September 2005


Urban UK Cities

Right now I’m in Swansea, which is the second largest city in Wales.

I ended up here because my pal Jay came here and I thought it would be brilliant to join him. Last night we spent five hours wandering Wales-grabbing food at a pub and then hanging out at two different gay bars and one gay club. Either the Swansea gay scene was having an off night last night, or we picked the wrong places.

Regardless, it was fantastic catching up with Jay. Jay lives in Louisiana, but on the west side of the hurricane-so he reports that had he not watched the news, the only clue he would have had was that the temperature dropped a few degrees and became more tolerable. Although there were few cute gay people out, we each found one at Waterside that we were interested in-both bar tenders. I went for the tall guy with the sides of his head shaved, and Jay went for the red head. Sadly Waterside is a bar (pub?) and closed at 11. We headed upstairs to H20, a club environment which was – quiet. We spent awhile there, some of it dancing, before I headed to the toilet and a creepy old man hit on Jay.

We left.

Anyhow, I’ve started to notice a consistent nature of British cities-true of London, Swansea, Cheltenham, Edinburgh, and, oddly, in how cities are portrayed on British television. They all have an oddly tired look to them-which is an odd thing to say, but really, when you get down to it, the cities aren’t really what one would call clean. That isn’t to say that I’m expecting cities to be gentrified, but I would expect that cities are clean and maintained.

I spent an hour yesterday hanging out in Swansea’s Castle Square (See Leaf/Boat on Flickr-once it is posted, as soon as possible, but not right now). The area is a rather pretty and charming area that had a lot of different cliques hanging out in the area. At first I thought this was pretty cool, and the cliques were exceptionally easy to identify. But no sooner had I started to think that the place was pretty cool, a knife fight broke out.

Fortunately, as far as I can tell, nobody was injured, but apparently nobody called the police either.

Swansea’s urban core has a large number of abandoned store fronts, a striking number of disaffected youth, and a substantial amount of litter.

But the catch is that this remains shockingly consistent across Britain. I’ve noticed similar urban scenes in London, Cheltenham, and Edinburgh.

As I write this right now, if I post this pure, you can accuse it of being rambling and unfocused-which I would find hard to deny. I’ll probably pos this again in a week or two, once my thoughts have settled.

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