by Anura Guruge
** Dylan Thomas: ‘A Boy With A Note’.
++++ Search for ‘Revels’ & ‘Cambridge’ for MANY other related posts >>>>
Cwmdonkin Drive, Uplands, Swansea.
Yes, “Uplands House” was set inside a
HUGE sloping garden.
‘Laugharne’ relative to Swansea
(and the famed rugby & mining town Llanelli).
Dylan Thomas (who should never be confused with ‘Bob’) & I share a connection.
No I never met him. He was born October 27, 1914 and died November 9, 1953. As such he died when I was 2 months old.
I was never a Dylan Thomas scholar and to be honest am, at best, only familiar with his most famous works, e.g., “Under Milk Wood“.
The connection that we share is that I too, like he, lived on Cwmdonkin Drive in the ‘Uplands‘ district of Swansea, Wales — this being when I did my first degree (a B.Sc. in Computer Technology) at the University College of Swansea from 1971 to 1974 (before joining IBM).
I actually lived directly across the road from the semi-detached house (now with the obligatory blue plaque commemorating its historic significance) in which he was born and spent the first 19 years of this relatively short life.
I rented a ‘wing’ in ‘Uplands House’ — an old, rather dilapidated Squire’s Mansion owned by a retired couple who rented much of the house to mature students and recent graduates. I managed to get the ‘wing’ because my adoptive parents could afford the rent (given that my education, in full, was paid for by UNESCO).
When I moved to ‘Uplands House’, after getting kicked out of another boarding house because I broke the rules about visiting girlfriends, I had never heard of Dylan Thomas. But I was still new to Britain having only lived there for just over 2 years — and I had only left Ceylon four years earlier. But my then ‘live-in’ girlfriend, who was to be my first wife, was very au fait with Dylan Thomas’ work. But there was little she didn’t know about English literature or for that matter most things cultural, historic and social. She was a star scholarship pupil from a prestigious (good ol’) British Grammar School. She was beyond clever. I never worked out why somebody as clever as her saw in I. But it was great. She taught me much. And it was she who took me across the road one day and said “look, Dylan Thomas’ house”. She then had to tell me who he was …
When we eventually got a car we, for the heck of it, drove around quite a bit. And that is how I also visited Laugharne, where Dylan lived during his last years and where he is buried. Laugharne was an easy and scenic drive from Swansea. I remember doing the ‘Dylan tour’ of Laugharne at least twice and on one of these visits sitting by his grave.
So between Cwmdonkin Drive and Laugharne I feel I definitely have a connection with this great (but ‘misguided) Welshman.
by Anura Guruge
Other Related Posts:
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This was BRILLIANT. Bravo. Made my day. I had, since 1971, always wanted to be able to say it BUT I can’t even come close.
I, given that I spent three of my most formative and fun years in Wales, in Swansea, consider myself somewhat Welsh. If nothing else, as those that know appreciate, cut-to-the-chase, the underlying cadence of my (hard to understand) accent is Welsh! Fancy that.
In September 1971, when I started at Swansea University, I was given a tour and orientation by a Welsh student. All the signs were in both English and Welsh and he took delight in reading them out to us. I kind of thought it would be neat to learn some Welsh while I was there. Well that never happened. I was busy with other things. SMILE. But there was a time, after much tutoring from locals, when I could properly pronounce ‘Llanelli‘ like a native
This is great. Thanks Liam. You are the guy.
P.S., This was not live. They prerecorded it just to be on the safe side BUT it is claimed that he nailed it on the very first take. I am so proud of him.
by Anura Guruge
My 2nd 4th of July in the U.S., the FIRST as a British citizen. The other had been in 1968, in Buffalo, NY, when I was 14. I was, however, a citizen of Ceylon at the time (only having changed nationality in 1983).
Big, neighborhood cookout across the road. Very communal community. Around 3 in the afternoon. The sun is beating down. As ever I have a glass of wine in my hand. A lady, one of the neighbours, sidles up to me and puts her delicate hand on my arm.
“So, Anu, tell me, how do they celebrate the 4th of July in England?”
“Quietly, very quietly!”
I kid you not. This is a true story. It was my best rejoinder EVER. I am so proud that I was able to come up with that. I have got so much milage out of this story, in Britain, when I used to do seminars over there. I would start off with this story. The Brits loved it.
So I am sharing it with all of YOU in case you too were wondering how the British celebrate the 4th of July.
Some Other Memorable, “This Really Happened To ME”, U.S. << — >> U.K. contretemps during my many (30++) years in the U.S. as a British subject.
>> “These, what did you call them, ‘pounds’, is that like a currency, like money, like the dollar?” ((“Know they are better than the dollar, about two and a half times better”. This was in 1980 when a U.K. pound (£1) was worth around $2.40. Phoenix Airport, Arizona — trying to pay for excess baggage using airline issued MCOs (Miscellaneous Charge Orders).))
>> “Arthur C. Clarke was British? Well, we wrote damn well for NOT being American!” ((This was by a retired, highly respected surgeon in Laconia, New Hampshire, in September 2001 during a Laconia Rotary Club Meeting.))
>> “He got his first degree from the “University of Whales”. ((Laconia Rotary Club Newsletter, Fall 2001, after I had told them that I got my first degree from the University of Wales. The writer of the piece, a newspaper editor and now the Mayor of Laconia, claimed that he had NEVER heard of Wales!))
.by Anura Guruge
1/ King George V’s ‘Great Silence’ proclamation … — July 9, 2013.
2/ Origins Of “Armistice Day” (a.k.a “Poppy Day”) — June 11, 2013.
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Please check dedicated ‘Red Poppy’ PAGE
above (↑↑) with tons of pictures and history.
I like most Brits having nothing but undisguised admiration, respect and gratitude for the Gurkhas — who for so long have fought beside us.
So today I went in search of Gurkhas with Poppies pictures.
I lucked out. I am so happy.
That this was “Remembrance Day for ex-Gurkhas at Llanelli, Wales“ just made my day! Many don’t appreciate it, but I am Welsh. My underlying accent is not from Ceylon, it is a Ceylon accent modulated by Welsh. I spent 3 of my most riotous years of my life in Swansea, Wales. Llanelli wasn’t far away. I have been to Llanelli, visited the Rugby club and even more importantly was able to say ‘Llanelli’ correctly, saying like a true Welshman.
So this great, but I always associate Llanelli with greatness — not just on the rugby field.
Then there was this:
Then this from Flickr:
..by Anura Guruge
I came to the States this time around in 1986 (having spent one year previously 1967 – 1968). I was living in rural Maryland, in a brand new middle-class development, 4 bedroom colonials on 4 acres each. On the 4th of July I was invited to a big cookout at a neighbor’s house; he was a Maryland State Trooper. Another neighbor, a very presentable young lady in her mid-30s approaches me and asks: “So, tell me, how do they celebrate the 4th in England?“.
To this day I am proud and relieved that I had the presence of mind to immediately respond, without batting an eyelid: “Very quietly. Very quietly.“
Well, when it comes to ‘Boxing Day‘, the day after Christmas, i.e., December 26, a mandatory, cherished holiday in the U.K., that dates back centuries, things are the other way around. It is not celebrated in anyway in this country, though the Canadians (thanks to their antecedents) do indeed have it as an official holiday — as do most other Commonwealth Countries, e.g., Australia, South Africa (where they now call it ‘Goodwill Day‘) and New Zealand, though no longer in India or my Sri Lanka (both countries do having a surfeit of holidays). Some other European countries also celebrate December 26 as a holiday, but not as ‘Boxing Day’. To them it is just the second day of Christmas. As it now happens, by coincidence or otherwise, December 26 is the first day of the week long Kwanzaa. Maybe it should be made a holiday in the U.S. just on those grounds.
Despite its being so beloved in Britain, nobody actually 100% sure as to how this holiday came about and to what ‘Box’ it refers to! The theory that makes most sense is that this was the day that the workers, i.e., the serfs, got to celebrate Christmas — their services being required by their Lords and Masters on Christmas day. It is also believed to be the day that the workers got their ‘presents’ or bonuses from their master, the ‘box’ probably a reference to this. In my mind, within this context, I have images of women and children standing outside the manor house holding empty hat boxes waiting for them to be filled. As it happens, Boxing Day, December 26 is when the ‘Western Church’ celebrates “St. Stephen’s Day”, St. Stephen the Christian protomartyr, i.e., the first Christian to be martyred. So another theory is that ‘Boxing Day’ refers to the boxes left in churches, or outside churches, for collections for this Feast Day, and that the holiday per se is tied to the Feast.
In Britain Boxing Day is (or was when I lived there) a day devoted to recovering from Christmas and pursuing sports: football, cricket from down under on the telly, horse racing, possibly some rugby, and in those days (when it was legit) hunting. You could place bets on the horses and watch the races on telly. Many, including I in my 20s, would go to a football game — football violence at its height in those days. And yes, of course, we would watch cricket on the telly.
When I came to the States in 1986 as an adult (as opposed to the 14 year old) I was surprised that Boxing Day was not a holiday here, but not as surprised as I was to discover that people worked on Good Friday and Easter. I had never lived in a country where this had been the case, and I have lived in: Ceylon/Sri Lanka, France, England and Wales. Not that it really made a difference to me. I was lucky enough to be able to take off whatever days I didn’t want to work. Plus, I have been self-employed since 1992 (though to be honest I have always done some amount of work, i.e., writing, on all holidays, whether it be Christmas, Thanksgiving, Labor Day or New Year).
Until yesterday I had never bothered to compare the U.S. holiday structure with that of the U.K. (bearing in mind that there are variations depending on whether you are talking about England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales). Then I made the following chart. The first thing that surprised me was that the U.S. had more holidays — at least at the Federal level (e.g., Columbus Day and President’s Day). The other thing is how so many of the U.S. holidays are not on fixed dates. The U.K. I realized had no real memorial days — and Poppy Day is not a holiday! Many in the U.S. may not appreciate this, but for the last 30 years or so, most professionals and office workers in the U.K. take a 10 to 11 days break over Christmas using the 5 weeks (minimum) of vacation (per year) they get. So most stop work on December 23 and don’t go back until January 2 or 3 (depending on how the weekends factor in).
So this was my little bit of nostalgia for Boxing Day. Yes, in my heart I will celebrate Boxing Day this Wednesday. More than likely, because I watch it most days, I will watch some cricket.
..by Anura Guruge
Given that my middle name is ‘Typo‘, I better than most appreciate the joys and pitfalls of typos, but I have to say that the ‘Laconia Daily Sun‘ puts me to shame on a regular basis. I had at one point considered setting up a blog just to keep track of the daily bloopers from the Sun — which is the only newspaper I read in ‘print form’ on a regular basis. But, I realized that I just wouldn’t have the time to do it justice. Often I am convinced that Ed Engler, the Editor, who is noted for his wit, does this on purpose — just to get a rise. You may recall he is the same one that published that I had attended the ‘University of WHALES‘ — shamelessly making fun of my blubber. This amused me. So I wanted to share. The whole Liquor Store story doesn’t make sense either, but that isn’t a case of Ed pulling our collective leg. I read the story on WMUR. A bit of a stretch even for NH.