An earlier post, The name-dropping game, was contributed by one of our well-wishers and we would like to expand upon it here:
The eminent scholar and most significant Welsh poet Professor Gwyn Thomas lectured at Bangor university when Jim Perrin, studying for a degree in English (achieving a 2:1, ref. ‘Phantom PhD?), became acquainted with him. In his book West the author wrote of having met Professor Thomas by chance at a garage and he recounted: ‘…that we talked…and no doubt brashly on my part for it was a new-found enthusiasm, and what right had I other than that of dialogue in his company? of the ninth-century poetry of the Heledd saga. I remember with intense embarrassment how I delivered an extempore lecture some minutes in length and no doubt achingly crass and jejune [oh, how very humble, and so self-effacing!] on a particular line from the Stafell Gynddylan [Cynddylan’s Hall], one of the Heledd englynion.’ — and on, and on, and on…
Suffice it to say that four years ago Professor Thomas told us when we were discussing West that although the encounter at the garage (he was fuelling his car) had indeed taken place, what Jim Perrin related as their conversation ‘was hardly as [he] remembered it’. He explained that it was greatly exaggerated and he had no recollection of the details — made so much of by Jim Perrin — when he read the passage in the book; it had no particular bearing, he said, on what he himself recalled of their exchange.
And, as a second issue — yet arguably the most important — Professor Thomas, in a ‘phone call later, (on the very day he received a complimentary copy of Snowdon from Gomer Press) described his considerable concern and his own embarrassment when he read that Jim Perrin had dedicated it to him. He felt it was invidious in that the impression might be taken (as surely it was meant to be) that he knew him well and had approved. In fact, he was adamant, he would have had nothing to do with it and confided his reason: he knew personally, and was friendly with, a local family ‘whose daughter had been badly abused and treated most abominably by [Jim Perrin]’. He felt awkward, he told us, that — inadvertently — he had been involved and he had no idea that it had been Jim Perrin’s intention to use his name in that way.
* * * * *
We do understand that while there is no legal requirement to mention the intention beforehand to a proposed dedicatee it is, according to the several publishers we have consulted, certainly considered to be a courtesy to do so. Neither Jim Perrin nor his editor (then at Gomer Press) Ceri Wyn Jones, contacted Professor Thomas: He, in view of his own personal knowledge — not hearsay—of Jim Perrin’s ‘abominable’ behaviour had no wish to be associated with him and he emphatically explained that had he been asked he would have refused. Should Jim Perrin care to dispute this there are at least two independent witnesses (that we know of, and apart from ourselves) to whom Professor Thomas made his feelings known, and he was at pains to express his discomfiture and disapproval of Jim Perrin’s presumption in writing as he did without first securing his agreement.
Of course, by not asking, as good manners surely would dictate — (and risking a refusal?) — Jim Perrin succeeded, as if he had carved it in stone, in conveying the impression that he was in some way close to Professor Thomas — than which nothing could be further from the truth. It was to take an advantage and it spoke volumes as to Jim Perrin’s modus operandi; to his manipulation and to his ‘name-dropping’. *
* Jim Perrin’s dedication to Professor Thomas was written in Welsh. Either his grasp of the language is not as he would have us believe or his ‘presumption’ was two-fold. Not only did he not secure the approval of Professor Thomas but he addressed him with the familiar form: ‘Diolch o galon am dy wybodaeth’ which is very personal! — rather than: ‘Diolch o galon am eich gwybodaeth’. The latter is used as a mark of respect or deference to the person addressed, the first was an unwarranted familiarity by Jim Perrin and Professor Thomas was not pleased; as he told us in the ‘phone call referred to above, he was angry to have been mentioned at all…