Illuminations: An Anthology of Welsh Short Prose

By Meic Stephens | Go to book overview

The Village School

O. M. Edwards

Before I started going to school there was no happier child than I anywhere in the hills and mountains of Wales. I knew where all kinds of flowers grew, I knew where scores of birds were nesting, I knew of every white stone that gleamed in brook and river. It was not without effort and some difficulty that I came by this knowledge — I can recall the moment when, on my hands and knees on the mountainside, having been left there by my father while he cut peat, I reached out to pick the stem of a daisy; I also remember how, confined to my little chair, but carrying it on my back, I would make for the fine gravel in the spring's basin. I would watch the lark rising until it was lost from sight in the sky: I gazed at the snow coming down all feathery, thinking it was bees in their new clothes that I saw; and I remember being frightened at hearing the sudden roar of the thawing wind and the terrifying crackle of the ice in the river.

On long winter evenings a neighbour or some passerby would take their turn to call at our home, to chat by the peat fire at the snug old hearth; and they would see my small, sallow, inquisitive face inviting them to spin their yarns. I knew the ghosts in their stories by name, although my name for the ghost was usually that of the story-teller. I knew, too, who had witch's powers, and I would skirt the boundaries of their fields whenever I was out looking for new flowers or birds' nests.

I began going to Sunday School1 at an early age. I well recall the first time, one fine morning in June. The old tailor had been on his feet until nearly midnight, making my new clothes; I shouldn't say on his feet, but rather squatting on the table. The coat and trousers were ready, but it hadn't been possible to make the waistcoat in time. So a confabulation had been held to discuss the clothes, the pieces of cloth, and me. It became obvious that the old waistcoat wouldn't match the new garments; the bird-nesting season had just ended, and the waistcoat had been through many a mile of hedge. Everyone was in a quandary; none had

-1-

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Illuminations: An Anthology of Welsh Short Prose
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • The Village School 1
  • Fear of the Sea 7
  • A Windy Night 9
  • The Late Lemuel Parry, Esq., J.P., O.B.E. 12
  • On Drowning a Cat 18
  • The House Across the Way 21
  • Weobley and St. Emilion 25
  • The Man in the Street 28
  • Old Dent 31
  • On Collecting Roads 34
  • 'their Land They Shall Lose' 42
  • The Red Flag 46
  • Strolling Players 50
  • One Sunday Afternoon 57
  • Salem 61
  • A Trip to the Circus 63
  • Thoughts on Coronation Day, 1953 68
  • From the Pulpit 72
  • How to Choose and Treat a Wife 77
  • To the Mountain 83
  • The Imperative Upon Me 88
  • Disenchantment 92
  • The Hiring Fair 94
  • The Man at Chapel House 97
  • Question and Answer 102
  • The Little Llandeilo Boots 105
  • My Last Day in Prison 108
  • A Discovery 118
  • A Land of Romance 121
  • Hi-Ho! 129
  • Ancestors 133
  • While Shaving 138
  • Of Time and Distance 141
  • A Methodist Deacon's Advice 146
  • Of Violets and Bells 148
  • Remembering Mrs Newbould 151
  • Good Morning, Lloyd 156
  • In Modesty and Trembling 162
  • Christmasn in the Valley 166
  • On Stammering 169
  • Butlins 172
  • A Millionaire 176
  • A Scene from Military Life 178
  • An Exile 180
  • The Fox Under Glass 183
  • A Doctor's Medicine 186
  • The Little Huts 189
  • Three Heads 191
  • On Memory 198
  • Uncle John's Boots 202
  • The Fur Coat 207
  • An Holy Kiss 214
  • Notes on Authors and Texts 217
  • Acknowledgements 238
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