Local characters inspire nostalgic new novel based in South Wales Valleys

A new novel based around the amusing antics of a group of characters in a village in the South Wales Valleys is published this week by Y Lolfa.

 

Tales from my Welsh Village is Ken Smith’s first novel, and features the ridiculous activities of some members of the pub fraternity in a close-knit working class Valleys community during the 1960s. Jeff Davies, a lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University says:

 

Tales from my Welsh Village captures a time gone by. Everyone in Wales and other parts of the UK who lives in a semi-rural community will have their own version of the characters portrayed”

 

The novel was inspired by Ken Smith’s time living and working in the village of Rhigos, near Aberdare, where he grew up. Ken was a Parish Councillor and then District Councillor for Neath Rural Council and was the instigator and prime mover of the fight which won the right for sitting tenants in council houses to purchase their homes freehold.

 

Speaking of the camaraderie and the characters to be found at the local pub in his village of Rhigos back when he was living there, Ken said:

 

“I found some of the local characters so amusing that I felt some of their more outrageous antics should be recorded for posterity. Most of the tales are purely fictitious, while a few are very loosely based on actual events. Some of the more calamitous stories you just couldn’t make up!”

 

The novel is set in Rhyd-y-groes. One of the main members of the pub fraternity in Tales from my Welsh Village is inspired by a real local person – Trefor, the landlord of the Plough Inn - a born practical joker who often pushed things quite a bit too far! Another was Fred Howells, the local gravedigger and rat-catcher. According to Ken:

 

“Fred could turn a harmless situation into a rip roaring escapade without even trying, to the utter amusement of everyone in the pub.”

 

The novel creates great amusement from a few classic Fred incidents based on real events, such as the time his ferrets got loose and created havoc in the bingo, the time he used dynamite to speed up his gravedigging efforts and the time he was tricked by Trefor into thinking he’d come into a large sum in American dollars, only to narrowly avoid arrest when he tried to change the fake money in the local bank.


The book has been dedicated to Trefor Plough as well as Fred Howells and Colin his son and to all other local people who helped inspire the story.


 Ken Smith emigrated to Alberta in Canada in 1975 but has kept close links with the village and community of Rhigos.


 “As I live so far away from where I was brought up - over 4,500 miles – it has always been most important to me to keep in touch with as many family members and friends as possible by phone or e-mails, as I love the Valleys and the Rhigos area.”