Merfyn the Wizard

Many years ago, when I was about fifteen years of age, I was holidaying in a small West Wales village called Rhossili. Situated some twenty miles south-west of Swansea, on the tip of the Gower Peninsula, Rhossili bay is said to be a place of magic and fable.

A few miles inland from Rhossili, on the old road that traverses the length of Cefn Bryn from Cilibion to Reynoldston is a Neolithic monument that according to those who know these things, dates back to 2500 B.C.

The rock has been known for many centuries simply as “Arthur’s Stone” or as it is called by the locals, many of whom are small, pale and furry and pronounce everything with an excess of spittle: “Maen Ceti”.

From Maen Ceti, you can see for miles across land and sea. Indeed, it is said there once stood a famous wizard who – despite being born in the nearby village of Rhossili and so lacking in physical stature – could see the shores of Ireland on a fine day. The wizard was reputedly named “Merfyn”. This grated with him a little bit, because at the same time there was a famous wizard from Wales known as “Merlyn” or as the English – who were renowned for their inability to spell anything correctly, called him – “Merlin”.

Now Merfyn was every bit as good a wizard as Merlyn, but unlike his more famous counterpart he was not tall and elegant: he was short and stumpy. Moreover, he lacked Merlyn’s long, flowing, white beard. Instead, like most of the inbred villagers, he had thick, black tufts sticking out at seemingly random angles from his face (and indeed most of his body). And unlike Merlyn, he was not blessed with a clear, ringing voice, which echoed resonantly across the valleys all the way to Camelot itself. No, Merfyn the Wizard had a speech impediment which meant every time he used a word with an “S” in it, he would dribble all over his tufty beard and pronounce it “schhs”. So “Hello sexy” became a rather less inviting, “Hello schhsexthy”.

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