LLANFAIR BALCONY FEVER

A stunning autumn afternoon with deep blue above, uninterrupted by a speck of cloud. The balcony sits astride the garage from where I can watch the Harbour Bridge. Can’t see any climbers today – must be Covid-closed.

A Welsh accent from the labourer on the building next door. Hard-wired memory goes into overdrive. Cardiff Arms Park. Rugby. Men of Harlech! Land of my Fathers. Long place names beginning with Llan.

He comes from Newport, so not a real Welshman but a borderer.

Consciousness still streams away. How Green was my Valley. Sons of miners studying hard to escape the mine trap into which dad and forbears had fallen. End up like Taffy Jenkins teaching Latin to unresponsive cockney schoolboys. Taffy Jenkins who tried to break my nose teaching us rugby.

Under Milk Wood: “No good boyo gave me two pennies, mam, but I wouldn’t!” I like the sound of Polly Garter. Wonder what she looked like.

Singsong voices in the valleys. Ratna from Calcutta spent her first week in the Swansea in misery – thought everyone was parodying her accent.

Ancient enmity. Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief, Taffy came to my house and stole a leg of beef. I went to Taffy’s house, Taffy wasn’t there…So I took him by the left leg and threw him down the stair. No, the last bit can’t be right. Faulty memory in my hard disk.

Called in for afternoon tea. Welsh Rarebit. Yum, yum.

  • ROBIN SEN

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