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The Young mums looked at me in a different way: singing in Wales

Tom Winnifrith
Saturday 21 September 2019

Tomorrow is Tuesday so it means a whole day with Joshua my son who turns three today.  And term having started Tuesday means an Under 5s group here in the village where the Welsh Hovel is located. Suffice to say Joshua is the only under 5 who brings his dad not his mum.

I have at least now found a mum with whom I can talk about non-baby things. She is keen to rear a few pigs but does not have the land or a barn. Joshua wants us to have pigs. I am keener on goats. and we have land and a barn or five at the Welsh Hovel. On the interweb opinion is divided as to whether goats can live with pigs but at least we can talk about these things. The Mrs makes it clear that she will have nothing to do with either vegetables or animals. She is a born and bred townie and thinks all food comes from Tesco.

At the end the group we all sit in a circle to sing songs. A new group leader asked us to choose songs. Old Macdonald is always a top pick. At the top of each verse the leader says Old MacDonald had a……. and one of the kids pipes up and we all sing. Joshua stepped up to the plate in verse three. Old MacDonald had a …. TRAIN shouted my boy who is obsessed with all things train and so we sang “with a chuff, chuff here, etc etc”

Emboldened by this, pretty soon the leader was asking which song we should sing next and Joshua piped up with “Sleeping Bunnies” for back in Bristol at our mums group there this was pretty much the national anthem and the kids all loved it. Sometimes we had to do it two or three times. Here in Wales I was met with a blank face from our new group leader. It seems that “have you seen the bunnies sleeping till its noon, shall we wake them with a merry tune, etc” has not reached North Wales. “Perhaps your Dad would like to lead us in singing that?” said the leader. Like is not the word that sprang to mind for I am not a great singer. I am not tone deaf like my Dad but it is not my forte.  But I was conscious that all eyes were on me.

Thanks Joshua. I had no choice so kicked off and to my relief, a few of the mums joined in. And their kids, at least, enjoyed jumping to life and hopping like bunnies. After what seemed like an hour and a half it was over and the mums applauded. Maybe this is a first sign of acceptance. But to be really accepted there is the goodbye song. In Welsh. I stared blankly at the woman next to me who was also lost at sea on this one. But the other mums sung heartily. Conscious that Joshua will himself start to learn Welsh, described by a locum vicar here the other day as “the language of heaven, unless you have to learn it in which case it is the language of the other place,” in a couple of years when he starts Primary School, I fear I need to start learning too.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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