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Tales from Old Treharne

Writing about one’s family is always problematical because – for one thing – some of them are still alive, or their descendants are, and however well-intentioned one might be someone may very well take umbrage at something or other. These stories though are nothing but well-intentioned. Fond (almost reverential in some instances) evocations of some very special people (to me) in a particular time and a particular place. However, to avoid any problems I have deliberately disguised them all, including Treharne.

No doubt some eagle-eyed readers in that broad locality will work out where it is and some people may even identify the personalities I write about, but let us be clear about one thing… this is a work of fiction, a fiction loosely based on fact, but a fiction nevertheless. I would not presume to write or claim the capacity to conjure up completely authentic and totally accurate biographies of my relatives; I can only give a partial and probably slanted view of, first, the child and, secondly, the adolescent and young adult who knew them but did not live with them cheek by jowl.

I needed to write about them however because I felt they (and their culture) deserved it. As I have expressed it elsewhere… These collected stories, then, are my tribute to a set of people, a time and a place, that have either gone now or changed out of all recognition – almost. And I wanted to save something of that… for myself, for my own family and, without sounding too pompous, for posterity too.

Treharne, then, did exist at one time – under another guise of course – and not all that long ago really. It was the industrial township of my father’s family and for the 1950s and 60s it was my surrogate home too. I was forever in the place in my school holidays, and I loved it. However, in the nature of things, human nature, there would have been a seedier, seamier side to the place of course, of that I have no doubt, but not in my Treharne. There I heard and saw only warmth and laughter and music-making and mickey-taking and nicknames and story-telling that just held me in awe. No wonder I cried – openly as a youngster and inside as a teenager – each and every time we had to come away from there.

So here, then, are the stories of my family’s life in Treharne, south Wales: events that I either witnessed first-hand and was a part of or heard about second-hand from a key player; stories that are exaggerated sometimes (and not just by me), with even a transposition of character (once or twice) from one story into another (for artistic effect), but - at their core – more than true enough as to their time and place and community.

Perhaps, if fate had granted me my uppermost and constant wish to actually live there, it would have been very different and I would have seen it ‘warts and all’, and kicked at its insularity and narrowness as I grew up. But, in any case, I didn’t and Tales from Old Treharne would never have seen the light of day if I had – in all probability.

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