31 Stories in May at Hay!: Day 12 ‘Natives’ by Ron Berry
Every day throughout May, you will be able to visit the Library of Wales website to download your free story, drawn from Story, vols I and II - a collection boasting the finest Welsh short fiction ever written and featuring some of the most talented literary names from both past and present, including the legendary Dylan Thomas and the award-winning Rachel Trezise, as well as read all about the chosen author.
Day 12: 'Natives' by Ron Berry
(Taken from Pieces of Eight, 1982)
Ron Berry was an author of novel and short stories born in 1920 in Blaenycwm in the Rhondda Valley where he remained for most of his life. The son of a coal miner, he worked in mining from the age of fourteen until the outbreak of World War II saw him serving in both the British Army and the Merchant Navy. He undertook a sporting career, including amateur boxing and playing association football for Swansea Town, scoring a vital goal in a cup match, but he had to end it in 1943 due to a knee injury. He took up various jobs, working around Wales and in London as a carpenter and writing some essays and poetry for which he was unable to find a publisher though. In 1948 he married Rene Jones, with whom he had five children, and in the 1950s he studied at the adult education college Coleg Harlech, but still having further spells in mining and as a carpenter. After his failed attempt to enter teacher training college, he took on a job as the assistant manager of the local swimming baths in Treherbert. His first published novel, Hunter and Hunted, that he began writing in this occasion, appeared in 1960 and was followed by Travelling Loaded (1963), The Full-Time Amateur (1966), Flame and Slag (1968) and So Long, Hector Bebb (1970). As his writing was never entirely successful enough to sustain him, in 1970s Berry had to rely on friends and on the support of Sir Wyn Roberts in obtaining for him a Civil list pension. He also wrote shorter fiction for BBC television and radio, and a personal account of watching Peregrine Falcons in 1987 entitled Peregrine Watching. He was able to write an authentic picture of working class life drawn from his own experiences, and his fictional output depicted a hard but positive view of the industrial Welsh valleys, entirely bereft of sentimentality and the hype which he scornfully left to others. His last novel This Bygone, was published in 1996. He died in Pontypridd in 1997 after years suffering arthritis and poor health, and his Collected Stories and autobiography, History is What You Live, appeared posthumously in 1998.
You can download the story in PDF format here. (If download does not start, then right click the link and select 'Save link as'.)
Flame and Slag (Library of Wales, 2012)
So Long, Hector Bebb (Parthian, 2005)
Story I (anthology) (Library of Wales, 2014)
Story II (anthology) (Library of Wales, 2014)