THE DYLAN THOMAS SOCIETY OF AUSTRALIA
THE LEGEND AND THE POET
Sunday 13 April 2014: food 1.00pm on; readings 2.00pm
This year’s topic is:
Dylan and Wales
A panoramic view of the art room with some of the fifty strong audience
The 2014 Legend and Poet afternoon was the best attended ever, with quite a few late applications for tickets regretfully declined and the little Art Centre at Georges Heights comfortably full. As a special guest we had Hilarie Lindsay OAM, MBE, prolific prize-winning author and indefatigable worker for the Arts in Australia. We also had DTSA founder-member, Roger Jones, who came all the way from Hobart specifically to attend this event. The fact that he missed his plane did not faze him; he transferred to a later flight and arrived to a loud reception during the second half of the program.
Rod, Helen, Jane & Wendy - and lots of scrumptious food!
As usual, the food, organised by Helen with assistance from Kay, Jane, Helmi and Rosemary, was of the highest order, and Noel went beyond the call of duty by serving wine outside under umbrellas,as there was simply no room inside. We began with over an hour of social mixing and taste-bud titillation before the literary program began, and managed to find enough food and wine to enjoy during the interval and after the whirl of words had subsided.
CHRISTMAS IN JULY AT THE GRAND VIEW HOTEL
The 2014 Christmas-in-July DTSA lunch was another great success. Members and friends arrived at the Grand View Hotel, Wentworth Falls by car and train on a beautifully cool but sunny winter's day. The room and the tables were nicely decorated with trimmings and Christmas crackers, the gas log fire looked and felt like the real thing, and the food was excellent in quality and quantity. Close to sixty people enjoyed the atmosphere and the spoken word segments. Clive recited A Child's Christmas in Wales and his own version of Richard Burton's A Welcome in the Valleys. There was a Dylan Thomas quiz, and lots of conviviality. This wasn't meant to be a residential event, but six of our members stayed in the spartan accommodation at the hotel and had a great time together. Members of our society have come to know each other more and more as the years pass by and the sense of belonging is now very real.
Under Chats Wood
To begin at the beginning:It is spring, moonless night in the big city, southern cross
and bible-black, the circular quay silent and the hunched,
opera house sails limping invisible down to the
sloeblue, slow, blue, cobalt blue, manlyferrybobbing sea.
The houses are blind as wombats (though wombats see fine to-night
in the snouting, velvet billabongs) or blind as Captain Plat…..ypus
there in the muffled middle by the Bridge and the Luna Park,
the shops in mourning, the Westfield Mall in widows' weeds.
And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound city are
surfing now.Clive responded with a short speech ending with a recitation of Do Not Go Gentle... We had in the group members of the Australian Bronte Association, the DH Lawrence Society of Australia, the NSW Dickens Society, the Jane Austen Society of Australia and the Sydney Passengers (Arthur Conan Doyle), all British-author societies maintaining the links between Australia and the UK. Clive recites to end the speechesAs usual, the food was of the highest order, prepared and organised by Helen and her team of Kay, Jane, Kath, Judy and Pat. Noel, Rob and John looked after the bar for the evening, while Bill proved a versatile helper. Nicole and Peter from the Consulate provided great assistance. The kitchen experts: Judy, Kath, Helen, Jane, Jacqueline and Kay
DTSA PRESIDENT'S REPORT 2014
2014 was definitely the most active in the short history of the society, and we haveevery reason to feel pleased with the progress we have made in less than twenty years. We started on February 2 with lunch and the AGM at 99-on-York, and a new record attendance. We had no trouble electing a large committee, and the members enjoyed the literary segment that followed the meeting. Another record attendance came in April at the Legend & Poet afternoon where, in the centenary year, the topic was Dylan and Wales. We had a special guest in Hilarie Lindsay OAM, MBE, and another in Roger Jones, one of our founder-members, who flew from Hobart especially for the event.
The DTSA Christmas in July lunch at the Grand View Hotel, Wentworth Falls, also drew a large attendance of nearly sixty people. There were many Dylan Thomas words and allusions in the afternoon, along with fine food and a convivial atmosphere. Some of our members even stayed on overnight.
The following month came the Dylan Thomas Centenary Concert, held in the beautifulAll Saints Church, Hunters Hill, with the Sydney Welsh Choir. It was an unqualified success, with the church overflowing and many congratulatory emails were received in the next few days. A typical one read: "We so enjoyed yesterday's concert. It was hard to say whether the singing, poetry or commentary was my favourite. It was a complete and enjoyable experience."
The major event of this year - or of any year - was the tour to Ireland, Wales and England with the Sydney Welsh Choir. As well as enjoying the music and camaraderie of the choir tour, we visited so many places central to Dylan's life and work, from the room in Swansea where he was born to his grave in Laugharne and to the memorials and exhibitions created since his death. Our coach driver in Ireland turned out to have a grandson named Dylan Thomas in honour of the Welsh poet - quite a coincidence!
The concert in Aberystwyth took place in the middle of the largest exhibition in the centenary festival, and there were recitations of Dylan's work at all the concerts. Dylan's son-in-law Trefor and grandson Huw took part in the final concert in London. Many of the DTSA members who came on the tour are creating or have created literary or artistic projects from the tour. There is a wide array of approaches and we look forward with interest to the final collection which is being overseen by Malcolm Brown.
After our return to Sydney we put on two events. The first, a new performance of my play-for-voices, Good Night Dylan, at 99-on-York, was well received. When I wrote the play I hoped that the centenary festival might have resulted in a more positive view of Dylan's life and death, but it was not to be. The information in my play is needed more now than ever. The final DTSA event of the year was the Centenary Reception at the British Consul's house, where we were honoured to have the High Commissioner himself as host - and giving us his own parody of the opening to Under Milk Wood. He called it Under Chats Wood.
During the year we managed to put out on time our normal three editions of Down Under Milk Wood, each of sixteen pages, and contributed a chapter called Dylan Downunder to the main Centenary book edited by Dylan's granddaughter Hannah. DTSA Vice-president Will Christie also launched his new book Dylan: A Literary Life in late October. At the end of the year Helen and I went down to Hobart to address the Tasmanian Welsh Society about the centenary. While there, we called in to see Roger and Doreen Jones, who were both unwell. Soon afterwards, sadly, Doreen died. We sent an expression of sympathy to Roger on behalf of the society.
I am grateful to the committee members who have attended the meetings during 2014. In particular I am grateful to Kay Hardman as Treasurer who had so much to do in this busy year, to Olwen Barnes as Secretary and to Helen as editor of the e-magazine, head of catering and so much more. Thanks also to Malcolm Brown, Emyr Evans and Helmi Albrecht for work done.
The DTSA began on 12 March 1995, so our AGM takes place just over one month before our twentieth anniversary. This should be a quieter year than 2014, but it's nice to know we have something to celebrate in the near future. We have a few new members with us this afternoon, and we look forward to attracting more as the year proceeds.
January 2015Please see Page 4 of this website, Report on 2014 Events, for more detail and photographs