From Vancouver I flew down to Portland to meet up with Gaabriel Beckett and Ceri Shaw. Gaabriel is president of the Lewis Meriwether Foundation while Ceri is founder of AmeriCymru.net a social network for expat Welsh folks living in America. Ceri created the website to help raise the profile of Wales as most Americans have never even heard of the place. The average U.S citizen probably knows far more about Hobbits than Taffs!
This was part of the reason I was flying out to Portland. Not that I expected my arrival to be the catalyst for a sudden upsurge in an awareness of Wales and all things Cymru. At one point I doubted whether I'd make first base past Homeland Security. Why is it we always feel guilty and look shifty when someone in authority scrutinizes our passport? I think my attempt at an ingratiating smile almost earned me a seat on the next plane back home. It was with a mingled sense of relief and excitement I stepped onto American soil for the first time, my mission to help promote Welsh writers in my capacity as author and co-editor of eto magazine.
It was not my first collaboration with an American organization. Last December the New York City Bar Association Entertainment Committee performed a staged reading of my contemporary adaptation of Charles Dickens wonderful novella 'A Christmas Carol', which with staggering originality I entitled 'A Christmas Carol Revisited'. It was particularly exciting because not only had I set the story in Manhattan, where Ebenezer Clinton Scrooge III presided over his vast global media empire, but it was also 150 years to the day that Dickens' 'Christmas Carol' was first published. I was invited to attend but unfortunately due to prior engagements (I'm one of Father Christmas' official helpers) was unable to make it.
This time I really had made it even if it was a little further west than New York. I was to meet up with two more Welsh authors, Chris Keil and Mike Jenkins. In an inspired moment Ceri Shaw dreamt up a wonderful publicity campaign involving the three of us. As I stood in line waiting to be interrogated by Security at the airport I began to wonder whether the source of Ceri's inspiration might have been a little too liquid.