Monday, May 28, 2007

Welsh Country Life - 1953.

Hay Book Festival
I am in Hay for the week so I thought I would put up on the blog this little story told to me the other day by Mrs Olive Hughes from Swansea.

While I was growing up within the walls of Craig-y-nos Castle life on the farm went on as usual.

Mrs Hughes, now in her 92nd year, told me this about my parents.

She had read about my project in the South Wales Evening Post.

Her husband, Eddie, had been the vicar of Llangenny church and he had baptised me.

“We had just finished eating our evening meal in the vicarage when there is this “tap,tap” on the door.

Eddie goes to answer it. Standing there is Bill Powell. You remember Bill Powell? ( How could I ever forget him, a local character a gentle garrulous soul given to doing all kinds of odd jobs that nobody else would do. And he had one such errand tonight.)

“Jack Rumsey has had a very good day at the market, a very good day “and he nodded and winked at the vicar.

“Where is he?” asks Eddie.

“He’s in the Dragon.”
Eddie nodded. Just as he thought. The pub was known as the ”gluepot” because of the way it attracted all the local men.

“Jack is afraid to go home,” says Bill.

Still the vicar said nothing. He had only been in the parish for a couple of years and coming from an industrial area the ways of country people still surprised him.

What was he supposed to do?

“He wants you to take him.”
Eddie wondered if escorting drunken farmers home to their wives came within the remit of his pastoral duties.

He had heard that Mrs Rumsey was a woman of ferocious character, quite handy with the farm pitchfork or which ever implement was near at hand. He hoped God was with him as he agreed to the request.

“You had better come with me,” Eddie said to me.

We only had an old Singer car at the time. It was a tight crush getting the four of us in with the two men, merry with drink, in the back of the car.

Well, when we go to Ty-Llangenny farm, Jack gets out and he says:
“I think vicar, you had better go in first.”

So he took me and Bill around the farm buildings to see the electricity. Ty-Llangenny was the first farm in the area to have electricity and it was marvellous. Jack opened each shed and switched on the light and there they were: all the animals, cows, calves, and horses.

We came to the last shed and Jack says as he is about to open the door:
“This is the fella that pays our rent.”

And there standing in this big shed on his own was this huge bull!”

We went into the farm kitchen and your mother was sitting beside the big kitchen fire. Not a word was said. It was as if nothing had happened.

She had a bad cough and she had a big jug of lemon and honey keeping warm on the stove.”

But she gave us a good welcome and made us a cup of tea.
As we left she whispered to me:”Thank you for bringing Jack home.”

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