Monday, November 08, 2010

A Short Visit to Skewen

Last Thursday and Friday I went to south Wales - spending the night in Neath but reading in Skewen at the invitation of Paul Doyle, literacy officer for the area. I was reading alongside Zillah Bethell, whose book Les Temps des Cerises, has just come out with Seren. It is set during the period of the Paris commune, a period I'd never heard much about before, which I found very interesting. The story is excellent too with Dickensian-style, quirky characters (one, for instance, sleeps in a coffin) and has a satisfying twist at the end.

My editor, Penny Thomas, and Zillah were camera-shy, but here are Simon Hicks and his wife Lorraine (who is a portrait artist),

as well as various members of the Skewen reading group. They meet at lunch-time once a month, and although the library is officially closed, the librarian kindly lets them meet there during her lunch-hour.

There were some good questions from Paul and the group and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Thank you Skewen library.

I arrived at Neath mid-afternoon, and finding I had a couple of hours to spare went for a short walk (around three miles) to see Neath Abbey. It was typical South Wales weather: drizzle and fog,

which made the Autumn colours bright

and gave the ruins a suitably mysterious air.

Everywhere I go in Wales there seems to be an old grey-stoned ruin of some sort: usually an old Norman castle on the top of a hill, but sometimes, like this one, an old monastery

with its remnants of Norman arches

and ectoplasmic plainsong dripping in the undercroft

fractured by uprisings

incongruous and crumbling, reminding the modern world that all things pass.


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