Legend has it that this was once the only way out of the pit.
My forefathers had worked the Copper and the Slate mines in Snowdonia, for generations. They moved South and for decades they worked the coalmines of the Rhondda. Where this pit at Clydach Vale once was there is a nice lake now.
Not long after I was born 31 miners were killed in an explosion there.
The pit closed in 1967. Nobody wanted their children to have to go down the pits, become a teacher or a preacher, they said.
I used to look over the valley to Clydach Vale with my maternal grandfather who had probably worked there. They lived at #195 in a road where his father JPJ had first moved South to #182. They are both on the 1911 census.
And so it came to pass, my parents met at Guest Keen steel works in Cardiff, as metallurgist and an analytical chemist, the son of a docker and the daughter of a miner and a Bevan boy.
My father was taught briefly by Thomas George Thomas, 1st Viscount Tonypandy in Cardiff. He visited #195 with a friend so that they could both look out over the Rhondda valley from Trealaw to Tonypandy from my grandfather’s lair. I had often sat in the window there. George Thomas wrote his memoirs in the hotel at which we got married, near Llandudno.
Me, I got to see some fancy places and now I am here in the Breton countryside. How did I get from a small, terraced house in Cardiff to study at The Royal Institution of Great Britain? Maybe it was the ethos in the title of the post. I went to seven different schools and still managed to get some A levels. At my last school they offered me extra classes to sit the Oxford entry exams. But that interfered with my rugby training, so I did not apply. One has to have priorities…old chap…
What is significant to each individual varies dramatically. What is significant to institutions also differs.
I have a joke with the wife, I was aiming to incarnate in Bhutan, saw the Welsh flag, mistook it for the Bhutanese one and ended up in Cardiff instead.
There is a strange test, real life is weirder than fiction. If you can’t make this shit up it is probably real.
I could write an autobiographical or quasi-autobiographical book, maybe a novel. I could outline how I taught science, made a laser company, met a few Nobel prize winners, mixed with some now “famous” science geezers and then found out that I was a reincarnated member of Siddhartha’s crew 2.5k years ago.
As an exercise I could write a synopsis and then try to pitch it to publishers to see if I could get a book deal. I could speak to a newspaper or two. Thanks to Covid the UK public now know of the place I used to work at, Prof. Lockdown and all that, so the timing is good. I could probably write quite a good pitch, plan a publicity campaign.
One could run the scenarios; the bodhisattva A did his Ph.D. at the RI. There could be a blue plaque in South Kensington, “Bakula Rinpoche taught physical chemistry here for 13 years”, here he found his great compassion in looking after the Chemistry student pastoral care. He then renounced his academic life and went off to meditate in the home counties.
What a strange life…
Yankee Charlie Mike Tango Sierra Uniform…