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Hywel Francis MP: our man in Aberavon

Lynn Courtney recounts the Welsh WikiLeaks story about Hywel Francis, the MP for Aberavon but with a twist

There I was sat in my office in Aberavon, the rain drumming against the roof. Each drop resounding like a cannon bouncing off the deck of a ship.

The only relief to the monotony was the wonderful voice of Paul Robeson playing on my dansette record player in the corner. There were some compensations to this job and being Chair of the Paul Robeson Wales Trust was one of them.

Read the full story on the Welsh WikiLeak

Ah! Paul Leroy Robeson; he was a boy!

Son of an escaped slave, with the looks of Sydney Poitier, and a political activist to boot.

There are connections between us. Me the son of a miners leader, with the looks, well to be honest of an historian but a political activist as well. Duw!

I wish I had a more glamorous life at times. Something to dispel the odours drifting across the coast from Port Talbot, something with a bit more, I don’t know , something that would bestow on me some more star quality maybe

Something more to point too, I was one of the founders of the Bevan foundation and indeed I was vice president of Llafur, the Welsh history society and other things besides

But just for once a chance to reach to the stars.

Noises off…a phone ringing. I may as well get that

“The American Embassy you say? A coffee with you? Well that’s just what the doctor ordered. I’ll be with you tomorrow.”

Well why not? We can have a nice little chat about Paul Robeson and American politics. Why Not?

The station at Port Talbot was windy and cold and I just missed the train. Damn! Well I’ll get myself a copy of the Western Mail and a cup of coffee! That’ll keep me occupied.

It was a lovely afternoon. I had a chat with the Ambassador. He didn’t seem to know much about Wales but we had Paul Robeson in common. He actually had a signed copy of one of his records.

Lucky Dab! The conversation was a bit stilted though to be honest. He said he was interested in devolution. It was very hard to chat with the American Ambassador with a secretary noting the conversation in shorthand, every word. but I suppose when you’re that important you get used to it.

Half the time she was looking out of the window as well. No wonder, it was all a bit boring. Not quite the bit of excitement I was hoping for.

But it was a change from the rain driving me mad, hitting the roof, in its dull monotony. As I left, I was humming, “Ol man River.” feeling a bit more cheerful!

It was only when I got on the train, on the way home, I realised Damn I’d forgotten my Western Mail.






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