WISPA tour of Wales March 2014, part 4
My host for the evening of the 26th was Josie Smith. Again the hospitality was wonderful and the chance to see yet another beautiful part of Wales was most welcome. Josie regaled me with great conversation ranging over many topics and themes. The following day, the 27th March she played her part in the “pass the poet” and left me back to Lampeter and the capable hands of yet another new friend, Lee Prosser.
Lee and I spent an enjoyable time in the cafe indulging in a great sharing of poetry and chatting away about all the things poets talk about when together. We even said hi to the wonderful Welsh wizard , Merlin!!
Then, a definite highlight of the whole tour, Lee brought me to Laugharne, so important in the life of Dylan Thomas and a very special place to visit in this, the centenary of his birth.
There we were joined by Mark Montinaro who rambled with us around the village where he lives. I had heard Mark deliver one of his poems in Carmarthen and it was a memorable performance, a lengthy poem delivered perfectly, catching the audience and holding them in the palm of his hand, a tour-de-force of poetic delivery. Small wonder then when he told me he also is an actor!
Mark met us in the famous Browns Hotel, beloved of Dylan Thomas. There we were briefly joined by a local, in the sense of one born, bred and buttered (as might be said!) in the area.
Roy Gill filled us in on a few gems of local lore about the great poet, or more particularly how all is not always as it seems! He was able to tell us that what looks like a beamed bar-room old enough to be from the relevant time is in fact massively revamped and the only thing he allows to be original is one particular horizontal wooden beam in the interior wall, that he says is the edge of the stage where the band played when it was all a local dance hall.
This was also the locale and the day where I learned to me great amusement, but not surprise, that over the years various tables from the bar, the one by the window, have been sold as being THE table Dylan used when writing in the Hotel. The same source indicated that there may have been a time when the barman kept up to twenty dart boards behind the bar, ready to sell as, yes you’ve guessed it, THE dart board pierced by the playful poet. MY lips are sealed forever as to the source of these lovely legends, but I loved hearing them!!!
Outside we had great fun while Roy kindly struggled with the camera phone to take a picture of the three amigos in Laugharne. My thanks to him and my apologies, mine are the eyes that are closed in the photo.
Wandering around the village my eyes were anything but closed. It is a beautiful place and I felt lucky to be there on a quiet day, no tour buses to contend with. The only mementoes I needed were the few pictures , some postcards from the local Post Office and the memories of a great ramble in fine company.
Mark took us around by the Castle, down to shore level, along the path towards the Boat House where Dylan Thomas found the peace needed to compose. Sir Johns Hill was close at hand and every view had a meaning for Mark, not just in relation to the famous poet but also his own undoubted love of the place where he lives.
I knew then that this had been the very best possible way for me to add Laugharne to my life-long literary pilgrimage, thank you Lee, Mark and Roy.
More to follow, the final reading in Narberth and the plans for the Carlow Bowl