Coach Outing to Swansea, 16 July 2017
On a perfect Winter's day, on a Pegasus coach we headed for Swansea along the Pacific Highway, with Clive Woosnam, the ultimate Dylan aficionado, in his normal seat, pride of place at the front of the bus. Emyr Evans, having taken over presidency of the Dylan Thomas Society of Australia, conducted events in his normal accomplished way. We watched most of the film, A Poet in New York, an account of the last days of Dylan’s life, on the small screen at the front of the bus. The film had been made for the centenary in 2014 of Dylan’s birth. We then listened to a celebrity version of Under Milk Wood, which had some big stars, including Tom Jones, Catherine Jenkins, Bryn Terfel and Ioan Gruffudd.
We had the normal stop at the Doyalson RSL, where Clive recited Dylan’s A Holiday Memory: “A slap of sea and a tickle of sand. A fanfare of sunshades opening. A wince and whinny of bathers dancing into deceptive water. A tuck of dresses. A rolling of trousers. A compromise of paddlers. A sunburn of girls and a lark of boys. A silent hullabaloo of balloons….”
Then to the Swansea RSL Club for lunch and a gathering at the rather impressive, new war memorial outside the club, overlooking the sea. The group took turns reading Extraordinary Little Cough, a semi-autobiographical prose work by Dylan, commemorating a time when Dylan and a group of friends hitchhiked from Swansea Town to western Gower for a fortnight’s camping and ran into women, bullies and problems.
We waddled off then to the Caves beach a couple of the more timid staying on top rather than braving the descent. The tide was not quite out, or in, as the case may be, providing enough water to prevent others of the timid venturing into the cave itself. Clive recited And Death Shall Have No Dominion. We did a reading of The Prologue and Over Sir John’s Hill. The houses were not particularly sea-shaken, nor sands were not scum and starfish-covered. It was just a normal winter beach, and the sun was not hanging hawk-like over the headland, but it was near enough and we appreciated Dylan’s sentiments.
The trip back through Catherine Hill Bay did not include a stop at the pub. We were a little short of time and anyway, the bikies were not there to provide a faintly menacing backdrop. Perhaps now that the developers have won and the village is being opened up for development, the place has become too cosmopolitan and the bikies have moved on to more secluded meeting places. On previous trips we had seen the protest signs about the development, and some were still there. But the development was on a huge scale and this particular element of our biennial Dylan treat – sniffing the air of an historical mining village, which would most assuredly have sent Dylan into poetic raptures, was likely to be no more.