Have you ever tried to learn another language? This week I am giving a week of my all too short holidays to doing an intensive Welsh course to add to the once a week course down at the pub which I've been going to since February.
Why? "Why bother when everyone speaks English anyway and it's fearfully difficult and you'll never be fluent?" asked the husband of a friend.
This is a tricky one because the answer is a mixture of offensively holier than thou and staggeringly trivial. The pious sounding bit: it is a form of respect for the country you have chosen to live in (no egg throwing please); the trivial bit: it was driving me mad that I couldn't pronounce road signs.
So far it has been one of the best things I have done since we came here. I love the class. I love the enthusiasm of the tutor, the gentle micky taking to and fro, the surprise of the new. One of our number is a woman in her sixties, warm and friendly and deceptively mild looking. After we had staggered through a particularly tongue twisting session I said "Well, we're practically bilingual now."
Quick as a flash she came back "And we were already bi-sexual."
Her 30 odd year old son comes too. "Mam." He groaned and put his head in his hands.
"Don't worry, Nig" said someone else. "She doesn't know what it means." We have a break and the retired fireman buys another round. It's as good as a play.
This week's intensive course might just kick me on to actually being able to say something to someone other than another learner. The teacher is bouncingly enthusiastic, stupendously organised, throwing games and rules and vocabulary at us, managing the class through its highs and troughs and bouts of low energy with the skill of a conductor with an orchestra.
And Welsh has such lovely words: hiraeth and hyfryd, penderfynnol and uchelgeisiol, respectively longing , lovely , determined and ambitious. One day I shall read the Mabinogion in Welsh but for now (and with apologies in advance to any Welsh speakers)
Dw i'n licio gweithio yn yr ardd ac cerdedd yn yr mynyddoedd (which I hope means I like to work in the garden and walk in the mountains).
What a fabulous language. This could be a very long term project. I'd love to hear from anyone else who has been down this road.