Tales from Wales: I averted my eyes from the ‘Question Time’ chairman’s gaze to avoid being asked to comment, in Welsh!

The chairman pointed at me expecting me to answer the question in Welsh...

People who know me probably do know that I have been on a brief, but intensive, Welsh language course.  I enjoyed it very much, in the ‘total emersion’ environment of Nant Gwrtheyrn, on the Lleyn Peninsula.

Although the course was excellent it certainly didn’t prepare me to answer political questions in Welsh. 

During the 2003 Welsh Assembly elections I was in North Wales for a meeting and a friend of mine was one of the guest speakers on a Welsh language ‘Question Time’ style debate on S4C.

All the parties had people invited, both on the panel, and in the audience.  Chatting to Steffan John, the Lib Dem speaker, and other Welsh Lib Dems before the event they were keen for me to sit in and listen, knowing that I would just sit outside on my own for an hour and it would be good for my Welsh language practice.

Knowing the entire programme was broadcast live in Welsh I was quite hesitant, but those of you who know Lord Roger Roberts will know that he has a kind of enthusiastic charisma that makes it very difficult to say, ‘No!’

So, sitting as indiscreetly as I can, next to Roger, I waited for the programme to start.  As the programme progressed I started to notice that audience participation was a very big thing.  You notice this even more when you can’t really follow more than 25% of debate, and I found myself averting my eyes every time the chairman looked for comment from the audience.

Eventually the finger of the chairman pointed straight at me and he asked me what I thought. 

Thankfully Roger thought the finger was pointing at him and he answered the question and I was saved.

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