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Morning Serial; Dai Country.

Byline: Alun Richards

There was also a cheesecake photograph and a black star inset beside the headline, an afterthought by a sentimental compositor which drew a relaxed smile from Mrs Lemon's pursed lips.

From such humble beginnings, stars were truly born. If only Dottie's voice had a little more volume, but then, perhaps that would come; anyway the microphone was God's gift to the whispering tenor, no less than the budding soubrette.

Will remembered it all, the sparkling sequins on the tight-fitting dance costume, the metal bars on the tap-dancing shoes, the gypsy blouse with its pretty crochet work and pink drawstring, most of all Dottie's performing smile, her lips carefully parted and the precisely calculated glance which was so levelled so as to include everyone 'out front'. Dottie did not only have It, she had that showbusiness pizzazz, the illusion of life and energy when performing, that reached out over the front rows even of the Workmen's Hall.

There were also other moods, equally phoney.

'Please...' she sang, her head on one side, her pale little oval face straining with that smile, eyes blinking until she got used to the lights, always projecting an unrealised and as yet, anonymous self; 'Say you're not intending to tease...' Sweet, she was; a good turn, fair play. Winsome, was the word, as neat as a top. She'll go far.... Oh! Listen now...

'Your eyes reveal, That you have the soul of, An angel white as snow...' From 'Animal crackers in my soup', she had progressed and unwittingly acquired something of the borrowed image of the girl next door, the captive blonde who never washed a dish however, but whose hair brushed your cheek when you kissed her in the moonlight, Glenn Miller smooching in the background. 'And you never thought of knickers,' Will said to himself now. They were all strangely puritanical, the wartime teenagers, uneasily poised below the general disturbance. Perhaps that explained the one afternoon he had spent with her when she was free of her mother and Dan y Graig Street, one hour which stood out in his mind, perhaps the one note of reality in his whole recollection.

'Always in after lunch,' she'd written. Would he go and see her? He had certain reservations. He looked again at the note. 'I really am desperate.' That was another poser. He was not a careful man for nothing so he rang Vi, to ask her advice, but it so happened that Vi was out.

He remembered it was her day for golf lessons which she'd begun to take. She'd be out all day. He could nip home and change without a word said if he wanted to! But steady. He checked himself.

It wasn't as if Dot was a what-you-call, he said to himself, an old flame, did they call it? Rather the reverse.

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.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 18, 2010
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