Laugharne Weekend Festival
April 16, 2013
I returned last week from the Laugharne Weekend Festival which I attend every year. This year, there was a marquee for book readings and a food fair in the castle grounds, as well as the usual indoor events in the village hall, the congregational church, the boathouse, and the rugby club. The only trouble was, on the Thursday before everything kicked off, it was freezing cold and trying to snow. However, the following day, as if by magic, the clouds parted and we had glorious spring weather. The crowds seemed ecstatically happy, and there was a general air of elation at being outside in the sunshine at last, after such a long winter. Also because the line-up of artists was great – so much to see and hear.
I was involved in a couple of events, the first on Friday night, a tribute to Nick Drake by Joe Boyd, his former producer. It was fascinating, and I was honoured to take part, singing a song by Nick’s mother, Molly Drake, at the piano. In the marquee on Sunday I also did my own event, reading from The House on the Cliff, and talking to Peter Finch, whose new book Edging the Estuary, is out soon. And I did make a point of going to see veteran crime writer John Harvey, and Alasdair Roberts playing in the church on the Sunday night – a wonderful end to the festival. Not to mention, of course, Laugharne’s Got Talent in the rugby club, where the Lone Wolf and Dragonslayer – a music-hall family combo from the Isle of Sheppey – were seeing out the night in suitably raucous style.
Afterwards we stayed on in Laugharne for a few days in a place overlooking the estuary where Dylan Thomas had his boathouse. It was completely mesmerising watching the tide going out for miles every day and rushing back in during the evening. I tried to paint it, but the strange thing was, however much you kept your eye on the sand, you couldn’t see the point when it turned to water. I became completely fixated on this, and spend an inordinate amount of time staring at it. I started thinking about how someone running across the quicksand would be dragged in to it, and how such a huge expanse of nothing would always remain so – no one could built on it, or indeed do anything with it. Permanent limbo. I began to feel more and more passive, as if I was being sucked out with the tide every day, and drawn back in at night. Very enjoyable, but rather strange.
During the time I was there, I also nipped up to the congregational church, and spent a few hours at the piano. The church, with its wooden pews, is large, light, and spacious, and has the most extraordinary acoustic, a natural amplification that almost overloads if you sing too loud. That too was quite odd, as I was trying to write a song about the tidal experience. I recorded it on my mobile but haven’t played it back yet. Not sure if I want to hear it again.
After all this I began to feel light-headed and was quite glad to get back to my prosaic life in Cardiff, and start tapping on the computer again.