Dylan Thomas has very kindly returned at my invitation from the Hereafter, where he is running a small bar, to write for the Steyning Festival blog – looking forward to the imminent festival launch.
To begin at the beginning: It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and ocean green, the grassy lanes, silent and the hunched wood limping invisible up to the slow, green, tennis-elbow green, rabbit-and-stoat bobbing Downs.
The houses are blind as Colonel Cat, sleeping in his bifocals; the Steyning Centre snoozes, St Andrew and St Cuthman stir in their sleep, while Christine Aubrey – the festival chair – dreams fitfully of tickets and insurance.
Hush, the babies are sleeping, the grammar school and primary school, the Cobblestones, the vicar, the Gruffalo and the Steyning Bookshop are sleeping. Mr Bunce is dreaming of teapots. The Co-op is dreaming of butter. The Art Trail is snoring peacefully. You can hear the dew falling.
Listen. It is night moving down the streets, the tarmaced high street – where the ‘Star’, the ‘Chequers Inn’, the ‘Norfolk Arms’ and the ‘White Horse’ tilt and ride, their tills silent, their cushions exhaling. You can hear the grass growing on the recreation ground, the sleep of birds on Chanctonbury Ring.
Time passes. Come closer now. Only you can hear the sound of the Big Top waiting to be unfolded, the electricity generators waiting to be switched, the mobile toilets waiting for flushing, the silent disco relaxing its chords, the authors and musicians practicing their introductions in their sleep, the town clock ticking. Only you can hear and see the book groups, the choirs, the mice in Mouse Lane, the echo of future laughter and happy queues and cocktails and the ache of future sunlight on the grass, as they waft through the green swathes of their dreams.
The Steyning Festival starts on 21 May. You can read the full programme here http://www.steyningfestival.co.uk/whats-on
** Don’t miss the Community Parade that launches the festival at 11am on Saturday 21 May. http://www.steyningfestival.co.uk/whats-on/community-parade-19