Llys i godi
Llys i godi – Court rise
I saw an ad for extras in a Welsh TV show that was advertised and decided to put my name down for it. After learning Welsh, it’s not that straightforward finding opportunities to use it. I’m lucky really with Garth Newydd and spending one in every three weekends in Lampeter, I probably have more opportunities than lots of people who have learned Welsh but less than people who live in strong Welsh language areas. Outside bore coffi groups, it takes a little bit of effort and confidence to use one’s Welsh. With this in mind, I saw an opportunity and I took it. I don’t want to spoil anything and being relatively careful, I don’t think I will. However, I’d rather be extra careful so forgive me if I’m vague about the details in places.
I was expecting to hear a week before and when that date passed, I decided that I could do without a long drive to Wales anyway, then I got the email two days before. The email was completely in Welsh and advised that I would need to be in the make-up department at 9.30 and then at the court at 10. It also suggested we were to dress smart as it was to be filmed in a court. I dug out my suit and shoes, both of which hadn’t had an outing since the last wedding that I attended. The night before, I decided to drive to a town around an hour away and stay in a hotel, it was my intention to get out and about in the town and speak some Welsh but the day got later and later. Despite the town I stayed in being quite Welsh-speaking, sadly the hotel owners had strong English accents and answered my Shmae with Alrite mate. It had gotten quite late by I arrived and any ideas I had of mingling were over due to tiredness and I pretty much went straight to bed.
It’s quite normal for me to not realise my suit doesn’t fit for the next wedding until the morning of the latest one. The trousers fitted but the Jacket didn’t, but I didn’t have any options at 8am an hour away from where I was supposed to be, so set off hoping it would be ok and I could just leave the jacket open. On arriving at the makeup department, I waited in the car until 9.25. From the car, I saw a couple of the characters from TV arrive and head into the building. It’s quite strange seeing people you know from TV, I don’t get excited about much but at this point, I was really looking forward to the day ahead. I headed in to be greeted by a lady speaking Half English and Half Welsh. I’m not sure if that was her style of Welsh or whether she did that to cover all bases with Welsh and English speakers coming as extras. It was at this point, I was told I was to be the Clerk of the court.
There were 5 others who had been chosen for extra parts that were a bit more important than just being in the public Gallery. Unbeknown to me at the time, we would meet all the others doing those roles later. Two of the people with me were to be the barristers, one lady to be the usherette, one lady I’m unsure of her role and one gentleman to be a policeman plus myself. We were told to get a cup of tea and I was taken through to be given my outfit. Back in the room, I had a brief chat with a gentleman in Welsh about where we were from and so on. Two of the girls who came together were doing that kind of whispering you might do with a friend in a dentist waiting room. I don’t think I would have understood/heard if it was in English. Next, the lady sitting next to me spoke to me in English. It crossed my mind that she was either English or was suitably unimpressed by my Welsh that she felt sorry for me and spoke Engish. I asked her later, do you speak Welsh and she replied “second language” and carried on in English. I regret not asking more really.
I arrived at the court at the scheduled time, we had to go through the metal detectors, and wait for a while. Some of the actors arrived and were walking around. I knew all of them by sight. Some filming was happening upstairs and half an hour later, I was, along with a couple of others taken upstairs. On entering the court, we lined up. Everything was conducted in Welsh. I was concentrating hard, I didn’t want to break the continuity of the Welsh because sometimes once you do, you will always be treated like a learner. Once you ask one thing to be clarified, you can experience having everything explained to you like you don’t speak Welsh at all. I didn’t want that to happen but at the same time, I knew there were important things going on or being said. At this point someone said “Ti ydy’r person efo’r linell?”
“Mae gen ti linell i ddweud”
Oh my goodness, no-one said anything about this, I thought. And then I started worrying about what the line was going to be. Despite the length of time that I have been learning Welsh there are simply some things I cannot say. I could try ten times and still fail to say certain words right, so I would just avoid them but I’ve just been told that I have got a line and all I can think about is, hopefully I can say it and how long is it? Fortunately, I found out within three or four minutes that the line was “Llys i godi” (Court to rise). Llys i godi, yeh I’ve got that no problem, no one mentioned the English but I noticed the mutation and was happy with my line. I racked my brains about how I could mess it up but I couldn’t see any potential slip-ups, my Ll’s have always been good. It was at that point that they directed me to the front of the court. Not to the front of the side of the court, to the FRONT of the front of the court. The judge (proper actor) was sitting above me, on the first row in front of me were the two barristers and the other lady, and then 8 famous Welsh TV actors all lined up looking at me. I don’t really get nervous, I always say after doing stand-up in the past, nothing is ever as hard as that. However, my brain was in overdrive. Do I have to say “Llys I --- Godi” or is it “Llys ----- i godi” what if when I stand up the seat rolls back and it’s not there when I sit down? Will I sound convincingly Welsh? What else can I do to make Llys i godi sound more Welsh than I think it might sound coming out of me? It’s strange for me, some people say nice things about my Welsh accent, and some say I sound like I’m from Ruthin or Denbigh which is 40 miles deeper into Wales than the place I’m from so I see that as an achievement. However, when you speak a second language, you always feel like you are faking something or going to be found out or asked where you are from. I do anyway. Whatever my brain was telling me, I was managing to ignore it and was pretty confident about my line.
Well that was until the director came and dumped a whole load of new pressure on me. No, my line wasn’t the start of something, it was the end of something. I wasn’t just going to stand up and say it and then things happened, meaning if I got it wrong, I would be the only person to go again. No, three people had to enter the court and sit down two were already sitting down, one was late and had to go to the usherette and be usheretted to her seat. When she sat down, I was told to count to 4 in my head then stand and deliver my line and the court including the actors were to stand. We had a little practice which went well, and then the camera started rolling and off everyone went. It was a bit strange waiting for everyone to get into place and I wasn’t sure if I should count to 4 in Welsh just to make sure my brain was tuned into Welsh but I decided not to. One, two, three four “Llys i godi” wow that was great. Job done. Well, I didn’t realise at the time that the scene gets filmed from 5 different angles including one where the Camera points straight at me. With each practice, I ended up saying Llys I godi about 10 times. All of the actors seemed lovely I didn’t pluck up courage to mix with them. I chatted in Welsh to the judge and to one of the other extras and generally had a great day. I also got to see how filming works and I think I wouldn’t fancy being an actor as a job, there was a lot of hanging about for everyone. Unfortunately, it could be between 4-6 months until the programme comes out but it will be fun seeing it for sure.