Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

A fond childhood memory revisited

As the needle hovered above the disc on the record player, I felt almost fearful with expectation. When the needle was lowered and out came the first words of A Child’s Christmas in Wales, I felt as if what I was hearing had been created especially for me. It felt as if every word had been written with intention and love to convey what it is to be Welsh and to be in Wales at Christmas time.

The ritual listening to A Child’s Christmas in Wales took place each and every Christmas when I was a child of an appropriate age to listen to it.  The lead-up was always the same. Upon leaving the house where my family lived at No. 16 Vergam Terrace in Fishguard, I’d turn left and cross the road to the first house on the other side, No 1. At the front door, I’d reach up, lift the heavy brass knocker, knock three times and wait for the sounds of Aunty Mali coming to the door, pushing the draft excluder out of the way with her foot, opening the door and greeting me with her resonant ‘Hello!’

Inside the house, the fire would be roaring in the living-room grate. Already set out on the table would be cups, saucers and plates and, in a prominent position, the big, square gramophone with, beside it, a small pile of LPs in their brown paper sleeves. I knew what I was going to hear. I was going to hear the resonant voice of the famous Welsh actor Emlyn Williams, reading Dylan Thomas’s wonderful evocation of being a child in Wales at Christmas time.

I relished my expectation. I’d heard Dylan Thomas’s piece many times. I knew that for Aunty Mali and, I guessed, for many others, it was a supreme evocation of all that Christmas represented, a Christmas fire burning bright, tea-cakes or crumpets lavishly layered with butter, Christmas cake with icing on top, cut into manageable pieces, and being in company with a person or people you loved.

Childhood experiences are formative. For me, listening to A Child’s Christmas in Wales was hugely important for a number of reasons. For one thing, it felt as Welsh as could be although the language was English. For another, although the words of it existed on paper, they sang out as though they were always intended to be spoken aloud. Besides, in picturing the world from the child’s point of view, the piece gave great relish to those words.

This year, A Child’s Christmas in Wales came back into my life in a new way. For the past five years,  to raise money for Crisis, the homelessness charity, Paul, accompanied on the piano by our good friend Steve Copeland has put together a concert of songs at the Clapham Omnibus Theatre and I’ve contributed readings. This year because of the pandemic it wasn’t possible to do a live or even virtual concert. So they decided to put together a video of items from two previous concerts. As well as the songs there’s me reading – you’ve guessed it – an extract from A Child’s Christmas in Wales. That’s our fundraising flyer at the top of this posting.

If you’d like to watch the video, here’s the link. I hope you enjoy it!

It would be wonderful if you’d like to contribute to our fundraising for Crisis.

Here’s the link:  JustGiving

Finally, I hope you’re having as good a time as maybe in this especially difficult year.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply