Sunday, March 28, 2004

It’s been a weekend to bring the memories flooding back for me. On Friday evening, it was short-term memory as I joined up with many of my former colleagues from BT. The whole team that I used to be part of is being closed down, so many of the old crowd have decided to do what I did 5 months ago – take the money and run! It was good to see so many old friends again and better still to feel the crackle of excitement in the air, as so many of them were excitedly looking forward to their new life. It was though sad to hear that BT is handling the whole situation in their usual haphazard and unsympathetic way. Why do big companies forget that they are dealing with individuals, who need to be told what the future holds in clear and simple terms, rather than the constantly shifting morass of conflicting information that they foist upon their people?

Late on Saturday morning we set off for a trip into the rather more distant past. As I have mentioned here in the past we have managed to see my cousin Robert a couple of times in recent months after a gap of at least 20 years. Well the time had come for us to head off to West Wales to see him on home territory, whilst also looking to revive a few distant holiday memories of my own.

Robert, like my mother is originally from Pontypridd, however he has to moved further west to the town of Carmarthen. So by mid afternoon we found ourselves trawling the charity shops of this bustling small town before heading to Roberts’s very compact (!) flat. As the afternoon started to disappear into the evening, Robert suggested that we head off to Llanstephan, to see the sunset in the lovely surroundings of the River Towey estuary, with it’s huge ruined 11th century castle dominating the proceedings from spectacular hilltop setting. Sadly the murky cloud cover meant, that the sunset was a gradual decent from grey to black, with none of the oranges and reds we were hoping for, still well worth a visit though.

This morning we took the short drive to small town of Laugharne, where I enjoyed a family holiday in 1970, however the major event in the towns history was not the arrival of the already dysfunctional Thomas family from Bristol, but the fact that several decades earlier it had been home to famous Welsh writer Dylan Thomas (no relation!). It was a strange holiday for us, the simmering tension between my sister and my parents was starting and come to the fore and even more upsetting for me at the time, I sat with my dad and watch England lose to Brazil in the world cup. It was an emotional time all round!

Whilst we were on holiday my parents got chatting to a man who held the key for the then deserted boat house which was the former home of the great writer and I well remember the nervous way we crept around the then unloved and dusty house. How things have changed, the house is now a small museum to his work with a large collection of artefacts telling the story of his rumbustious life. We stopped for brief drink in Browns Hotel, one of the favourite drinking haunts of the man who would eventually drink himself to death in New York. The place is pleasantly shabby at the moment and just ripe for some entrepreneur to sanitise the place and make a fortune from the literary tourists. Then it was back in the car to head further west, eventually ending up in Tenby, a partially walled city with huge beaches, which strangely brought back absolutely no memories for me whatsoever. We also spent a while trying to piece together memories of one of Orynthia’s old family holidays in the Saundersfoot / Tenby area without much success. Then it was time to head back east past lots of now, newly familiar place names.


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