By Ceri Shaw, 2020-05-19
Simon Howells reads 'Dreamcoat', a short story by Matthew G. Rees, author of 'Keyhole', 'The Word' and 'The Tip'. Matthew G.Rees is a critically acclaimed Welsh fiction writer and playwright in the fields of folk horror and fantasy.
AmeriCymru interviewed Matthew G. Rees about his recent short story collection 'Keyhole'. The interview can be seen here:- Keyhole - An Interview With Welsh Author Matthew G. Rees
You can buy 'Keyhole' here: Keyhole
By Ceri Shaw, 2014-11-26
By Ceri Shaw, 2014-03-05
By Ceri Shaw, 2012-10-23
By Ceri Shaw, 2012-01-30
Looking for a selection of St David's Day cards? Look no further.
The AmeriCymru Directory will be displaying a selection of e-cards from today. Just a few to begin with but we will be adding more over the course of the next few weeks. Check back to see the latest designs. Cards are free to send so...Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus/Happy St David's Day
By Ceri Shaw, 2010-08-19
"Llanddewi Brefi is renowned for the miracles of St David and has been portrayed infamously on the Little Britain television series. But it also has another claim to fame. Rather surprisingly, this small village in west Wales was the centre of the world LSD drug trade in the 1970s. In a new book by Lyn Ebenezer, he discloses who was making and taking the drug in the area and how the polices so-called Operation Julie managed to bust the largest drug ring in the world in 1977.
The author, who was a journalist on the Welsh newspaper Y Cymro at the time, tells how Llanddewi Brefi became a desired destination for pop-stars such as the Rolling Stones, Jimmy Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Theyd been invited to the village by local resident David Litvinoff in the 1960s. The author recalls, It is pretty certain that Bob Dylan stayed at Litvinoffs house for six weeks during the summer of 1969, just after hed been at the Isle of Wight pop festival. Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones admitted that hed been to Llanddewi Brefi too and that whilst staying there hed used every illegal drug in existence and some which werent in existence!
However, the Operation Julie book deals mainly with the famous police raid which brought to a juddering halt the enormous drug network, which had produced pure LSD worth millions of pounds in rural Wales. In March 1977, the police arrested dozens of people and found six million tabs of LSD the largest stash of illegal drugs ever found. More than 800 police officers took part in the operation and 120 people were arrested in total. LSD tabs with a street-value of 100 million were discovered. This was the largest police case of its kind and brought Llanddewi Brefi, Tregaron and Carno to world attention overnight.
Operation Julie includes a great deal of new information never published before and records recent interviews conducted with some of those who were involved. And as a local journalist in situ at the time, Lyn Ebenezer gives his own first-hand account and his insight into the affair. In his introduction to the book, he recollects:
Those arrested were said to have been responsible for 90 per cent of the LSD produced in Britain and 60 per cent worldwide. That is the official line. It will become evident, however, that truth and fiction are still inextricably mixed over 30 years later. But the facts, incredible as they are, seem to outweigh the fiction. Here I include both The story of Operation Julie is, if you believe the official spin, the story of an ideal that went wrong, greed and audacious enterprise on one side and of diligent, selfless and determined police work on the other. But it is also a story of political infighting and lasting bitterness. Stories abound of undiscovered stashes of LSD and hidden fortunes. There are tales of tip-offs by disgruntled police officers and even a royal connection
There remain many unanswered questions. There are, for instance, accusations that statistics were deliberately massaged in order to strengthen the case for a national drugs squad. And if chemist Richard Kemp had produced LSD worth 2.5 million during his seven years of production, as was alleged, why was it that only 11,000 of his money was ever discovered?
Were the dangers of LSD exaggerated? Much was made of Kemps ability to produce the purest LSD in history. Surely, if it was the purest, was it not also the safest? After all, the dangers of LSD lie in its impurities. In fact, despite lurid newspaper accounts of the dangers of acid, no evidence whatever was produced to prove that Kemps LSD caused any deaths.
There are accusations that some officers, the operations commander Dick Lee in particular, leaked doctored information to the press, especially to the red tops, as a means of strengthening the case for the formation of a national drugs squad. Papers like the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express in particular, following the sentencing, were laughably sensational. It is no coincidence that the only two books immediately published on Operation Julie appeared with the cooperation of those very newspapers. Dick Lees book Operation Julie (W H Allen, 1978) was co-written by Colin Pratt of the Express while Busted by Martyn Pritchard and Ed Laxton (1978), riddled with police and underworld parlance, was published by Mirror Books. Was it a coincidence that the journalist who first alerted me to the swoop was a Daily Express reporter?
I have included a chapter on a fascinating character who appeared in Llanddewi Brefi seemingly out of nowhere at the end of the sixties. David Litvinoff was not directly involved with the Julie story, but was very much a part of the drugs scene. He attracted many pop stars including the Stones, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and possibly Bob Dylan to his house. Albeit unaware of the fact, he was the harbinger of the influx of free spirits to the area
My motive in writing this book is not to be judgemental. Largely it is, rather, a story of how a quiet area of mid Wales was changed completely by incomers that embraced a different culture and way of life. Yet many of those involved in the LSD conspiracy were accepted by the local community. Had they not been embraced or at least tolerated their illegal venture would never have lasted so long. It is still difficult to find anyone in the Tregaron and Llanddewi Brefi area that will condemn them. In fact, they are regarded as likeable rouges, much like the areas own Robin Hood, the sixteenth-century robber and folk-hero Twm Shn Cati.
So, even though this book follows the main events of Operation Julie, it is a revised overview. It is also the story of rural communities that were changed completely, and remain completely changed. LSD may not have changed the world, as its proponents had hoped it would, but it did, albeit inadvertently, change forever a rural way of life.
The book is published by Y Lolfa on 26 August 2010 and is available on their website www.ylolfa.com at 9.95.
Operation Julie photos by Raymond Daniel attached here ( PDF ) Operation Julie - Adran Lluniau indd.pdf
By Ceri Shaw, 2008-07-16
(This article originally appeared some time ago on the Americymru blog. It is reproduced here as a brief introduction to the many delights to be found in the new Americymru library which can be accessed from the left hand column on the main page. Despite the rather flippant tone of this piece there are a number of Welsh literary classics to be found in the library and we will be adding more from time to time. )
A Bad Day At 'Goodwill'
Once more it is time to sing the praises of the 'mighty' Google. What did we ever do without them? Google Book Search has been around for a while but the recent addition of the "My Library" feature adds a whole new dimension. Basically the new feature allows you to search the database and save items to your own personal library which can be accessed online and shared with friends, family, etc. You can also review and rate the books in your collection. A typical Google ' My Library ' page looks like this .
If you followed the link I should explain that Google offers you the choice to search for 'Limited Preview' or 'Full View' titles. If you opt for the former you can only view snippets of the text but 'full view' items can be read in their entirety. Here at americymru we are, of course, mainly concerned with books about, or relating, to Wales and we thought it might be interesting to build a library of older works that can be read online in full. What we have here is a collection of dusty old relics reminiscent of a bad day in the book aisle at 'Goodwill'. Most of these volumes are long-since forgotten and with good reason. Still others are fascinating or amusing depending on your literary perspective.
"Here Be Monsters!"
As you might expect there are some prime examples of condescending and flatulent Victorian prose to be found amongst the gems in our digital reliquary. Nineteenth century preacher and author, Thomas Rees, penned his imaginatively titled "Miscellaneous Papers on Subjects Relating to Wales" in 1867. It is a masterpiece of groveling servility. Here is a quote from his article, included in this volume, on the 'working classes' of Wales:-
"The labouring classes of Wales, wherever they are to be found without any admixture of foreign elements and habits, are characterised by several very commendable qualities. As a class of people they are remarkable for their loyalty and submission to their superiors. Ever since the incorporation of " Wales with England, the loyalty of the Welsh nation to their Saxon rulers has been perfectly unswerving, notwithstanding the occasional effusions of frenzied poets and hot-headed orators against the Saxon invaders."
For more in the same vein read the rest of this ghastly tract. Whilst intending no disrespect toward its author I feel bound to say that this is an apocalyptically awful book that is sure to make you chuckle. It is best read out loud in a highly pompous and affected 'public school'* accent.
A Classic of Yesteryear
Of course rummaging in the attic is bound to bring to light some long lost cherished possessions. Who over the age of 100 can fail to remember with fond affection the classic 1907 Great Western Railways vacation guide, 'South Wales: The Country of Castles' . This volume is a treasure trove of useful advice. Witness the following on page 50 :-
"......it is impossible to ignore the fact that the use of the motor adds most materially to the possibilities of Aberystwyth as a travel-centre. Too great caution cannot possibly be exercised in the choice both of a chauffeur and a machine. If the former is a novice at local topography, he can only be a source of vexation and perplexity."
Certainly one would not wish to engage a perplexing and vexatious chauffer, but the GWR does not content itself with travellers tips , there are also passages of purple prose. On page 160 we find the following description of Tenby at sundown quoted approvingly :-
"Towards sundown a miniature fleet of trawlers sweeps gracefully around the Castle Hill, looking for all the world like a flight of brilliant butterflies ; their russet sails glowing in the warm light of the sun's declining rays with every hue from gold to ruddy purple, recalling memories of gorgeous scenes on far-away Venetian lagoons."
I was never favored with such a vision on my visits to Tenby. It is at this point that we are perhaps reminded of the fact that laudanum was not made illegal in Britain until the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920.
Bananas & Tomatoes a Speciality
Reproduced below is a small selection of charming period advertisements. One is for a Fruiterer & Florist which specialized in bananas and tomatoes and the other is for the Aberystwyth "Waterloo Hydro Hotel" which, somewhat ironically, burned to the ground in 1920.
Google says that it plans eventually to put all books into digital form and the sooner the better. At least this way you dont have to dust them! A feast of fun awaits the determined 'rummager' in Google's digital attic and for our part we look forward to unearthing and reviewing more gems for your reading pleasure in the future. Our Library can be found here .