Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Aled's Day

Today was one of those days that people will always remember: On the 20th January 2009 I was in the Nos Da on the Riverside when Aled's book West Wing Wales was launched. And we stood round a table of fried chicken and popcorn and watched Barack Obama be sworn in as 44th President of the USA, and listened as he gave his first speech as such.

Looking around at the crowd, for a while I let the gently rising voice and its pleasing phrases and cadences escape my notice: it was the Welsh faces and their rapt attention to the screen at the end of the room that caught my imagination. This is what words can do. This is what hope can do. This is what people want - and even if, after the words had stopped and the flow of hope was, for a moment, quenched, and the politicos and campaigners and hacks and hangers on dotted through the crowd tried to hide their emotions again as they faced each other, dreams had lived a while in the silence of that space. I hope that dreams come true; they deserve to; they need to.

Aled answered questions about his experience in the States taking part in the Obama campaign, and spoke movingly of how that experience should affect political campaigning in Wales. How hopes should be listened to and encouraged, and the sin of cynicism written out of our lives. How people need to be helped to see what is possible and then granted a path that takes them there, rather than be told that change will never come and they are always going to be trapped. Those who are trapped seldom unlock their own cells, but they are still in prison and still need freedom.

For a while I wished I had taken my camera. And then I felt it right I had not. In that bar, in that mixed and "secular" crowd, I was a part of something particularly holy.

And I will not forget this day: the presenting of a leader of the Free World who can speak and plant dreams in the heart of peoples.

Aled's Day.


camillofan said...

Fried chicken and popcorn? Popular foods in Wales, or an attempt at solidarity with your American friends?

Marcus G said...

Mood food for the occasion. And very good fried chicken it was too. Obviously I wouldn't touch the popcorn.

camillofan said...

I'd forgotten, if I ever knew, that you didn't eat popcorn. How do you manage at the movies? :-)