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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, July 27, 2004
    Writers' Routes
    Scratch beneath and you soon see that it's tourist board marketing. But Writers' Routes - Literary Journeys in South West Wales is an attractive little booklet. It comes with a 40-minute CD documentary visiting some of the places that shaped Dylan Thomas's life and work, and the booklet whets the appetite for other explorations - to the Hywel Dda Centre, Whitland, on the trail of Gerald of Wales, and at Aberglasney House with John Dyer; and then on to explore some modern Welsh writers - Alexander Cordell, Sir Kingsley Amis, Caradoc Evans, Iris Gower, Gillian Clarke, Stevie Davies among others - and the places in South-West Wales which they have made their own.

    It's a bit light on actual routes, this thing, but it's enough to arouse the curiosity: I majored on Dylan Thomas at Cardiff University but never once visited Cwmdonkin Drive or the little village where he created so many of his masterpieces - Laugharne, of which he said (in his last radio broadcast),

    Some, like myself, just came, one day, for the day, and never left; got off the bus, and forgot to get on again. Whatever the reason, if any, for our being here, in this timeless, mild, beguiling island of a town with its seven public-houses, one chapel in action, one church, one factory, two billiard tables, one St.Bernard (without brandy), one policeman, three rivers, a visiting sea, one Rolls-Royce selling fish and chips, one cannon (cast-iron), one chancellor (flesh and blood), one port-reeve, one Danny Raye, and a multitude of mixed birds, here we just are, and there is nowhere like it anywhere at all. [Download text]

    A quote on the CD persuaded me that the time has come for me to visit. It's from a well-spoken lady who observes, "I think Laugharne has always attracted eccentric artistic people - writers, artists - and it has a reputation for eccentricity." Oh, should suit me then.