Message in a bottle

I love Cardiff.

I love the maze of huddled backstreets; sombre sandstone threads calling me onward to the next corner.

I love the soft grey rain drifting in on a westerly breeze.

I love the protecting cradle of hills silhouetted against the northern horizon.

I love the brackish gloop of the Severn tidefields and the red marls of Wern Fawr.

I love crossing the threshold on Canton Bridge. I love the distant vanishing points of Pontcanna Fields. I love the match-day hwyl, the Dock Feeder, the Central Market, the Rhymni confluence, Brains beer, Billy Burges, Shirley Bassey, Womanby Street, Wenallt, Coed y Gof and Splott.

I love Cardiff at night, moaning and thrumming through electric air.

I love Cardiff under a high June sun, ricocheting liquid light into the darkest nook.

I love the cracks in the pavements, the chance encounters, the rampant vegetation, the redoubtable women, the cunning men, the shared miseries, the open minds and the idle chit-chat.

I love Cardiff because it fits.

I love Cardiff because I love Wales.

I love Cardiff because it’s home.

And I love the layers of personal histories beneath my feet, slowly accreted across millennia; the unrecorded dead who have been here before, calling reassurance to we who are still alive.

Therefore, since I love Cardiff so, I pick over its failings, mock its conceits, point out its stupidities, doubt its motives and slag it off in public – that’s what old friends do.

When compared to other capitals Cardiff falls short on nearly every measurement – not least the total absence of a body of critical work on the subject of Cardiff itself.  If I don’t do it, love, then who will?