December, in my memory, is white as Lapland
December 1, 2021 10:19 AM   Subscribe

"There were the Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes;….and books that told me everything about the wasp, except why." A recording of Dylan Thomas reading 'A Child's Christmas in Wales'. The story of how the recording came to be. "Though they did not hear from Thomas himself, they did hear from his manager who encouraged the duo to call Thomas at his New York hotel, the Chelsea. According to Holdridge, “And we called and we called and we called.” Eventually, Holdridge began rising early, phoning at 4:30 or 5 in the morning, hoping to catch Thomas just as he was coming in from the night before. That worked."
posted by bq (8 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
A staple of the holidays, by way of my parents. Fascinating that Thomas himself had such slight memories of it.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:48 AM on December 1, 2021

Thomas's poem was not part of my holiday traditions, as it clearly has been for so many others, but the John Cale song sure is.
posted by mykescipark at 11:11 AM on December 1, 2021 [5 favorites]

I don't think that it's a requirement of great writing that the author themself has the best voice to read it, but Thomas definitely had it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:15 AM on December 1, 2021

In the rich and heavy afternoon, the Uncles breathing like dolphins and the snow descending, I would sit among festoons and Chinese lanterns and nibble dates and try to make a model man-o'-war, following the Instructions for Little Engineers, and produce what might be mistaken for a sea-going tramcar.
posted by scruss at 11:52 AM on December 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

Relatedly, here’s Michael Sheen performing a monologue from Under Milk Wood at the National Theatre.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:47 PM on December 1, 2021

The poem is not one I've heard before, but this rendition is a delight. I love his voice and will definitely treasure it.
posted by Alensin at 7:52 PM on December 1, 2021

This recording has been a staple of my Christmas for 30 years. Thanks for this.
posted by neuron at 8:05 AM on December 2, 2021

I love this poem so much. I've listened to the recording, or to someone reading it out loud, or read it out loud myself, almost every year of my life.

I remember my delight once when a friend's dad, squinting at some instructions for something, quoted "Oh, easy for Leonardo!"
posted by tangerine at 9:47 AM on December 2, 2021

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