I have loved all history (Welsh, British, European and World) with a passion since very early childhood. I can still recall the thrill of hearing stories, as a very young boy, of life in Radnorshire when my Grandparents were children. So too, the excitement of opening a history book and discovering facts and links to places, people and events. One notable example was discovering Owain Glyndwr’s connection to Radnorshire: The Battle of Brynglas, which occurred on 22nd June 1402.
But if three events inspired my interest in Welsh militancy, and why I resolved to approach historical writing in an impartial and balanced manner, they are as follows: in my early twenties, I learned that the water pipeline from Cwm Elan to Birmingham, at a point no more than five miles from my family home in Llandrindod, had been targeted by Welsh militants in 1952. I reacted with happy surprise, only to be mildly chastised by my mother because my father, at the time I was born a young PC, had routinely walked the Radnorshire section of the pipeline in search of explosive devices. She explained that she had both feared for his safety and the thought that had he been injured, or worse, she might have had to bring up three young boys on her own.
During my childhood, I used to spend periods during the school holidays on my Grandparents’ farm in mid-Wales. On one occasion, when aged nine or so, my Grandmother and I were looking out of the kitchen window across to the hill opposite, when she spoke sorrowfully that her farm home might be targeted for flooding, as had been rumoured a few years before. She implored me: ‘don’t let it happen here’. It was, or what I perceived to be, her sense of bewilderment, sadness and helplessness which instilled a belief that Wales and its people needed to be protected from injustice.
Embarking on a period of global back-packing in my twenties, having been told that the undertaking would dilute my Welsh nationalism, I returned home even more convinced of Wales’s unique cultural identity and its own ‘special place’ in the world.