Illuminations: An Anthology of Welsh Short Prose

By Meic Stephens | Go to book overview

The Red Flag

D. Gwenallt Jones

The chapel I attended was in an industrial village. I used to go every Sunday to the morning service; in the afternoon, to the Sunday School 1; to the five o'clock service at which the young people were taught how to pray in public; to the evening service; to singing practice; once a week to the prayer meeting and the Fellowship; the dawn-service on Christmas morning; a whole week of prayer meetings in the first week of January; I sat examinations in Scriptural knowledge; and in summer went on Sunday School trips to the seaside.

I would take my father his mid-day snap in the steelworks. I remember the greyish-yellow gleam that lit up the interior of the works, and the hot air that surged in waves up my nostrils to make me breathless and parch my throat. I was allowed to go up on to the platform by the furnace where the men in their vests, their cheeks reddened by the glow and their eyes protected with blue goggles, were throwing scrap into the furnace's maw with long shovels. One of them used to put the goggles over my eyes, and through them I could see the metal boiling in white heat on the floor of the furnace. I would watch the tapping process, the molten metal being poured into the ladle in the pit, and from there into moulds; and after it had solidified, the crane would lift it in the form of steel ingots which were then piled at the side of the tramway. I was frightened whenever I saw the crane swinging the ingots from a hook high over the heads of the workmen in the pit below.

There was a strike in 1910. We would go with our fathers to scour old disused levels for coal, and dig the tips for lumps that we used to carry home in sack and wheelbarrow. Every Saturday we went to the tinplate works to gather coke, and underneath it in the bottom of the sack, quite illegally, we would hide grease for lighting the fire. We saw policemen guarding the coal-pit and protecting the blacklegs as they went in and out, and patrolling the streets to prevent workers from assembling. For us youngsters the strike was great fun, but it left its mark on our minds and memory, and in the years that were to follow it made us search for an explanation of why we were rebelling.

-46-

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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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