A Priceless Gift
I received a priceless gift a few years ago in a tale with many twists and turns. I was commissioned to make a chair to be given as a prize at a local Eisteddfod. Cymdeithas Ceredigion had been bequeathed money and the Cadair Goffa Pat Neill (Pat Neill memorial chair) was to be given for a poem in “cynghanedd” which is strict metre. (I’m afraid my knowledge of the complexities of poetry in any language is beyond me. The basics of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter is the limit of my knowledge.)
Working with wood, however, is another matter. And what an honour to be commissioned to make this chair. I immediately knew what I would like to make if the committee was willing and drew up a sketch based on local Ash wood I had seasoned and was ready to be worked. The committee passed my plans so all I had to do was put it into practice. Hmm, easier said than done…
I don’t like having work hanging over me and don’t work well under stress so last minute deadlines are not my cup of tea. The chair design was totally dependant on the specific wood I had so if I messed up or if the design didn’t work out it was right back to square one. I therefore wanted plenty of time before the Eisteddfod which was the following March so I made the chair in the autumn. I was very pleased I did as I had an extremely difficult time over the winter and would not have been able to make the chair. During this time I was supported by a friend without whom I’m not sure how I would have coped.
Imagine my surprise and delight when it was this friend, Philippa, who won the chair. I hadn’t even known she was competing. I don’t think I even knew at that time that she wrote poetry at all, in Welsh, in strict metre…
The title of the poem was “Rhodd” which means Gift. The subject Philippa wrote about was adoption and the wonderful gift of a baby for a childless couple. My sister is a foster carer who has looked after many babies before they have been adopted so this was yet another coincidence within this tale.
Philippa said she was very pleased with the chair and found it comfortable. As the photo in this local monthly newspaper shows it is used at her table as her everyday chair. And it was indeed a priceless gift she gave me, both of the pleasure in the chair and of her support when needed.