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Dai Country by Alun Richards.

Instead of the defeated rat-spirit, a more benevolent and whiskered rodent cast its aura over them. Life was full of surprises.

"Jecko... " Benja said again. "Jeck', mun?" The voice was growing desperate.

"Oh, hello," Jecko turned at last. "Good Gawd, where've you bin?" "Come here a minute, will you?" Benja said hoarsely. The confidential nature of his tone was such as to indicate a death in the family.

"Oh, all right," Jecko said. He excused himself from the colliers and went across to the bar, but Benja was diffident of talking within earshot of the others.

"Come over by here in the corner a minute."

"Uh?" said Jecko, affecting alarm. "What's up then?" "Nuthin's up," Benja hissed.

"Oh, well, have a drink?" "No, I'm off it."

"Off it?" "Aye," Benja gave a sheepish smile. "Trainin'."

"Oh?" Jecko feigned a stare of surprise. "Oh, that... " "Yeah, I thought of nuthin else since you mentioned it."

"I only said... " "But you're right, that's the point," Benja said quickly. "I'd thought about it myself, of course, but never mind who thought about it, I want to get on with it, the trainin'. I've cut out the pop and the fags and I... well, I don't know what to do next, like. Not specific, that is, but I... " he leant forward to hiss the supreme confidence into Jecko's ears. "I put my name down for the NCB prelims."

"Have you?" said Jecko carelessly.

"Well, that's a start."

"Welterweight," Benja said, his eyes gleaming. "I got to lose a stone, I reckon, maybe two, but I got my name down, and, well, I was goin' to ask you, like, bein' as how you suggested it... " "You done the real thinkin'," said Jecko coldly.

"Yes, yes, but what I was goin' to ask you was, if you'd help me with the trainin'?" "Beynon," Jecko said automatically.

"He's your boy."

"That swine is useless, he's had a bump," Benja said venomously. "Jest when I needs him, he goes and smashes up his hands."

"Oh," said Jecko. "Well, in that case... " "It's the roadwork and the weight is the problem."

"Weight?" said Jecko carefully.

"Hm... yeah." He was weighing every word.

Benja eyed his beer muscle.

Continues tomorrow Dai Country by Alun Richards is published by Parthian as part of the Library of Wales series. For more information on the series visit www.libraryofwales.

org. To buy your copy visit
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 11, 2010
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