Glyn Mathias – Raising an Echo

Book Review : Glyn Mathias Autobiography

There are two things about this book that make it such a worthwhile read, one is the writing, so seductive that one can barely tear oneself from the page, and second, the story itself, full of fascinating detail and a choice of content that keeps the reader going on the basis of  ‘want to know’ . During the early part of the book the reader is taken through a brief history of the Mathias family, going back to the first world war, demonstrating the many shades of belief and political leaning within the family, which it serves to do so well. It also gives the reader an awareness of how a child born into the middle of this family would receive a high moral ethic to live up to. Glyn’s father, Roland Mathias was a well-known poet, whose reputation stands to this day and also a teacher and headmaster of more than one school in Wales. It was thought that Glyn would do better in a school where his father was not teaching and he was sent as a boarder to Llandovery College where he did well enough to get into Oxford, with a stint at Butlins along the way, not as a red-coat, but working in the accounts office. His career in journalism began as a cub reporter at the Merthyr office of the South Wales Echo, and it was from there that his life in the arena of media politics took off.  He worked for both ITN and the BBC in Cardiff, (so delighted to be back in Wales) and became Political Editor for both, and in the line of duty he met just about everyone there was to meet in the world of politics. Those encounters are written about here with the skill of an experienced journalist. He does on the page exactly what he did in the days when he was on the television; he extends the circle, including the audience seemingly without strain or difficulty in the conversation. There is a fine talent at work in this book, and it makes for gripping reading. Here was a man who was there at the cutting edge of politics in Britain through it all in 70s and 80s;  the Falklands, Cecil Parkinson’s fall from grace, Thatcher and the poll tax, the growth of Welsh politics, establishing the Assembly, televising the House of Commons, and bringing the information about all of these things into the homes of the nation. It is apparent here and there in the story that the pressure involved in carrying out such a task and doing it well made for some moments of severe stress. His escape from letting this get to him was always his family and still is, as he enjoys his retirement in Wales today.

Glyn Mathias ‘Raising an Echo’ an Autobiography is published by Y Lolfa

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