Once or twice a year, sometimes once every two years, when I’m completely alone and need to have a break from everything and everyone, I wait for the evening and put on the Under Milk Wood CD, the one with Richard Burton. I don’t try to listen, I don’t try to understand, I just sit and look up at a wall or the ceiling or objects and the voices pass by. This is my treat, sweet melancholy. Organ Morgan, Captain Cat, Myfanwy Price, Mrs Ogmore-Prichard, how soothing it feels to hear their voices. Do you laugh or do you cry when Captain Cat dreams?
To begin from the beginning, I smile at that. No, To begin – I hold my breath during the silence – from the beginning… And as he continues, his lips and tongue dance: It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobbledstreets silent and the hunched courters'-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea.
I always remember the man who gave me the book. I read it and didn’t like it. Then it happened that a few days later Under Milk Wood appeared in the theatre of the little town where I was living. I went to watch it and again, I didn’t like it. And maybe a few months passed, I saw the CD in a supermarket. I bought it and listened to it and I loved it. Time passes. Listen. Time passes. Come closer now. Only you can hear the houses sleeping in the streets in the slow deep salt and silent black, bandaged night.
This is how I count time. How many more times in my life will I listen to Under Milk Wood? Ten, maybe fifteen?
Come on up, boys. I’m dead.
About the reviewer
Pam Andersen was a primary school teacher. She lives in Loughborough with her two cats, Ha and Ha-Ha.