Friday, December 14, 2012

Llanfair PG in Barbarella

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch must be Wales's best known joke. Originally intended as a linguistic lure to tempt tourists to the local area the syllabic pile-up has actually turned into a highly successful cultural export. Most famously the name is used as a password in Roger Vadim's camp sci-fi romp Barbarella (1968) - watch the above YouTube to hear Jane Fonda's game but actually not very impressive attempt at pronouncing it. In The Road to Hong Kong (1962) our expectations are subverted when an Indian neurologist, played by Peter Sellers, asks a perplexed Bob Hope to open his mouth and say: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. The name also forms a punchline in Stephen Sondheim and Mary Rodgers' show song The Boy From... (1966) which was a parody of The Girl from Ipanema. As you can hear the object of the female narrator's affections comes from Tacarembo La Tumbe Del Fuego Santa Malipas Zacatecas La Junta Del Sol Y Cruz. At the end of the tune he ups sticks and moves to... guess where? In 1995 Welsh band Super Furry Animals reappropriated the place name for the title of an EP. They gave it an amusing postmodern twist by adding "yn y gofod" "(in space)" in Welsh and English at the end (see pic below). For some of us Welsh folk however the joke has completely worn off as a recent article on things that annoy Welsh people suggests. Apparently we don't much like being asked if we can say: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.