Sunday, 21 November 2010
From a book by Peter Finch,Real Cardiff, published by Seren Books
Just click on the Post Tiltle to visit: www.peterfinch.co.uk
Billy's coming out of the KD fast with half a kilo of Moroccan Red making a bulge the size of a bible in his inside pocket. He could shift, easy, but there's a face at the far end he doesn't like. Safer in the street.
The KD's got old ladies in fox firs downstairs and mods up. Parkas. Hoods. Students. Youth.
The guy with the Italian bush shirt comes in bearing a copy of Adrian Mitchell's Peace is Milk … War is Acid, printed as a folded handbill by Peace News, sold cheap, in the style, exactly, of the penny ballads of centuries before. You read the poem. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
They won't have war. These people'll stop it. Girl in the yellow jeans. The ponytail. Stones haircut. The beard. The round-collared jacket. The one using the Rizla. The one with the bag from C&As.
Coffee arrives in the national consciousness like a post-war automobile, desirable shining. The stuff gives the heart a hit into overdrive but when you're young you don't notice. Not at all.
At the front, overlooking the street, the fifth form trying it with no money have one tea between six and eagerness like a rainstorm. Can cope with poetry, the bomb and the Beatles. Easy.
All this'll slide apart when commerce demolishes the walls and inflates Timothy Whites from small sensible next door into a vast Boots, grown enormously beyond pharmacy, spread from the JD delivery lane to Frederick Street and beyond. But that's not yet.
The guy with the guitar in the soft case can't play. Mouth matchstick. War Resistors International broken rifle in his right lapel. Sports coat doubling as hipness. Read Howl. Looking for angels.
Queen Street outside full of cars and choke. The stunning space of pedestrianisation, when it comes, shocking the city into wondering how ever had they let the past be like it was.
This was Crockerton Street until Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887. The KD was a slum of veg sold from pots, stink and bad drainage. Sludge. Sailors with sticks. Normans with swords.
By the time the bomb had migrated to missile and the ban had seeped like damp across the West the young had become older and no longer cared. Upstairs at the back of Boots they'd put in a coffee shop. Crowds of them in there. Mothers. Bags. Loyalty cards. Pushchairs with golf-trolley wheels. Cake. Café Latte. No Russian Tea.
Dope elsewhere. Anywhere. Hedonistic Cardiffian nightlife essential. No cultural trappings. Not any more.