BAFTAS the Welsh way, a personal response by Helen Joy

bafta-award

I leave St David’s Hall, feet hurting & makeup failing, holding a paper napkin full of warm quiche and Welsh rarebit. Outside, sitting cross-legged on the floor with his back against a wall is a homeless man with a lap full of BAFTA chocolates, still in their fancy boxes. Would you like something savoury? Ooh, yes please. Here, enjoy.

What is it about us that believes there is a difference between the ordinary folk and the extraordinary, the stars, the celebs? Do we judge what makes us special by our material wealth, our social standing, our academic success, the number of people who recognise us? I am as happy as the next post-80s socialite to be in her glad rags and jewels for a night but I am concerned that with all that money and status and happiness abounding tonight, that homeless person has a lap full of freebie chocolate. Maybe someone will write him a cheque.

Other people will talk about the glitz and the nominees and the winners and the glitterballs of a spectacular night. I want to talk about ordinary people, the social aspects of an awards event and the curious exclusivity of the Welsh Language.

To start again, I am standing in the press pen wishing I had a mallow ice-cream cornet to wave at people like a mike, asking for an interview. I am strangely confused by the lack of enthusiasm of journalists to actually talk to the guests. One old hack prefers to cover news events, another happily interviews in Welsh, armed with his iphone on record. Two reviewers behind me barely talk to each other. Others think that we four from Get the Chance are better turned out than the stars.

Which brings me to another reflection on society today (sic), what happened to Black Tie occasions meaning black tie? This is not about class, this is about respecting the invitation from the organisers, sponsors, guests, nominees and attendees; as well as the public so patiently waiting along the barricades. This is the BAFTA’s after all – a visual feast. The men generally are smart but very few bow ties and a nasty selection of daps on show. So few women sweep the red carpet in elegant attire that the ones I spot, I approach at the party later and tell them how lovely they looked, how professional. Each one crumbles in gratitude and enjoys the compliment. So few walk with confidence, I hesitate to use the word deportment but high heels and tight dresses usually benefit from a fine carriage.. why are all these extraordinary women so lacking in assurance? Perhaps it is their ordinariness revealed.

Everyone is friendly. Perhaps it helps that no one is 100% sure who everyone else is; there is no differentiation between attendees – we are all mucking in together in the audience, in the party, in the bars, taking selfies with the BAFTA masks. This makes for a remarkably easy atmosphere and a great buzz. We are all extraordinary; both inside and outside the building.

But is this exclusive? I am disappointed by the Welshness of it all. I know, it’s the Welsh BAFTA’s, BAFTA Cymru; but this is designed to celebrate the wonderful dramatic work in Wales and share it, not create a club based on linguistics. I was born in Wales, I have some Welsh language and I was educated here in Cardiff. Am I alone in thinking that this thing is not for the likes of me? There are not many people lining those barricades along The Hayes, the lack of press, the scuttling into the Hall, the dressing-down, the determination to celebrate smallness over scale. It feels just a little bit poor, the content just a little bit too fashionable. A fab party but not a BAFTAs, a magnificent glorification of TV and Film, helping to get those important messages out there – it’s OK to have fun, it’s right to tell your story, it’s good to want to change the world.

It feels just a little bit ordinary, whatever that is. We should have more pride and shout it out. It is time for another wafer, monsieur; and I think most of us ordinary folk would also prefer something savoury, something more substantial.

Caveat

Every evening in Cardiff I see more and more homeless people; last night, when leaving the WMC on a cold, foggy night, sitting in a corner against the main building was a man completing a broad sheet newspaper. We interrupted him to give him what cash we had about us – a paltry handful of change as it turned out – but he would not take it without giving us something in return. He gave us a magic trick. We enjoyed a chat and a laugh together and went on our way. I wished I had some warm quiche for him too.