Saturday, October 11, 2014


Sometimes, in the dead of night, a call of nature arouses me from my slumbers.  And then I find it difficult to get back to sleep again.   Why?  Well, I find my head spinning with music, the lyrics of songs and, not for the first time last night the lilting rhythm of the language of Under Milk Wood.

When it was shown on BBC Four back in June, I recorded the BBC Wales production of Dylan Thomas`s masterpiece, which was beautifully done by a distinguished all-Welsh cast.  So I have seen it quite a few times and never fail to be captivated by the quality of acting, interpretation and production with the result that large passages of it are firmly embedded in my head, which come back to me as I try to resume my slumbers - I should try counting sheep, I suppose, but there is so much about the good folk of Llareggub that defies unconsciousness.

But last night, I realised just how much BBC Wales had short changed us when, for production reasons I assume, sections of the original play for voices had had to be cut.  I went through who and what seemed to be missing and, as the starless, bible-black, moonless night wore on, I recalled Captain Cat hearing the naughty forfeiting children tumble and rhyme on the cobbles, with Gwennie calling the boys to kiss her or give her a penny.   And Billy, Johnny Cristo and Dicky answering her calls with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

And Bessie Bighead was missing too, once and only once kissed by long dead Gomer Owen because he was dared.   And no sign of Cherry Owen and Mrs. Cherry Owen, laughing delightedly together as over the bucket he went, sprawling and bawling, and the floor was all flagons and eels.  And no Lord Cut-Glass in his kitchen full of time or PC Attila Rees, dead to the dark and still foghorning; and no Utah Watkins counting the wife faced sheep as they leap the fences on the hill.

So, maybe one day BBC Wales will fill in the gaps and give voice to the missing persons in a follow up version of their original triumph. If not,  I suspect my nocturnal disturbances will continue to be bribed and lullabied to sleep in the silent black, bandaged night by the voices, hopes, dreams and despairs of that lulled and dumbfound town.    

(Like my recent discovery of dodder, it seems the lure of Under Milk Wood just grows on you.)

No comments: