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Adult Fiction by Solsticeman - a timely comment  [message #71991] Tue, 18 October 2016 16:05 Go to previous message
Jolyon Lewes

Toe is in the water
Location: SW England
Registered: September 2012
Messages: 61

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.'


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