Thursday, 5 July 2012

Voices voices beckoning sea .......

I’ve been away. On a road trip. I went to Wales. And then I went to Bath. To see Patti Smith. As a fan of the godmother of punk we devotees have to be beady-eyed and quick off the mark should she announce a tour. Bath was duly booked as there were no dates for London (there are now and we have more tickets.....). And then we discovered she was playing the Congregational Church in Laugharne. Well who could resist? Patti? In a church? In Wales? So, channelling my inner Dylan Thomas, I packed a selection of fetching all-weather-but-mainly-wet gig-garments and off we set. I love a road trip…. any road…. and we took it in turns to drive my mate Mick’s big, comfy, speedy motor. I took the Severn Bridge as the sun came out ….. and soon we were spinning gravel in the car park of our B&B, Keepers Cottage, run by Rose and Marge …. don’t ask just go, they are brilliant: big breakfasts, a big view and even bigger hearts. A swift pre-gig pint of Guinness with other Patti revellers soon alerted us to the fact that the Queen of Punk, a keen participant of the Laugharne Festival in prior years, had that afternoon actually sat amongst 20 of her followers, the chosen few, in the shrine to Dylan Thomas that is The Boathouse, chatted, read and led a Because-The-Night-sing-along…… I was a bit gutted, how long before I let it go? Yeah ….. any day now. Still, she and Tony Shanahan performed a perfectly formed, intimate acoustic gig, that was nothing short of biblical, and we danced home bare-foot and happy. Before leaving Laugharne we explored through the murky mist and rain, the place that was part of the inspiration for Under Milk Wood and I was inspired to write a poem. 
The next night in Bath, Patti with the full band was …..well to use common gig parlance … blinding. The woman must be injecting monkey glands, cavorting about the stage, belting out Gloria and Pissing In  A River with the vim and vigour of a 20 year old, she’s 65 for godssake. And the audience, mainly old it has to be said, took to their feet and rocked through their ages.

When Patti Came To Laugharne…..
Wake walk the winding street
Past high church high
On the hill
Filled before with Patti the song.
Sea below where coracle
Hammered hard in mud rushes
Under gull dived walls of castle ramparts
Flowering overhead.
Men and women work-weave their
New boats
Made ready to dip-bob the running stream.
Pissing in a river we hum to ourselves
And sing think the songs
Patti sang to us
The congregation.
We dance barefoot to the boathouse
Press-nosed glass
To view the view Dylan Thomas viewed
As he wrote
Where he wrote
When he wrote
And we sing the words Patti sang
Under the southern cross.
Then turn grave thoughts to the graveyard
And let the last trumpet sound
It’s call
To see where he
Lay down his head
On mossy bed
‘neath bleach boned white sky
Under milky wood.

Top tip: go to a gig and dance with abandon. Live music turned up to 11 is good for the heart, soul ...... and hips.


  1. Patti Smith's just been announced as one of the surprise headliners at The End Of The Road Festival, can't wait! x

  2. Live music is the only way to hear it :-)

  3. What bliss it sounds like! Bliss just to read.

  4. The poem is a good one and I love your sense of a line. To view the view Dylan Thomas viewed...

  5. Sounds great.
    I'd love to dance all night with a band, but my zimmer keeps getting in the way.

    I like the poem, maybe set it to music?

  6. awesome! wish I had joined you

    Have a fine Weekend

    Aloha from Waikiki
    Comfort Spiral
    > < } } ( ° >

  7. Sounds amazing! Patti is a badass.

  8. You can still take 11? You must be just a young slip-of-a-thing! I love going to gigs of bands that I went to in my 20's. Recently saw Gino Washington.... just as good as in the 60's.

  9. So glad it was fun. I didn't even know she was playing, that's how out of touch I am! :)

  10. Brilliant--she's a model for us all. Glad you had such a great time.

    Our local theatre did Under Milk Wood a couple of years ago, which sent me back to the book. What a dazzling bit of writing it is.

  11. I so hope I am that cool when I am 65! x

  12. Sounds like you had fun and I am loving the sound of that breakfast, might take a trip there!

  13. Yes-o Patti Smith. Heard her read from Just Kids here in Seattle just after the book came out. Must read, by the way.

    And then she sang 'Because the Night' by herself.

    Patti rules.


  14. I am so jealous. Because The Night is my favourite song of all time. I would love ot have seen Patti Smith.

  15. Oh, you lucky one. There is nothing, nothing better than dancing home barefoot and happy.

  16. How awesome and I'm simply smitten with Wales! Btw: the second photo is so beautiful. Have a great day. xo

  17. is there anything better than live music? i'm not sure there is.

  18. I'm living vicariously through you. Patti in a church in Wales - totally bad-ass!!!

    "We dance barefoot to the boathouse
    Press-nosed glass
    To view the view Dylan Thomas viewed
    As he wrote
    Where he wrote
    When he wrote"

    Perfect. :)

  19. What a trip, and to 2 of my favorite places.