I grew up in a completely different era but there's an echo of his childhood in mine, from my D'cu's Woodbine habit, to picking dewberries at Kenfig Pool (Walter Perry's dewberry rich warrens having long been built upon) and in the van-men I remember from my childhood:
The Van-men of Sandfields Estate
They have disappeared now, the van-men of my childhood. They came to us, street by street with ice-cream, chips, milk and bread. I remember the weight of a silver half-crown piece. The smell of a fresh sandwich loaf, and my mother cutting off the crust with a silver knife. The bright yellow butter. The summers’ heat.
when did my father grow
an old man’s neck?
At a coffee morning at Taibach Library a few months ago I spoke about the debt I owed to the town's historians and writers from the current and past centuries. Some were, and are, more academic than others, some books were meticulously researched, others were informal but intimate glimpses into lives both different and familiar. Yes, it's good to read about dates and facts but it's equally as enriching to know about the ordinary lives of people caught up in the flow of history.
Walter Talbot Perry died in March 2008 after publishing two more books - The Turning Tide and High Tide. Search them out, at the local libraries and for sale on various book-selling websites, and enjoy his contributions to our town's story. 'A personal reflection of events and memories influential in my life,' he says in the Introduction to Shifting Sands.
Oh, and just in case you're wondering what that glass and chrome canister next to his book contains... it's sand. Not any old sand though. It's Aberafan Beach sand. One of my indelible memories of home: it's harsh bite on a windy day along the prom, how I used to herd its salt and peppery grains along the windowsill in my bedroom facing the sea.
What's your memory? What's home for you?