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You are here: Home > Forum > A Place of Safety > Literary Merit > Adult Fiction by Solsticeman - a timely comment
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Adult Fiction by Solsticeman - a timely comment  [message #71991] Tue, 18 October 2016 16:05 Go to next message
Jolyon Lewes   United Kingdom

Toe is in the water
Location: SW England
Registered: September 2012
Messages: 48



Not for the first time, Solsticeman has taken us, in this sensitive, beautifully-written story, back to his boyhood in the Welsh mining country of half a century ago.

http://iomfats.org/storyshelf/hosted/solsticeman/shorts/adul t-fiction.html

Like Jeff, the young narrator of the tale, Solsticeman felt something of a loner in his village. The neighbouring boys all attended the local state school but Solsticeman, being a bright kid, went to grammar school in a more distant town. He never quite fitted in with the local scene. In the story, Jeff spends much of his spare time in the public library and there he meets John, another lonely boy and a friendship is formed.

On 21 October 2016 it is the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster, the worst mining-related disaster in British history, costing 144 lives. One of seven huge spoil heaps above Aberfan village collapsed and avalanched onto the tiny village, wiping out all in its path and totally smothering Pant Glas Junior School. It was 9.15 am and the children had just arrived for the day's lessons. 116 of those children died. They were mostly aged between 7 and 10.

The rescue services and very many volunteers did all they could to find survivors but less than two hours later, nobody remaining in the school was alive. Much heroism was displayed by people desperate to rescue adults and children from the grisly scene. Solsticeman wasn't there in person but his parents were two of the volunteers in Aberfan that day.

The spoil heap should never have been created where it was. It was constructed over a vigorous stream issuing from Mynydd Merthyr, the mountain above the village and as it increased in size was literally a disaster in waiting. It contained almost 300,000 cubic yards of waste, 10% of which was a fine slurry called 'tailings' - waste products of the coal preparation plant. Nobody received blame for the collapse although culprits were named in the Tribunal's report. The report stated there were 'no villains in this harrowing story ... of bungling ineptitude, by many men, charged with tasks for which they were totally unfitted; ... decent men, led astray by foolishness or by ignorance, or by both in combination.'

Or, as a distraught, bereaved father said at one of the inquests, his child had been 'buried alive by the National Coal Board.'

Jolyon



Jolyon
Re: Adult Fiction by Solsticeman - a timely comment  [message #72045 is a reply to message #71991] Fri, 28 October 2016 23:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
solsticeman is currently offline  solsticeman   United Kingdom

Likes it here

Registered: November 2012
Messages: 112



It's hard to appreciate the scale of the impact in the village of Aberfan, especially on the other children, the survivors.

In one class, only 4 of the 24 children survived, imagine... when you start classes again there are only four of you. Your friends are gone. So is your teacher and your headteacher.

In the junior school, there was a "year" with only two boys left. One of them had been trapped for two hours with his face pressed against the cheek of a dead classmate.

Half the children disappeared from that village that day, in a few minutes.

When the Queen visited two days later... a four year old girl (too young to have needed rescuing) presented her with a bunch of flowers, with a card that said       "From the remaining children of Aberfan"

BBC4 (still available on iPlayer in UK) recently broadcast Karl Jenkins "Cantata Memoria" his requiem for the lives lost at Aberfan.

There is a truly horrific moment in it, and that's rare in choral music.

The chorus is huge, with a number of adult choirs and a very large childrens choir in the centre.

At the moment in the music that corresponds to the waste heap sliding... the childrens choir turns its back on the audience.

Suddenly, the reality of what 116 children look like strikes home.

It's a very striking hour of music.

With Bryn Terfil singing pieces such as "Buried Alive by the National Coal Board" it could hardly be less than striking!

[Updated on: Fri, 28 October 2016 23:08]

Re: Adult Fiction by Solsticeman - a timely comment  [message #72509 is a reply to message #71991] Sun, 05 February 2017 15:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Jackboy is currently offline  Jackboy   United Kingdom

Toe is in the water
Location: North UK
Registered: August 2016
Messages: 75



Absolutely dead on Jolyon.

I discussed this (around the Anniversary) with Soliceman himself, and he shared his work and insights then.
I recall the disaster on the TV News; and I know the shockwave and resulting feelings of moral and other support
went far and wide.
Many of us here would have been of same or similar ages as the children lost and injured, and alongside other News reports,
like the Vietnam conflict, Aberfan, brought home the idea that it could be a dangerous world out there for children everywhere.

Thanks for sharing it Soliceman, and we are all better for knowing him and his obvious skills. Sorry if this embarrasses you mate,
but credit duly delivered hahaha.

Jack.

Re: Adult Fiction by Solsticeman - a timely comment  [message #72510 is a reply to message #72045] Sun, 05 February 2017 19:05 Go to previous message
Jackboy is currently offline  Jackboy   United Kingdom

Toe is in the water
Location: North UK
Registered: August 2016
Messages: 75



"Half the children disappeared from that village that day, in a few minutes".

Good God just look at that one quote alone. I don't know about anyone else,
but it scares me. What awful event or visitation might one think had occurred,
on seeing that one phrase?

I think in terms of Bophal, or the town of Pripyat? after Cherobyl.
Toys and the property of children laying around, unwanted but not forgotten.
An awful silence after the event.

And even worse - the attitude of a Coal Board trying to protect a reputation that no longer exists....

Thanks Soliceman for sharing all that.

Jack.



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