A WELSH JEWEL (15 september 2004)
When I entered the Welsh village of Blaenau Ffestiniog some thirty years ago, the first thing I noticed were enormous heaps of slate.
What I could not guess then was that I was to spend two of the most memorable weeks of my life at this village. The ones who made this possible were John and Lily Jones, at whose home I enjoyed bed and breakfast. They went out of their way to make our stay a pleasant one.
The experience was so unforgettable that I wrote a weblog about it.
Last week, I received an e-mail. It came from John's daughter Amanda. She was pleased to find her dad's name on the Internet. But she told me the sad news that he'd passed away a few months ago.
She told me a few details of his life. For instance this story about his school days:
John's maths teacher was a very strict man. One day he said to the boys in class , "Now boys, today I'm going to give you some problems to solve." John, forever the joker, put his hand up at once, and said "Sir, if you don't mind, I'd rather you keep your problems, I've got enough of my own!"
But John wouldn't stay at school very long. At a very tender age, he lost his father and instantly became breadwinner. All his hard work in the mine did not make him a bitter man. On the contrary: his sense of humour was proverbial and -- to quote his sister -- he was a kind and generous person who would give you the last thing he owned.
John Erfyl Jones
When I was in Wales, I inquired if any gold or diamonds were ever found amongst the slate. The answer was negative. Well, now I know better: the gem was John Erfyl Jones.