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All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon… and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged, fish freezing waves…

from A Child’s Christmas in Wales

Dylan Thomas wrote A Child’s Christmas in Wales about his own memories of Swansea and possibly the Llanstephan peninsula across the bay from Laugharne, where his mother’s family were from, but he brought up his own children in the Boathouse in Laugharne. His daughter Areonwy wrote of her Christmas memories there with him. It was a joy therefore to hear his prose piece, performed by Mark Montinaro, sitting in the tiny parlour of the Boathouse just before Christmas.

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On my way back to London I stopped off in Swansea, that ‘ugly, lovely town’ ..crawling, sprawling, slummed, unplanned, jerry-villa’d, and smug suburbed by the side of a long and splendid-curving shore..’ as he described it in Reminiscences of Childhood.

I have always found it a strange place, a crazy mishmash of civic splendour and uncared for urban decay, old industry next to brash modern interventions, with some of the most beautiful spots in Wales a few miles outside. I did stay once in the Uplands, his own smug suburb, and visited his birthplace, and Cwmdonkin Park, but now I only had time for a look at this centenary year’s final exhibition of his manuscripts returned briefly from America, in the Dylan Thomas Centre near the docks.

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There were other odd traces of him nearby, some looking strangely unloved, as I found a route back to the station.

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Swansea’s Winter Wonderland may be the Child’s Christmas in Wales of today.

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