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This report is taken from PN Review 168, Volume 32 Number 4, March - April 2006.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams

2005 has been a year of significant anniversaries. Sixty years ago, the Second World War ended. With the pits going full pelt, all the men employed and only one stray German bomb, which took no lives and did little damage, it had not been a bad time for Gilfach Goch. Evacuees had come and gone; we had bought official war books as they appeared, tried to interpret the arrows thrusting this way and that in newspapers, and collected their anti-Axis cartoons; played war games endlessly on the mountain. Still, some were left grieving: my sister's sailor husband went down on HMS Repulse, off Singapore in December 1941. 'The war's over,' I heard people say that day in 1945, as I walked home from elementary school. It was also the year I passed 'the scholarship', and I began the next term at the grammar school.

An anniversary of the domestic sort took us in October to Allt-yr-ynys in Walterstone, a straggling rural parish on the border of Herefordshire and Monmouth-shire. The name may not mean much to readers who dwell at any distance from the southern March, but to me it conjures up, first, a long and treasured friendship; next, a heightened sense of a particular historical period, the knowledge of which I owe to that friendship; and thirdly, a remarkable manor house in a beautiful setting. The house, which dates from about 1550, appears externally much as it did in Shakespeare's day. Inside, altered ...


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