By Dannie Abse
This pleasant autobiography skillfully interweaves the fortunes of a Jewish Welsh relatives opposed to the afflicted Nineteen Thirties; unemployment, the increase of Hitler, and the Spanish Civil struggle.
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I liked that word. I used it on my brother Wilfred. ‘You big bastard,’ I said affectionately. Astonished, he made me promise not to speak it again. So I looked it up in a dictionary. We sat down to eat: Leo reading the News Chronicle, 32 and Wilfred and my mother chatting. The meal was good. Cold Meat and Pickled Onions and Chips. A meal with shape to it, see. Very tidy mun. 1934. Saturday. Cardiff. Rain. Glory be to God for dappled things. * * * I gave Keith one of my two frogs – the one that was healthy – not the one that wouldn’t jump around when you tickled its behind with a twig from a branch of the apple tree.
Now then, enough of that,’ he thundered. But the front doorbell rang and he thought it was Megan, so I was given a penny to shut up. It was only Uncle Isidore... I don’t think I’ve told you about him. I’d like to tell you. Of course, he’s dead now, but I remember him quite well. He’s become a sort of symbol really. You know, my parents still live in Wales, but we children have grown up and left home – as much, that is, as anybody can ever leave home. Anyway, when old Dafydd Morgan comes round the house at Cardiff these days, he and my parents get to talk about the kids.
She barked at Leo. ‘Out,’ he said. ’ ‘I’m eighteen,’ he replied obstinately. ‘You’re not too old to put across my knee,’ father said. ‘I’m nearly eleven,’ I said. ‘I’m going to a political meeting, if you must know,’ Leo lied. ’ asked Leo innocently. ‘Megan Davies, Megan Davies,’ I cried joyfully. ‘You be quiet,’ my mother said. ‘My God,’ said Leo. ‘What sort of house is this? ’ It ended up with my father chasing Leo round the table swearing at him. As Leo went around the table for 22 the third time, he grabbed the bread-knife.