Racing against the darkness


It’s that high-speed glittery time of year after the clocks go back and before Christmas when a million parties happen in a rush, and a million writers around the world are busy nanowrimo -ing, so the words “Racing against the darkness” really spoke to me when reading a Dylan Thomas short story recently.

Thomas is less known as a short story writer than as a poet, but it is a form he was putting a lot of energy into in his late 30s, just before his death at the age of 39. If you’d like to hear one of his stories, try this recording of ‘Who Do You Wish Was With Us?’, read by Welsh actor Philip Madoc.

The storyline is on the face of it, simple enough. Two teenagers or young men walk to the coast. When they get there, (listen to Part Two for this) they take the path to The Worm’s Head, a peninsula that can be reached only during low tide. They relax awhile, and there follows a race against the tide, and the darkness, when they come to make the return journey. Like so much of what Dylan Thomas wrote, ‘Who Do You Wish Was With Us?’ ultimately is about Life and Death.

It is for the reader to decide, but on a bright post-storm morning like this particular Sunday morning in Wales, Life definitely seems to have the upper hand.