Tolkien Festival
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Amatire writes: Hi, I just thought you might be interested in a little info on what the 6th Annual Tolkien festival at The Shire Country Park Birmingham was like.

I think probably the most important thing to tell you about (in case you have not heard yet) was the display talking about the plans for Moseley village centre. To commemorate the life of JRRT and the establishment of the new Shire Country Park, Tim Tolkien (I’m not sure how he’s related, great, great nephew or something?) has designed a huge metal statue of Treebeard which will stand in the central island of the village green. This is really exciting, because until recently there was little to indicate to the public that Tolkien had had anything to do with Birmingham. But this statue and the new Park at Sarehole, both show the City Council is finally giving Tolkien some recognition and that they appreciate the value he can have to tourism in the city. Bizarrely the Council have stated that it must be taller than a lamppost so that it will stand out. So according to the plans it will be between 25-30ft tall, and almost as wide. Treebeard will be carrying two passengers; one in each hand: not Merry and Pippin this time, but JRR and his brother Hilary as they were as children when they were growing up in the area. On the ground will be scattered leaves in silver or green (steel or brass), which will be inscribed with personal dedications and can be bought either by contacting the statue organisation directly ( or by auction on EBay. There were also plans on display to create a gate for part of the new Tolkien Trail based on Bilbo’s front door, with the doorframe carved to resemble the One Ring.

A number of LOTR characters acted as stewards, including two rather intimidating Nazgûl and the official Tolkien Society Hobbits. Though out of the four of them, I only came across Pippin, trying to answer the infuriatingly difficult quiz questions on the ‘win an Elrond Goblet set’ competition.

The Shire Productions company gave performances of extracts from the Lord of the Rings in the atmospheric setting of Moseley Bog. Vintage busses took people on tours of the local landmarks associated with JRRT, including the Two Towers, (Perrott’s Folly and the ornate Victorian water tower) and St Phillip’s Grammar School.

There were craft tents and poetry tents (the readings from Beowulf there were very interesting because they gave you a chance to compare Tolkien’s epic poems with real Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse). But by far the best place to be in my opinion was the Tolkien Tent, which housed Isengard Smial, the local branch of the Tolkien Society. I joined in one of the lessons in Sindarin by Ranger Zainab Thorp.

She is a local teacher who is hopefully going to be involved in setting up a set of elvish courses for the University of Central England just round the corner from the bog. The one I watched was “How to date an elf”! So we learnt chat up lines, and some things a little more intimate.

“sui aerlin myrn hin lin” = your eyes are like dark pools.
“Finnel l’n sui malthen sillen” = your hair is like shining gold.
“Ce bainwain” = you are most beautiful
“Anirach cenea talan nîn?” = do you want to see my talan?

Or even better:

“Ce! Talann’n, Si!” = You! my talan, now!

And how to put off an over amorous advance.

“lau!” = no way!! (whilst pulling out the pepper spray).

If that doesn’t work, you could always try “gwedithach n’n?” = will you marry me? which will scare off any modern-minded immortal elf who wants to avoid eternal commitments.

It was fun to watch complete novices getting their first taste of Sindarin grammar. Fortunately she skipped most of the letter mutations so it was relatively easy to follow. For me it was useful to get a few tips on pronunciation, seeing as I’ve only had the film as a guide so far and most of the actors were told to pronounce the words however they felt comfortable, for better flow. I did learn a few things I hadn’t known before.

They originally thought there was no word for love in Sindarin. But a year ago a new text was uncovered that may have the answer: ‘Melon’ (as opposed to ‘Mellon’ = friend, in the same way that ‘malen’ = yellow and ‘mallen’ = gold.) She pointed out that because of this, the Moria gate may not have opened at first because Gandalf was being sloppy with his pronunciation. As in the film when he is telling Frodo what the word for ‘friend’ is in elvish he is very careful to say both syllables clearly “mel-lon.” I’m not sure I agree with that idea. After all I’d imagine he translated it into Westron so that Gimli and Boromir (not to mention Merry, Pippin & Sam) could understand.

She also said that the most popular requests the specialists get for translations are along the lines of “Melon gen an-uireb!” (“I will love you forever”) and similar things to carve into a wedding ring. She also told us that elves put wedding rings on the index finger of their right hand, and that Tolkien chose silver rings for engagements and gold for marriage. Far be it from me to criticise the Professor, but I would have thought it would work better the other way round, elves being lovers of the stars and all that… *ahem*

All in all it was a good day, though I wish that I could have stayed longer. Mine was only a flying visit.