Western Mail


- By Dai Smith The Crossing by Dai Smith is published by Parthian in the Modern Wales series www.parthianbo­oks.com

SIR Ceri could see that standing about was no good, that action was needed. He moved forward and onwards, the smile back in place, whilst Maldwyn hung back, consigned to his wake, with just Gwilym bobbing along beside him into the hall. Haf and I were swept along as the crowd moved in. We were close enough now to see Bran on Ceri’s other side, where his bulk had protected her from view. Mal, flanked by Wheelie, who had pushed open the double doors for him, limped down the aisle to sit in the front row. There were about two hundred chairs in the inner auditorium, rows of gilt-framed red plushed seats for the expectant backsides of councillor­s, estate agents, businessme­n, journalist­s, accountant­s, politician­s, academics and developers. A panoply of the profession­ally purposeful. We sat near the back and watched as the stage party assembled. The backdrop was a screen displaying the words: Canolfan Cymoedd y Dyfodol Future Valleys Centre

And to the bottom right:

Tir y Werin : Bywyd y Werin A People’s Land : A People’s Life

To the side and behind the stage party were ten-foot-high pop-ups with pictures of past, present and glorious future. There was a podium with a microphone to the left, and shiny metal boxes with pinprick blue lights. The local Mayor thanked everyone, introduced Dr Gwilym Jones, and quickly sat down. Gwilym puffed himself up like a pouter pigeon, made a few stirring remarks about historical oxygen levels, social adrenaline, and the valleys heritage – all just broken and breached ramparts apparently – before switching to a PowerPoint presentati­on that hailed the foresight of civic leaders, business entreprene­urs and academic creativity, all of which was set to propel us from this very base camp to the Himalayan heights we would need to reach, socially and culturally, from the foothills of entreprene­urial endeavour where we were now stranded by our past. He, himself, he modestly muttered was a mere sherpa for others in this final ascent.


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