Before we moved to Swansea twenty years ago, we came down to have a look at the city and to meet a friend of my brother whose family still lived here. My brother and his friend had just finished a cruise together and were enjoying their time ashore, (they both worked on an oceanographic research ship) so there was something of a party atmosphere as we were taken from pub to pub and from house to house.
My brother’s friend had a girlfriend, a beautiful blonde girl called Kymm. The first time I saw her, she was a lively, lovely professional lady who travelled the world and had just returned from a weekend in Amsterdam. I was 38 weeks pregnant with my first child and struggling to get out of a chair, she was a size 10 and never seemed to sit down. She was lovely – friendly, kind and very welcoming. Despite having nothing in common – me a pregnant housewife, her a stewardess on a research ship, we warmed to each other immediately and spent a happy afternoon together. I was sorry that this ray of sunshine wouldn’t be around when we moved to Swansea, she was based there but would be away at sea most of the time. What neither of us knew that day is that Kymm was actually already pregnant herself and nine months later, she gave birth to her son Dylan.
Our boys were in the same academic year and played together throughout much of their childhood. When my second and third babies came along, Kymm was there cooking enormous casseroles to feed us all and cleaning my house from top to bottom. When we moved house, she packed, moved and then unpacked the entire kitchen on her own. When we moved again six months later, she did it again. Kymm is a good friend – she was there when my parents died, she was there when my newborn daughter was so terrifyingly ill.
You know that phrase about a friend helps you move the furniture, a true friend helps you move the body? Well Kymm would bury the body, clean up afterwards, cook everyone a nice meal and wash all the mud off the spade.
3 December 2014
The Dylan Thomas, Llansamlet, Swansea
The nearest pub to Kymm’s house is called the Dylan Thomas but I have no idea why as it is a new building in a part of town which didn’t exist when Dylan Thomas lived here. Unlike most of the pubs in the old parts of the city, it can’t claim that the great man drank there. The pub is convenient, cheap and comfortable but has no atmosphere. It’s part of a chain and sells Costa coffee and two meals for £10. The decor was presumably chosen for durability, price and because it conforms to what a young designer saw as right for a traditional British pub. Like its name, everything about the pub is just a little faux. I normally find places like this depressing, but force of Kymm’s personality is easily enough to counteract this and I always have a great time when I go there with her.
This time was no exception – we talked constantly about the kids, our families and our plans for the future. We have both always been nonplussed by motherhood and the way some people seem to instinctively get it right. Both of us candidly admit that we do NOT get it right, and if we do, it’s probably luck. W both love and are fiercely proud of our children, but understand them? No chance.