Illuminations: An Anthology of Welsh Short Prose

By Meic Stephens | Go to book overview

been a complete failure. The pupils of the eyes stared moribundly at me, and the mouth gave an unnatural, grotesque grin. Bits of straw had been made to look like grass, and there was tall fern for background, as if the poor creature were alive and well in its natural habitat. The red pelt, no doubt treated with chemicals, stood up like shining wires on its back, and the brush had been arranged like a piece of crimson linen around its hind paws. The idea had doubtless been to freeze the creature's vitality inside the glass case, but the finished article was entirely unconvincing. Where once there had been the muscular warmth of life there was now only the coldness of death, instead of the cunning hunter's energy and strength only the stillness of death, fixed for ever.

The real fox I saw on the slopes of Mynydd y Crugau is an image that belongs to one particular Christmas long ago in the days of my youth, but that dead fox under glass is to this day a new and terrifying symbol in my mind. The country Welshness of my old home isn't likely to flash across my path ever again, although the Welsh language is still sweet on the lips of children there, so far, at least. But the thought of the old rural culture's being stuffed and arranged under glass, to satisfy the curious eyes of generations to come, has been a nightmare in my consciousness ever since I saw that dead fox. It has become one of the most alarming symbols in my mind. I'd give the world to see the creature, by some wondrous magic, spring to life, break the glass into smithereens with all its force, and leap out of the parlour window and head for the mountain.

Barn (275, Rhagfyr, 1985)


A Doctor's Medicine

John Roberts Williams

For me it's been a week of seeing the mountains of my years being rolled back like a carpet, a warning that history isn't just something that happens between one Saturday and the next but some sort of strange pattern made up of various bits and pieces that are welded together to create what's called life.

-186-

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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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