Illuminations: An Anthology of Welsh Short Prose

By Meic Stephens | Go to book overview

Disenchantment

R. Gerallt

I was born at Nefyn in 1934, a clergyman's son, an only child, and a monoglot Welsh-speaker, in so far as I had any language at all at that time. When I was ten years old I was sent, to my dismay, to an English school in Shrewsbury. I went from there to a minor, English, Anglican boarding-school in Staffordshire. In 1951 I returned to Wales, to read English at Bangor. Then, having graduated, I began to take an interest in Welsh literature, tried to write in Welsh, and while doing research into English poetry, found time to begin familiarizing myself with the literary traditions of my mother-tongue. That was a sure way, probably, of bringing up a schizophrenic, but be that as it may, I regard Wales and Welsh nationality today under the influence of that mixed background.

When I was a' boy at school Wales was for me a hearth, a home, a playing-field, the seaside, a father and mother, a wonderful world, hidden, separate from the world of school, a proud possession of my own, a secret room that my English friends knew nothing about; Wales, if you like, was for me at that time of my life a status-symbol. Many Welsh-speaking Welsh people, I know, say they have suffered scorn and mockery in England on account of their Welsh identity; I must say that was not my experience. No one else spoke Welsh at school, so I tended to be an object of some curiosity — I was an odd creature, one who spoke a strange language at home and used to receive letters written in it every week. On Mondays I used to get Yr Herald Cymraeg1 and Y Cymro for the previous week, and these papers would be passed around from hand to hand among my class-mates. In time some of them came to use the Welsh language as a kind of code in which to send secrets from one to the other, since certain among my closest friends had picked up a few phrases by now. I was received into school society as a peculiar foreigner, but was shown every kindness and courtesy; I heard not a word of mockery from start to finish.

The consequence of all this was to make me think of Wales as very important in my life, because it was my Welsh identity, and nothing else, that made me the object of so much interest to the other children.

-92-

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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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