Special Sub-Topic: A Child's Christmas in Wales
|Where is Thomas's story set?|
a town by the sea. Dylan Thomas lived in Swansea. "One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner..." There are many references to the sea.
|How long had it snowed in his childhood?|
he can't remember. I'm sure we can all identify with this feeling - the memories may not be exact, but all Christmases roll together to form one perfect, definitive Christmas. "It was always snowing at Christmas. December in my memory is white as Lapland."
|Dylan Thomas describes lying in wait with his friend Jim ("fur-capped and moccasined trappers from Hudson Bay, off Mumbles Road") for which animal?|
cats. "We waited to snowball the cats. Sleek and long as jaguars and horrible-whiskered, spitting and snarling... The wise cats never appeared." What better games can be found than those involving a little imagination?
|One Christmas Eve, Mrs Prothero's kitchen caught fire. Who did the boys telephone?|
fire brigade. They considered calling all these, and the ambulance as well. They said that Ernie Jenkins "likes fires". But in the end they just called the fire brigade. ("They won't be there", said Mr Prothero, "it's Christmas.")
|What did Jim's aunt, Miss Prothero, ask the firemen?|
Would you like something to read?. "Jim and I waited very quietly, to see what she would say to them. She said the right thing, always."
|Who is described "with sprinkling eyes and wind-cherried noses... fond of walking and dogs, and Christmas and the snow."?|
the postmen. "They were just ordinary postmen." Their wonderful purpose, of course, was to deliver the Presents.
|Which of these was not one of the Useful Presents?|
a false nose. Do children nowadays still get terrible knitted presents that don't fit? Dylan Thomas says these were from "aunts who always wore wool next to the skin." The false nose was one of the many wonderful and exciting Useless Presents - "a tram-conductor's cap and a machine that punched tickets and rang a bell; never a catapult; once, by mistake, a little hatchet; and a celluloid duck..."
|What did the Uncles do at Christmas?|
Uncles did all of these things (sat in front of the fire, slept, tried their new cigars). After dinner ("turkey and blazing pudding") the Uncles would loosen their buttons, try out their new cigars, and go to sleep by the fire.
|Which Auntie had a few too many drinks and embarassed everyone by singing?|
Auntie Hannah. Auntie Bessie "had already been frightened, twice, by a clock-work mouse" and was drinking elderberry wine, but was not singing. Auntie Dosie "had to have three aspirins" but Auntie Hannah drank port (and later laced her tea with rum "because it was only once a year") and "stood in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a big-bosomed thrush." She then moved on to the parsnip wine and "sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death."
|Dylan Thomas, with friends Jim, Dan and Jack go carol-singing at an old, deserted house. They are frightened when a "small dry eggshell voice from the other side of the door" joins in the singing. Which of these is NOT one of their responses?|
Let's throw snowballs through the letterbox.. They ran away, and went home for more tea, games and music. "I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept."
I have a fantastic recording of Dylan Thomas reading "A Child's Christmas in Wales". It has been one of my family's traditions to listen to it every Christmas Eve, and I can't imagine Christmas without hearing that rich, velvet voice telling the evocative and beautiful story.
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