Brief story – The Boy within the Field Half Two: by Margaret Hannigan Popp


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Margaret Hannigan Popp

We acquired a flat on Willesden Inexperienced Street, a backyard flat. I couldn’t imagine how fortunate we had been. It was Dafydd who discovered it. One of many mother and father, John Thornby, was a associate in Foxtons, the Property Brokers. It was simply up the highway from the varsity so it was self curiosity too.

Dafydd simply had a 15 minute stroll alongside an avenue lined with aircraft timber, each morning. He was the prif athro, head trainer of Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llundain. Head trainer, solely trainer and grasp of all trades within the one Welsh Language college in London. The mother and father adored him.

He was utterly totally different to Miss Morris and all the opposite Misses that they had had over time. Not that they complained about kindly cwtchy rosy Miss Morris however after Yr 3 all of the pupils needed to transfer to locations like Oratory or St Kitts to verify they may get into the higher secondary colleges. All of them wished yr iaith Cymreig, however that they had to consider the long run, the long run, yr dyfodol.

So, when Dafydd Mason got here for interview they may see a special future. He had that composure that exuded management with out recourse to admonition. The steadiness of self-discipline and self-confidence that was wanted to face equal to the little kids of bankers and civil servants. London born and bred. He stated West Harrow or Kingsbury, relying on whom he was talking to. He was very political like that.


He had been within the college practically a 12 months once I seemed up from my desk and met his eyes. No saunter or swagger into the financial institution for him. He queued quietly, I suppose you may say anonymously.

‘Shmae, sut ydych chi?’ It was so sudden. The Welsh greeting exploded within the financial institution. My cheeks burned. I seemed round and every little thing was the identical, burbling on.

Besides Violet in fact, all large amber eyes and have a look at you grin. Then a giant wink.

‘How are you aware that I’m Welsh?’ I hadn’t meant to sound so sharp. I used to be eighteen and he was twenty three.

‘I simply knew,’ he stated.

Cheeky? No. He was calm and well mannered. His Welsh accent was spherical and fluent. His English accent was exact and even.

‘Cor, he’s posh,’ stated Violet, ‘very posh for a trainer.’

‘He’s very public spirited.’ I informed her. ‘Dedicated to cultural egalitarianism.’ I practically choked on my cheese sandwich. Violet roared with laughter.

‘Gotta inform Leroy. That’s his downside. He must get himself a few of that cultural egalitarianism.’ ‘What do his mother and father do?’ They had been useless. Violet stopped laughing. As a result of it was unhappy.

His mom was from Aberaeron and his father from Hamburg. They met on the finish of the struggle. He was a analysis scientist and she or he went again into educating after the WAAF. She by no means went again to Wales. Her household reduce her useless.

‘Faith, every to their very own.’ They had been chapel.

They settled within the new backyard property in Kingsbury as a result of it was so close to the Scientific Institute in Mill Hill. She introduced Dafydd up Welsh talking They went on strolling holidays to Wales.

He knew in every single place. Yr Wyddfa, the height of Snowdon. Cader Idris, formidable and forlorn. Penyfan and Corn Du held along with the arrete, deadly within the cross wind. They taught him to by no means take the mountains without any consideration.

Wanting down on the reservoir lakes at Pontsticill he questioned concerning the Romans who got here trudging up over Penycoedcae. Onerous proper to get to Penydarren after which on to Gelligaer although the glinting winter snow.

Mari Davies died when he was sixteen. He got here in from cricket. They’d trashed St Outhes. He scored xx runs. She was in mattress.

‘Siarada gyda ei nhad’. She informed him to speak together with his Dad. ‘Paid a phoeni.’ To not panic. Three months later she was useless.

Mae llais poeth gyda Miss Prys. Pan mae plentaidd arall yn ysgriffenu, mae hello’n siarad gyda fi. ‘Paid a phoeni, cer â eich amser’. Dwi’n dechrau yn ysgriffenu hefyd. Dwi’n ysgriffenau ac dwi’n gwneud lluniau.


‘Sure,’ Miss Prys did have a heat voice. ‘We’ll work collectively on him. Don’t let him know that you just hate the field or suppose it’s foolish or something like that. In the intervening time it’s his consolation blanket. He desires to determine issues out himself. You stroll him to high school and get him into the classroom. You’d be shocked at how a lot the opposite youngsters perceive. Sure, they do shout names however they study that from adults. They know what it’s wish to really feel scared. Most of them have skilled some trauma. Loud voices within the house after which the sound of damaged plates. Loud voices on the street. Engines roaring. Burning oil. Lets give it one other week? I’ll maintain encouraging him to put in writing and draw his little photos. He likes that. Little photos of a mountain. Generally with a chicken, perhaps an eagle? Generally a horse. A narrative he heard?’

However there have been no loud voices in our home in White Briar Shut, our fashionable honeyed brick semi-detached, handy to city centre, practice and the Brecon Beacons.

Our pleased house.

Saviour neighbours

Gary and Elvis had been our neighbours on Willesden Inexperienced Street. Our ‘saviour neighbours’, I named them.

The unique again backyard of the property had been divided in two between the bottom ground flats. We acquired the poorer half, lengthy and slender. It didn’t matter as a result of Gary put a door within the wall and we might pop out and in to one another on a regular basis.

They had been fabulous gardeners. It felt just like the Backyard of Eden whenever you went into their aspect and sat within the swing seat.

A swirling pennant stone path wound down from the patio amongst flower beds massed with lupins, lavandulas, asters, aromatic lillies and round a stone pond earlier than disappearing into one other backyard behind a trellised wall crowded passionflower and climbing roses.

This hidden arcade revealed itself to you step-by-step. Giant grasses needed to be brushed again to disclose misplaced hyacinths, cottage bells and aromatic honeysuckles.

Right here and there, a stone head on a damaged limbed physique saved guard. Trickling waters from the rills and rivulets drowned out the visitors growls.

Clouds of gold

The brilliant night metropolis lights mellowed into falling clouds of gold. I used to be impressed. I used to be going to rework our scraggy overgrown plot into one thing to be happy with. Dafydd and I had settled right into a home routine and I had loads of free time.

He had college conferences most nights and even some weekends. Huge plans had been afoot to redevelop the constructing as numbers had been going up. He was even taking a look at a possible new web site. John Thornby was feeding him data on any choices that got here up within the borough.

I went to yoga on Thursday nights with Violet however in any other case our fundamental night time out was Saturday within the ‘The Holy Floor’ on Wilmot Manner in Kilburn.

It was a typical Irish pub but it surely was the assembly place for us Welshies. There was the standard mixture of firebrand politics, discuss of independence and homesickness. Hiraeth.

I can’t bear in mind which one among us first determined to go there however anyway we rapidly grew to become a part of the group. In fact, talking in Welsh was the rule.

A few of the Irish crowd discovered it unusual to overhear the guttural, the nasal and the sibilant.

Personal language

John Joe the barman cherished it.

Dim Saesneg’, he would shout on the Irish lads on the bar. The plasterers, scaffolders, roofers and chippies jostling for pints and suggestions of their scrubbed face white shirted greatest.

‘Dim Saesneg, no English! Do none of you may have a focal Gaeilge so we will stand our personal language beside them. Honest does to the Welsh. Stick the Wolfe Tones on the juke field so we will have a little bit of delight.’

Everybody joined in singing ‘A nation as soon as once more’ and we cried out ‘Cymru am byth’ for Wales.

Mum, bear in mind how I wrote little tales for Miss Prys. I might lie in my mattress at night time and picture that Mr. Bocs was telling me tales.

I’m studying Luke’s schoolbook. Yr 6. Llyfr stori. The story e book from class with Miss Prys. Every single day the kids needed to write a web page for her. One thing about what they did after college perhaps a sport of soccer on the rec or operating to the store for bread.

It was a diary type to encourage the kids to put in writing with out worrying about what they need to say. Simply to giggle at easy little issues like, ‘I noticed Eifion Williams bringing a bucket of mash to the piglets.he didn’t see me as a result of I used to be hiding within the hedge’

Laughing comes so simply to youngsters. It makes it a lot more durable for them when they’re left. Alone.

‘Weithiau, dwi’n siarad gyda Mr Bocs. Weithiau, Mr Bocs yn siarad gyda fi. Rhoiodd Dad ei llaw e ar fy phen i. Dwi’n teimlio e er hynny. Ei llaw. Fy phen. ‘Mr. Bocs, pwy wyt ti?’

Onto one thing

Dafydd and I had been sitting at our little desk consuming lasagne. He had spent the afternoon making it whereas I used to be out studying the best way to ‘pot up’ from Gary. We had sweetpeas all set to go.

‘I believe I’m being adopted’, Dafydd stated.

‘Adopted? What do you imply?’

I felt a knot in my abdomen.

‘I simply know. I’ve seen the identical bloke throughout the road, on the excessive avenue, on the Tube station.’

‘Who’s he?’

‘No concept cariad however I’m certain of it. There’s numerous speak about South Africans maintaining tabs on individuals nowadays. Checking on the Irish primarily to seek out their contacts. Derry was saying its all about networks and features of communication. So far as their involved we’re all the identical. Irish, Welsh. They don’t actually know the distinction. They spot the regulars in Kilburn, see who’s assembly who. Put two and two collectively. Assume they’re onto one thing.’

My abdomen harm.

‘I’m pregnant,’ I stated.

Dywedais i ‘Nos dda’ i Dad. Dywedais Dad ‘Nos dda’ i fi. Rhoiodd Dad ei llaw e ar fy phen. Es i i’r gwely. Yn y bore nesaf, gallais i ddim yn chwilio fy nhad. Fe ffeindias Mr Bocs mewn garej.

Luke was born in Hillingdon Hospital on March twelfth 1992. Dafydd was good. He held my hand and stroked my head for 4 hours.

Fy phen. My head. Ei regulation. His hand.

Truly, he was good from the beginning. Didn’t blink or hesitate. Simply acquired up and gathered me in his arms and kissed me.

‘Cariad shush don’t fear. All the pieces shall be nice. Protected. I’ll at all times deal with you. And our child.’

Dweud, to say. Rhoi, to place. Chwilio, to go looking.

I wrote and informed my mom once I was six months pregnant. I didn’t have the bottle to ring her. How might I clarify London to her?

Eddie rang. ‘You broke your mom’s coronary heart. She’ll recover from it. Is he good to you? If he ever…we’ll be up.’


Once I got here house from the hospital, there was a field. Three crocheted cardigans, just a little bonnet with blue embroidered flowers and a handknitted child blanket. A crimson teddy bear was appliqued on the blanket. I recognised the felt from my old skool kilt.

Gary stated, ‘Oh my, I might cry.’

Elvis stated, ‘Fortunate you, Linda.’

And I used to be so fortunate. They had been angels. They cherished to child sit and assist out. I by no means felt lonely. I went again to work when Luke was 9 months previous. After Christmas. A New Yr.

Violet knew a childminder and Dafydd picked him up after college.

It was the tip of March, earlier than the clocks went again once I first seen him. It was his sneakers. I believed that’s odd. I’ve seen the identical pair of sneakers three nights in a row. As you stroll down the steps into Willesden tube station you might be at eye stage with the pavement.

They had been bizarre black Winstanley sneakers however the laces stood out. Twisted crimson and inexperienced laces, like in climbing sneakers. He was common sized, in his thirties, simply darkish denims and jumper with a duffle coat. A tufty moustache, that’s all.

Lead in my abdomen

Then, I noticed him outdoors the tobacconist as I walked up Kerslake Street. I felt a bit sick. I held my breath. I seemed again once I acquired to the nook. He was nonetheless standing there. Wanting up the highway at me.

The following night, I seemed in every single place earlier than I acquired on the Tube. As normal, it was packed.

Midway up Kerslake Street, I noticed him once more. On the opposite aspect of the highway. There’s no bus cease there. He was simply standing outdoors the crimson bricked home with the white iron gates. He was shaded by the aircraft timber.

I felt a balloon of lead in my abdomen. It was getting larger and heavier. I attempted to run however my legs felt like swollen jelly.

Dwi’n teimlo e er hynny’.

I really feel it nonetheless. Concern, actual concern like that, it by no means goes away. Similar as love like that. Possibly it was a blessing in a method. The financial institution had been delighted that I might transfer to Merthyr Tydfil.

I used to be promoted to Assistant Supervisor accountable for overseas forex and shopper liaison. Money transactions had been nonetheless the principle enterprise in South Wales then. Some individuals stated it was an indication of the black financial system, money doesn’t give away secrets and techniques.


Anyway, Merthyr Tydfil had numerous clients with money. And so they had been beginning to go on holidays. Correction – they at all times cherished occurring holidays however now they may go on holidays to the solar. A lot of them.

The supervisor was Mr Philip Maynard. Not somebody you’ll count on to be a feminist.

‘Linda,’ he stated ‘the employees listed below are very loyal however I’ve to be real looking about limitations. You might be our knowledgeable now within the new know-how and switch processes. I gained’t fake that I can login, change screens or name up the stay charges however I perceive the underlying rules. You should have my full assist to coach up the employees and advise me on new recruits. We have to get one or two new individuals in to work the computer systems. I additionally need you to tackle the liaison with the London desk. You may have the accent for it.’

In return, he organized a great mortgage for me. In my very own title.

Dafydd stated, ‘We should always put the home in your title as a result of it’s your job that acquired it for us. I’m an enlightened bloke!’

Mam stated, ‘Effectively, that’s in all probability for the perfect.’ She knew so much about some issues.

My father had died intestate and it took a very long time to type out the home and insurance coverage. Working in a financial institution you get to listen to how tough life can grow to be when the sudden occurs.

We purchased this home in White Briar Shut. On a brand new growth, with numerous potential to increase.

He wished to take a break from educating, be a home husband, have the time to be with Luke. A night job within the Rose and Crown gave him the possibility to settle in, get to know individuals in addition to contribute to our funds.

I by no means wished to harm you Mum. To destroy you with questions. To make you cry once more. I simply thought you’ll inform me. Clarify issues. Finally. Then it grew to become more durable to ask. I couldn’t work out what phrases to make use of. I began to overlook him. I simply remembered issues. Possibly it was my fault. Individuals simply don’t disappear.


Violet rang me two weeks after Dafydd left.

‘I’ve to enter hospital. I’ve been telling them for months that it may well’t be durations. Now I’m an emergency. Don’t go all chapel on me now sweetie. I don’t want prayers. Leroy is in bits. May you come up for just a few days?’

Individuals say ‘white as a sheet’. Effectively Violet couldn’t flip white. She lay on the white sheet, fading. I might see her gentle fading. No hair. No eyebrows. Her lips had been very brown. Delicate and brown. I kissed her. I informed her that she was stunning.

‘I informed Leroy, deal with me now. Once I’m gone, get your self collectively and discover one other lady. I don’t wish to be sitting up in heaven watching him being all lonely and depressing. I made him promise me. Promise me, I stated to him, or I’ll come again and hang-out you.’

That was Violet, fierce, it doesn’t matter what. She stated I ought to promise her too, that I might get another person. I informed her that I used to be Okay, I had Luke. I had plans. I simply wished to stick with her for so long as I might. She was my buddy. My greatest buddy.

We buried her in Haringey Cemetery as we sang ‘Nearer my God to thee.’ Her brother wore a crisp white shirt.

He took the spade from the gravediggers.

He swung it straightforward, as if it was a wand.

The ultimate a part of The Boy within the Field shall be revealed tomorrow. Learn the primary instalment right here

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