It’s six years since a gang of four of us sat around in the Bridgend loft office of literary publishers Seren, and came up with the idea for New Stories from the Mabinogion.
Since then we’ve travelled round the orbit of Mars, to the outskirts of India, back to World War ll, through drug-fuelled hallucinations of Iraq, through the forests and council estates of Wales and into the bizarrely mythical world of the near future with its drones and dystopia. And all this in addition to a myth cycle which already included enchantment, shape-shifting, knightly heroics, love and betrayal.
All I could do was offer you an opinion on one minor point – a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction: and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unresolved. Virginia Woolf
It was 1928; the jazz age was in full swing in the US and the Bloomsbury set were lording it over the rest of the artistes in London. In Wales many aspiring and established writers had left – for London and Bloomsbury in particular. Publishing opportunities back home were limited and the roads to Russell Square and the less reputable pubs to the west, in Fitzrovia, were paved with the dreams of writers from Arthur Machen to WH Davies, Dylan Thomas to, erm, Dorothy Edwards.
I am fortunate enough to work in both bookselling and publishing. Books and bookselling are my passion but time and time again, myself and fellow booksellers are faced with this very common scenario:
Customer: have you got ………….. in stock?
Bookseller: Yes, we do, I’ll go and get it for you.
Bookseller brings the book back and the customer has a good look through. After a while the customer comes to the desk and says one of several things:
- Do you price-match?
- Thanks, I’ve had a good look, I definitely want it but I can get it cheaper online.
- Is it on offer?
Our answer is No. We don’t price-match
The customer will then discard the book and nonchalantly stroll out, no doubt thinking, great, I’ve seen the book and I’m going to save myself 75 pence (or some-such price)by buying it online (despite the fact that it just cost £5 to park the car, petrol on top, for a day of browsing). We’ve all done it. At this point I want to shout after the customer:
who tacked like a yacht
tidewreck where he'd
been, whose arms, hips,
swapped fly half
-truths tacklers grasped
too late, was a spool
around sharp eyes
lining him up just right.
Then he'd crossed
their lines, parachuted
in, pass master
of the national art,
From North by South: New and Selected Poems by John Davies
Thirteen in Sixty-Three by Phil Bowen