A Bard Case of Typesetting

In which The Author spots a thirty-year old typo

Last night, driven indoors by torrential rain and high winds, I decided to do a little bit more work on the Street Names Project. (Look, it’s got capital letters now – that means I’ve started to take it seriously!)
Without access to the Internet at home, I decided that I’d plunder my own stash of books for useful material. One of them was my 22nd birthday present from Dad: Aberdare: Pictures from the Past, published by the Cynon Valley History Society in 1988. At the time, I hadn’t long finished working on the Cynon Valley Profile, which is where I met Ross D., Rob H., Kathleen and Frank M., among other friends whom I see once in a blue moon. The project had whetted my appetite for local history, and Dad guessed (correctly) that the book would be to my tastes. It, and the second volume, have lived on my shelves ever since. I’ve spent many hours browsing through the evocative photos from bygone days.
Last night, I was looking through its glossy pages for biographical information which I could adapt for our current Project. That was where the fun started.
I knew that there was a street in Cwmbach called Tre Telynog. I also knew that Telynog was a bardic name used by a noted poet who had lived in the village in the Victorian era. That, however, was the full extent of my knowledge.
(Incidentally, on Xmas day I had a pint with Olly, and we talked about our current diversions from signing on once a week. He mentioned that there’s a blue plaque (see Signs and Wonders) in Cwmbach, not far from his parents’ house. I wondered whether it was Telynog’s house, but he couldn’t remember the details, so the conversation ran out of steam at that point.)
I still haven’t covered Cwmbach for my Vanishing Valleys project, or for the second half of my examination into public transport in the Cynon Valley (see my other blog Is Your Journey Really Necessary? for more details.) It’s only a couple of miles from my house, but it’s a large place with strange bus routes. I keep putting it off without any reason other than the obvious: it’s a pain in the arse to get to.
As it was a bright crisp morning yesterday, I toyed with the idea of exploring with the camera for a couple of hours. Fortunately I got waylaid in Aberdare Library, as it pissed down lunchtime and didn’t really stop raining for the rest of the day. (The weather forecast is the same for today, so don’t hold your breath for those photos.) I’m still none the wiser on the blue plaque. However, I knew that Telynog’s photo was in the CVHS book, so that was a decent place to start.
I flipped steadily through the pages (an apologetic note from Geoff in the foreword to Volume 2 points out that they’d remembered to include an index in that one!) until I found the photo I wanted. I started typing a brief entry about Telynog, and then stopped in my tracks. This is what it said:

Telynog

Have you spotted the non-deliberate mistake yet?
I read the caption through a couple of times, just to make sure I hadn’t misinterpreted it, then texted Geoff straight away:
I’m on the typo trail again! Have a look at Pics From the Past v 1, caption to 132A. That’s one mighty beard for a 15-year old boy
I waited for about twenty minutes (presumably while he was looking through his own copy) until Geoff texted me back:
Something in the water perhaps! Bet that hasn’t been spotted by anyone else since the book was published. I had no part in vol 1 but put my hand up to countless other typos. Well spotted. You can put it right in your entry on Tre Telynog.
It must have taken a couple of years to compile the book, and then put all the copy together to accompany the photos. Then, presumably, it would have been checked over by one or more of the CVHS committee before going to the printers. I estimate that the typo’s been lying in wait for me for something in the region of thirty years, in fact – within my lifetime, certainly, but long before my alternative identity as the Stealth Proofreader was born.
Anyway, this morning I came across (amongst numerous online adverts for Tylenol and other possible mis-spellings) a very detailed biography of Telynog on another blog named Cardigan Through the Ages. It’s a fascinating story of a prodigious Welsh talent cut down in his prime. I’ve used some of the information in my entry on Tre Telynog, and we’re going to give their blog a mention in our bibliography.
I’m sure you’ll be relieved to learn that Thomas Evans didn’t grow that amazing beard in his early teens. In fact, he died in 1865, not 1855, aged just 24 – still tragically young, of course, but not before he won eighteen awards at eisteddfodau across South Wales. If the blue plaque near Olly’s parents’ house isn’t in his honour, I’ll be very surprised.
This morning, my old friend Mark W. suggested on Facebook that Cwmbach should be renamed ThomasEvansTown in his memory. I think he’s got a point; all across the South Wales Valleys there are communities with names like Williamstown (see Up and Down the Streets and Houses), Tyntetown, Morganstown, Hopkinstown, Thomastown, Griffithstown, and more besides – not to mention Robertstown, with its (in)famous bridges which I’ve told you about previously.
I replied that we should try and revive some of the old names as well: instead of Trecynon, let’s return to calling it Heolyfelin; Llwydcoed could become Tregibbon; we could even reinstate the old spelling of Hirwain with an i instead of a u. Mark thinks we should write to the Cynon Valley Leader with this radical proposal. I might take him up on that, actually. It’s been a little while since I’ve had my name in print, after all.
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