Illuminations: An Anthology of Welsh Short Prose

By Meic Stephens | Go to book overview

A Methodist Deacon's Advice

R. Emyr Jones

I don't really know when I began taking an interest in boxing; at some time during my schooldays, most likely, in the 'thirties, when men like Jack Petersen, Len Harvey, Larry Gains, and that tough German, Walter Neusel, were household names among a good number of civilized, Christian, Welsh people. My interest probably reached its peak that unforgettable night in 1937 when the idol of Tonypandy, Tommy Farr1, fought Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber from Detroit, for the world championship. That was a night! What a contest!

Next day the fight was shown at every cinema in the kingdom, and the fans — both saints and lesser folk among them — flocked to see the film on screen. I well recall a man from Dyffryn Ogwen going to see it at the Plaza in Bangor three nights in a row, and when someone asked him why he was going a third time, he replied, 'Farr was close to winning the night before last, and last night, so perhaps he'll have better luck tonight.'

However foul and uncivilized it may be to set two fit and muscular men to face each other in a narrow ring and then, in cold blood, to pitch into thrashing each other mercilessly, it must be admitted that it appeals to many of us — proof, perhaps, that the beast is still strong in us, despite our having heard so many eloquent sermons on peace and kindness and brotherly love.

My father was a deacon with the Calvinistic Methodists, and he had not only heard hundreds of powerful sermons but had also found something engaging in almost every one. What he hated most to hear was criticism of preachers and preaching. For me, at that time, every Methodist deacon was a narrow, drily religious creature. Nevertheless, high though my father's respect was for the sermon, and for preachers, and despite the fact that chapel and religion were so dear and important in his sight, he also had a great interest in boxing. It's not easy to reconcile the two, and I have no intention of trying to do so now.

Only twice do I remember him offering me advice, and that was at a time when it was fashionable for deacons to counsel their children, and other people's children too, if it comes to that. No child ever had more practical, and more unexpected, advice from any

-146-

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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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