Special Sub-Topic: "A Child's Christmas in Wales" in Quotes
|How many days and nights did it snow? |
Dylan can't remember. "I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six."
|What were Dylan and Mrs. Prothero's son Jim doing "on the afternoon of the day of Christmas Eve"? |
Waiting for cats. Dylan and his chum were waiting for cats so that they could throw snowballs at them. "The wise cats never appeared. We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows - eternal ever since Wednesday - that we never heard Mrs. Prothero's first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden."
To find out why Mrs. Prothero cried out, you'll have to read the book.
|What does Dylan assert there were in Wales when he was a boy?|
Wolves. "Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales..."
|What was one of the "useful presents" that Dylan received?|
Mittens made for giant sloths. Dylan's catalogue of useful presents reads thus: "engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o'-shanters like patchwork teacosies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were moustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all; and once I had a little crocheted nose bag from an aunt now, alas, no longer whinnying with us. And pictureless books in which small boys, though warned with quotations not to, would skate on Farmer Giles' pond and did and drowned; and books that told me everything about the wasp, except why."
|Ah, but the best was yet to come. Which of these was on Dylan's list of "useless presents"?|
A false nose. Here's a partial list of "useless presents": "Bags of moist and many-coloured jelly babies and a folded flag and a false nose and a tram-conductor's cap and a machine that punched tickets and rang a bell; never a catapult; once, by mistake that no one could explain, a hatchet; and a celluloid duck that made, when you pressed it, a most unducklike sound, a mewing moo that an ambitious cat might make who wished to be a cow; and a painting book in which I could make the grass, the trees, the sea and the animals any colour I pleased, and still the dazzling sky-blue sheep are grazing in the red field under the rainbow-billed and pea-green birds."
There were many more 'useless presents', but you'll have to read the book to find out what they are.
|What did Dylan and his friends Jim and Dan and Jack do on Christmas afternoon?|
Made huge deep footprints in the snow. "...I would go out, my bright new boots squeaking, into the white world on to the seaward hill, to call on Jim and Dan and Jack and to pad through the still streets, leaving huge deep footprints on the hidden pavements.
'I bet people will think there's been hippos'.
'What would you do if you saw a hippo coming down our street?'
'I'd go like this, bang! I'd throw him over the railings and roll him down the hill and then I'd tickle him under the ear and he'd wag his tail.'
'What would you do if you saw two hippos?'
Iron-flanked and bellowing he-hippos clanked and battered through the scudding snow towards us as we passed Mr. Daniel's house."
|What did Auntie Hannah put in her tea?|
Rum. "Auntie Hannah laced her tea with rum, because it was only once a year."
One suspects that Auntie Hannah had a fondness for liquor at any time of year. Earlier in the book Auntie Hannah has been described as having "a fondness for port" and Dylan reveals that after dinner she "stood in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a big-bosomed thrush."
|What happened when Dylan and his friends went carol-singing?|
They were joined by an unseen singer. "One, two, three, and we began to sing, our voices high and seemingly distant in the snow-felted darkness round the house that was occupied by nobody we knew. We stood close together near the dark door. And then a small, dry voice, like the voice of someone who has not spoken for a long time, joined our singing: a small, dry, eggshell voice from the other side of the door: a small, dry voice through the keyhole. And when we stopped running we were outside our house..."
|Dylan says that on Christmas Night there was always...what? |
Music. "Always on Christmas Night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang 'Cherry Ripe', and another uncle sang 'Drake's Drum'. It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird's Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed."
|What was the last thing Dylan did before he slept?|
Said some words. "Looking out my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-coloured snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steadily falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept."
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