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Mort in Wales
Mort in Wales with Robert MacDonald and Bradley Smith


Excerpt from Striking Through the Masks

An unforgettable side trip on my first visit to England was a journey to the Edinburgh Festival with another friend, the historian Bradley Smith, and his filmmaker wife, Jenny Wilkes. Besides being a colleague at Cabrillo, Brad was a historian renowned for his findings and interpretations concerning World War II and the Nazi era, which he published in eleven highly respected books. It was he who had secured my pass to the Berlin Documentation Center through the Hoover Institute. Over the years, we spent a number of high-spirited times together, in particular several Thanksgivings with his
daughters and mine when we were single fathers. In addition to his teaching and writing, Brad was a social activist and had taken leave from Cabrillo to teach at a black college in the South during the height of the civil rights movement. Personally, he was irreverent and had a wry sense of humor. Jenny was highly talented and as outspoken and rambunctious as Brad. Years later, one of her short films would be nominated for an academy award. All in all, we were a merry threesome. At edinburgh, Jenny had Brad and me pose as filmmakers, and we were included in a number of insider events. More important, we enjoyed the perks of the British Film School. From there, the three of us traveled to the Lake District, where Wordsworth and Coleridge had founded the English romantic movement, and we continued on to an estate in southern Wales, where we stayed in a sixteenth-century gamekeeper’s cottage with no toilet and only cold running water from a nearby well. the cottage was two miles from any road, and hidden on the property was a bright, robin’s-egg-blue witch’s cabin, which looked as if it was still being lived in although it was tumbled on its side in a forest ravine. A mile further on was an abandoned country church built on a druid’s circle. The path leading up to the church was part of an old Roman road, and looking back over the countryside from the church, I could see the two-thousand-year-old highway slithering over hill and dale into the treeless distance. These historical secrets were shown to us by the leaseholder of the cottage, Jenny’s friend, the painter and former journalist Robert MacDonald, who, with his wife Annie, also became good friends.

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