A friend who did so much to help us with the Druid manusrcipts – like introducing us to the people at the Welsh Museum and many kindred souls in Wales was Bill Meilan.. we could write many stories. I will share one Dale wrote on him.
My friend Bill Meilen by Dale Bertrand
So, over the years running around following up the many trails that John Hugh Roberts, the Last Recorder of the Druids, in his words, 1828-1917, left for me to discover, was an unexpected journey. That was the meeting, and the becoming, a very close kindred spiritual friend to one William Mudd, or better known as Bill Meilen, its bringing tears to my eyes at the moment, thinking of our many adventures. There is a much longer story here, but…. I want to concentrate on one so very important aspect of our relationship and the lessons I learned from it. That was the importance of old and ancient languages. I learned about his, Bills, early life early experiences in Cardiff in the late 50’s. Now Bill being the wonderful story teller that he was, a man who could create an everyday event into a magnificent story, told me that he had been arrested in Cardiff for putting up a Welsh language sign for his modeling agency in his home town Cardiff, Wales and was arrested and jailed for that terrible offence to the English language. And that he and one of his many Welsh friends would fight this raciest attitude towards the Welsh people. So, I will inject my part into this story now. I met Bill in Edmonton, in 1982, at a gallery where his, 2nd wife, Patricia was the art director, and had arranged for a show of my collection of early Canadian art done by Tomhu Huron Roberts, 1858-1938, the son of John Hugh Roberts, 1828-1917, a Welsh Druid Mystic . At and on the evening of Oct 31, my birthday, we hung the show in the gallery on Whyte Ave in Edmonton, that was officially to open on the 1st November. During the hanging of the show, Bill stood next to a painting by TH Roberts of his uncle, Charles Steele, first boy born in Vancouver. And everyone in the gallery staff etc looked over and Bill, and were struck that Bill had taken on the persona of Charles Steele portrait, it was uncanny, the painting done about 1900 and here Bill stood there, with all of us marveling at this manifestation. Soooo, after hanging the show in the gallery, I were invited back to Bills abode, which we happily accepted, even with the idea, that it was now 10ish, and I had a 6 am live interview on CBC Edmonton about the show, hey, this was my old home town…. So an extremely happy evening. Now you got it!……………… This kindred spirit connection melded us together, Bill Meilen, (check out the pronunciation of Meilen, you might find, its, MERLIN!! As many of you that knew him, his storytelling was so on tune and so wonderful, of so importance to the moment, I miss that, it is so missing in the 21st century. (We, all of you, must help to bring it back, in his legacy) Bill and I lived very different and separated lives, him as a Professor, U of A Professor Drama dept, me,…. Hmm, hard to put into a definition, but living out in torona, I mean Toronto, but I tell him ‘Im going back over to Wales to follow up on the Druid papers I have, oh damn, I haven’t mentioned these yet….. Okay okay okay, the paintings by Tomhu Huron Roberts the artwork, the show in Edmonton, I mentioned earlier, well, Tomhu was the son of John Hugh Roberts the mystic Druid who I had been researching for many years and left the most incredible 7500 hundred years of early human migration…… (www.druidicalquest.ca) will give you a brief history of our journey.. So Bill says, Patricia and I will come over at the same time and we can adventure together, there are a few people I want you to meet. So, this is the crux of this long discourse, I wanted you have somewhat of an idea of magical presence of a person can be, and that being Bill. So I meet up with Bill and Pattie in Cardiff, meet some wonderful relatives there, and then we head north to Lampeter, Wales Now, coming on 6:30ish Bill hasn’t said anything other than Cayo was a very close old friend, and that Cayo was one of the two founders of the Free Welsh Army, well, I’m into this adventure and away we go into the Welsh moors. The drive up this winding driveway of very large, very large cypress trees, in a Ford Escot?, me driving, come up to the front of the double door, of this 18h century manor house, about 84 and ½ ft from the entrance. Bill says, “Ill go in, I haven’t told or informed Cayo, I’m back in the country, let me go, you guys, (Patricia and I), stay in the car. Bill exits the car and goes and knocks on the door. So, next with the twilight folding down on us, the largest Mastic dog in the world, certainly at that moment, came bounding, towards us, me sitting in this low rise Ford,, this dogs face is 6” – 8” higher than me, sitting in the drivers sit of cab. Now comes both Cayo and Bill the large dog and the barking little, prince beside him quieten down. Into this majestic house we went. Into the drawing room on the right of the door, Cayo, I haven’t met him before, but listening to his monologue and his good feelings of seeing Bill again, what a storyteller Cayo was. The next few hours was nothing short of, being at an apex of history, history that no one, no one would know about, if I had not witnessed it. Cayo doing a bardic rendition of Tales of their, ‘The Free Welsh Army, activities of creating the legacy of the resurrecting the Welsh Language, the English, had done their most to eliminate it to the world languages. Cayo Evans was a patriot of gigantic means, one of which help give the means of resurrecting and keeping the Welsh language and spirit alive, and for that I am forever grateful of meeting and being in the presence of such a person. Cayo Evans gave me his family bible to hold and gave me the title ‘The Holder of the Welsh Records’. So, in my book of life, I intuitively know that, my friend, my mentor, Bill Meilen created an ultimate in this dimension, one of integrity, one of humor, one of honor, along with his early close friends and associates helped to preserve the Welsh language into the 21st Century. I WAS THERE IN 1982 WHEN CHANNEL 4 WELSH LANGUAGE CAME ON LINE.. This was a part of Cayo’s and Bills legacy.
Each day it seemed Bill wrote a poem.. many when he was with us. Since we have the forest fires here right now in British Columbia and since people came from Mexico to help us fight them thought this poem called Fire Team written for his World Suite was appropriate for today.
The Pompiers of Uttwil are as fast
As a man can be when he’s needed
They know how fast fire eats up wood
Turns facts of man’s achievements into ash
Leaves beams stuck in air like rotten teeth.
Their station is a small, red-doored barn.
Within, the Engine waits to sweep at speed
Up and down the stiff Swiss hills like a horse
Running to bring hoses in wet relief.
Their equipage lives beside them always.
Blue coveralls, stong wood-soled jackboots
For special safety work.
Together they are a cog turning.
In the fine balance of the Swiss country life.
Their care in service saves much of history.
Keeps an old face lovely with their speed.