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Bardsey Island Observational Research Project

Research, hmmm!

Aug 10, 2010. Today I went from feeling fantastic after having a brainwave last night (when a story finally flashed up into my mind) to tonight, feeling skeptical. As I sit in the front garden of my little house, with its low wall, iron gate, and cobbled path, staring out to sea where the sun is an hour or so from what promises to be a beautiful sunset, I am writing on the little table and chair that lives out here in all weathers. I wonder, given the storms that bombard this place much of the time, how the grass is so green and full of clovers. I wonder how these chairs look like they were just carried out of the house a few moments ago, rather than having been out here through every storm, shower and squall since spring – especially given that my own garden chairs from B&Q back home look like they’ve just been pulled out of the sea and I only bought them a few weeks ago! My mind is so bursting with questions that my head aches. Most of all I wonder whether I can take all these observations and turn them into a script.

But assuming this IS the story I am going to tell, I think the idea is basically good. It’s doable. Not easy, but possible. I’ve talked to an islander and to my daughter about the story and they both seemed keen on the idea. A good start. And it’s working its magic all by itself in my head which certainly works for me, not to mention taking the pressure off.

So I think I have the basic story down, and some sense of the characters in it. I am now looking for little scenes that I can include here and there, a hen taking a dustbath, the farmer harvesting his crops, a grasshopper jumping on the page as I write. Weaving those into a film structure seems quite easy in fact, which is a helluva big surprise to me. I didn’t think it would come as easily.

But what vexes me is that now it is time for research. Finding out just how viable the story is in terms of cold hard facts; dates, times, people, places, what life was really like on the island in the past, all little things but important details nonetheless. And to be honest, right now I’m thinking it would be so much easier to make it all up. It’s not like this project ever stands much chance of becoming an actual film, so who’s going to know if I make up the facts? And the funny thing is that doing that even seems better in a way!

Why? Because in a way it all seems profoundly arrogant; to think that I can come to this place for a week and represent this arena, let alone tell any part of its story. Enlli has thousands of years of history, a proud and serious heritage. There are complex communities, past and present. It has strange and unusual wildlife, habitats and nature. And its present day visitors are just as just as strange and unusual in their way, be they religious pilgrims, visiting chaplains, birdwatchers, artists, writers like me, or families who have come here since they first came with their grandparents and who are bringing their own grandchildren.


I don’t have the right to represent this. It just seems too much! Too bold. Too brass. Too damn cheeky.

I don’t belong here. And yet I want to more than anything. I have lived in Wales for twenty six years are yet I feel more welcome here than I have in the village where I live. Everyone has been called here in some way. Everyone here has a purpose. Even those who grew up here still choose to live this odd life today, isolated and insulated from the rest of the world, two miles offshore, without electricity or plumbing.

So my answer tonight is to take a break from writing, recording, filming and photography. I will not observe this evening. Tonight I am just here, belonging, being a part of it, BEING on Bardsey.

For tonight, that is enough.

One Response

  1. Merlin

    I know what you mean, Kinda feel arrogant to go somewhere for a week and feel that it gives you permission to comment. But that said, that objectivity and distance that you have after only a week (or a day, or an hour …) is a good thing because you are better placed to deliver a well-rounded product.


    August 11, 2010 at 1:35 pm