Vague ramblings

Aberfan: how bright their frail deeds.

Posted in Life, Various meats by Ian Cundell on 21 October, 2016

Aberfan – 50 years ago today – is the earliest memory to which I can put a specific date.

I don’t know if I can truly remember the World Cup final in the same year, because the key imagery has been shown so many times I can’t sort real memory from received memory. But Aberfan is fused in my mind by a single image from TV news, a rescue worker (in my 6-year-old head a soldier, but more likely a policeman or a Welsh miner) giving a young girl a hot drink in one of those enamel tin mugs.

The treatment of the victims’ families was a disgrace and shows that callous indifference by the Establishment knows no party allegiance, but an appalled nation responded with a kindness and generosity that seems to belong to an earlier era. In this – of all miserable years – the British people, I think, would do well to remember how bloody marvellous they can be.

Ask any émigré of Welsh descent where they want to go when visiting the Old Country, and Aberfan is high on the list – as it was with my Canadian relatives – as a place to pay their respects. The pits are all gone now, along with the lethal slag heaps, but the memory remains.

Anyone who has ever read accounts of the disaster will appreciate how touched by genius this Karl Jenkins tribute is. The quiet morning, the unmistakable Welsh accent of the hymn. And then, and then…

Tip: it does not end when you think it does:

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