Monthly Archives: October 2011

laugharne: the home of dylan thomas

Dylan Thomas' Boathouse; Laugharne

 

On our recent trip to Wales we drove to Laugharne to visit the home of Dylan Thomas. As you can see by the pictures, it really is the most beautiful place in the world. Dylan Thomas’ boathouse was one of the most inspiring places I’ve been to. Whilst there I wrote the poem below, Misted Sound. I hope you enjoy the poem and the pics.

Giorge

xx

 

 

Misted Sound 

 

You can breathe by the sea of the stars

And the sun

And the overhanging clouds

That envelope the soul

The mind

And the eyes that see.

You can wait by the tide

As the gulls

Sing your tune

As the wind whips your

Hair

And mist freshens your face.

You can lose yourself

In the sand

In the marsh

By the cliffs

And to the sea

But you will not drown

In Dylan Thomas’

Town.

His voice is heard miles

Round not just here

In this misted sound.

 

© giorge thomas

Another spectacular, yet daunting view of Laugharne

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mischief

 

 

Dirty, filthy storm water

Trying unsuccessfully

To resemble a suburban

Creek.

Two shifty

School-aged children

Paused near the truck.

It is school holidays

And their desperation

To cause mischief

Is paramount.

 

© giorge thomas

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my handbag journey…

Mulberry Bayswater Tote in oak

My current favourite bag; Mulberry Bayswater Tote in Oak

 

When I was fifteen, Mum and I travelled to Italy to visit her family. An eye-opener on many levels, but for me the journey began the love of something I could now not possibly live without:

 

The handbag.

 

I try and remember what I did before that point. I mean, where did I put my stuff? You know, the shit I now carry around with me every day? I won’t list it; that would be far too embarrassing. The contents of a woman’s handbag are truly secret. Did I really just hold onto my purse all of the time, having nothing to put it into? Did I only need money? Surely I must have needed something else with me? Oh, wait, this was before the blessed mobile phone. Or as some describe it; the communication leash. Matt Damon once said that. ‘What would I want to have a mobile phone for? It’s like constantly having a leash around your neck!’ I wonder if he has one now.

 

I saw it at the market. Every Saturday morning in Mum’s home town there was a street market. I loved it. There was a man selling Levi Jeans at ridiculous prices. And you’ve got to remember this was the mid-nineties. Levi’s were hot, hot, hot. Actually, I think the jeans this guy was selling actually were hot. There was a Levi factory nearby and the ones he were selling were classed as seconds. Yet there was nothing wrong with the jeans; they simply weren’t finished. Excess leather had to be cut off the Levi’s tag at the back and the button holes on the fly needed to be cut through. Other than that, they were fine. I bought five pairs.

 

One of them was dark blue and had a different cut to all the other jeans I had bought before. I remember returning to school and being teased horrendously over those jeans. It seems so ridiculous now, but in those days, and my home town being a small one, anything new was frowned upon. Apparently this style hadn’t reached home yet or even Adelaide – the closest city. That’s where people from my home town look to for fashion inspiration. You can see the problem; in 1995 there was no internet and Adelaide was months behind the fashion world.

 

By the next year everyone had purchased the same dark-blue jeans. I couldn’t believe how something I got so much stick for was suddenly so acceptable.

 

I’m straying from the topic, though. At the market there was also a lady selling shoes and handbags. I bought a clumpy pair of summer sandals which my mother and her high-styled Italian brothers rolled their eyes at. All of them questioned my fashion sense when I was over there. Ever since I had become a teenager I had worn the baggiest clothes I could find.  I had, which back then I thought were C-cup breasts but were quite obviously a D, which I was desperate to hide. There was some backwards thing happening at my school. I remember reading in Judy Blume books (yes, I read Judy Blume, what’s wrong with that? Is far better than my Babysitters Club fascination) how girls would be teased if they were flat-chested. Well, at my school, you were teased if you were large chested. I was very much a target. Woe me, and all of that bullshit. Yes, you can hear the violins. I’m not complaining (though I quite often do, as well as crying miserably when going out to buy a bra to discover that hardly anyone makes my size) it wasn’t all tragic. I just wish that I would have had the knowledge that all the boys that were merciless in their attacks on me would one day want a chick with big tits and all the girls that scoffed at me would covet them. So anyway; I spent my teenage with hunched-over shoulders and baggy clothes, covering what turned out to be my only valuable asset.

 

A committee was formed by Mum’s siblings – my aunts and uncles – and I was marched out of the house one morning to buy a range of tight-fitting clothes I felt practically naked in . I guess they felt I’d been quite good-humoured about it all so that day at the markets I was allowed to buy the clunky shoes without too many objections.

 

Then I saw the bag. Or should I say, bags; but there was one in particular that stood out above all others. It was black. In those early days of handbag-obsession I often bought black bags. Truth was, you couldn’t really buy any other colour back then. I never buy black bags any more.

 

The bag was a miniature backpack, semi-glossed leather with two small push-lock pockets on the front. I can’t remember if the opening flap was also a push-lock closure or not. What I do remember is that it had a little handle above the back straps and that’s how I would carry it around. The relatives all approved of the bag. Ah, finally, she has taste!

 

I returned home and the bag went everywhere I did. I won’t wax lyrical at how happy I was to have a token of who I was could be carried around in front of me, that I finally had an example of my actual taste rather than the horrible clothes I wore because they were all I could afford.

 

I soon became obsessed. In the beginning (when I could finally afford to buy my handbags) it was more about quantity than quality. Yet through all those stock-standard handbags that I could I soon discovered what types of bags were my favourites. I liked bigger bags. What’s the point in having something to carry your stuff around in if you couldn’t fit it all? I discovered the my favourite design was the bowling bag design; simple, classic, can be held in the crook of the arm. I liked totes; too. Simple totes.

 

My dream bag seemed well out of my reach. Back then it was a Louis Vuitton Speedy 30. It’s not really the Louis Vuitton print that was my desire, though I love that it’s classic and elegant. It was the design of the bag itself. The short rolled-handles that fit perfectly in the hand without discomfort and the classic shape that looks both elegant and compact yet is surprisingly large on the inside. But Louis Vuitton’s were out of reach for me; they were for celebrities and socialites.

 

My first special handbag was, ironically, a Guess one. I really hate Guess bags now; they’re hideous. Clunky, heavy, full of buckles and over-designed with too much going on. Yet the one I had was a butter colour, a large relaxed tote stitched rolled handles. I loved it, and have not seen anything like it; is certainly not one of those mass-produced Guess bags you see on the sale tables at department stores.

 

And then I went to England. Stepping outside of Australia, Adelaide in particular, I got to view all of the handbags I loved first hand, rather than the internet. I realised that my tens and tens of handbags were like I was over-eating. What I really wanted was one well-made, well-designed bag. Not fifty cheap ones.

 

I gave myself a budget and researched which designer bag I would buy. It came down to the Louis Vuitton Speedy and the Mulberry Bayswater. I couldn’t move past the craftsmanship, design and all-leather materials in the Mulberry bag, so a chocolate buffalo leather Bayswater was my first-ever designer bag purchase.

 

It’s beautiful and I love it. Classic. Great for every day use, over the shoulder, or in the crook of the arm. For a long time I was satisfied with just that bag. Every other single bag I owned was thrown or given away. I did keep a few – they’re in the shed – because a friend suggested I might want to let any daughter I may have play with them. I had realised, finally, that one well-made good quality thing – whatever it is – beats many of something sub-standard.

 

Mulberry Bayswater in chocolate

The same year I got my Louis Vuitton. It was as beautiful as I suspected it to be as well as being light and roomy on the inside. As those of you have read in my early blog, this UK trip I bought my next coveted handbag; the Mulberry Bayswater tote. Out of all of them, it is my favourite bag. I love it’s size (it’s huge) it’s functionality, the length of the handles, the shape – all over it.

Louis Vuitton Speedy 30

 

One day I’ll have a Birkin. Perhaps. But I think for anyone to buy such an expensive bag – which costs more than most cars – when you still have a mortgage would be foolish in the extreme. I guess I’m like everyone who has an obsession – we all have a thing. For my husband it’s coins. For some women; it’s shoes. I see bags as functional works of art. I rarely look at a painting and coo in the same way as I do when I see a beautiful handbag.

 

My favourite designer has to be Mulberry. I love that their bags are English made and have a reminder of English country life – most of their bags are made with simple yet sturdy leather in earth-toned colours. When I look of them I think of Wellington boots, country manners, hedgerows and hunting. If you want to see what I’m talking about, head over to their website: www.mulberry.com

 

So that’s my handbag fascination and the story of how I got there. But I can tell you for sure; the story is nowhere near finished.

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submissions are hell

 

God I hate submissions. ‘Please, Sir/Madam, please look at my poems and please, please, please publish them.’ I hate anything where I have to beg – feels too much like Oliver Twist.

 

The worst thing about submitting your work to literary journals is the time it takes. I’d rather spend those hours actually writing. With a full time job, a husband and two cats and a dog – time is precious. Just tonight I spent three, yes, three hours putting together submissions for poetry journals overseas. The boring fucking printing, writing of covering letters where you try not to sound desperate and end up coming across way too aloof, the collating of poems, the stamp-licking. My wrist is sore from folding one too many letters and signing my name one too many times.

 

If only I could simply write my poems and then have some kind of fairy work it’s way into my computer and decide which poems to publish to which poetry magazine. That’s what I need – a submission fairy.

 

Getting published used to be thrilling, but now it’s mundane and disappointing. Instead of being excited that I’m again in print, I pick holes at everything. ‘Why did they pick that poem and not the other one? That one’s the worst!’ Or I have the audacity to complain at where in the journal or magazine my work is placed. ‘You can’t even see it there, yes, down there, in the corner.’ Maybe it’s like heroin. Not that I have any experience with that drug, but I’ve been in hospital plenty of times, have had my fair share of hard-core painkillers, so I’m pretty sure I can understand the feeling. Your first hit is amazing, brilliant, a total buzz. It’s like the first time you’re published. The next time isn’t as good, but you’re reminded of that first time, so you think the sensation is good. It’s down the ladder after that. You’re always searching, searching, searching for that feeling, but like everything, the first time is always the best.

 

The other side of submitting your work is the rejections. They’re the worst. Especially if you are innately as insecure as I am. Rejections tend to stab you in the heart rather than the head. I’ve been far more heartbroken over a rejection from a literary journal than I have from any man in my life. Is that sad? I guess it is. Sad, but true.

 

The most annoying thing about submissions? The wait for the reply. Imagine if you propose to your partner and they say, ‘I’ll let you know in 4-6 months what my answer is.’ Fuck off! 4-6 months to find out whether you’re a hit or just okay or that they can’t be arsed to write back to you at all because, well, they can’t be arsed.

 

It’s the ‘we don’t accept email submissions’ that shit me the most. Really? It seems ridiculous to even say ‘in this day and age?’ Understandable, perhaps, if this was 1999. But now? Who doesn’t have a computer or access to email? Who doesn’t use email? Actually, I should backpedal here. I work with a bloke who flatly refuses to use email. The trouble is, everyone else uses email and refuse to communicate in any other way. So who gets his emails? I bloody do. And I can’t forward them to him, saving paper and all that bullshit. No. I have to print out each email, putting the whole paper-free movement to shame. Paper-free my arse. Computers and emails have increased our paper usage, tenfold. I’d put money on that.

 

Sometimes I think literary journals don’t accept email submissions (even from internationals, which is ridiculous – do they know how expensive international mail is here in Australia?) because then they can’t really use the ‘it’ll take 4-6 months to reply’ excuse. Otherwise, I can’t work it out. Firstly, their desks wouldn’t be piled high with submissions. You can usually take a quick glance of one or two poems to realise whether the submitter is any good or not. If they like what they see they can print it out, if not they can press that button called ‘Reply’ and say thanks, but no thanks. It’ll take them about five minutes. The thing is, a lot of these journals probably have committees and all kind of bullshit. No wonder it’s so hard to get your work published; there’s four or five people sitting around a boardroom with their tea and biscuits deciding on whose good and whose not. I suspect it’s like a courtroom jury; only unanimous verdicts go through. If I could email submit my work the job would take half the time.

 

Shit balls banana. Has just occurred to me that every single one of the publications I’ve sent submissions to will be able to view this blog. And I’ve just slagged them all off. Particularly the ones who made me slave over paper for three hours, rather than my keyboard. You know what? I don’t really care. If they can’t accept freedom of expression – however detrimental to them it is – then they’re in the wrong business. At least; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

So. Submissions. Not my most favourite thing in the world, not by a long shot. A necessary evil.

 

I’ve a cat sitting on each side of me which is a reminder to me that their dinner time is now! So I should be off before Penelope starts gnawing at my face out of hunger…

 

giorge

xx

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fob watch

 

A grey mood perpetrated the inner

Workings of each fob. They ground

Slowly to a halt, each tick, tick, tick

Lasting longer than a minute.

 

They should have been

Wound.

Brought to life with vigor

From a tiny key

– one size fits all –

Turn, turn, turn.

Instead they lay dormant

Stagnant

Tarnished

By old ways

By old people

By tens of eyes that watch

Them every day

Passing them over

As inconsequential moments

Of a past much less

Like today

Where turning your wrist

Is work enough.

 

ⓒ giorge thomas

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mud-larking and hand-bagging in london

There is something about the history of London. It’s not only in the streets around you, but it seems to creep into the air you breathe and seep its way through your skin. It’s little things, like seeing bullet holes in monuments, evidence that war must have been very real and very close for its residents. Or that houses without a plaque to commemorate the length of their standing have housed generations and generations of inhabitants. You don’t get that in Adelaide. Here, buildings built in the fifties are heritage listed and our history is like a drop in the ocean compared to England’s.

 

When we arrived in London there were plague-like rains. Our umbrellas bought at a local 747 were unequipped to deal with the rain that seemed to rise upwards from the pavements. We had to walk in this rain, dragging sodden cases behind us like so many other tourists, stopping at every corner and sheltering our phones from the damaging wet to check the GPS. When we finally arrived in our hotel our trousers were not damp, but dripping wet, right up to the middle or our thighs. We changed quickly and made our plans; we had three days in London and neither of us wanted to waste a moment of them.

 

I was off to Bond Street, to Mulberry, where I was determined to buy a handbag and revel in the fact that I could actually feel and touch what I was buying rather than placing an order online. Mr Thomas was desperate to go mud-larking ever since our last trip when he returned home with a bevy of artifacts the Australian Customs Service failed to check.

 

I reached my destination quickly, bowled over the shop assistant with my enthusiasm and made a bee-line for the coveted Bayswater Tote. Oak. Beautiful. I should have browsed Bond Street, I should have marvelled at what was around me, but I was so focused, so desperate to be in possession of the one thing I truly coveted that I had blinkers on to everything else.

 

With a shopping bag too big to fit through any train door (or so I thought) I took a cab back to the hotel, transported all of my things – there are always so many things – into my new bag and immediately left again. I had what I wanted, now I wanted my husband. Alone, though I was sure, thoroughly enjoying himself under Tower Bridge.

 

A text from him: the tide is in. Right up to the steps. No foreshore to step onto then. No old china wear, roman roof tiles and goodness knows what else to sift through. I knew he would have been bitterly disappointed. Stay there! Was my command. I want to join you, am on my way. Yet it took a little longer. Trying to work out the difference between east and west when you don’t know a city particularly well (unless you are above ground and have your vision to guide you) I got on the wrong train. Moments later I had righted myself but had to endure almost the entire circle underground. This is an achievement. Before our last trip to London the thought of being underground for any period of time was enough to give me an anxiety attack. Yet somehow my love for this great city cured my fear and now I can ride the tube like a pro.

 

I walked out to blazing sunshine. Impossible after what we had experienced that morning. A quick check to know that Mr Thomas was in his usual spot, the tide now receded just like the rain, and I walked on to Tower Bridge carrying my shiny new bag smugly in the crook of my arm.

 

I could see the tiny red dot that was my husband from the bridge. I wanted to run across it to be reunited with him. His stance was as I expected; hunched over, eyes peering down between the rocks, bending down to pick something up every now and again, to either place it in his pocket as a keeper or toss it away as another piece of common nineteenth century litter.

 

It was so different from the time before. Then it was cold and fresh and snow still dotted the pavements. In many ways it was better back then – not so many people in the dead of winter – yet I appreciated the stark contrast between the two seasons. The green versus the white, the grey versus the blue.

 

I got a coffee and a belgium brownie that I grew a little too fond of during our stay. So much so that have finally begun a diet to try and rid those extra kilos. I was happy to find the driest bit of the foreshore to just sit and watch Mr Thomas go through the motions of his agenda. People would say to us, ‘what are you going to do in London?’ and we’d reply, ‘walk,’ because that’s the best way to see the city, just walk. But the first thing for both of us was very different. I wanted my handbag. Mr Thomas wanted his mud-larking. By the end of the day we had satisfied both.

 

We’re not one’s for touristy things. Warwick Castle almost had us vomiting with its organised-fun, pantomime atmosphere. We’d hated it. London for us was all about feeling the city, experiencing it, rather than seeing it. We overlapped from many of the things we did last time. We didn’t see a lot of the things we wanted to see. But that doesn’t matter; we’ll be back soon.

 

We walked around thirty kilometres in three days. We were pretty impressed with that feat until our friend Dave mentioned that wasn’t even close to the distance he ran doing his marathon. In four hours. Smug fit prick. My blisters have only just healed. The last bit of skin, holding on so tightly to the end of my little toe, finally gave way in a sock, the bed, or the shower. I was a little depressed at that. It was as if the last bit of London had finally left me.

 

London certainly was one of many highlights in our trip, but it’s one that everyone can relate to. The feeling of being in a place where the rest of the world seems to be. There are plans to head back next year. But I’m a bit worried about that. London next summer will be a disaster. I think I’ll leave it to the athletes.

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goodbye giorge.tv

Some of you may have joined me here from my previous site, Giorge.tv. If you have, thanks for coming over.

A number of reasons for the change. Firstly, I couldn’t resist having a site which represented the name change. Also, a .com can’t be frowned upon. Secondly, I wanted something cleaner, easier, something that was all about the writing and not about the surrounding crap. Thirdly; I find I can post more if I have easier access to post. I van do this straight from my iPad.

I remember my Myspace days so fondly, when I would always be in the top rated blogs until someone got pissed at what I said and had my account deleted. Myspace is so last decade, though, don’t you think? But I got caught up in it. I became obsessed with the numbers, discovered that if I wrote about celebrities and their deplorable lives, more people would read my posts. I lost site of the bigger picture. Did I want to be the next Perez Hilton? No. I wonder what he’s up to these days; it’s been about a year since I visited his website. In fact, I’ve not bought a tabloid mag for about two years and the last time I read one was when I was at the hairdressers, waiting for the dye to colour my greys. It’s so superficial, and so ridiculously not me I wonder how I got caught up in it all. What I love is Plath and Thomas and Hughes and all those other brilliant poets. This hear I was lucky enough to visit Dylan Thomas’ home, which was brilliant. And now we share the same last name! Yeah, us and a third of Wales!

I’m not all high-brow, though. I still have a love for cheesy reality tv which has Mr Thomas rolling his eyes and wondering why he ever married me. But, you know, balance.

For those of you still here, thanks for hanging on. Hopefully it won’t be so long between drinks anymore.

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