Snow on Halkyn Mountain
Six hours later I was still in the same spot. Around me cars had been abandoned and the occupants had taken to making snowmen and pelting each other with snow balls, but I sat where I was. Around twelve-thirty I had eaten my packed lunch but I was thirsty, and dusk was falling. I'd rung Hodmandod Senior and asked him to pick up the boys from the child minder and I was wondering how cold it would get at night. But then, ahead of me, the traffic started moving. I turned on the engine again and crept slowly up the slope, guided by the police, the wheels not engaging, and my legs trembling as I attempted to apply the gas, the clutch, the brake.
At the top of Halkyn mountain they'd opened up the crash barriers which allowed us to turn back, but last night we just crawled on, mile after mile, eventually reaching the point where roadworks had caused two lanes to merge. That was all it was. All that crawling because of this.
I arrived at the book launch in Rhyl precisely five minutes before the end, but I was glad I hadn't decided to turn back - I enjoyed seeing people I knew but hadn't seen for a long time: Penny from that same school in the snow, Dewi another writer, Chris from the Academi and another Penny my editor. To console myself for my journey I bought three books : THE GREAT MASTER OF ECSTACY by Glenda Beagan (whose launch it was) which is a novella and collection of short stories; MY FIRST COLOURING BOOK by Lloyd Jones (who I met last year) and BLUE SKY JULY by Nia Wyn which I have been meaning to read for some time.
ECSTACY starts with a reference to shamanism so I am immediately interested, and COLOURING BOOK is 'themed on all the colours of the rainbow' which sounds an excellent precept too. Since I still haven't read Lloyd Jones's first book 'Mr Vogel' I think I might well indulge myself in a Lloyd Jones fest very soon.
BLUE SKY JULY was book of the month on radio 5, book of the week on radio 4, runner-up in the Wales book of the year and has recently been published in the United States where it has been picking up more accolades. It is an extraordinary poetic memoir about a mother whose child has severe physical disabilities and her fight to do the best she can for him. It is a short book and makes compelling reading so I swallowed it whole last night when I got back. It's one of those books that fills you with admiration for the author - not only because of the way it is written but because of her attitude to her child and the world. Despite the tragedy it is uplifting and reminded me very much of what David Cameron said about life with his own child, and also of what my brother says about his son. In some ways, it seems, these children can make you love them more.
'He's a great boy, Mikey.' My brother sometimes says about Michael who is severely autistic. My brother is not as eloquent as Nia Wyn, but the sentiment is the same. Like Nia my brother, his ex-wife and all the people at his school keep trying. They know there'll be no miracles but the important thing to do is to appreciate the small signs of progress. It is an important message for life I think, and the message in Nia Wyn's book. We have to keep going - up the snowy hill, past the seemingly interminable roadworks - making the most of the feeble taps and signs that some of what we do will some day make sense.