CARDIFF BOY by Bernard John

Yesterday saw me in a rather fetching, if slightly tighter than I remember, jacket prancing about in front of a small audience, getting in the way of a proper poet at his book launch ‘Somewhere in South Wales’ (okay Caldicot).

Bernard John read from his new book ‘Cardiff Boy’, a collection of his poems about and inspired by his childhood in Cardiff and his family’s roots. I can wholeheartedly recommend getting, and reading, his volume. I say ‘and reading’ because I have acquired many books at launches and  ‘events’ as a goodwill gesture and read, perhaps, a token number of words from many of them before they slide backwards on my shelves never to be seen again. This is not one of those volumes. I have read most of it, will finish it with alacrity and revisit it many times.

Bernard read selections from his book at the launch in two tranches and both inspired me to rush home after the event and spend the evening reading more from the book. Difficult at the best of times to carve out such a space, but in the circumstances, it required even more of an effort of will as the carefully constructed order of the launch day disintegrated in the face of a family car crash (literally – no-one hurt thank goodness) and myriad minor examples of the entropy of life. Relative calm eventually restored, I treated myself to a quiet period of contemplation and solace in Bernard’s words.

Bernard has had a fascinating life and some of the inspirations for that are revealed in this volume. Growing up in Cardiff immediately after the war, his Cardiff was not the bright reconstructed persona of Cool Cymru (where did that go?) and gentrified docklands. His was the harder world of brick and stone terraces and steel works, rail yards and coal with the ribbon of the Taff flowing through it and the grassy strip alongside it. It obviously gave him character and his twinkling smile must have given much joy to Cardiff in return.

I helped the publisher, Carys Books, out at the launch and managed a little by-play with Bernard about his background and life as an introduction to proceedings. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be involved in the day as both Bernard and Sam Knight, the boss of Carys Books have been inspirational in various ways.

Sorry you missed the launch, but you can still be part of the experience.

Bernard’s book is available at bookshops or direct from Carys books new website

http://carysbooks.co.uk/

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