CREATIVE Mihangel Morgan Translated by Gwen Davies

NWR Issue 117

Old Forgotten Things

As you’d expect, Harry was pleased as pie to see his daughter and grandson. But between you, me and these walls, the first of these, Seroca, got on my nerves, while the second, Cosmo, drove me up the wall. I could hardly show my true feelings, though, could I, in front of Harry? It was easy enough to avoid Seroca: she spent hours on end with Harry, just chatting, going on trips to town to window shop for clothes, cooking meals, making plans for the garden. Really, they were close to being inseparable: more like two sisters than father and daughter. This left Devil’s Spawn with idle hands and far too much freedom, if you ask me. And more’s the pity that certain solutions – clapping him in a cage or chaining him up in the darkest dungeon – were unavailable, what with the NSPCC sniffing around every corner. And as the powers of catnip draw a feline to a felon, so Cosmo loved to be with me, keeping tabs on my moves from room to room. I go to the kitchen: Cosmo comes to the kitchen. I curl up to read in a corner: Cosmo dogs my steps, tongue wagging all the while. Out I go into the garden: who’s on my tail but Cosmo? Surely he’s got some sort of satnav bleeping my bearings! And remember this wasn’t some sunny, savvy cherub either. This was nine years old and vocal: a know-it-all with twitchy feet. Cosmo was in a different league from those child protection pinkoes.

I even locked myself in the upstairs bathroom once, hoping to slip my leash. But the little devil comes after me, kicks the door and pumps me for the time of my departure. ‘Why?’ I asked. He needed the toilet. ‘There’s another bathroom and a toilet downstairs,’ I said. But he just gave the door another kick. He was bored, he told me. His favourite word. I suggested he went to find some matches and petrol to play with. ‘Ha ha,’ he said, kicking the door some more for good measure.

Mihangel Morgan has published nine story collections and a number of novels. His prose volume, 60 (published last year), was highly praised. He won the National Eisteddfod Prose Medal in 1993 for his novel Dirgel Ddyn, and his novel Pantglas was nominated for Wales Book of the Year 2012. His novel, Dan Gadarn Goncrit and his short-story collection, Saith Pechod Marwol, are part of the National Curriculum for Wales. He recently moved to Aberdare, where he grew up.

Gwen Davies is editor of New Welsh Review. As literary translator, her titles include Martha, Jack and Shanco and The Jeweller (both novels by Caryl Lewis). She is judge in the New Welsh Writing Awards 2018: Aberystwyth University Prize for an Essay Collection, announced at Hay Festival on 29 May, and has judged the awards since 2015. She has a translated story forthcoming in Best European Fiction 2019 (Dalkey Archive Press) and was Senior Producer on the illustrated audio version of this novel extract produced in one of this magazine’s e-editions last autumn which you can view here.

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