What are we to make of the little altercation which took place in the Spar shop in Pwllheli today. Many of you will be scratching your heads when you read about it - and you will. Its guaranteed to make all the UK media because it makes us Welsh look silly. The serious point behind it will not be understood at all. No doubt there will be much amusement. This is what I understand happened;
Former Archdruid of the Gorsedd of Bards, 83yr old Dr Robyn Lewis collected up goods worth |£58. 62p from the shelves of the Spar shop. At the till he was asked by a cashier in the English Language for the money. Dr Lewis insisted on being asked for "Pum deg wyth punt, chwedeg dau". There must have been a bit of a stand-off because store manager, Mr Conrad Davies decided to call in the police to sort out the disturbance. To make the situation worse, the first police officer on the scene was a monoglot English speaker - so a bilingual back-up was called to sort things out. It seems all was settled in the end when another cashier, who could speak Welsh asked Dr Lewis for the money in the way he demanded.
On one level this is no more than an amusing little story. I rather like stubborn principled people like Dr Robyn Lewis. He has a reputation for this sort of thing, and took it upon himself to make a point. He wanted to be spoken to in his own language, in his own country, and why not. He would have been completely stuck in Berriew though, unless I happened to be picking up my Telegraph and in a position to help him out. The point he was making is that retail units should, wherever possible, ensure customers who want to be served in Welsh can be.
I have two observations/questions about this. I do think the Spar in Pwllheli could put up a sign identifying a till where Welsh is available. It would be a sensible marketing ploy if nothing else. There would be quite a lot of Welsh speakers in Pwllheli. But the bigger issue for me is that we (Welsh speakers) are being mocked and laughed at in the UK media. I am not at all sure that this type of story is helpful to the Welsh Language.