The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon

The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon
Shortlisted for The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Prize

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Dylan Thomas and William Williams

Let's talk about poetry and hymns.

A short, winding drive from Pendine, where my dad grew up, is Laugharne.  Laugharne was the home of Dylan Thomas, thought to be Wales' premiere poet.  Since we were so close, I asked my cousin if he knew where the grave site was.  He said he did.

"It's in the churchyard where my parents were married," he told me.  We drove the handful of miles to Laugharne and parked at the church.

As we crossed to the newer part of the graveyard (ie graves no more that a few hundred years old) we passed by this grave.

I told my kids that this grave belong to Wales' shortest vampire, hence the low fence to keep him from running free at night.

Once in the newer part of the churchyard I immediately spotted this elegant cross.

Caitlin Thomas was Dylan Thomas' wife so I assumed his grave would be near hers, but I could see nothing with his name on it.  My cousin's wife solved the mystery.  This is the same cross seen from the opposite side.

It's a custom in Wales (perhaps all of Britain) for married couples to be buried in the same grave.  This might be a matter of space or finances, but the romantic in me likes to think that spending an eternity like that is a little more intimate than side by side.  Note the items left on both graves from well wishers.

Our next trip, while we were in Laugharne (gotta love any place with Laugh right in the name), was to see where Dylan Thomas did his writing.

Here is the boat house where Dylan Thomas lived with his family,

but this isn't where he did his writing.

Up on the cliff where this photo was taken is the original garage for this house.  Thomas converted the garage into his famous Writing Shed.  Here's the exterior.

And here, with the reflected image of the photographer, is the interior.

A very simple, yet private place to write.

I said there was a family connection to Mr. Thomas, and there is.  My grandmother used to take the bus from Pendine to Camarthen.  The bus stopped in Laugharne and my grandmother often found herself sitting next to Dylan Thomas.  A few years later when my grandmother was driving her car to Camarthen she happened upon a man walking along in the rain.  She slowed down and recognized him as that nice writer man from the bus.  She, of course, gave her country's greatest living poet a lift.

Now who, you might ask, is William Williams?  Well, he's not William Carlos Williams - that's a different guy entirely.  William Williams is a direct ancestor of mine on my father's mother's mother's side.  Here's a picture.

This guy wrote over 800 hymns over his lifetime but is best remembered as the gent who supplied the words for "Cwn Rhondda", the Welsh Rugby Hymn.

Our trip to Britain is mostly documented - there's still a little left to tell, but other writing awaits...

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