Reflections…What did I do? Where did I go?

boathouseWhile appreciating that being on this beautiful, while beleaguered planet, growing older comes with minor aggravations, I of course realize they could be major ones, so the gratefulness multiplies. Many others of my age, have huge hurdles to navigate. One thing, though, which seems in little supply, is energy. Despite eating fairly sensibly, exercising a little, and resting, long walks and energetic house-cleaning dwell in the past. But, as I have said before, at least, I’m doing better than a banana!

Laugharne_Castle smlSo, what is the purpose of this post, you may ask? Today I am tooting on behalf of day-dreaming and recalling the many joys of the past. Travel really does broaden the mind and garners intriguing memories for future use. Take visiting the delightful small town of Laugharne, set on the Taf Estuary in Carmarthen Bay, Wales. Home of a Norman Castle, an annual Arts Festival and twice home to Welsh poet/writer Dylan Thomas – famous for the radio play Under Milk Wood. We – husband and I – ‘came upon it’ while exploring parts of South Wales, in bright Spring sunshine, golden daffodils nodding their heads in greeting on the shore-line of the estuary, while a green tunnel of multifarious trees and bushes rose up to one side: a cool labyrinth leading to a pleasing café, set in a once grand house. En route, we passed the shed where Thomas spent many days and nights labouring over his many poems, and walked the same boards as he did in the Boat House – his former home overlooking the calm waters of the bay.

Thomas called his base, ‘A timeless, mild, beguiling island of a town,’ inspiration for fiction town Llareggub (spell it backwards) in his play.

Dylan_thomas_houseAlthough I was familiar with Dylan’s fame as a writer, I hadn’t read much of his work. A lot of it is for a required taste, but once I dug deeper, the alluring musicality and humour of it, intrigued me. Strangers to Anglo-Welsh (Thomas didn’t speak Welsh) may find it a tad puzzling, but as I am half-Welsh and lived in Wales for a few years as an evacuee in World War 2, it didn’t take long to understand his appeal, more especially his play. It must be said, though, that it does not invite an academic approach with all its many ‘voices’ and the sort of singing and ballads, suggesting a night of maudlin drunkenness and ribaldry. But the intended fun and echoes of laughter are so ’Welsh’ and alluring. .

writing_shed_in_Laugharne smlBorn in Swansea, Wales in 1914, Dylan Marlais Thomas became a Junior Reporter for the South Wales Evening Post, before embarking on a literary career in London. He established himself with a series of poetry collections, short stories, film scripts, and talks, and also lectured in the U.S, as well as writing Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog. The forming and writing of his ’voice play’ Under Milk Wood, constantly reworked over a period of ten years, was finally finished just before he left this mortal coil in New York, in 1953 just days after his thirty-ninth birthday. It is a sad fact that his special work wasn’t broadcast by the BBC until 1954, a year after his death, with a cast led by no less a man than the memorable, sexy. Richard Burton. Who better?! It portrayed lust, simple love, and a dream-world of gossip, including the ever open Sailor’s Arms.

Here are some snippets from Under Milk Wood to give you an idea of its gentle, down to earth, humour.

“To begin at the beginning. It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters’-and-rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat- bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine to-night in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows’ weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now.”

“The husbands of Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard are already at their tasks: ‘Dust the china. Feed the canary, sweep the drawing-room floor, and before you let the sun in, mind he wipes his shoes.”

“Time passes. Listen. Time passes.
Come closer now. Only you can hear the houses sleeping in the streets in the slow deep salt and silent black, bandaged night.”

IMG_8006-1-768x576There was something magical about Laugharne I couldn’t put out my finger on, and we visited on two more occasions when the sun performed on cue, and before returning home, I had written the first page of a proposed story starting: “Long-legged herons, picked their delicate way across the silvered waters of the bay like corned-feet ballerinas…” (I never did finish it…). More relevant, we visited the graves of Dylan and his wife Caitlin Macnamara, on a hill in the graveyard in Laugharne. They had three children and, apparently, spent a very ‘colourful,’ while brief, life, together.

I am sure most writers enjoy ‘dipping’ into other lives from time to time. What better way to learn about the many quirks of human nature? And, apart from authors of ’other worlds’ and purely imaginative genres, would you be a writer if you didn’t?!

A few Welsh expressions:

Ach y fi – an expression of disgust (muttered by Grandma and Mum when some folk didn’t whiten their front steps…)

“Your dinner’s rose.” When dinner was served.

And, in praise: “There’s lovely!”


© Copyright Joy Lennick 2021


41 thoughts on “Reflections…What did I do? Where did I go?

  1. quiall 04/07/2021 / 1:35 pm

    But I’m about to say I swear it’s absolutely true! I too meander through my memories and I was doing just that a few days ago when I remember performing Under Milk Wood in high school. And I was wondering where my script is. I used to keep all my scripts so I’m sure it’s here somewhere. I’ve pretty much forgotten the play but I am intrigued to read the notes that I would have written on the script. Your post sent a chill up my spine. The universe works in mysterious ways.

  2. joylennick 04/07/2021 / 1:48 pm

    Oh, Pamela – how lovely! What a coincidence. Such gems bring us all closer together, don’t you think?! Fancy you performing in Under Milk Wood?! That is such a nice thought! I loved acting & mainly dancing too…I was very happy in Wales even while separated from my parents in the war as my foster aunt was such a darling and i was able to roam the hills and mountains. I still get goose bumps when I hear a Welsh choir sing. Keep well. xx..

  3. Darlene 04/07/2021 / 2:22 pm

    I recently read How Green Was My Valley and loved the Welsh phraseology. I love the serendipity of your post and Pamela´s memories. So cool.

    • joylennick 04/07/2021 / 6:38 pm

      Hi Darlene, I loved How Green was my Valley, read way back when…Serendipity is such a strange ‘phenomenon. When I was writing My Gentle War, Eric (cabbing at the time) had a fare called Dyfyd Havard in the West End of London. They discussed his surname & – by telephoning me and discovering my mother was a Havard, we found we were distantly related!! He told Eric “I am a character actor and am appearing in How Green was my Valley at the Old Vic. Bring your mother to see it and we’ll have a drink afterwards!'” Which we duly did. You can imagine how excited my dear mother was! Deborah Kerr played a role in the play too. And we all had a jolly good drink in the bar afterwards. Life is full of surprises at times,, eh! Hugs xx

  4. Liz Gauffreau 04/07/2021 / 4:07 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post! I love the Dylan Thomas excerpts. The writing is exquisite! I’ll have to read more of his work than anthologized poems.

    • joylennick 05/07/2021 / 9:54 am

      Hi Liz, Thanks for reading. That ‘Welsh musicality’ I often refer to is magical to my ear. When speaking English… the Indians have it too! x

      • Liz Gauffreau 05/07/2021 / 3:07 pm

        You’re welcome, Joy. There is a Welsh connection to Vermont that I discovered in some oral histories on the Library of Congress website. Quarrymen emmigrated from Wales to work in the Barre marble quarries.

  5. willowdot21 04/07/2021 / 4:46 pm

    Thank you Joy this was a lovely gentle post 💜

  6. joylennick 04/07/2021 / 5:14 pm

    Thanks WillowDot. Do hope this finds you well? How are you at present? I know it’s been a very rough ride for you. Here in Spain, we’re sizzling at present, but can hardly blame the Government for the weather and should be used to it by now!. At least we live near the sea, so have the breezes, which are very welcome..Take care of yourself.Cheers! xx.

  7. robbiesinspiration 04/07/2021 / 5:49 pm

    HI Joy, it is always wonderful to see a post from you, Joy. This is a very entertaining and interesting read. I enjoyed learning about Dylan Marlais Thomas.

  8. joylennick 04/07/2021 / 6:08 pm

    Hi, Thanks Robbie. Ah, Laugharne – it conjures up such joyous memories..There are some beautiful places in this world of ours. You lead the most interesting, and full…life. Great you have the two lads. I loved ours growing up with us. Our eldest didn’t leave home until he was thirty! Nothing quite like family life, if you’re lucky! Take care. Hugs xx..

  9. D. Wallace Peach 04/07/2021 / 6:18 pm

    What a beautiful post, Joy. I think/hope that gratefulness and perspective come to all of us as we age. I love your reflections on your travels and on Thomas and his wonderful writing. Exquisite examples. I need to read more of his work. 🙂

  10. joylennick 04/07/2021 / 6:50 pm

    Hi Diana, How kind! Thank you. I have always been in love with the musicality of the Welsh/Engllsh vernacular.”Indeed to goodness!” is another example….Do hope the heat is not too sizzling in your part of the world? Carry on writing your beautiful prose…xx

  11. Jacquie Biggar 04/07/2021 / 7:16 pm

    I’m afraid I’m more of an armchair traveler- hubby loves home life, it’s hard to get him to leave for coffee! lol. To be fair, he drives an hour each way for his job, so when the weekend comes around, he’s ready to relax.
    Enjoyed this post and your travel through Wales, Joy- lovely.

  12. joylennick 04/07/2021 / 10:17 pm

    Hi Jacquie, So pleased you enjoyed my Welsh trip. Great memories.If we all travelled as much as some, the roads would be pretty congested!! Cheers for now. x.

  13. 05/07/2021 / 12:29 am

    Thanks Joy for a lovely day out. I don’t know of his work, but when you hear that Richard Burton reading it’s magical.

  14. joylennick 05/07/2021 / 9:38 am

    Thank you Tidalscribe. Ah voices, eh….Seductive ones are always recalled before the others. Richard, of course,and Gregory Peck (oh!) .x

  15. Jennie 08/07/2021 / 1:26 pm

    Your memories bloom from your experiences, but it’s your attitude, how you see things, that really count. I love how you write and how you see things, Joy. This was delightful. Thank you.

  16. joylennick 08/07/2021 / 2:37 pm

    Hi Jennie How sweet of you to say that. Music to a writer’s ears…We have been so very lucky. Enjoy your weekend and keep well. Hugs xx

  17. ruthlarrea 08/07/2021 / 5:00 pm

    Fascinating – I vaguely remember reading Under Milkwood and maybe hearing it on the radio, and yes it was magical.

  18. joylennick 08/07/2021 / 5:18 pm

    Hola Ruth, Good hearing from you. How are you doing? Such a shame you were unable to attend our last meeting. I know you have problems looking after your husband..Do hope things are a little easier now?What with Covid and ageing, ailing members, it’s all very sad. Upwards and onwards. xx

  19. dgkaye 09/07/2021 / 3:20 am

    What a fascinating snippet on Dylan Thomas, Joy. And btw, you are a force to reckon with and far from a banana. Lol Hugs xox

    • joylennick 14/07/2021 / 2:12 pm

      Hola Debby, Many thanks for reading my Dylan piece and your kind comments. I’m a sucker for anything Welsh. Welsh choirs give me goosebumps…Enjoy your new apartment and take care. Hugs xxx

      • dgkaye 14/07/2021 / 3:38 pm

        Thanks for the enlightenment and the good wishes Joy. Hugs back xox

  20. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
    Whilst casting about for a post to share with you this evening, I received an email from Joy Lennick with a link to her latest post which is a wonderful idyllic meander through South Wales ending up at the delightful small town of Laugharne, set on the Taf Estuary in Carmarthen Bay, Wales. Home of a Norman Castle, an annual Arts Festival and twice home to Welsh poet/writer Dylan Thomas – famous for the radio play Under Milk Wood. Though short -lived Dylan Thomas left his mark very firmly in our literary world. Head over to enjoy this lovely post.

  21. A wonderful post Joy.. thanks for sending me a note. I love that part of Wales and it does seem to have an atmosphere that promotes creativity across the arts. His poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight has always had special significance to me.. ♥♥

  22. Audrey Driscoll 14/07/2021 / 4:48 am

    A radio program I listen to has a Christmas tradition of broadcasting a recording of Thomas reading his A Child’s Christmas in Wales. I’ve heard it many times, and recognize similar word combinations in this excerpt from Under Milk Wood. Poetic prose at its finest!

    • joylennick 14/07/2021 / 9:49 am

      Hi Audrey, Many thanks for reading. I’m a sucker for anything Welsh… Hope you are well and keeping away from you know what..Cheers! Joy x.

    • joylennick 26/08/2021 / 10:13 am

      I can’t believe i didn’t thank you. Very much! Cheers! x

      • OIKOS™- Art, Books & more 26/08/2021 / 12:20 pm

        Thank you as well, Joy! Sorry, the last days i had some delays. Enjoy a great Thursday! xx Michael

  23. Thank you for another very entertaining post, Joy! Very mouthwatering to visit Wales asap. No i know why in ancient times there was so less population here in Germany. The are all wandered and never came back. Lol xx Michael

    • joylennick 14/07/2021 / 2:18 pm

      Hola Michael, How very kind of you re-blogging my Dylan piece. It is much appreciated. I will certainly be looking in…Best wishes. Danke..

  24. alexcraigie 15/07/2021 / 6:16 pm

    We live about twenty miles away from Laugharne and do know how lucky we are. I loved this post. Your ‘long-legged herons’ sentence is magnificent and I hope you manage to use it somewhere! Nice to see a bit of Welsh language, too! x

  25. joylennick 15/07/2021 / 8:23 pm

    Hi Alex, Thank you for your kind comments. How lovely for you to live so near to Laugharne!. We loved it there. I really am `’hung up’ on anything Welsh, but as we are retired to Spain and a bit ancient, I have to content myself with great memories…Lucky us! Very best wishes. xx

  26. ellenbest24 19/08/2021 / 9:20 pm

    Having been married to a Welsh man in another life I have heard the sayings first hand. I still have Undermilk wood on a record with Richard Burton narrating. I never did the touristy stuff but you showed it off beautifully..

  27. joylennick 19/08/2021 / 10:38 pm

    Good hearing Ellen. Thank you for your kind comments. Great that you have an Under Milk Wood record narrated by the fab. Richard Burton. Cheers. xx

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