Monday, 2 December 2013

Literary pursuits

Expect to hear a lot about the wordy Welsh wizard Dylan Thomas next year because it's the centenary of his birth and it's going to be all over the media. That's my prediction, anyway.
Dylan and Caitlin
In the last few weeks I've been working on commission from a magazine that has involved going to see the home of Dylan and Caitlin Thomas at Laugharne in Carmarthenshire. And it has resulted in a couple of discoveries that I won't share with the magazine's readers - but thought you might like..
In case you don't know it the 1940s radio play has become a classic of Welsh writing in English. It's at its best on the version voiced beautifully by Richard Burton and was also a film with Elizabeth Taylor and Burton.
Have a look at the trailer here. The topless girl in the pink pants is at Fishguard Old Town, Pembrokeshire, and I think she's the lovely Angharad Rees (who went on to star in the BBC's Poldark series).
 Anyway, startles.The first is a line or two from 'Under Milk Wood' that I can really relate to. It comes in a section that describes the sleeping townspeople's dreams; this is it:

SECOND VOICE: Willy Nilly, postman, asleep up street, walks fourteen miles to deliver the post as he does every day of the night, and rat-a-tats hard and sharp on Mrs Willy Nilly. 

MRS WILLY NILLY: Don't spank me, please, teacher,

SECOND VOICE: whimpers his wife at his side, but every night of her married life she has been late for school.

Every night... such commitment. Then when I was reading up about Laugharne I spotted this article. It's in section two about the corporation.
I'd heard about the tradition of beating the bounds before - it happens in lots of other British villages. But I particularly like the detail that the owner of the bottom that gets beaten at Laugharne is 'usually a young lady'.
There was a whole spanko world out there back then, but you're usually only aware of it through the odd nudge or wink. 

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