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Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife

30 Sep 20 - 01:58 PM (#4073746)
Subject: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: pavane

A Pontypridd Collier in Search of His Wife
Trad

Summary: The collier manages to lose his wife in the pub. After walking about 50 miles around South Wales, he finds her in the pub next door to where he last saw her.

--------------------------------------------
Welsh language pronunciation differs from English.
Pontypridd (meaning "Earth bridge") sounds like Pont-er-preathe where th is voiced, as in breathe.
Rhondda sounds like Rhontha.
Ystrad like Ustrad.
Hafod = Havod (F in Welsh sounds like V).
Llwnypia : the Ll is that Welsh sound that doesn't appear in any other language as far as I know. Approximated by FL.
Cwm (coom) means valley.

--------------------------------------------
In Pontypridd I dwell, It’s the truth I have to tell,
It was Wednesday. as you know it’s Market Day.
I with my old Jam Tart to the Market made a start,
But by Jove, she seemed to have bolted clean away.

In the New Inn I did pop, Just to have a little drop,
As I happened to be feeling rather dry.
But when I looked around, she was nowhere to be found
I fear My Dutch [Note slang Duchess of Fife = wife] has gone off with a Guy.

I’ve hunted everywhere, In the Rhondda I declare,
Treherbert, Tonypandy, Ystrad, Porth,
Dinas, Hafod, Llwnypia, Maerdy, Ferndale, Ynishir,
But I’ve had to look a long way further North.

I set out O’er hill and dale, I got to Merthyr Vale,
Aberfan, Mount Pleasant, and Troedyrhiw.
Through Cilfynydd and Coedpenmaen though my heart was filled with pain
I was mad I hardly knew what I should do.

I made a sudden dash across the hill to Mountain Ash,
Abercynon, Penrhiwceiber, Ynsybwl.
To Nelson I did pop, at Quaker’s Yard I made a stop,
Through Treharris and Bedlinog I did pull.

I’ve looked round everywhere, Merthyr, Dowlais, Aberdare,
Rhymney, Pontlottyn, Tredegar, Old and New,
Brynmawr and Ebbw Vale, to Beaufort I did sail,
Til I landed safely down in Rhiwddyblew.

I thought I might suceed, If I went to Aberbeeg,
Past Waenlwyd and the Cwm I had to go.
All round Llanhilleth hills, I swallowed bitter pills,
and the youngsters started ringing poor old Joe.

I doubled on my tracks, went by Abertillery back,
Nantyglo and Blaina I did search.
Up the Garn I had a run, it was anything but fun
but now I know that I’m left in the lurch.

All the Western Valleys down, to Abercarn and Risca Town,
Blackwood, Cowbridge, Crumlin too as well.
Walked five miles to Pontypool, then to Cwmbran like a fool,
How I managed to reach Newport, I can’t tell.

Next to Cardiff I did steer, for I thought I’d persevere,
To Barry, Swansea, down the Cowbridge Road.
Called at Aberavon and Neath, told them there of all my grief,
Then I started back to find my own abode,

Cwmmer, Caerau and Maesteg, on the ‘Garw made a raid,
Tondu, Ogmore, Gilfach Goch, Bridgend.
In Llantrisant’s ancient town, I parted with my last Crown [old coin, equalled one quarter of a pound],
But a Butty there turned out to be a friend.

He gave me a piece of chalk so that I didn’t have to walk,
Back to Pontypridd, that town of many charms,
But imagine my surprise, It dazzled both my eyes,
My wife was boozing in the “Butcher’s Arms”.


Source
http://www.archaeoikon.com/archwp/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Welsh-Drovers-1998.pdf#
It is said that each valley had its own version of the song.
Recorded by Calennig on
Songs And Tunes From Wales
Greenwich Village GVR 214 1980
There is some variation in the lyrics, as this is a traditional song


01 Oct 20 - 04:32 AM (#4073840)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: pavane

I live in Neath, and there are not many songs in which it is mentioned!
Bells of Rhymney is another one though (I have never heard the loud bells.)
John Denver visited all the towns mentioned in this song, when touring.

"They will plunder willy-nilly"
Say the bells of Caerphilly
"They have fangs, they have teeth"
Shout the loud bells of Neath


01 Oct 20 - 10:09 AM (#4073867)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: pavane

Neath (or Castell Nedd in Welsh) was the old Roman town of Nidum. A part of a Roman wall is still visible.


01 Oct 20 - 10:52 AM (#4073873)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: GUEST

Talk about synchronicity, I sang this last night at Llantrisant Folk Club Zoomaround.

Splott Man


01 Oct 20 - 11:59 AM (#4073882)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: leeneia

Thanks for posting, Pavane. I bet it's great fun to hear all the town names with their correct pronunciations.


01 Oct 20 - 01:39 PM (#4073891)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: punkfolkrocker

Is there a video/recording I can show my mrs..

At least the nearest town to her inhospitably remote childhood village
is mentioned...


02 Oct 20 - 04:04 AM (#4073981)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: pavane

The meaning of this line is obscure

"He gave me a piece of chalk so that I didn’t have to walk, "

The only thing I know is that "bowl of chalk" is cockney rhyming slang for Walk.

"A quick bowl of chalk down the old frog and toad" (from a poem) meaning a walk down the road.


02 Oct 20 - 04:09 AM (#4073983)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: pavane

punkfolkrocker, the only recording I know of is already mentioned.


02 Oct 20 - 04:11 AM (#4073984)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: pavane

Leenia, Yes, even the BBC often has problems with Welsh place (and personal) names.


02 Oct 20 - 01:16 PM (#4074072)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: punkfolkrocker

Sorry, didn't see any blue clickys, and failed to notice the recording you mentioned...

.. my close reading eyesight aint too good now I'm an older bloke..

I'll see if I can google up any online performances...???


02 Oct 20 - 02:25 PM (#4074082)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: pavane

I doubt it. Mick Tems of Calennig had a serious stroke many years ago. You can find some very old footage of Calennig, but not that song. Sorry I didn't do a clicky for the link. It is (or was) available on CD too


02 Oct 20 - 02:26 PM (#4074083)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: pavane

I have the vinyl but in storage somewhere.


02 Oct 20 - 02:38 PM (#4074085)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: punkfolkrocker

I was trying to figure out that final [punch]line...???

It would make comedy sense if the chalk was for marking a trail,
so he knows where he's already been.
But the rest of the final verse is at odds with that reading,
if that had been the writer's intention..

Though there's plenty enough old songs where the words and meaning
have become garbled, over time and careless copying,
into sheer perplexing nonsense...


02 Oct 20 - 02:43 PM (#4074087)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: punkfolkrocker

btw.. my wife is now sat warm and cosy on the sofa
basking in the nostalgia of the repeats of "The Indian Doctor" on BBC..

She's become far more of a Welsh patriot the longer she's lived abroad in England...


03 Oct 20 - 12:10 AM (#4074100)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: leeneia

I have a friend who's active in the local Welsh society, and she has introduced me to Welsh music and speech. I have even been to two Gymanfa Ganus, and we play Welsh music in our band.

I like the way that the Welsh names and the English text in this song will use many of the same letters, but that the Welsh will be somehow different, a speech of its own.


03 Oct 20 - 06:01 AM (#4074125)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: Newport Boy

@pavane - I'm told the Welsh 'll' sound also exists in Icelandic & Zulu. I believe there is also a very similar sound in Romansch (the minority Swiss language) but there it is produced on one side of the mouth, rather than both sides as in Welsh.

Phil


03 Oct 20 - 11:03 AM (#4074164)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: pavane

I think Calennig sang
"He gave me a piece of chalk, so that I could walk".
@Splott man can you confirm?
Still doesn't make much sense though.

Regardless of the meaning of the piece of chalk, the essence is that he made his way back to Pontypridd, where his wife had been all the time.
And the total trip would have been far longer than my 50 miles!


03 Oct 20 - 11:40 AM (#4074172)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: leeneia

I've become a Welsh patriot in a small way. Recently I was at a concert where the conductor said that Hubert Parry was an English composer, and I wanted to leap to my feet and clear that up.


03 Oct 20 - 09:31 PM (#4074224)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: sian, west wales

Just a couple of small points on pronunciation:

"Pontypridd (meaning "Earth bridge") sounds like Pont-er-preathe where th is voiced, as in breathe." - Pont-uh-pree/the might be a better explanation.

"ll" - touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth just behind the front teeth and blow gently. I remember a discussion somewhere some time ago quizzing people if they blew out both sides or one or t'other side. Someone was trying to build a pattern for north/south Wales speakers, or some other classification. I don't think they ever proved anything ...

I was chatting to Mick Tems (Dr. Price here) just a couple of weeks ago at one of the Traditional Music Forum's Zoom meetings. I think the last time I saw this song, I was working on a project that Mick was helping with.

sian


05 Oct 20 - 09:22 AM (#4074392)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: pavane

Perhaps we should ask Mick about the words he sang. I haven't actually seen him for many years.


05 Oct 20 - 09:26 AM (#4074394)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: pavane

I was wary about posting the words here, until I discovered that they were already published online. Don't want to steal anything.


06 Oct 20 - 04:59 PM (#4074529)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: Anne Lister

Mick is on Facebook, even if he isn't reading this thread. Very much still an active presence at the Llantrisant folk club (well, Pontyclun).
I'm surprised the collier didn't come this way, although we're probably too far east for him. He mentions the Garn, but not Blaenavon or Abersychan or any of the pits around here.


06 Oct 20 - 05:18 PM (#4074532)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: Helen

My grandmother was born in Pontypridd, lived in Abertridwr and her father worked in the Senghenydd mine. I think the story goes that he and his brother were not working a shift at the time of the Senghenydd mining disaster so they survived and my (English) great grandfather moved the family to Somerset after that catastrophic event when my grandmother was young.


12 Oct 20 - 11:02 AM (#4075252)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: Splott Man

When Mick and Pat (Calennig) used to sing this, at the line "He lent me a piece of chalk, so that I could walk..." Mick would swipe the soul of his shoe. I always assumed the shoes were in need of repair after a long trek, and this somehow helped.
They are the words he collected.
I'll ask Mick for clarification when I see him on Wednesday.

Splott Man


12 Oct 20 - 01:16 PM (#4075271)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: leeneia

I think he was supposed to mark things along his way with chalk so he could find his way back when he turned around. But not being too bright, he marked the sole of his shoe, instead.

One is reminded of Hansel and Gretel dropping breadcrumbs and What's-his-name unwinding string behind him in the maze of the Minotaur.


15 Oct 20 - 06:02 AM (#4075549)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: Splott Man

It was Theseus in the labyrinth.

I spoke to Mick Tems last night, and hopefully he'll come in here to comment.

Splott man


16 Oct 20 - 05:31 AM (#4075655)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: Mick Tems

My grateful thanks to Pavane and to Splott Man! I first heard the song from Walter Haydn Davies, who was born in the village of Bedlinog in 1903 and worked down the local pit as a miner. He left the pit and ended his days as headmaster in Bargoed Grammar Technical School. He wrote three books on his mining life: ‘Blythe Ones’, ‘The Right Place, The Right Time’ and ‘Ups and Downs’. He died in 1984.

Walter wasn’t a folkie, and he didn’t attend folk clubs – but he amassed many mining songs and verses. With Ifor Owen, he recorded a self-produced tape called Mining Ballads And Pieces in the 1980s, a marvellous collection of over a score of industrial songs. I took down ‘The Pontypridd Collier In Search Of His Wife’ from his books; however, he recorded the song very differently from his tape. Walter told me that ‘The Pontypridd Collier’ was a Smoking Concert song, the equivalent of a music hall ditty, and the list of villages varied depending on what valley it would be sung in. For instance, “Cwmmer, Caerau and Maesteg, on the ‘Garw made a raid” would be altered to “Cymmer, Cape, Maesteg…” In June 1885, The Rhondda and Swansea Bay Railway hired South African workers from The Cape Of Good Hope to construct a tunnel through the mountain from Blaencwm in the Rhondda Valley to Abergwynfi in the Afan Valley, making it the longest tunnel in Wales. Abergwynfi was nicknamed The Cape.

On Mining Ballads And Pieces, Walter sang ‘The Miner’s Life’ to the approximate tune of the well-known Welsh hymn ‘Calon Lan’ – absolute proof that it was a Welsh song, going back to the six-month-long South Wales Sliding Scale Strike and lock-out of 1898. William Lewis, the owner of Trehafod Colliery in the Rhondda Valley and the Universal pit in Senghengydd, near Caerphilly (scene of the greatest mining disaster in the UK, where 439 men died when an explosion ripped through the mine on October 14, 1913) was the instigator of the strike; he became Lord Merthyr, and his statue stands to this day in Aberdare Park. The South Wales miners sang this chorus: “Union members, stand together, never heed the owners’ tale; Keep your hand upon your wages and your eyes upon the Scale.”

Re the mystery of the “piece of chalk” – I used to sing: “He lent me a piece of chalk so that I could walk to Pontypridd, that town of many charms...” – I always supposed that the piece of chalk acted as a soothing medicant for his weary feet! It was only six miles from Llantrisant to Pontypridd, anyway.

By the way, ‘Pontypridd’ is a shortened-down version of the old Welsh ‘Pont-y-ty-pridd’: ‘The bridge by the earthen house’.


16 Oct 20 - 02:48 PM (#4075687)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: Mick Tems

'The Pontypridd Collier' has many variants! Pavane's song has "...Til I landed safely down in Rhiwddyblew", whereas my version has "Til I landed safely down in Cwmrhydyblew" (a settlement north of Ebbw Vale and south of the Heads Of The Valleys road - Rhyd-y-Blew means Ford of the hairs, or grasses). Years ago, Pat Smith and I played in a folk club based at the Rhyd-y-Blew Inn; sadly the pub had closed, had caught fire and the building had been demolished.

Pavane's version (Llanhilleth hills) has: "And the youngsters started ringing poor old Joe" - mine has: "And the youngsters shouted out: "Here comes a show!"


17 Oct 20 - 10:47 AM (#4075761)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pontypridd Collier in search of his wife
From: GUEST,John Jones

What interesting reading, how Abergwynfi got nicknamed nick-named Cape.