Obsession: a self-portrait

It’s official – I’m obsessed.

But it’s not always been the case.  You see, if my ‘seventies State Secondary education taught me anything, it was that I wasn’t ‘artistic.’  And I hated my art teacher, even if he was a) male and b) young (staff attributes in extremely short supply in my Girls’ High School).  The other (female) art teacher was ‘hip’ and ‘mod’ (and my best friend was in her class).  Even worse, I was expected to transform a blank sheet of cartridge paper with nothing more inspirational than said teacher’s voice droning lines from a play about some Welsh fishing village full of dead people.  And I got what I wished for: I defected to the art class next door and deafened (deadened?) myself to the magic in the Welsh bard’s words.

Until (shame on me) relatively recently, when I was transported to Llareggub by Richard Burton et al in the 1954 BBC recording of Dylan Thomas’ ‘Play for Voices,’ on air one sleepy Sunday afternoon (somewhere mid-sick leave), this spring.  And utterly convinced by Tom Hollander’s lead performance in the biopic ‘A Poet in New York.’  Since then, courtesy of BBC4, I’ve been on a guided tour of The Writing Shed with Owen Sheers, and marvelled over Peter Blake’s Under Milk Wood-inspired labour of love.  And I’ve raged against my ageing, addled brain for failing to record the BBC Wales TV production which followed, as if my bingeing on iPlayer hasn’t been sufficient.  It hasn’t: I want a recording I can watch anytime.  I’ll just have to wait for a repeat showing (or the release of the inevitable BBC DVD).  All three programmes are still available on iPlayer for one day.  (Click here, here and here for an instant fix).

Then on Thursday I googled Under Milk Wood + vintage editions and ended up treating myself to this gorgeous 1972 Folio Society edition in fine condition (costing little more than a certain ‘Ultimate’ centenary edition), which arrived in this morning’s post:


It features beautiful lithographs by Ceri Richards:









Oh, yes – and (since it came up under the same search) the aforementioned recording as a 2 CD set:


Tonight I’ll be slipping Under, dipping my toes in the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea…

4 thoughts on “Obsession: a self-portrait

  1. Brilliant, Jayne. My frnd Vicky and I learned swathes of this in our teenage years – because we wanted to, not because it was on the curriculum (it wasn’t) All I can now remember is “the sloeblack, slow, black ……” etc. It stays with you!


  2. That edition looks really lovely! I’m seeing the dramatised version on tour next month in Brighton, suggested by my sister who has no interest in poetry, which says something about its wide appeal. 🙂


    • I agree, Robin. It’s really encouraging that centenary events, radio, TV and stage productions are generating wider interest. Enjoy the production 🙂


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