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Dyddiad: 25/09/11

Coleg A Phantycelyn

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Bu'r nesa' peth i ddim i mi anghofio'n llwyr am yr achlysur, a dwi ddim yn siwr beth yn union a'm hatgoffodd, ond mae'r penwythnos hwn yn un arbennig, gan iddo nodi deng mlynedd ar hugain yn union ers i mi fynd i'r Coleg Ger Y Lli.

Mi oeddwn i'n flwyddyn yn hwyr yn mynd i fyny i'r Brifysgol. Un rheswm oedd i mi fethu chael y graddau lefel 'A' yr oeddwn i wedi gobeithio amdanyn nhw (er i mi gael ar ddeall wedyn y buasai'r Coleg wedi fy nerbyn i beth bynnag); a'r rheswm arall oedd nad oeddwn i'n teimlo'n barod i fynd.

(Fel mae'n digwydd, doeddwn i ddim yn barod yr eildro, chwaith; doethaf peth fuasai i mi gymryd blwyddyn neu ddwy i ffwrdd o'r gyfundrefn addysg yn gyfangwbl fel y gallwn i brofi'r byd go iawn cyn i mi fentro'n l arni, ond testun arall yw hynny).

Mi oedd 'na gryn gyffro yn yr wythnosau'n arwain at fy ymadawiad. Roedd 'na gymaint o bethau i'w trefnu, cymaint o bethau i baratoi ar eu cyfer. Mae gen i gof clir o hyd o fynd i lawr i Wrecsam ychydig dyddiau ynghynt - yng nghmwni fy hen gyfaill Alex - i agor cyfrif banc yng nghangen Y Stryd Fawr o Barclays, a hwythau'n cynnig bonws i fyfyrwyr am ymuno nhw (dwi ddim yn cofio faint rŵan - naill ai 5 neu 50; y lleiaf o'r symiau 'na dwi'n meddwl). Roedd Alex yntau yn mynd i ffwrdd hefyd - i Fanceinion yn ei achos o - ac mi oedd yr edrych ymlaen at yr antur fawr yn cyniwair trwyddom ni'n dau.

Dyma fasa'r tro cyntaf i fi fynd i fyw heb fy rhieni - wythnos o wyliau mewn pabell efo pedwar o ffrindiau o'r chweched dosbarth yn Sywdd Henffordd ym Mis Gorffennaf y flwyddyn flaenorol bu'r peth agosaf hyd hynny - ac erbyn y dydd ei hun, mi oeddwn i'n ysu am fynd, er i mi boeni rhyw ychydig ynglŷn 'r syniad o orfod rhannu stafell rhywun dieithr; person preifat iawn a swil oeddwn i (ac ydw i o hyd, gan hynny).

Ond, o'r diwedd mi gyrhaeddodd y Diwrnod Mawr ei hun. Y Dydd Gwener oedd hwnnw, gan fod angen i'r Glasfyfyrwyr gyrraedd cyn dechrau'r penwythnos er mwyn iddyn nhw gynefino 'r lle cyn i'r rhai mwy profiadol ddychwelyd.

I mewn i Vauxhall Cavalier melyn Wncwl Phil aeth fy stwff i gyd - roedd Wncwl Phil i yrru ac fy mrawd fel 'eilydd' iddo, fel petai, a Mam a finnau yn y sedd gefn, yn ogystal 'r stwff nad oedd digon o le iddo yn y bŵt. Mae gen i gof clir hyd heddiw o ysgwyd llaw 'nhad trwy ffenestr y car cyn i ni ymadael - doedd ei iechyd ddim yn ddigon da iddo deithio'n bell iawn erbyn hynny, a doedd dim lle iddo yn y car 'ta beth.

Mi oedd y daith i lawr yn ddigon di-nod ynddo'i hun, ond doeddwn i ddim cweit wedi disgwyl yr hyn welsom ni wrth gyrraedd pen yr allt ger Plas Hendre a gweld y dref ei hun yn gorwedd islaw. Roeddwn i wedi bod i Aber ddwywaith yn barod - ar gyfer cyfweliadau yn Adran Y Gymraeg - ond ar y ddau achlysur, roeddwn i wedi mynd ar y trn ac felly heb weld fawr o'r lle. Erys yr olygfa odidog honno o'r dref a'r mr y tu draw iddi yn gryf yn y cof o hyd, er bod dros chwarter canrif wedi mynd heibio ers i mi ei gweld hi ddiwethaf.

Os cofiaf yn iawn, colli'r troad ar gyfer Neuadd Pantycelyn wnaethom ni'r tro cyntaf a gorfod troi a mynd yn l ato, ond ddaru i ni ei ffeindio fo'r eildro a pharcio. Dyma fi wedyn yn mentro i mewn i'r adeilad arbennig hwnnw am y tro cyntaf er mwyn arwyddo i mewn a chael yr allwedd am Ystafell 199, a fuasai'n gartref i mi am y misoedd canlynol. Cefais yr allwedd a mynd i chwilio am yr ystafell ei hun - a methu'n ln chael hyd i'r diawl. Mi es i ddwywaith rownd y lle a gorffen lle gychwynnais i, yn y cyntedd. Rhoddwyd cyfarwyddiadau mwy manwl i mi - yn arafach hefyd, gan nad oeddwn i'n deall y Gymraeg yn dda iawn yr adeg honno - ac ar l ychydig, mi ffeindiais i hi. O diar! Reit ar y gornel yn nghefn y neuadd oedd hi a - gan iddi fod ar gornel - mi oedd ganddi ddwy ffenestr. A hithau ar y llawr isaf hefyd, roedd pawb a oedd yn mynd heibio yn medru sbecian i mewn wrth basio. Fasa 'na ddim fawr o breifatrwydd na diogelwch gen i fanno, felly.

Cododd broblem yn syth ar l i mi symud fy stwff i mewn. Roeddwn i wedi dod thipyn o gyfarpar trydanol efo fi - set deledu, radio, peiriant tp, cloc larwm a siafiwr - a dyma ni'n sylweddoli nad oedd modd defnyddio'r un ohonyn nhw oherwydd bod y socedi trydan yn y stafelloedd yn wahanol. Socedi thri phin oedden nhw, siwr iawn; ond pinau crwn oedden nhw, fersiynau llai o'r socedi fu gynnon ni gartref hyd at ganol y saithdegau. Felly, roedd y plygiau oedd gen i ar bobeth yn gwbl ddi-werth, hwythau a'u pinau hirsgwar. Felly, i mewn i'r car ni i fynd i lawr i'r dref ei hun i geisio cael hyd i blygiau i ffitio. Cafwyd hyd i'r rheini yn Currys, a thalu crocbris am ryw dri neu bedwar ohonyn nhw.

Yn l ni i fyny i Banty wedyn, felly, a ffitio un o'r plygiau newydd ar bobeth. Erbyn hyn, roedd fy nghyd-drigolyn yn Ystafell 199 wedi cyrraedd - Edward Stephen, mab fferm o gyrion Llangefni oedd hwnnw. Mi aeth o a'i rieni - a'r parti oedd wedi dod efo fi - ar daith dywysedig o gwmpas yr adnoddau tra roeddwn innau wrthi'n ail-weirio.

Yna ddaeth yr amser i ffarwelio. Efallai y disgwyliech chi mai amser dagrau a chofleidio fasa hi; y gwir plaen amdani yw nad y math yna o deulu fuom ni erioed, ac nid oeddwn i'n medru cael gwared nhw yn ddigon cyflym fel y gallwn i fwrw i mewn i'r bywyd newydd hwn oedd yn agor o 'mlaen i. Dwi'n cywilyddu wrthyf i fy hun rŵan wrth feddwl mor eiddgar oeddwn i weld eu cefnau nhw, ond mi oeddwn i am symud ymlaen a doeddwn i ddim am i neb feddwl mai oen bach mam oeddwn i.

Mae Pantycelyn yn enwog, wrth gwrs, am fod y lle Cymreiciaf yn yr holl Coleg (yn yr holl Brifysgol efallai, er buasai gan drigolion JMJ ym Mangor farn bendant ynglŷn hynny, bid siwr), ac felly'n lle delfrydol i ddysgwr roi rhyw sglein ar ei Gymraeg. Ac felly y bu ymhen byr o dro i mi, er mai bur dawedog oeddwn i am gyfnod wrth ymgynefino phrofiadau rhyfedd megis clywed Hwntws yn siarad eu math unigryw o'r iaith am y tro cyntaf.

Y peth cyntaf a'm trawodd am fy nghyd-drigolion oedd iddo ymddangos i mi fod y rhan fwyaf ohonyn nhw'n nabod eu gilydd yn barod, efo'r sgyrsiau'n troi'n aml o gwmpas cyngherddau roc ac eisteddfodau y buon nhw ynddyn nhw efo'u gilydd a phethau felly. Y rheswm, wrth gwrs, oedd bod y mwyafrif llethol ohonyn nhw wedi eu magu ar aelwydydd Cymraeg (ac ar aelwyddydd Yr Urdd yn aml), ac fod y pethau'n hyn yn ail natur iddyn nhw i gyd. I fi, pethau y tu hwnt i'm profiad a'm hamgyffred oedd y rheini i gyd, ac felly cefais y teimlad o fod ar y tu allan i bobeth, er nad oedd bai yn y byd arnyn nhw am hynny; yn wir, gwnaethant eu gorau glas i'm tynnu i mewn i bethau yn aml. Ond hogyn swil a di-hunan-hyder oeddwn i, ac felly roedd eu hymdrechion yn ofer i raddau.

Roedd ambell i gamsyniad gennyf innau nad oedd yn helpu pethau. Er enghraifft, does dim syniad yn y byd gen i hyd heddiw pam gymerais i hi'n ganiataol mai ffans mawr Max Boyce fasa pobl Panty. Yn wir, dyna beth oeddwn i'n ei feddwl; cyn i mi gyrraedd yno a chael ar ddeall nad oedd yr un gronyn o realiti i'r syniad; yn wir, pan oedd pobl yn meddwl amdano fo o gwbl, roedden nhw'n ystried yr hen Facs yn hen Wncwl Tom go iawn.

Mae gen i nifer o atgofion o'r penwythnos cyntaf hwnnw sydd wedi glynu'n gryf yn fy nghof. Ar nos Wener, mi es i ar fy mhen fy hun i lawr i'r dref, a mynd ar goll yn y strydoedd cul ar waelod Penglais cyn cael fy hun yn Y Cŵps am y tro cyntaf (ond nid am y tro olaf o bell ffordd!). Dwi'n cofio treulio rhan o brynhawn Dydd Sadwrn yn un o'r ystafelloedd ar y llawr uchaf (Ystafell 123), ar goridor a adwaenir fel Y Ffynnon, yng nghwmni Gerwyn Williams ac Aled Jb (oedd yn rhannu'r stafell) yn ogystal ag Arwel 'Soch' Jones (sydd bellach yn athro yn Ysgol Y Berwyn, Y Bala, dwi'n credu) ac Alun Howells (os cofiaf ei gyfenw yn iawn - fel 'Alun Mawr' roeddwn i'n ei nabod), cyn i ni fynd i lawr i'r dref efo'n gilydd. Mae gen i'r set wyddbwyll deithio brynais i'r prynhawn hwnnw o hyd, er bod blynyddoedd maith wedi mynd heibio ers i mi chwarae'r gm.

Ar nos Sadwrn, mi arhosais i yn fy (sorri, yn ein) stafell yn gwylio'r teledu. Roedd Edward wedi mynd i gyngerdd Y Trwynau Coch, ac mi oedd hi ymhell wedi un o'r gloch pan ddaeth o mewn. Ychydig wedyn, ddaeth bedlam. Roedd o wedi anghofio cloi'r drws ar ei l o, ac i mewn ddaeth Jb, Arwel 'Pod' Roberts a chriw arall i greu hafoc bach am chwarter awr cyn ymadael.

Treuliais y rhan fwyaf o'r Sul yn cymdeithasu gorau y medrwn, cyn i mi fynd i fyny i far Neuadd Cwrt Mawr (un o'r ychydig lefydd lle gallai dyn gael yfed ar y Sul bryd hwnnw) efo Gerwyn, Alun Mawr, Alun Davies o Gaerdydd ac Arwel 'Soch'. Yn l a ni wedyn, a finnau rhywsut yn gorffen y noson yn Ystafell 200 efo Karl Davies (Plaid Cymru a'r BBC wedyn), ei gyd-letywr Elwyn ac ambell un arall, efo Karl yn adrodd straeon anhygoel am y cymeriadau yn ei deulu.

Ond mi ddaeth Ddydd Llun, ac amser dechrau ar fusnes. Mynd i fyny i adeilad Hugh Owen i gofrestru a dewis pynciau, ac yna yn y prynhawn cael darlith ar sut i ddefnyddio llyfrgell y Coleg. Ond ddaeth amser i gymdeithasu eto yn yr hwyr, efo grwp ohonom ni'n mynd ar 'Grl Hanneri'r Bois'; dechrau yn Y Cŵps, cyn i ni fynd ychydig llathenni ymlaen i'r Weston Vaults, lle cafodd Jb ei daflu allan gan i'r hen surbwch o Sais y tu cefn i'r bar fynnu nad oedd Aled wedi talu am ei gwrw. Ymlaen wedyn i'r Tavern In The Town (neu Y TIT, fel y'i gelwid o yn fyr), y Ffarmwrs a'r Llew Du. Adewais i'r criw yn 'joio ms draw' yn y Nag's Head - gan nad oeddwn i'n yfwr mawr yr adeg honno chwaith ac mi oeddwn i'n ei theimlo hi braidd erbyn hynny - a chrafu fy hun i fyny'r allt i Banty.

Roedd gweddill yr wythnos yn dawel braidd, ar wahn i un digwyddiad od yn oriau mn Ddydd Iau. Mi oeddwn i'n cysgu'n braf yn fy ngwely nesaf at y ffenestr ogleddol (roedd gwely Edward wrth y drws, ac yr oedd yntau heb ddod i mewn eto). Doeddwn i ddim wedi cau'r ffenestr gan iddi fod braidd yn gynnes (roedd y gwres canolog wedi'i droi ymlaen, ac mi oedd yn uffar o job symud y gwely i gael hyd i'r redietyr i'w droi bant). Curo ar y gwydr. Finnau'n troi yn fy ngwely a cheisio anwybyddu'r sŵn. Dyna'r ffenestr yn agor a phen yn dod trwy'r llenni (roedd gweddill y boi efo'r pen, diolch i'r drefn). "Gawn ni ddod miwn?", ofynodd y pen, "Dan ni wedi'n cloi ms!". Hogiau ffeind oeddan nhw ill dau, chwarae teg.

Aeth pethau'n rwtn braidd ar l y cyffro hynny i gyd, a ninnau'n setlo i mewn i ryw rigol o ddarlithoedd a chymdeithasu, yn y lolfa ac ymhell y tu draw. Ond eto, ddaeth fy swildod yn l i'm llethu a'm torri i ffwrdd o ran fwyaf o ddigwyddiadau'r neuadd er gwaethaf ymdrechion fy nghyd-breswylwyr. Yn ogystal hynny, roedd y peth a oedd wedi achosi problemau difrifol yn y chweched dosbarth wedi codi ei ben eto, sef y tuedd i fod yn ddiog. Mi ddechreuais i dorri darlithoedd; peth hawdd i'w wneud wrth ystyried fod fy holl ddarlithoedd i lawr yn adeilad yr Hen Goleg a bod llusgo fy hun yr holl ffordd yn l i fyny'r Glais ddim yn apelio. Fel canlyniad o hyn oll, ac ar l i mi gael fy rhybuddio gan y Deon ei hun, roedd fy mherfformiad yn yr arholiadau ar ddiwedd y flwyddyn mor wael fel nad oedd modd i mi ddychwelyd i'r Coleg am flwyddyn gron. Ddysgais i ddim yn hynny o beth chwaith, a dim ond o drwch blewyn lwyddais i barhau at gael gradd.

Ond mi oedd y flwyddyn gyntaf honno ym Mhantycelyn (a'r flwyddyn dreuliais i yno ar l i mi grafu fy ffordd yn l rhyw bymtheg mis wedyn) yn hanfodol wrth fy nhroi'n Gymro Cymraeg go iawn, ac ennill hunan-hyder wrth ddefnyddio'r Gymraeg. Mae arnaf ddyled enfawr i Bantycelyn a'r gymuned gref a gafwyd yno, a'r sawl oedd wrth galon y gymuned honno, gan gynnwys yr hanesydd nodedig John Davies a fu'n warden yno yr holl amser y bm innau'n byw yno.

Nid fy mod i wedi mynd yn l i ymweld 'r lle ers i mi raddio ym 1985 er hynny, nag i Banty nac i Aber chwaith. Mi ddysgais i ambell i wers galed dros y blynyddoedd lle mae mynd yn l at lefydd fu gynt yn ganolog i'm bywyd yn y cwestiwn. Dwi'n gwybod yn union beth fasa'n digwydd taswn i'n mynd yn l; mi fasa'n codi'r felan arnaf i'r math raddau fel y dinistriai'r atgofion. Mi fase'r lle'n llawn ysbrydion, a does dim dwywaith mai ddrychiolaeth o'm hunan iau fasa un ohonynt. Doethach fasa gadael llonydd iddo fo: mae'n debyg ei fod o'n hapus yno.

Bu sn am gau Panty ychydig blynyddoedd yn l, gan fod y sawl sy'n rhedeg y Brifysgol (fel y'i gelwir bellach) o'r farn nad ydyw'n ddigon 'modern', a'r bwriad oedd codi neuadd newydd i gynnwys grwpiau o fflatiau yn hytrach na chael ystafelloedd unigol (neu ddwbl) a chael pawb i gymdeithasu yn y lolfa neu'r ffreutur. Yn l a welaf i bellach, mae'r Brifysgol wedi ail-ystyried, a da hynny; dwi ddim yn gweld y posibiliad o'r un gymuned yn ffynnu o dan y math amgylchiadau ag a geir (ac a gafwyd) yn yr hen adeilad urddasol hwnnw.

Ac mae deng mlynedd ar hugain yn union wedi mynd heibio - fel petai'n freuddwyd - ers i mi gerdded trwy ei drysau hi am y tro cyntaf. Ble aeth y blynyddoedd, dwd?

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Bright College Days

I almost forgot completely about the occasion, and I'm not sure what exactly reminded me, but this weekend is a very special one, as it marks thirty years exactly since I went to 'The College By The Sea'.

I was a year late going up to University. One reason was that I had failed to get the 'A'-level grades I had hoped for (although I discovered later that the College would have accepted me anyway); and the other reason was that I didn't feel ready to go.

(As it happened, I wasn't ready the second time, either; it would have been wiser for me to take a year or two out of the education system altogether so that I could experience the real world before venturing back in, but that's another subject).

The weeks leading up to my departure were ones of considerable excitement. There were so many things to organise, so many things to prepare for. I still have a clear memory of going down into Wrexham a few days beforehand - in the company of my old friend Alex - to open a bank account in the High Street branch of Barclays, as they were offering some special bonus for students who signed up with them (I don't remember how much now - either 5 or 50; the lesser sum, I think). Alex himself was going away too - to Manchester in his case - and the anticipation for the great adventure ran through us both.

This was to be the first time that I would be living apart from my parents - the nearest I'd come to it before that had been a week's holiday spent in a tent in Herefordshire with four sixth-form friends in the July of the previous year - and by the time the day itself arrived, I was straining at the leash to go, although I was anxious about having to share a room with a total stranger; I was (and still am, for that matter) a very private and shy person.

But, finally, the Great Day itself dawned. This was the Friday, because they wanted the Freshers to arrive before the weekend to acclimatise to the place before the old hands returned.

Into Uncle Phil's yellow Vauxhall Cavalier everything went - Uncle Phil was driving with my brother as 'reserve' as it were, and Mam and me in the back, along with the stuff which couldn't be fitted in the boot. I have a clear picture in my mind today of shaking hands with my father through the open window of the car before we set off - his health wasn't up to long journeys by that time, and there was no room in the car anyway.

The journey down was uneventful enough in itself, but I hadn't quite expected what we saw when we crested the hill by Plas Hendre and saw the town itself lying below us. I had been to Aber twice already - for interviews in the Department of Welsh - but had gone on the train on both occasions and hadn't seen much of the place. That splendid view of the town and the sea beyond has stayed fresh in the memory still, even though more than a quarter of a century has gone by since I last saw it.

If I remember correctly, we missed the turning for Pantycelyn Hall the first time and had to turn back towards it again, but we found it the second time and parked up. Then I ventured into that particular building for the first time in order to sign in and get the key for Room 199, which was to be my home during the coming months. I got the key and went in search of the room itself - and couldn't find the bugger. I went twice round the place, ending up where I had started - in the foyer. More detailed instructions were given to me - slower ones, too, as I didn't understand Welsh very well at that point - and after a short while, I found it. Oh dear! Right in the back corner of the hall and - as it was on a corner - it had two windows. With it also being on the ground floor, everyone going past could have a nose in. I wouldn't be getting much privacy or security there, then.

A problem arose immediately after we moved my stuff in. I'd brought a fair bit of electrical equipment with me - a television set, a radio, a tape recorder, an alarm clock and a shaver - and I then realised that I couldn't use any of them because the electric sockets in the rooms were different. They were three-pin sockets, certainly; but they had round pins, smaller versions of the sockets we used to have at home up until the mid-seventies. So, the plugs that I had on everything were completely useless with their oblong pins. So back into the car we went, and down into the town to try to find plugs to fit. These were to be found in Currys, and I paid a king's ransom for three or four of them.

Back up to Panty then, and fitted the new plugs on everything. By this time, my fellow resident of Room 199 had arrived - Edward Stephen, a farmer's son from just outside Llangefni. He and his parents - and the party who had accompanied me - went on a guided tour of the facilities as I was doing the re-wiring.

Then came the time for goodbyes. Perhaps you would expect that it would be a time for hugs and tears; the plain truth about it is that it has never been that sort of a family, and that I couldn't get rid of them quickly enough, so that I could launch myself into this new world which was opening up before me. I feel ashamed now as I think how eager I was to see the back of them, but I wanted to move on and I didn't want anyone to think I was Mammy's little lamb.

Pantycelyn is, of course, famous for being the most Welsh part of the whole College (the whole University perhaps, although the inhabitants of JMJ in Bangor would have had definite Views on that, you bet), and so an ideal place for learners to put a polish on their Welsh. And so it proved to me in a very short while, even though I was very quiet for a while whilst I adapted to strange experiences such as hearing Southerners speaking the language in their own unique ways for the first time.

The first thing which struck me about my fellow residents was that it seemed to me that most of them already knew one another, and their conversations revolved around rock concerts and eisteddfodau that that they had attended together, and suchlike things. The reason, of course, was that the vast majority of them had been raised in Welsh-speaking families (and often been through the Urdd as well), and these things were second nature to them all, and so I got the feeling of being slightly outside of everything, although no blame attaches to them for that; indeed, they often did their level best to bring me into things. But I was a shy boy lacking in self-confidence, and so their attempts were in vain to some extent.

The odd misapprehension which I had didn't help things. For example, I can't for the life of me to this very day think why I took it as read that Panty people would be big fans of Max Boyce. That really was what I had thought; before I got there and was given to understand that there was not a grain of reality to the notion; indeed, when his name was mentioned at all, it was clear that they considered old Max to be a real Uncle Tom.

I have a number of memories of that first weekend which have fixed themselves strongly in my memory. On the Friday night, I went out alone down into the town, and got lost in the narrow streets at the bottom of Penglais Hill before finding myself in the 'Cooper's Arms' ('Y Cwps') for the first (but definitely not the last) time. I remember spending part of Saturday afternoon in Room 123 on the top floor, on the corridor known as 'The Well', in the company of Gerwyn Williams and Aled Jb (who shared the room) along with Arwel 'Soch' Jones (who is now, I believe, a teacher in Ysgol Y Berwyn in Bala) and Alun Howells (I think that was his surname - 'Big Alun' I knew him as), before we went down into town together. I still have the travelling chess set I bought that day, even though it's been years since I last played the game.

On Saturday night, I stayed in my (sorry, in our) room watching television. Edward had gone out to a gig by Y Trwynau Coch, and it was long past 1 am before he came in. Shortly afterwards, all hell broke loose. He'd forgotten to lock the door, and in burst Jb, Arwel 'Pod' Roberts and a fair crew to create havoc for about a quarter of an hour before leaving.

I spent most of Sunday socialising as best I could, before we went up to the bar at Cwrt Mawr hall (one of the few places where you could get a drink on a Sunday at that time) with Gerwyn, Big Alun, Alun Davies from Cardiff and Arwel 'Soch'. Back we came later, and I somehow ended up spending the rest of the evening in Room 200 with Karl Davies (later of Plaid Cymru and the BBC) and his room-mate Elwyn and one or two others, with Karl regaling us with incredible stories about the characters in his family.

But Monday came, and it was time to get down to business. I went up to the Hugh Owen building to register and to choose my subjects, and then in the afternoon we had a lecture on how to use the College library. But there was time to socialise again in the evening, with a group of us going on the 'Boys' Halves Crawl'; starting off in the 'Cwps' before we went on a few yards to the 'Weston Vaults', where Jb was thrown out by the sour old Englishman behind the bar who insisted that Aled hadn't paid for his drink. On again to the 'Tavern In The Town' (or the 'TIT', to give it its short name), the 'Farmers' and the 'Black Lion'. I left the gang enjoying themselves tremendously in the 'Nag's Head' - as I wasn't a big drinker in those days either, I was feeling it a bit by then - and crawled my way back up the hill to Panty.

The rest of the week was fairly quiet, apart from one incident in the early hours of the Thursday. I was sleeping well away in my bed next to the window on the north side (Edward's bed was by the door, and he hadn't come back in yet). I hadn't closed the window because it was quite warm (the central heating had been turned on, and it was a hell of job to move the bed to get at the radiator to turn it off). A knock on the window. I turned over and tried to ignore it. Then the window was opened wide and a head poked through the curtains (the rest of him was joined to the head, thankfully). "Can we come in?", asked the head, "We've been locked out!". They were good lads, fair play.

Things became rather routine after all the excitement, and we settled into a timetable of lectures and socialising, in the lounge and well beyond. But again, my shyness came over me, and this cut me out of a lot of the activity in the hall, despite my fellow residents' best endeavours. In addition to this, the thing which had caused me serious problems in sixth form raised its head again, namely the tendency towards laziness. I started missing lectures; an easy thing to do when all of my lectures were down in the Old College building on the Prom, and that dragging myself all the way back up Penglais didn't appeal. As a result of all this, and after I had been warned by no less a figure than the Dean of Arts himself, my performance in the exams at the end of the first year was so poor that there was no way that I could return for a full year thereafter. I didn't learn much from this either, and I only got back in to continue my degree course by a hair's breadth.

But to me, that first year in Pantycelyn (and the year I spent there after I scraped back in about fifteen months later) was essential in turning me into a true Welsh-speaking Welshman, and in gaining self-confidence in using the language. I owe Pantycelyn and the strong community there, and those who were at the heart of it - including the noted historian John Davies, who was Warden the whole time I lived there - a huge debt.

Not that I have ever been back to visit the place since I graduated in 1985 either; not to Panty nor to Aber itself. I learned a number of hard lessons over the years regarding going back to places which had once been central to my life. I know exactly what would happen; it would cause such melancholy to me that it would destroy my memories. The place would be full of ghosts, and doubtless one of those phantoms would be of my younger self. It would be wisest to leave him alone; he may be perfectly happy there.

There was talk of closing Panty a few years ago, because those who now run what is now called the University were of the opinion that the place wasn't 'modern' enough, and the intention was to build a new hall to include groups of flats rather than having individual (or double) rooms and have people socialise in the lounge or refectory. From what I can see now, it looks as if the University has reconsidered, and a good thing too; I can't see the possibility of the same sort of community flourishing in those surroundings as flourishes (and flourished) in that old, dignified building.

And exactly thirty years have passed - as if in a dream - since I walked through her doors for the first time. Tell me this: where did the years go?