From the Editor
The travel feature in the December issue of Good Times will transport you to Wales. It certainly took me there.
Many years ago, I was informed one day that I would be representing the Canadian edition of the magazine for which I worked at an international conference in Swindon, in southwest England. I had some idea of where Swindon was and a thought struck me. I consulted a map—I like to know where I’m going—and what I saw got me even more excited about the trip: Swindon is about halfway along a more-or-less straight line between London and Cardiff, the capital of Wales. And my travel schedule gave me a full day to myself before the meetings were to begin. I could, I decided, easily get to Cardiff and back in a day. I was going home!
No, I’d never been to Wales, but “The Land of My Fathers” had been calling to me for years. I’d long known that my family was Welsh (okay, Irish, Scots, and English, too, but the Lewises are Welsh), and I’d read How Green Was My Valley, about a young Welsh boy, his family, and the mining town in which he grew up, in my first year of high school, and I’d seen the film some years later. One day in my 20s, I was listening to the radio and learned the Welsh word hiraeth. It means something like “nostalgia” or “a longing for home” (many say it can’t be properly translated into English), but the announcer explained that it means more: a belief among the Welsh that a Welsh expat will always feel a yearning to return home. He then played a Welsh men’s choir singing “Land of My Fathers,” in Welsh, and after a while, I was surprised to find myself weeping. Hiraeth.
I watched How Green Was My Valley again one evening with my wife, and I told her that, if we were ever blessed with a daughter, I’d like to name her Bronwyn, after one of the main characters. My wife loved the name. Our first child is a girl, and she is Bronwyn.
I never got to Cardiff. I’d been more than a little optimistic. For one thing, the only car I could rent in Swindon was a manual, which I can’t drive, and even if I could, I’d arrived in London in the morning: my body was sure it was still the middle of the night and I knew that I was much too foggy-brained to cope with roundabouts, especially when driving on the left. As I write this, however, Bron has made it home before me. On a business trip to the UK, she and her husband decided to explore Britain and they’d included a visit to Wales. Bron knows all about hiraeth, of course, having had me for a dad, and in a way, we both know she’s taken me with her.
Wales is also at the heart of a Christmas tradition for me. At some point in my teens, I discovered the Christmas Day broadcast on CBC Radio of Dylan Thomas reading his A Child’s Christmas in Wales. For many years, at about noon, after the presents had been opened, I’d slip off to my room to listen and be caught up again in a Christmas Day in a Welsh town. If you’ve never heard it, you have no idea what you’re missing. You can listen to it here.
And with that, I’ll say “Nadolig Llawen!” Merry Christmas!
Murray Lewis, Editor-in-Chief