At the Bright Hem of God
Peter Conradi, Tom Bullough and Brenda Maddox talk Radnorshire. A writer friend of Tom’s once asked him if Radnorshire was ‘somewhere you’d invented?’ in The Claude Glass. It’s like that Radnorshire. I’ve spent my writing career saying ‘Welsh’ – but as I shiver with recognition in the Sky Arts Tent, I realise I’m neither English or Welsh, I’m Radnorshire. Things slot into place. And as Tom says, ‘it’s liberating.’ Peter tells the story of a woman being asked, ‘are you Welsh or English?’ She replied, ‘neither.’ What I didn’t know is that Radnorshire has the highest proportion of medieval bells and 15th century praise poems. Brenda asks, ‘is it backward, beautiful, or both?’
‘Both,’ Peter replies.
As Tom talks about farms being separate kingdoms I’m thinking of my childhood. I’m thinking of another Tom, a farmer I knew, who for thirty years had a succession of sheepdogs called ‘Meg’. He didn’t like to deviate. I’m thinking of the times I climbed those sheer hills. I’m thinking of the days spent trailing around churchyards in black jumpers (it was the 1980s) trying to find relatives all called Samuel Beven-Meredith, I’m unsure where they buried their woman folk. I’m thinking about the myths around my great-great-great uncle ‘the wicked Squire’. He appears in Kilvert’s Diary. I have pictures of this g-g-g uncle at home. He’s standing in a Radnorshire field on a great chair, flanked by dogs, knee length riding boots, and a handlebar moustache. I’m thinking of Radnorshire as the world: my world.