later; the years for discovering new wonders. The awakening was gradual, and the anxieties of our Puritanical upbringing were always present, curbing our desires.
I'm not usually one for looking back. Perhaps it's seeing my own children grow up so alarmingly fast that's made me rummage in old cupboards that it doesn't pay to look into too often. But I haven't quite lost the wish to build a little hut somewhere and curl up snugly inside, and I know that I should defend it with the same iron fist.
Perhaps I've taken too long to grow up — that is, if I've grown up at all. Or it may be that I've slipped, as others do, from my first childhood into my second. Shake your head as much as you will, I'm not a bit ashamed. Being a child, of any kind, helps you to see wonders and to delight in them. Once you lose that ability things no longer have much colour or flavour. I sometimes feel like telling children I see hanging round street-corners and trying to look old before their time not to be in too much of a hurry to grow up, and I pity them for being so eager to put their play aside and so lose the incomparable enjoyment of being tenants of little huts.
Seren Wib ( Gwasg Gomer, 1986)
About thirty years ago, when I was a young lad, I happened to be staying at a convent in Rome. The attention paid in films and on television to the career of Casanova has tended to give a false impression of Italian nunneries. The nun's calling must have been on the wane at the time and the convents finding it difficult to attract young novices to their orders, since they were so ready to provide lodgings and extend a welcome to young pilgrims like me, thereby filling their empty rooms. Only female pilgrims were taken in by the Italian orders, but the Pope allowed young men to sojourn under the roof of orders such as the Order of Saint Elizabeth which recruited novices from Germany and from Switzerland. Since I had been wandering through Italy for weeks on end and living on a shoe-string