Tuesday, 14 February 2012


The difficulty with'amateur' is that it has picked up a pejorative significance. I am thinking of it more literally, as something done for love. I do love Dylan Thomas's play for voices," Under Milk Wood". Recently, I took part in a rehearsed reading of it put on by a local amateur theatrical group. (I can't think why you are so surprised. Liz is not nailed to the computer thinking up blog posts, you know). Anyway,that is what happened, I took part. What wouldn't surprise you is that "Under MIlk Wood" should rank second only to Messiah in my must-have list. In case you have no reason to be aware of its provenance, I should explain that it is about a day in a Welsh Village inhabited by what this Welshman has always seen as typical Welsh characters. A harsher, more dispassionate evaluator, may see the characters as borderline stereotypical but, so what. There is rather a thin line between essence and stereotype, wouldn't you agree? Anyway, going with the essence approach, there are, represented, many figures only too recognisable from a life up to late teen-age spent among them. It's the gossip which springs primarily to mind. As a matter of fact, both gossip and Gossip. Even after I left my parents' home to go to University, during weekend visits I was expected to go to the local Cafe and rendezvous with my Mother's friends to hear and furnish the news. My observation was that these ladies enjoyed my news only when it was bad. Good news was greeted with a thin smile and an instant implication of 'let's move on'. Bad news was greeted eagerly, excitedly with a demand for more details. These were not basically bad people. After all, in our hearts, we all know that bad news is more gripping than good. They were just unconsciously innocent about letting it be seen that it were so. There is irony, meanness and also compassion in my experience of the Welsh character. They may gloat, not all that secretly, over your downfall but they would fall over each other with bowls of soup were you to be too ill to make it for yourself. The Welsh couldn't claim exclusivity in the area of compulsive, obsessive behavior, neither. However, there is rather a lot of it about west of Bristol and north of Chester. In the play, Mrs Ogmore Pritchard, widow, twice, of Mr.Ogmore and Mr Pritchard presents a portrait of obsessive, compulsive disorder which out-clarifies all the psychiatric definitions I have ever come across.For instance, "Put you pyjamas in the drawer marked pyjamas". "Before you let the sun in, mind it wipes its shoes". Get it?
Sadly, the stock of the soup of Thomas's work in this particular production had nowhere near the intensity it not only needed but deserved. The several exceptions served only to unbalance the whole by pointing out how things could and should have sounded. It is hard when someone takes the ball of your passion and runs away with it to play a game foreign to you. I doubt I behaved as I would have liked. In fact, I gave up and detached myself, torn between my instinct and familiarity with the work, and the direction, which I allowed to take away my spontaneity so that I did neither what I was told nor what I had been able to do so often in the play in the past. The venue was icy and the outside temperature only a touch warmer. The audiences were, therefore, not huge and I am not aware of the presence of any that were Welsh. So, not that serious, then. There you are, you see: As I told you, news is interesting only if it's bad. Therefore, I must now add that there was fun in it and new friendships and I learned a great deal. For instance, amateur must always mean 'for love', not 'unprofessional'. I must do as I'm told. I must carry on blogging.I must be less obsessively compulsive about, well, everything, and I must name a drawer'pyjamas' so I can put my pyjamas in it. Prynhawn da
PS. I'd love to know more about my reader in Mountain View California. Would you add a comment or email to: liz.mountford@gmail.com Of course, maintain the mystery if you prefer!


Anonymous said...

What I notice, at times, is that while I know that things invovling physical efforthave changed, I cannot any longer FEEL how it once was. One may know it was different to be young but cannot feel youthful. Furthermore, objects can have a malign effect: if milk is to be spilt, an old man will spill it!

Anonymous said...

The last two blogs were of the best ever, beautifully written, full of insight and compassion. Thank you!