Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Big City Life

Ahhh, the city. I am a die-hard fan of city living: I enjoy the pubs, the clubs, the fact I can walk to the nearest cinema in under five minutes, that I'm within range for hundreds of different take-aways, the close shops....It's all good. There are downsides to living in the city, though. Obviously. A few of the highlights:

1. On my walk to/from work, I have had to step either over or frighteningly close to the following:-

  • Knickers. A pair of fecking women's knickers.
  • Several condoms, used. ...I presume, I didn't check or anything, jesus. Walking past the local park is where I tend to pass these. I don't know why a park is a preferred choice to, say, one of the many alleys in the area, but al fresco in a busy urban area isn't my thing so I wouldn't like to comment.
  • One (1) pair of Bench jockey shorts, obviously soiled with faeces and hung on a railing for the world to see. Why they required display is rather beyond me.
  • A needle. That was an especial treat to behold.
  • The ubiquitous broken bottles/glasses.
  • Dropped take-aways. Nothing worse than having to walk past last night's kebab on your walk to work at 8.15 in the bloody morning. Especially sick-making if you're nursing a hangover.
  • The smell/sight of St Mary Street first thing on a Saturday/Sunday morning. The hen and stag parties are not kind to that street...

2. The people. Ahh, the people. I don't know whether cities attract the, shall we say, more colourful, eccentric members of society; or whether the sheer volume of people concentrated into a small area makes them easier to spot. Either way, you certainly get to see some entertaining/frightening sights...

  • Drummer. He's a bit of a Cardiff feature - very tall, skinny black guy with dreads that are often coloured in eclectic ways, he usually has some eye-catching attire on (personal favourite; silver leather trousers, shirtless, with sunglasses and feathers in his hair) and is frequently to be seen beating out loud, fast rhytmns on the many bins around the city. Back when I worked in one of the city's department stores, he'd often come in to talk to us and the whole time you'd be really conscious that you were walking a fine line, that at any moment his friendliness toward you could erode into the mouth-foaming hatred he was expressing for his target of the moment (the government, police, someone who told him off for drumming on bins, the usual...)
  • Toy Mic Trevor. He used to really brighten up Queen Street with his vague singing (I never once successfully identified a song out of the arrythmic cacophonic style he favoured) but I've not seen him in a couple of years and I have the sinking, maudlin suspicion that he may have died.
  • My random neighbours. On the one side, we have a couple in late middle-age who obviously loathe us. During our Halloween party, we saw them filming guests who were smoking outside the house - the lady of the house had a camera pressed up against her bedroom window, trying to hide behind the curtains. They also stare out every time we take the bins out, and despite my best attempts to smile and be nice and say hello any time we see each other, the best I ever get is dirty looks from them. Conversely, on the other side we have neighbours so friendly they don't let a little thing like not speaking English stop them chatting to us. Using a series of charades-style gestures and the use of sparodic English words mingled in with the Urdu, I've managed to have conversations about our weekend camping trip, my breaking my ankle, and the weather. Their house also smells of the most delicious cooking and I am trying to work our chats up to the point where they offer me food. I love them. Across the road, meanwhile, there's a house that I am beginning to suspect is a brothel. Its house number is lit up in red at night, and there appear to be metal flaps that can be raised to conceal the numbers. The only reason I can think for having this would be to hide the numbers for when the residents aren't in for business. We've had police vans pull up in the street and cart a man off recently, which adds to this suspicion. Next door to that is Crazy Sweary Family. CSF are disturbingly violent: I've seen the woman screaming at her husband/boyfriend to "fuck off, just fuck off" loud enough for me to hear while inside watching tv...and this was in front of her young child, estimated age 3. Nice. Said woman was also locked out once: I was awoken by her banging on her door, screaming for her partner to wake up and let her in. This screaming continued for close to an hour before I cracked and called 101 - I had to get up for work in four hours and she sounded like she was ready to keep trying until she smashed in her own door. Happy days.
  • Students. I was once one of them, and I think my bitterness about no longer being a student colours my judgement somewhat ... but is it just me or are they way younger than we were as students?! I'm sure the ones in the student accommodation nearby have an average age of twelve. But in dress sense, they're aged whores. During Fresher's Week we saw one girl in a skirt so short you could see the cheeks of her ass. I mean, fair play she had great legs, but still. Leave a little to the imagination love, yeah? The students are also the ones responsible for all the dropped take-aways and smashed bottles covering the pavements on the route into town from mine. You kids, you don't know you're born! GET OFF MY LAWN!!
  • Library users. I think the anonymity of city life is a bad influence on some people, but we certainly get some characters. One lovely example: a society had rented the meeting room at a library I was working at. The woman due to lead the meeting called us and said she was running significanly late due to a traffic accident causing jams; the meeting was due to start in half an hour, and she was close to two hours away. When the group starting arriving for their meeting we explained this to them. One gentleman's response? To yell that the group leader should have called the day before to say she was going to get caught in traffic and be late that morning. He then starting yelling at us - we weren't even part of the fucking group, they were just temporarily hiring space in the building. Of course, obviously I was in the wrong for not using my magic crystal ball to predict the future and go to this woman's house in order to warn her the traffic would be bad and she should leave a lot earlier in order to make the meeting on time.
  • The aforementioned hen and stag parties. I can't pinpoint exactly when the 'Diff became such a hotspot for these groups, but in the last couple of years St Mary Street has become the place the locals avoid like the plague, for obvious reasons.
  • The whores. Working girls, if you prefer. There's a few that work the street just a couple blocks from my house, which is always disconcerting. I am also beginning to wonder if they're taking clients back to the house across from mine with the red lights...There are a few hooker hot-spots around the city, that I won't detail here because I don't want anyone to think I'm becoming some kind of guide to prostitution in south east Wales. But it's always a treat to see their outfits. As my gran would've said, their clothes fit where they touch...

But apart from all that, it's great! I'll probably rant more on this subject the more I think about it.


  1. I'm very glad I live in a relatively small, rural village on the outskirts of the city.
    Did my stint in the city centres, the novelty wore off.

  2. For future reference - the Drummer - I think his name is 'Ninja' (not that that is really a name, but still a cool word to use in reference to yourself), a few of my friends in Metros know him.

    I think he actually cut a CD at some point, that would explain how his clothes suddenly became more extravagant.