My grandmother (or Nonna) Caitlin Thomas was born one hundred and four years ago on the 8th December 1913. To mark the date I would like to share this fascinating interview that she did with Vincent Kane in 1977. Throughout she is incredibly candid and amazingly honest as she details her weaknesses such as: her liking for Italian wine and men, her envy towards Dylan’s success that as a talented dancer she also wanted, her fury and anger that resulted in violence and her infidelities as she tried to outdo her husband and get revenge.
She also describes her attempt to move forward, twenty-four years after Dylan Thomas’s death, by moving to Italy and giving up alcohol. It is very clear though that she is still longing for the sociable lifestyle she had when she was drinking as sobriety was proving rather boring and “there’s no substitute for wine“.
She gives clues too that point to a neglectful and abusive upbringing where she was left to run wild and only the boys were educated, as well as kind words for Dylan’s patron Margaret Taylor, “…without her I don’t know what we would have done.”
We hear how she begged and forbid her husband to visit America, where he was eaten alive, and she recalls him like a man on drugs unable to resist the flattery and admiration. She admits that she was mad with rage as he was gallivanting, yet she was at home slaving away in the bogs. She does admit however that she recognised that the travelling, drinking and performing (on and off stage) was all too much and would eventually have a fatal ending.
I would also like to share for a second time the letter I wrote last year to Nonna.
Hannah Ellis – 8th December 2017.
Hannah is a teacher, writer and consultant. You can learn more about her by visiting the website – www.lovethewords.co.uk