I’m still stuck in my différance somewhere between the delay of the past and the deferral of the future. Sometimes there seems to be an ocean of time ahead; sometimes it feels like the end-game has begun already. Bob Dylan says that “Time is an ocean. But it ends at the shore”. There (usually) seems to be an infinity of time left, but these infections are a reminder that maybe the shore is in sight. June was such a wipe-out that I wasn’t sure I would be up to going away on holiday this year. The long drive. constant fatigue, and unfamiliar environment was off-putting.

But, in July we travelled to the west of Wales and the Pembroke Coast. Rented a house in Fishguard Lower Town.

The old quay in Lower Town was the location chosen for the 1973 film adaptation of “Under Milk Wood” (you know, the one with the Richard Burton voice-over). You might have expected them to choose Laugharne, where Dylan Thomas lived, wrote in the Boathouse, and was buried. They didn’t see it as a match for the fictional village of Llarregub, and there was bugger all (sorry) that Laugharne could say or do about it.

Two weeks before we left for Wales I found an old copy of Caitlin Thomas’ book “Leftover Life to Kill”, which is an account of her trip to Italy four years after the death of Dylan in 1953. That seemed like a suitable book to read in Fishguard, but I have to admit after reading it that while she may emerge as a bone-fide bohemian, she did not seem to be a very nice person to know. And she had the opposite problem to me. I should write “Remaining Life Gone Missing”.

Dylan Thomas met Caitlin MacNamara in The Wheatsheaf pub off Oxford Street in April 1936. She was the youngest child  of Francis MacNamara, a poet/artist with Anglo-Irish roots in West Clare. Her father was a friend of Robert Gregory (son of Lady Gregory, patron of W.B. Yeats). Robert gave Francis the loan of Doolin House, and the Gregory family themselves de-camped for the summer from Coole to Mount Vernon, their house on the Flaggy shore. The MacNamaras also had a house in Ennistymon which they turned into the Falls Hotel. Francis was keen for interesting people to join him and his family in Ireland, and one visitor was the Welsh painter Augustus John. The family split when Caitlin was around four, and her mother took the four children to live with Augustus John and his large family at Alderney Manor in Dorset, a kind of 1920s hippy collective. Fast forward some time, and Caitlin was in a relationship with Augustus at the time she met Dylan in 1936. It was Augustus who made the introduction to Dylan in the London pub.

Later that year, Dylan was back in Swansea. His friend was planning to drive to Fishguard because he had a painting in an art exhibition that was to be judged by Augustus John. Caitlin and Augustus were both staying in Laugharne as guests of another writer. As Laugharne is around half-way on the road to Fishguard, they decided to invite themselves for a visit. All of them then proceeded to pub-crawl their way to Fishguard and back, in two cars. Tensions were high between Dylan and Augustus, and it ended with the latter punching the former to the floor. Dylan and Caitlin were married in 1937.

I was far more sober and peace-loving when making the same trip.

It is always good to make a break to the west coast. Any west coast. East Anglia is pretty, but the light is different. It always seems to be a pale silver-grey, like sun on a white calico sail-cloth and driftwood. The west is more fat yellow honeydew melon. It lingers and drips its juicy light down the chin of the horizon.

Not that the sun always shines in Pembrokeshire. But it did, sometimes. And at last I saw a dolphin in real life, after years of trying. Only the unicorn to go and I have a full list.