Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Alchemy of Chance - Introducing Dafydd Williams

A navy and cream Citroën DS flashed down the outside lane of the M4, the outskirts of Cardiff through the rear windscreen, Portsmouth and the night-ferry to St. Malo over the bonnet. Dafydd Williams had covered this stretch of road a thousand times before, growing up in Cardiff, studying in Newport, working in London. Now he had a month off and he was going to France for most of it. But that was about the only reference point he had for this journey, apart from a ten year-old postcard from Nantes and three recent ones from places he’d barely heard of.

Two weekends previously, he’d been summoned from London by his father Emlyn to the parental home up on Caerphilly Mountain, just beyond the northern outskirts of Cardiff. Father wanted to ‘have a chat’. And he got straight down to it, standing in the kitchen over a whisky on the Friday night as soon as Mother had gone to bed.

“I want you to go to France and find Sean.”
“Dad. It’s been more than ten years. He could be anywhere.”
“He sent us three more postcards. Last Summer.”
“Why didn’t you tell me before?”
“I’m telling you now. It’s not as if you come and see us much. Or call. You didn’t even come home for Christmas.”
“It’s not home any more. Anyway, I’ve been busy… Why now?”
“Your mother needs to know he’s all right.”
“She’s not my mother.”
“You know what I mean. And she’s certainly his mother. I’ll pay your expenses.”
“I’m really not up for this. Can’t you hire someone?”
“For goodness sake, he’s your brother.”
“Half brother. And that’s the last time I let you know I’ve got a couple of months off. I’m thirty six. Too old for emotional blackmail.”
“Well I’m disappointed in you, is all I can say.”

Dafydd was in-between projects, the last one wrapped, the next one – a new move into drama - tightly planned. A moderately successful film-maker, with a reputation for quirky TV documentaries on arcane connections between the Celtic lands of Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and Galicia, all he intended to do, during this his favourite time of the year, was read in the garden and maybe spend a few days on the coast.

He pulled a chair from under the kitchen table.

“OK. What have we got to go on? This is not a yes, by the way.”

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