Xenophilia 2 - Ancestral Voices

by Mihangel

Segment 12

Genes

I am one of that curious but surprisingly large band of gays who are happily and faithfully married. I am not bisexual in the ordinary sense. Like Maelor, I have never been attracted to women: only to one particular woman. Like him, I married late. But my marriage is a very far cry from his ill-fated one. And for evidence of my wife's broad-mindedness, see the acknowledgements at the head of the story.

My father also married late, very late. He too, I am as certain as I can be, was gay, and I fancy that social pressures or self-defence, not love, drove him into marriage. And I have a strong suspicion that my father's father was in the same boat. He too married late. He was a kind and gentle man, I gather, and an Anglican priest into the bargain. Yet, like Owen, he abruptly walked out on his wife and family, when my father was aged about one, and left Britain never to return. To her dying day, my grandmother would not say why.

The possibility, then, of three successive generations of gays supplied the idea behind this story. The last thing I am is a geneticist. But, not surprisingly, the notion of a gene inherited by some gays, though surely not by all, is one that appeals to me. There are interesting pieces about this (available online only if you're a subscriber) in the New Scientist for 12 May 2001 p.28 ('Boy meets girl') and 7 August 1999 p.3 (editorial).

Places and People

Cwmystradllyn is a valley which I know well and love well. All the places mentioned, whether there or further afield, are real. The story of the quarry is drawn from the publications mentioned in the text, augmented by some research in censuses, parish registers and local papers.

All the characters alive in the 1850s really existed. Their history at that time, and the context in which they lived and loved, is as accurate as I can make it, although to suit the plot I have adjusted a few ages and dates by a year or two. Daniel, for example, was indeed a miner who did live in Treforys and did go on the randy in Porthmadog. John really was his son. Rowland did suffer that accident (actually in 1858, not 1859, though the newspaper report is genuine) and, astonishingly, he survived it. But their private lives as depicted here, and their subsequent careers, are nothing but figments of my imagination. So too, it must be emphasised, are all their descendants and everyone else who supposedly lives in the present day.

Links

For guidance on Welsh pronunciation:
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Styx/9107/pronw.html (very basic)
http://www.cs.brown.edu/fun/welsh/Lesson01.html (rather more advanced)

For pictures of Gorseddau quarry, of Ty Mawr Ynysypandy, and of the tramway (but not of Treforys, real though it is):
http://www.bangor.ac.uk/ml/whr/gorseddau.htm (the best site)
http://www.penmorfa.com/Slate/Remains.htm
http://www.rhylphotosoc.co.uk/GALLERIES/mfslide3

For detailed maps (click 'Enlarged view' and navigate with scrollbars):
http://www.old-maps.co.uk/oldmaps/landdisplay.jsp?easting=256500&northing=345000&countyCode=43#
(quarry top right and Treforys (not named) left of top centre)
http://www.old-maps.co.uk/oldmaps/landdisplay.jsp?easting=255600&northing=343700&countyCode=43#
(Ty Mawr Ynysypandy bottom left, just north of Ynys-pandy)

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