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I am a 60-year-old Welshman, brought-up in Snowdonia by a family of teachers, historians and poets and my father (one of 11 children), was the headmaster of my infant and junior school. This was Llanllechid Primary in Rachub, a tiny stone and slate village situated high in the cold foothills of Snowdon, above the small town of Bethesda. With so many Uncles and Aunts (Four of whom were teachers) and countless cousins, I was lucky enough to receive a proper Welsh education and imbued from infancy, with a deep and abiding love for our ancient and glorious history. My blind Taid (Grandfather) was an orator and story-teller of note and I recall vividly our huge family squashed into the front parlour, in Nain and Taid’s terraced house on Madoc Street, Porthmadoc. The whole family would be there listening to one of his historical tales, told with an elder-teacher’s love of his language, in his deep and musical baritone, inspired to verbosity perhaps by his blindness but you could see he enjoyed it. I can still smell the coal fire and the whisky, the sherry and the fragrant smoke that curled from his long pipe, as he spun wondrous images before our eyes, firing our already vivid imaginations, with tales of dark Druids and magic, glimmering warriors like Lludd Llaw Ereint and Lleu Llaw Gyffes. Always dressed in a pin-stripe three-piece suit, Taid would stand by the mantelpiece, puff his pipe and talk for hours, whilst my brother and I would be on the floor in one corner, completely entranced. He spoke of God-like ancient warriors like Beli Mawr, even great Arthwr Fawr and the huge, terrifying giant called Yspaddaden Pencawr, who actually ate naughty children!
In my young teenage years, I lived with my Mum and a new stepfather, who was an English solicitor, a Cambridge Law Graduate and a Captain of the Cambridge Blues rugby team, before serving in the British Army in Singapore at the end of WW2. He retired as an Army Captain and settled in Conwy, Gwynedd to practice family law. Yes, I found myself living with the old-enemy! But seriously he was an inspirational man, who possessed a ferocious intelligence and a fine, sharp sense of humour and justice. Bound by a strict set of principles and beliefs, he represented to me, the quintessential Englishman and he had a deep love of England’s proud history, which he loved to share. But above all the gifts he gave me in the years I lived with him, by far the most valuable in my opinion, is the phenomenal English vocabulary he possessed and used to its full extent on a daily basis. He took great-pains to pass this extensive vocabulary on to me and my step brothers and sister. Thus armed, I decided to start writing for pleasure and I am yet to stop.