Retracing Wales

From Planet 218

Llandudno: Down the Rabbit Hole

Peter Stevenson in dialogue with Erin Kavanagh and Martin Bates.

Professor Codman's Wooden Headed Follies have performed on the pier in Llandudno every summer for over a century and a half. The story goes that seven generations of the Codman family died on the job. The stripey puppet booth would be turned onto its side, and carried to the graveyard with a pall bearer at each corner. The heavy wooden-headed puppets of Jim Crow and the Chinese Man have long since been retired, Mr Punch's domestic violence replaced by happy marriage, and the real world is hidden behind blood red curtains.

Llandudno has an annual Victorian Extravaganza, a Transport Festival with old Crosville buses and traction engines, and an Alice in Wonderland Trail in honour of Dean Liddell's daughter who holidayed there. A world out of time, a heritage re-enactment land, a bottomless rabbit hole, shrouding our eyes from the submerged land that lies behind every Welsh seaside resort, of poverty, radicalism and insurrection.

Visible from the prom is an enchanted forest of wind turbines, fairytale trees with their divisive roots in an Otherworld.

Looking north across Llandudno today the sea dominates our vista. However, search beneath the waves and we can find evidence of another world. Data collected by geologists when surveying for oil and gas, the laying of telecommunications cab-les or the siting of wind turbines, documents how a once dry Liverpool Bay became submerged beneath a rising sea.

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