symud a gosod byrddau, cadeiriau, meics ac ati. Ymddangosodd Gerallt a pharcio ei sgwter ar gefn y llwyfan y tu l i arwydd mawr Radio Cymru. Do, mi oedd golwg eithaf eiddil arno fo yn sefyll yno, ond dyna fo'n ceisio helpu'r sgorwraig osod lliain du ar y bwrdd o'u blaenau; gorchwyl a wnaed yn anos gan y ffaith fod gan y lliain hwnnw bum cornel yn l y trafferth yr oeddan nhw'n cael i setio fo.

Nid 'pabell' yw'r Babell Ln, gyda llaw. Mae'n sied, o faint tebyg i'r un sy gan Homebase ychydig canoedd o lathenni i ffwrdd. Doedd y sied yma ddim yn llawn o bell ffordd - rhwy hanner llawn neu ychydig yn fwy, efallai - ac roedd mwyafrif y gynulleidfa yn eu pumdegau ac yn hŷn. Roedd hyn yn groes i'r ffaith fod y beirdd yn cystadlu ar y llwyfan yn rhai ifainc.

Yna, ddaeth y beirdd i'r llwyfan yn ddi-gyhoeddiad ond i gymeradwyaeth gynnes. Aeth y tri aelod o dm Y Taeogion (Ceri Wyn Jones, Tudur Dylan ac Emyr Davies) i'r ochr chwith (wrth i ni edrych ar bethau), a chwech aelod tm Aberhafren (Owain Rhys, Llion Pryderi Roberts, Aron Pritchard, Rhys Iorwerth, Mari George ac Ifan Pleming) i'r ochr dde. Wedyn, ddaeth hi'n bryd i Gerallt i'n croesawu ni i'r Babell, gan esbonio beth i'w wneud petai tn yn dechrau ("Ewch am y drws 'fan acw...dyna'r un fydda i'n mynd amdano!") a gofyn i bawb droi ei ffonau i ffwrdd. Ychydig o brofi o'r meicroffonau o hyd (gan gynnwys un ychwanegol ar gyfer Ifan Pleming fel y gallai adrodd ei gynnyrch o heb orfod sefyll fel y lleill), ac i ffwrdd ni!

Ond i ddechrau, roedd dau gyflwyniad. Yn gyntaf, cyflwyno Tlws Coffa Cledwyn Roberts am delyneg orau'r gyfres. Hwnnw aeth i Ceri Wyn Jones Y Taeogion am ei delyneg Cwmni. Yna, dyna gyflwyniad cyntaf oll Tlws Coffa Dic Jones am gywydd gorau'r flwyddyn Dalyrnol. Aeth y wobr hon i Aron Pritchard o Aberhafren am ei gywydd Gwagle, a gafwyd mewn gornest yn y rownd go-gynderfynol yn erbyn Y Waun Ddyfal; gornest na fu ei thebyg am gryn gyfnod. Arwydd o sylwedd y cywydd oedd i Gerallt fod dan deimlad wrth ei ddarllen o unwaith yn rhagor. Mi oedd wedi taro deg yn sicr.

Y peth cyntaf ddaeth i'r amlwg oedd y ffaith nad oedd Y Meuryn - er natur bregus ei iechyd yn gorfforol - wedi colli dim byd o'i fin na'i hiwmor. Mi oedd o yn ei elfen, yn mwynhau pwyso a mesur, gwerthfawrogi a thynnu sbort am ben y beirdd.

Bu tueddiad anffodus i'r Rownd Derfynol fod braidd yn ddi-fflach chymharu rhai o'r gornestau fu'n arwain ati (fel yr un gyfeiriais ati uchod). Ond nid felly y tro hwn: cafwyd deunydd o safon uchel iawn, y llon a'r lleddf fel eu gilydd. Chwerthin mwya'r dydd oedd canlyniad limrig Ifan Pleming:

"Wrth i mi fynd adre' o'r 'Steddfod,
Fe'm cipiwyd gan gr o fenywod.
'Dwi'n fardd!', meddwn i,
'Sdim ots gennym ni;
Mae'r Meuryn 'di bod 'ma yn barod!'"

Ac, wrth gwrs, doedd neb yn chwerthin cymaint Gerallt ei hun.

Aethpwyd tryw'r tasgau rheolaidd a chafwyd deunydd ffres, dwys ac o'r radd flaenaf. Ar y diwedd, mi oedd yn amlwg mai dyma oedd un o'r rowndiau terfynol gorau dwi'n ei chofio. Ac ar y diwedd, y sgr:

Y Taeogion (cyn-bencampwyr):86. Aberhafren (yn eu trydedd rownd derfynol yn olynol, ond heb ennill y ddau arall): 86½!

Telyneg Mari George ar y testun Gwrthod droes y fantol, mae'n siwr, ond mi oedd yn drueni fod yn rhaid i'r un tm golli. Wrth i'r ddau dm ysgwyd llaw a chyd-lawenhau, mi ymadawodd y gynulleidfa.

Rŵan, gan fod pethau wedi dechrau'n hwyr (ac wedi gorffen yn hwyrach byth, mae'n debyg), doedd gen i fawr o obaith gyrraedd gartref mewn da bryd i glywed darllediad cyntaf yr ornest roeddwn i newydd ei chlywed, yn enwedig a finnau'n cael yr un uffar o job yn ceisio cael hyd i ffordd allan o'r blydi Maes ag oedd gen i gael mynd i mewn iddo yn y lle cyntaf.

Mi grwydrais i lawr i'r ochr o'r maes oedd nesaf at Ffordd Rhuthun, ond doedd dim arwydd o ffordd allan fanno. Felly, roedd yn rhaid i mi fynd yn l heibio'r Pafiliwn a'r Babell Ln eto i fynd allan yr un ffordd ag y deuthum i mewn. Wrth wneud hyn, mi welais Gerallt - yn l ar ei sgwter - yn mynd am y toiledau. Doeddwn i ddim am dorri ar draws ei daith - wedi'r cwbl roedd o'n symud fel y diawl a phwy a ŵyr ba ddolur arall oedd yn effeitho arno?

"Mae 'na rai 'anhawsterau', a'i osod yn blaen
Pan fo beirdd gwrywaidd yn tynny ymlaen.
Felly, hwr i'r Orsedd (waeth beth bo'i ffaeledde)
Am roi'r Babell Ln reit ar bwys y toilede!"

Ugain mlynedd yn l, ar Faes Prifwyl Bro Delyn, mi gefais i'r cyfle i ddiolch i Dic Jones am Y Talwrn, a'r cyfan oeddwn i isio oedd dweud yr un peth wrth Gerallt tra bo'r cyfle. Ond, arhosais y tu allan i'r toiledau am achau heb iddo fo ddod allan. Wrth benderfynu cerdded ymlaen, mi sylweddolais i ei fod o - yn l pob tebyg - wedi mynd allan yr ochr draw, ac felly mi gollais i'r cyfle.

Wedi'r siomedigaeth amlwg hon, bu'n rhaid i mi wynebu un arall. Wrth i mi gyrraedd Ffordd Rhuthun eto, mi sylweddolais i fod yr amser hwnnw o'r dydd wedi dod pan fod y bysiau yn gostwng o redeg pob rhyw ddeng munud i'r sefyllfa lle mae'n nhw'n rhedeg unwaith bob awr yn unig, a bod dim posibiliad o gyrraedd yr un arosfan mewn pryd. Felly, doedd dim amdani ond i gerdded yn l ar hyd yr un ffyrdd ag yr oeddwn i wedi cymryd ar y ffordd i lawr. Ond, wrth gwrs, bod yr un ffyrdd bellach yn arwain i fyny.

Araf iawn y bu'r daith, ac aml iawn y bu'r stopio. Pob rhyw hanner can llath, a bod yn honest. Roeddwn i heb fwyta ers cyn canol dydd, ac mi oeddwn i'n sych gorcyn. Ac wrth gwrs, doedd neb - er cynifer oedd y ceir ar yr hen ffordd gyswllt - yn fy adnabod a stopio i roi lifft. Mi feddyliais i o ddifrif calon am ffonio fy mrawd i ddod amdana' i. Ond, a ydach chi wedi ceisio cael hyd i flwch ffn cyhoeddus y dyddiau 'ma? Doedd dim byd amdani ond i straffaglio ymlaen, er i'r galon wegian wrth sefyll ar waelod Tanyfron a sylweddoli maint y tasg - a maint yr allt - oedd o'm blaen i.

Rhywsut neu gilydd, a hithau'n dechrau nosi o ddifrif, mi gyrhaeddais i ben yr allt, ond mi oeddwn i bron chropian erbyn i mi agor drws y tŷ wrth i'r cloc daro naw. Dros ddwy awr a hanner i gerdded rhyw bedair milltir. Dwi'n mynd yn hen. Wna i ddim yr un camgymeriad eto, hyd yn oed os bydd angen talu am dacsi. Mi yfais sawl wydraid o ddŵr, coginio pizza bach, ac mi oeddwn i - yn wahanol iawn i'r nos Sadwrn arferol - yn fy ngwely ymhell cyn canol nos. Ond pur anesmwyth oedd y nos, a finnau'n codi sawl gwaith.

Afraid dweud fod codi o'r gwely y bore 'ma'n anodd, ac mi fydda i'n cymryd rhai dyddiau i ddod dros y cyfan, bid siwr.

Er hynny, dwi'n bwriadu mynd i'r Ŵyl eto Ddydd Iau. Am un peth, mae 'na raglen deyrnged i'r Prifardd Bryan Martin Davies yn y Sied, a gan mai fo oedd yn athro Cymraeg i mi yn y chweched dosbarth ar adeg dyngedfennol yn fy oes, mi fasa'n biti i golli honno; am beth arall, dwi isio cael digon o amser i fynd o gwmpas y Maes yn iawn, er bod arolygon y tywydd yn bur ansicr.

Mae un peth yn sicr: mi gymra' i'r bysiau y tro nesa'! Saeth i glicio arni i fynd  chi i erthygl sy'n dilyn hon

**********

The Eisteddfod

"I went to the Eisteddfod yesterday,
To see some sights, and make some hay.
But it was far, and I was late,
And the whole thing was a balls-up, mate."

The last time the National Eisteddfod visited these parts was in 1977, and as I was only fifteen years old and without much of a grasp of Welsh, I didn't bother popping over to the old Borras Airfield to see it.

I've waited until I was nearly fifty for another opportunity (although I did go up to Mold for the Bro Delyn Eisteddfod in 1991), but here it was back again this year, so I was determined to go.

There was one thing I was busting a gut to see, namely the Final of Y Talwrn. As I had been listening to the poets for over a quarter of a century, and as I have a recording of every Final since 1987, I had to take advantage of the chance to see the Final live, which was to take place on the afternoon of the first Saturday of the festival.

Having perused the rest of the programme for the Literature Tent, I saw a lecture on the dialect of Rhos on the same day. So, given that a day ticket costs 17, it made sense to go to that as well to get my money's worth.

The Maes this year is on the land of Lower Berse Farm alongside Ruthin Road, and as that is on my side of town, I thought it would be a good idea to walk there, given the good weather. Now, many years ago, I would walk all the way down into town to join some of my friends in the Nag's Head of a Friday night. I would start from home a few minutes before seven and reach the pub just as St Giles' clock struck eight. So I thought that it would be enough to allow about an hour and a quarter for the journey this time, and I decided to start off at about 12:15, bearing in mind that the lecture I referred to above was to start at a quarter to two.

But when I got up yesterday morning, I had a message which entailed me spending about twenty minutes on the phone. By the time that was over with and I'd had lunch, it was gone twenty past twelve. I was still confident that I could reach the Maes in good time, though.

Above is a map which shows the way I walked (follow the red dots from the north-west down).

The weather was warm and rather sweaty, but by about half past one I was at the top of Berse Lane, and I turned down Ruthin Road to where (to the best of my knowledge) the main entrance stood.

But it soon became clear that there wasn't an entrance (main or otherwise) in evidence there, although the map of the Maes on the Eisteddfod's website suggested one. All that was visible along the roadside was row upon row of caravans and tents. Suddenly, I spied the pinnacles of the Pink Pavilion far beyond these, and the realisation dawned that I should have been right on the far side of the site. I knew of another entrance, or so I thought, but finding it meant I would have to go all the way back to the top of Berse Lane and turn there.

And this is what I did, but I wasn't in a good mood by this point, as it had become obvious that I would be too late for the lecture. I was in half a mind to go home by this, but the attraction of Y Talwrn was stronger, and so I stuck with it.

After a few minutes, I reached the entrance to the car park, where Berse Lane has been closed to traffic from the south. I asked the lad who was manning the gate if it was possible to reach the Maes from there (I was completely confused by now, and had cursed the gammy standard of signage more than once). He said that it was; it was just a matter of crossing the car park and following the signs. So I did.

After a few minutes, there I was finally buying my ticket and entering the Maes. It was getting on for half past two by this time, and I had an hour to kill before Y Talwrn started. So, I went for a walk around, in the hope of seeing someone I knew (or someone who knew me). But although I saw and heard other people undergoing those little shocks of recognition (which reminded me of my first week in Pantycelyn Hall thirty years ago, when it had appeared to me that everyone else who was starting there already knew one another), that same experience eluded me.

My temper hadn't improved very much, but seeing how little interest the crowds had in the Conservative Party's stall - only three people sitting there with long faces - did raise the spirits somewhat.

Because it was still very warm, I decided to go back and sit in the shade of the Literature Tent for a while and watch the people hurrying by, including one tall, thin policeman who - by the looks of him - had been recruited from the fifth form only the day before, and who as yet stood in no need of becoming acquainted with the concept of razors. I saw one woman from our office who - I think - had been competing on the stage, because she (and the woman who was with her) were dressed in very smart black dresses. But she didn't see me, as she was busy talking to some man who was sitting in front of me.

As the minutes were dragging their feet terribly, I decided to go and buy a copy of the Official Programme, and so I did - once I'd found Siop Y Siswrn's stall again.

Then it was back to the Literature Tent again to wait to gain entrance for Y Talwrn. But, just as it had been when trying to find the Maes, I was to have trouble with entrances generally all day. Y Talwrn was due to start at a quarter to four, but we were all still waiting for the previous event to end well past four. It was running by Eisteddfod Time; that is, you could have arrived half an hour after the advertised time and still find that you were half an hour early after all.

In the meantime, all we could do was stand and wait, watching some television crew interviewing the young poet Ifan Pleming, who was also waiting outside the Tent on his mobility scooter (Ifan is a member of Aberhafren, one of the teams competing). Then from the direction of the Maes Office there came another scooter, on which sat Y Meuryn himself, Gerallt Lloyd Owen, with quite a fierce look on his face, perhaps as an expression of some anger at the fact that he now has to use such a device to get about the Maes. There was quite a crowd outside the Tent by now, and people made a path for him to motor on through, although it wasn't completely clear whether this was through respect or through fear of the consequences.

"And then he came, Y Meuryn,
Driving like a nutter,
To challenge us, Slaves Of The Muse,
And sweep us to the gutter!"

Indeed, it was sad to see one of the giants of our nation appear so frail that he had to depend on something like that, and I saw the same sadness on the faces of my fellow-faithful that I felt certain was on my own.

Then along come some bloke trying to draw attention to the new poetry magazine Y Glec by setting off one of those wretched party poppers. "That's an old stroke, lad!", I said.

At last! I heard clapping from within the Tent and a few minutes later the doors opened and the audience from the Owain Cyfeiliog Society came out. In we went, then, and I found a seat at the end of a row in about the middle and some five or six rows back. On the stage, a crew was moving and placing tables, chairs, mikes and so forth. Gerallt appeared and parked his scooter at the back of the stage behind the big Radio Cymru sign. Yes, he looked pretty weak standing there, but all the same he tried to help the scorer in placing a black cloth over the table before them; a task rendered more difficult by the fact that the cloth appeared to have five corners judging by the difficulty there were having setting it.

The Literature Tent isn't a 'tent', by the way. It's a shed, of a similar size to the one inhabited by Homebase a few hundred yards away. This shed wasn't full by any means - about half-full or slightly more, perhaps - and most of the audience was in its fifties or older. This stood in contrast to the fact that the poets competing on the stage were young.

The poets then came to the stage, unannounced but to warm applause. The three members of Y Taeogion ('The Serfs') (Ceri Wyn Jones, Tudur Dylan and Emyr Davies) went to the left-hand side (as we looked at it), and the six members of Aberhafren (Owain Rhys, Llion Pryderi Roberts, Aron Pritchard, Rhys Iorwerth, Mari George and Ifan Pleming) to the right. Then it was time for Gerallt to welcome us to the Tent, explaining what we should do in the event of a fire ("Go to that door there...that's the one I'll be heading for!"), and to ask everyone to turn their phones off. A little more testing of the microphones (including an extra one for Ifan Pleming so that he wouldn't have to stand up to recite his work like everyone else), and we were off!

But to begin with, there were two presentations. Firstly, of the Cledwyn Roberts Memorial Trophy for the best Lyric Poem of the series. This went to Y Taeogion's Ceri Wyn Jones for his poem Company. Then the first ever presentation of the the Dic Jones Memorial Trophy for the best cywydd of the Talwrn year. This one went to Aberhafren's Aron Pritchard for his cywydd An Empty Space, which appeared in a quarter-final contest against Y Waun Ddyfal, a contest the quality of which I had not heard for some time. An indication of the substance of the cywydd was that Gerallt had trouble controlling his feelings as he read it out one more time. It had certainly struck home.

The first thing which became clear was that Y Meuryn - despite the fragile nature of his physical health - had lost none of his edge or his humour. He was in his element, enjoying weighing and measuring, appreciating and making fun of the poets.

There is an unfortunate tendency for the Final to be rather nondescript compared with some of the matches leading up to it (like the one I referred to above). But that wasn't the case this time: the material was of a very high standard, the light and the serious alike. The biggest laugh of the day came from Ifan Pleming's limerick:

(Note: this is a literal translation. I don't mind bastardising my own doggerel, but I'm buggered if I'm going to traduce the verse of someone far better qualified):

"As I went home from the Eisteddfod,
I was seized by a choir of women.
'I'm a poet!', I said,
'We don't care;
The Meuryn's already been here!'"

And, of course, no-one was laughing more than Gerallt himself.

The usual tasks were gone through, and we had poetry which was fresh, intense and of the highest grade. And, at the end, the score:

Y Taeogion (former champions): 86. Aberhafren (in their third successive final, having lost the previous two): 86½!

It was Mari George's lyric verse on the subject of Rejection which tipped the balance, I'm sure, but it was a pity that either team had to lose. As the two teams shook hands and celebrated together, the audience departed.

Now, as things had started late (and had finished later still, in all probability), I didn't have much hope of getting home in time to hear the first broadcast of what I had just heard, especially as I had the same hell of a job of finding a way out of the bloody Maes as I had had getting onto it in the first place.

I wandered down to the side of the Maes which was nearest to Ruthin Road, but there was no sign of a way out there. So, I had to go back past the Pavilion and the Literature Tent again to exit the same way as I had entered. In doing this, I saw Gerallt - back on his scooter - heading for the toilets. I didn't want to interrupt his journey - after all, he was moving like the wind and who knows what other ailments were affecting him?

"There are certain 'ailments' - to put it no worse -
Which strike elder figures amongst men of verse.
So, hooray for the Gorsedd (you can cheer if you choose)
For putting the poets right next to the loos!"

Twenty years ago, on the Maes at Bro Delyn, I had had the opportunity to thank Dic Jones for Y Talwrn, and all I wanted to do was to say the same to Gerallt whilst I had the chance. But I waited outside the toilets for ages without him emerging. As I decided to move on, I realised that he had - in all probability - gone out the far side, and so I lost the chance.

After that obvious disappointment, I had to face another. As I reached Ruthin Road again, I realised that it had come to that time of day where the buses go down from running every ten minutes to running only once an hour, and that there was no possibility of my reaching a bus stop in time. So there was nothing for it but to walk all the way back the way I had come down. Except that now, of course, the same roads led up.

Very slow was the journey, and very frequent were the stops. Every fifty yards or so, to be frank. I hadn't eaten since before noon, and I was as dry as a cork. And of course no-one - although there were lots of cars on the old link road - knew me to stop and give me a lift. I seriously thought of phoning my brother and asking him to come for me. But have you ever tried finding a public phone box nowadays? There was nothing for it but to struggle on, although the heart quailed as I stood at the bottom of Tanyfron and realised the size of the task - and of the hill - which stood before me.

Somehow or other, and with it getting darker by the minute, I reached the top of the slope, but I was almost on my knees as I opened the front door just as the clock struck nine. It had taken me over two and half hours to walk some four miles. I'm getting old. I won't make the same mistake again, even if it means paying for a taxi. I drank a number of glasses of water, cooked a mini-pizza and - very differently to the normal Saturday - I was in bed well before midnight. But I passed an unsettled night, getting up more than once.

It goes without saying that getting out of bed this morning was difficult, and it will take me some days to get over it all, I'm sure.

Despite that, I intend going back on Thursday. For one thing, there's a tribute to the Crowned Poet Bryan Martin Davies in the Shed, and as he was my Welsh teacher in sixth form at a crucial juncture in my life, it would be a pity to miss it; for another thing, I want to have plenty of time to go around the Maes properly, although the weather forecast is pretty unsettled.

One thing's for sure: I'll take the buses next time! An arrow to click on to take you to a follow-up item

(This translation dedicated to Gem)