Richard Burton was in a BBC studio recording his inimitable performance as the narrator of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood. It was broadcast on what was then the Third Programme the following evening. At the age of six, however, I knew nothing of Dylan Thomas and no-one in my family listened to the Third Programme.
My introduction to Thomas came five years later at my primary school, thanks to a Welsh student called - yes - Mr Jones, who was completing a teaching practice with our forty-strong form. One wet, chilly afternoon, at the start of an English lesson, Mr Jones announced that he had a treat in store for us. Out of one of the classroom cupboards, he hauled a wind-up gramophone, whose prior use had been confined to providing the music for our weekly country dance classes. (Our form teacher was a very keen member of the English Folk Dance and Song Society.)
Then, from his briefcase, he produced a record . . .
'This,' said Mr Jones, in reverential tones, 'is something remarkable. We are going to listen to Under Milk Wood. Some of the finest words in the English language - and written by a Welshman, Dylan Thomas. The narrator possesses one of the finest voices in the English speaking world and he is a Welshman too, Richard Burton. So, I want you all to sit still, absolutely no fidgeting.'
I can't remember what my classmates did but, from the moment I heard the opening line:
'To begin at the beginning . . .'
delivered in those deep, rich, nut-brown tones, there was not the remotest possibility that I might fidget. I was somewhere else - hovering on the edge of Llareggub, looking down on Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard, Captain Cat, Rosie Probert, Mr Mog Edwards, Gossamer Beynon et al. It was the first time that I can recall shivers running down my spine while listening to the spoken word. Mr Jones also had the look of a man for whom, in the words of Louis Macneice, 'time was away and somewhere else'.
But, this being the 1950s and my primary school being run by a head teacher who was feared by all, our literary transports of delight were doomed. Half way through the lesson, our head teacher stormed in, red of face and teeth clenched. She almost wrenched the gramophone arm out of its socket.
'This,' she bellowed at Mr Jones, 'is NOT suitable listening for 11 year-olds. See me in my office at the end of the lesson.'
And that was the end of our introduction to Dylan Thomas and Under Milk Wood. And it was the end of Mr Jones's teaching practice at our school. But I thought at the time that he had been right about the words and the voice. Sixty years later, I still think he was right and I have a much-read first edition of Under Milk Wood and a frequently-played copy of the BBC recording to prove it.
So thank you, Mr Jones, for that great gift. And here, to mark the 60th anniversary of Burton and the cast's magnificent recording, the opening of Under Milk Wood.
You can find the rest of the recording on YouTube. Unless, of course, you have your own much loved and much played copy.