Dylan Thomas Dinner

This was the Order of Service for our inaugural Dylan Thomas Dinner:

Inaugural Dylan Thomas Dinner

24/10/2014

Order of Service

(Host) To begin at the beginning…

First Toast – Sloe black Vodka

Second Toast – Slow, black Sambuca

First Course

Mary-Ann The Sailor’s Pea Soup

(Daran) Rev’d Eli Jenkins Prayer

Main Course

Butcher Beynon’s Chop

(Beryl) Poem in October

Dessert

Dai Bread and Butter Pudding

Cheese

(Ensemble) Extracts of Under Milk Wood and Selected Poems

Do not go gentle into that good night

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Five Fascinating Facts about Dylan Thomas

Interesting Literature

1. Dylan Thomas was born exactly 100 years ago today, in Swansea. His middle name was Marlais, which was a nod to his great-uncle, William Thomas, who was also a poet. William Thomas’s bardic name was Gwilym Marles.

2. One of Thomas’s first published poems was apparently plagiarised. Thomas took the poem, ‘His Requiem’, from a magazine called the Boy’s Own Paper and, er, republished it in the Western Mail under his own name four years later. This act of literary theft wasn’t discovered for 40 years. As Jeff Towns writes on the blog site of the Dylan Thomas Society, ‘It was some 40 years later that the theft came to light when his friend Daniel Jones included the poem in his new edition of Thomas’ Poems [Dent 1971]The daughter of the true author – Lilian Gard, happened to spot  her mother’s work and  exposed the theft in the national…

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Same Old Tories

As the football chants have (almost) long had it. Same old Tories, always bleating. Accusations of leftwing bias, combined with thinly veiled ageism,  and media whoredom combined. Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Totleigh on the Marshes (actually it is Shipley in West Yorkshire – fact fans), member of the Drones Club, and otherwise a bloody, jolly, good bloke, had a spat with Jon Snow in the Channel Four newsroom and made himself look…erm…very much like himself.

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/oct/22/tory-mp-jon-snow-lefty-philip-davies-channel-4-krishnan-guru-murthy

 

In other, related, news apparently Sajid Javed, MP doesn’t watch Newsnight anymore (which I am sure has caused great consternation to approximately no-one), but is a big fan of the good Doctor. You read it here (not exactly) first.

 

Furious racists demand apology after being linked to Mike Read’s crap calypso song

I have the misfortune to remember Mike Read on Saturday Superstore (Search for a MIdland/Natwest/TSB employee(, whipping out his guitar at the drop of a…and playing nondescript notes (music would be stretching it – he got Relax by FGTH banned, too). Even that offence against music beats this UKIP apologist, blatantly racialist (he is stuck in the 70s after all) tripe.

Pride's Purge

(satire?)

A repentant Mike Read has apologised to racists across the country for ‘unintentionally causing offence’ by linking them to his appallingly dire Calypso song.

The ex-Radio 1 DJ has asked for the song to be withdrawn from sale following hundreds of complaints from racists that the astoundingly atrocious ditty he sang in praise of Nigel Farage and UKIP was a load of shite.

One prominent racist explained the reason for the outrage:

For centuries racism has been associated with music such as the sinister nationalism of Wagner or the dark primordial decadence of Strauss. And in more recent times, fascism and extreme intolerance towards our fellow man has been admirably represented by the energetic hatred and grinding violence of skinhead bands like Screwdriver.
But now today – thanks to Mike Read – the sound of far-right bigotry has been reduced to a crap ageing 1980s former radio 1 DJ in a pair of shite sunglasses singing a load…

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Matthew Bourne’s Lord of The Flies in Cardiff: local male dancers, and changing perceptions of dance

Matthew Bourne is an absolute hero of mine

We Are Cardiff

Ballet. It’s for girls from stuffy top ballet schools, right? Matthew Bourne’s latest production of Lord of the Flies is here to CHALLENGE ALL YOUR PRECONCEPTIONS ABOUT DANCE!

Lord-of-the-Flies-main

What actually happened when casting the show? Well, rather than having a full cast of dancers that toured the performance around the country, instead free workshops were held across South Wales to introduce boys aged 10 – 25 to a unique form of dance devised by Bourne to appeal specifically to males and help change their perceptions of dance.

lord of the flies 2014

After the workshops auditions were then held, and 24 boys from south Wales and surrounding areas were selected to perform in the cast of the New Adventures and Re:Bourne production of Lord of the Flies at Wales Millennium Centre, running from 22-25 Oct 2014.

Buzz put together this great little documentary following three boys taking part in the performance:

The local cast will…

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Lets Talk about #Inequality – The Core Tool of Oppression

Look & learn

jaynelinney

As a tutor of Inequality issues, if there one thing I’ve learnt over the years (In)Equalities is one of the topics that impacts on every Policy, everyone, everyday. If this sounds improbable it’s possibly because Equality is generally only attached to Human Resources in employment, Finance in Politics and rarely in schools and at home; however I would argue Equalities should be at the core of everything we learn, say and do.

I write this from the presumption that everyone suffers from Inequality in some way, whether that be via the labelling resulting from the ‘isms’, from one of the countless strands of financial inequality, or even from the (lack of) capacity for empathy.  This supposition is one that often causes conflict, with many people unable to recognise how, those in the 1% group controlling the worlds wealth, can experience inequality. My counter is, without experiencing or recognising the lifestyle of…

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To begin at the ending of the beginning of the end

Latest in the collaboration with Jane Astley

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Echoes, echoes, more echoes, then nothing. Not even silence. Rhodri wondered if for once, he felt alive, if he was alive amidst the life unfolding in stop-motion before him. He wanted to grasp it, but as ever, it was elusive. He loved the comfort in not knowing. Gwenno had said that to him at the club, he hadn’t got it then and now, still, notsomuch, but perhaps that was the point. Of what? Maybe, that was the point, too.

All this elliptical, crazy-perplexing thought, he thought that he had never thought before. Perhaps that was why she always seemed so calm amongst the maelstrom. All Rhodri could see was the past and the future, and her as she reached towards him, taking control, but freeing him. She was in the kitchen, she was there with him, and she held him and he yielded to the sights and smells and to all dreams that he never thought were real. But something, somewhere, jarred. Exhilaration in all its simple-profound-explicable-mystifying glory.

On her toes amongst the steam, the broken bric-a-brac, things he didn’t care for, the clutter that kept him returning to that house, to that kitchen and to…Now, he saw her, his eyes closed and knew through the ecstasy they could never see together. Neither of them could hide from thought, from feeling, right now with their eyes closed, their bodies entwined like Klimt, and their tongues like explorers to the Dark Continent. They would never let go.

Rhodri wanted to say something; it felt like a moment for profundity masquerading in simplicity’s clothes, but he didn’t want to think and didn’t want to speak. Always, so many distractions that took mind and body and soul (he wasn’t sure if he had one, though he knew that Gwenno must) away from the present to a future a microsecond from whenever now was or is or will be. There goes another.

Is she thinking or just being? I never think that I just am…or maybe because…just be. I can’t think.

He had always taken vicarious pleasure in other people’s desire, especially when they were there. Concentrate on not concentrating. He held her arm lightly as she kissed his neck. He recoiled a thousand times in his…he didn’t know where it was or what it was or where it came from, but he shuddered, briefly, involuntarily. Her bloody, light, rounded lips cherubic, and small, straight white teeth on his lips and on his tongue and on his neck and then down his arm and the taste of blood in his mouth as she kissed him again, this time more deeply, before she drew away and said something incongruous about panpipes.

“What did you say?”

“What is that ridiculous sound at this stupid time when I am here in a house in a kitchen with you and you jumped back from me?”

Rhodri didn’t know which question to answer, or even how to answer, but went for the simplest every time. The path easier travelled, clearly signposted, but ordinary.

Still with the panpipes…it sounds like fucking Enigma.

The Poetry Strand

A favourite from Murray Lachlan Young

Simply Everyone’s Taking Cocaine

From Mayfair to Morden from Soho to Sidcup
From Richmond to Dalston through old Regents park
From Borough to Bayswater, Crouchend to Clapham.
From Debden to Tooting beneath Marble arch.

There are daughters of ministers children of clergy
There are amiable honarables barristers verging
On every single section of today’s society
Have thrown figs to the wind and embraced with such glee
The most wonderful pastime to have come around in years
Yes policemen and plumbers road sweepers and peers

Simply everyone’s taking Cocaine

Well last weekend I rode the Millennium wheel
From above and beneath I heard giggle and squeal
For instead of enjoying fine views all about
All the tourists were busily racking them out
Even those from the west of Ukraine

Simply everyone’s taking Cocaine

In the marathon runners are running with glee
With a vigour quite plain for spectators to see
It’s a marvel how thousands have slashed at their times
By at regular intervals hoofing a line
They’ve been stoking it up like a train

Simply everyone’s taking cocaine

Well I saw a young fireman helmet in hand
With a placard declaring we need thirty grand.
When I asked him to justify such an increase
He said “we have to buy it unlike the police”
Then he left for his villa in Spain

Saying everyone’s taking cocaine

Well I saw fizzy Sipworth attempting to eat
Inexplicably missing the most of her teeth
I said Fizzy your gummy what gives you old wag
She said “snorting Peruvian from the pound bag”
Then she laughed like a Portuguese drain

Simply everyone’s taking cocaine

Well I saw aunty Millie, her nose in a cast
I asked how would she manage her hourly blast
“She said needs must dear boy though it may seem a farce
I’ve been having it blown up the old Khyber Pass
By an elderly friend from Bahrain”

Simply everyone’s taking Cocaine

Uncle Percy set off on his great expedition
I said Percy you look in the peek of condition
“Quite so dear boy I’m a jack in the box
Since I purchased a sack of Bolivian rocks
From a couple I met on a plane ”

Simply everyone’s taking Cocaine

In the jungle old Percy’s supply was near done
He said this lack of chang is impeding my fun
When a barer discovered the wreck of a plane
Fairly stuffed to the gunnels with bales of Cocaine
For a year did he chatter and gurn
His remains were returned in an urn

Well the vicar proclaimed it the poorest of taste
To be scattering ashes all over the place
And if as he suspected, the powder were pure
“We should snort the old goat off the rectory floor”
So he chopped out old Percy in lines
Well at first aunty Millie declined

But she quickly gave in when the reverend stepped in
And assured her that Percy would waggle his chin
If he heard that his very last blast
Was a trip up the old Khyber Pass?
Then we all shouted hip hip hooray

Simply everyone’s taking Cocaine

For bus drivers are tooting it
Jockey’s are hoofing it
DJ’s are spinning it
Gamblers winning it
Forces manoeuvring it
Cleaners are hoovering it
Models are booked on it
Anglers hooked on it
Pensioners drawing it
Footballers scoring it
Technicians miking it
PA’s are biking it
Producers are trying it
AnR men denying it
Publishers collecting it
Lawyers protecting it
Artists are begging it
Some of them pegging it
It seems like it’s simple there’s no one to blame
For the whole of this nation is taking Cocaine
Simply everyone’s taking Cocaine

Oh how gay it all seems and how bright we all are
How much fun we are having and Oh what a lark
To have blistering jousting and sharp repartee
Oh please less less, less, about you
And please more, more, more, about me

William Styron On Creative Writing

101 Books

A while back, I wrote a piece about why the Creative Writing MFA isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be in securing one’s future as a writer.

As a writer without one, I’ve done fine with just an English degree. But some writers swear by the Creative Writing MFA.

So as I was looking over a Paris Review interview with William Styron, these two questions piqued my interest:

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The beginning of what will soon become the end (MY ONLY FRIEND THE END)

Gwenno had acted on instinct; rigmarole attracted her. How could she possibly deflect a situation on so many different levels? The man-boy she didn’t want to talk about, he always said that she thrived in a crisis. She wasn’t sure. He had said it full of spiteful, spit-spraying, frustrated beyond all manner of reason. He had said that if there weren’t a suitable reason, then she would create one just to feel alive. She’d argued that the majority of her crises involved him. He hadn’t appreciated it and sank back into his passive-aggressive default. Nevertheless, she had to admit she was at ease here with Rhodri.

A degree of crisis was fine by her; she de-knotted necklaces for fun and created puzzles for future solution. She dotted her life with anecdotes and conundrums and revelled in the little joys of discovering them in drawers, under beds or inside books, whilst rummaging for a cigarette. They had been her loyal hangover companions for as long as she had been drinking, always amusing her, and never hurting her.

Somewhere a clock chimed within its glass case but she didn’t count the strikes. She didn’t want to know what she was losing. She had to count something though, so she scanned fallen objects and found suitable deflections. One, clear the scene; Two, ultimate distraction; Three, placate; Four…

Rhodri and Gwenno were two individuals from an ancient civilisation. The last remaining with the implicit knowledge that there was nothing they could do to sustain themselves. Everything, but no one, certainly not each other. In spite of embracing surplus customs and rituals to honour and bind, to purge and practice, it was an esoteric knowledge that set them apart from everything whilst exacerbating their downfall.

Yet in a moment’s notice they were dragged (sometimes unwillingly and sometimes not) into the humid, constantly buzzing, over-stimulated modern world. It didn’t fit. It was as though someone had brought PlayStations and iPads into the sweat lodge. How can there be a true opportunity for progress with a distracting buzzing permeating everywhere they were and went? People were suspicious of silence in familiar places, real silence, not like when the TV has been switched off. And to find this, they’d have to venture further and further to places, it was more likely to be, which was never inside of themselves. Nobody ever thought to look inside to find it. It was like asking, ‘Where was the last place you saw it?’ Peace I mean, not silence as such. Hardly anybody can recall this. We’re more likely to find the keys to our house than internal peace.

For these last members of their race, whatever they were, if merely the last two remaining awake since the gig ended it was something. And the choice was to die or to adapt. Teetering, unsure, at this dramatic crossroads, precipitated by an internal straitjacket, it was a struggle that felt like a dance. If they learnt the steps, it didn’t have to be bearable; if executed well it could be beautiful. Yet they were yanked in opposite directions and sinking slowly down, slithering into an opacity that was beyond them. They could have spoken about it but it didn’t seem the right time. The morning was pulling them quickly now, through its cool and fragrant bosom, toward the high sun. Nothing would ever be said at this time of day that could mean as much to either of them.

So she tiptoed, a ballet dancer’s reminiscence, graceful and stunning, feeling her ankles wake up and their knees brushing. Her eyes were dry yet wide. She saw his look change imperceptibly. He wasn’t anguished. He took her arm and held it with such a soft grasp, droplets of her blood rolled down the heel of his hand. There was still a space between them, there had to be. Only arms entwined and lips meeting. Where would it lead them? They had thought about this before but nothing was ever that clear.

Gwenno wished that she could blink and wake up in Tuscany mist rising from the vineyards whilst wandering through sleepy villages seduced by the Tuscan lilt, she didn’t know the words; they could be saying to another to clean the maledetto bins. She loved melodic and difficult equally. It was her story and that of all the people she had met. It was easier not to know them very well at all, so that they remained for her these enigmatic features of the world or obstacles that she could weave around to reach anywhere else. Then, that she could dwell in the beauty of all that she didn’t understand.

Rhodri didn’t know where he would go if he had the choice. Perhaps he would wake in some unknown location, a language he had never heard, no obvious indication of anything. Life would be pushing him right to the very edge, perhaps from out of a plane thousands of feet over no man’s land. He opened his eyes in the messy kitchen that he would never tidy up. He preferred cleanliness to tidiness and they weren’t the same thing at all. He realised that he didn’t care much for cleanliness, either.

Gwenno wasn’t smiling; she was looking at him as though she had something profound to say. To him. Then she frowned, cocked her head to one side to listen, and asked, “Seriously are your neighbours playing panpipes?”