Author David Jones is most insistent that this is a 'people' book. A brief perusal of the Contents list reveals how accurate his assessment is. We are introduced to a cast of characters whose challenging and inspirational experiences are recounted in sections on Personal Histories, Family Histories and Covid-19 Heroes. Overall the book is a tribute to the small Welsh community of Cwmbwrla in Swansea and chronicles its response to the 2020 pandemic. There are also contributions from local artists and poets, and Jeff Phillips original drawings of Old Brynhyfryd are particularly evocative and memorable.
Consider the case of Circus Eruption, the UKs first integrated circus project. Based in Cwmbwrla since they purchased the old St Luke's Church building in 2018 their mission is to teach youngsters (11-19) circus skills. Their work and commitment has provided local youth with a much needed break from the misery and tedium of lockdown:-
"The building is a proving to be a perfect base for outreach work, and on the final day of 2020’s unusual summer the Cwmbwrla Community Events team saw at close quarters just how effective Circus Eruption are at engaging young people.
'Among the highlights of an August Bank Holiday event in Cwmbwrla Park were a series of workshops teaching skills in juggling and plate spinning, as well as a range of team-focused games. The mission of Circus Eruption, as we saw very clearly on that sunny Monday afternoon, is to build confidence and spread joy. So far it’s mission accomplished.'
At the Manselton Surgery we find Corinna Evans and her colleagues standing by no matter what the personal cost:-
'Sister Corinna Evans has worked at this surgery since 2005 and it’s difficult to imagine anyone being a more dedicated public servant. On the day I spoke with her, she hadn’t slept. During a night of heavy rain, a leak in her roof had kept her awake. She was clearly exhausted, but she still came to work. She always comes to work.'
It would be so easy (not to mention, a pleasure) to go through this book cherry picking the wonderful tales of dedication and commitment contained therein. But that would be unfair to the many contributors I would have to omit AND to you dear reader because I know you will want to read this book so, the fewer spoilers the better.
David Jones has provided us with an invaluable record of a tragic year. We owe him and everyone else who collaborated on this project a debt of gratitude. And, hopefully, this magnificent effort will inspire others to follow suit. Personally I don't care what lies Boris Johnson peddled in the Commons this morning, even though his penchant for buffoonery occasionally makes his performances entertaining. The guardians of community are our REAL leaders for they are the guardians of the human race. This is REAL history.
BUY IT HERE: Circling the Square: Cwmbwrla, Coronavirus and Community