The World Fantasy Awards, World War Two and one reason I am here
What was also interesting to me is that one of the other judges, Steve Lockley, lives in Llangyfelach, Swansea - such a small world, or maybe each of us has so many connections - like spider webs - maybe it is not such a small world just a heavily webbed one...
...Because my grandmother used to live on Llangyfelach Road in Swansea and I remember even now the day I learnt to spell that word correctly. 'Llangyfelach' may also be the reason I exist, in a convoluted way.
Most days during the years of the second world war my mother would play with the other children in her street. At tea time they would all be called in with children calling out the usual promises to see each other the next day. But one night the air raid sirens went off and one of her friends took refuge in an Anderson shelter, while my mother's family decided to sleep downstairs in a middle room which had only a small window and seemed just as safe. The bombs duly fell - one just outside my mother's house, smashing all the windows - another directly on the Anderson shelter of her friend's family. No one in the shelter survived.
My mother says she just remembers the glass. In their panic to get out of their house that night they forgot to check that she had put on her shoes and her feet were cut. The morning after they had to go into town to check their relatives - my great grandmother and grandfather who lived in Bryn Hyfryd where the bombing had been heavy too. Sometimes I imagine that walk through the bombed town - the hosepipes snaking around buildings, the smell of cinder, the sound of bricks, falling, a metallic ring, the feeling of dread... My great grandparents were fine, and after iodine had been applied to my mother's feet it was decided they would all stay where they were until my grandparents' house was cleared. But the morning after that when my grandmother tried to get out of bed she found she couldn't. She couldn't talk, couldn't move, lost her hair...
Another time, after another raid - and this is where Llangyfelach comes in - this small family of husband, wife and the child (my grandfather, grandmother and mother) started walking - up the hill and out of town, through the fields and into the village of Llangyfelach. The bombing raids were known to come every night for three nights so they thought they would be safer out of town. They slept in the church hall of the village and that night they watched Swansea light up with bombs and flares. The night after that they were invited into the house of friends in the village, and the day after that they went home. But sometimes I think - what if the bomb had dropped a few metres to the right that night, or their shelter had been struck too - of course I could go on and on. We are all the results of 'what ifs', the coincidences that made us.
But that is why Jeff's blog on the WFA led me to think about my own existence.