The first ideas of ‘The Outing’ the film were conceived in August 2014 whilst I was surrounded by the wealth of talent at the Edinburgh Fringe. One evening at dinner with my father, a man who spent his formative years in the steel working town of Port Talbot, I explained my idea of making a film loosely based upon Dylan Thomas. By the end of the meal I had scribbled down a series of ideas on a waiter’s note pad. Only two remain pertinent: the film would be centred upon Dylan’s short story, ‘The Outing’ and crucially, we would use no actors; merely a group of local friends, plenty of camaraderie, lots of ale and one very special village.
At the heart of any good narrative are the words and in the case of ‘The Outing’ they are undoubtedly Dylan’s. In a letter to Pamela Hansford Johnson, an admirer of Dylan’s poetry who quickly became a great admirer of the man himself, Dylan, aged eighteen wrote:
‘I write in the only way I can write, and my warped, crabbed & cabinned stuff is not the result of theorising but of pure incapability to express my needless tortuities in any other way.’
It is this unmistakable, eccentric, bombastic and yet charming style that makes Dylan’s writing unique and the childhood recollection of ‘The Outing’ so special.
The story is one that Dylan himself would have experienced far too many times. Perhaps as the young nephew who is swept away on the charabanc booze cruise with people twice his size and much older. It is however more likely he would be sitting front seat leading this ramshackle rabble of men as they embark on a day they won’t forget, or not for the lack of trying.
It strikes me that a constant through this comedy is the exploration between young and old; primarily through Dylan’s rich and vivid characterisations, observed from the eyes of a young boy. He begins with the strict, slender and often silent Aunt (if she can be called that…) as she meticulously orders her perfect house and her imperfect husband who, being too big for everything, directs and prepares his troops for their big day out. Those same troops make little of unnervingly wrong footing the young boy as he boards the sacred steps of their flagon-filled charabanc with a stark, simple and old age question on their minds: when and where will the next beer be consumed?
Dylan lets the young nephew into a world he could only have imagined, whether in a nightmare or a dream, and the enduring nature of this tale reminds us that in years to come that same nephew might well inherit his uncle’s position and so another outing will occur…
I invite you to enjoy this unique and timeless story in a world that appears simple and sweet, as we endeavour to create our very own outing. An outing, I hope, Dylan would be proud of.
Diolch yn fawr.