Another Christmas treat was to go to the Workmen's Hall near Ystrad station to see a film and receive an apple, an orange, and a bag of nuts, all of them free. Usually, it was a cowboy film, with Hoot Gibson or Tom Mix, or else a chapter from the romance of Pearl White. I recall being in something of a quandary at about the age of nine in trying to decide whether I was in love with Miss Jones, our teacher, or with Pearl White. I may as well admit, whatever implications there may be in the confession, that I saw nothing wrong in wanting both of them at the same time.
Like everything else in the life of the Valley, Christmas came to an end in the chapels. Most of the villagers would go to a service, the 'listeners' (a breed apart from the 'members'), as well as absentees of long standing, would find a seat at the back or up in the gallery. One old tipsy fellow always pursed his lips and breathed in through his nostrils as he squeezed past the saints on his way to his seat, lest his breath cause eyebrows to be raised and eyes to flash. All the laughter and fun of Christmas would be stifled under a load of solemnity, like my father beating the bonfire out with his spade. But the festival's aromas would go on wafting through our nostrils for a long while afterwards, as real as the smell of the leaves and branches at the top of our garden.
And it's more than likely that a whiff of that long-ago world has brought these few memories back to mind now, and perhaps it's best to leave it at that. No one can be sure where such reminiscences might lead.
Barn (227/228, Nadolig 1981)
John Gruffydd Jones
I've grown quite used to my stammer, and it's only occasionally that a twinge of self-pity comes over me, and that soon disappears in the light of other people's problems. But I'd give a lot to have a month of being without it, all the same.
I well remember when it began, or rather when I first realized that