By Dannie Abse
This pleasant autobiography skillfully interweaves the fortunes of a Jewish Welsh kinfolk opposed to the stricken Nineteen Thirties; unemployment, the increase of Hitler, and the Spanish Civil warfare.
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Extra resources for Ash On a Young Man's Sleeve
The congregation knew this preface to his sermon by heart. They could have joined in, if they so wished, in some sorrowful chant; instead (except for the elders who nodded their heads slowly as if watching vertical tennis) each would nudge and pinch his neighbour. However, this Saturday morning in 1934, the Rev. Aaronowich was almost gay. I stopped staring at the red globe and ignored the scrubbings and scratching of Simon and Bernard. He spoke in English, with a Russian and Welsh accent, throwing in a bit of Yiddish when his vocabulary failed him.
Keith and I lay back after our swim on the scorching sands; looked up at an immobile aeroplane in the very blue sky; listened to the tinny voices singing on the battered gramophone: ‘Lazy-bones’, ‘Stormy Weather’, ‘Wheezy Anna’, ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’, ‘Miss Otis Regrets’. ’ It was July 1934 and a heat-wave when the mercury jumped to eighty-three degrees in the shade, when fires started on the English heaths; and in the forest, terrible jaws of flame consumed the turf and the shrieking trees with their jagged yellow fangs.
The connections do you know? Apart, of course, as a remedy for the spirit. ’ ‘Our third son, Dafydd Morgan,’ says my mother, ‘is no good. ’ ‘Just like Uncle Isidore,’ exclaim my father and mother, in unison, lifting up their hands hopelessly. ‘Fancy,’ says Morgan. ’ Uncle Isidore wasn’t exactly an Uncle. Nobody knew his exact relationship to the family; but my parents called him ‘Uncle’, and my cousins called him ‘Uncle’, and my uncles called him ‘Uncle’. He used to visit our home regularly, once a week, to collect his half a crown and eat a bit of supper.
Ash On a Young Man's Sleeve by Dannie Abse