On a break from city hall and working on the impending return of the students I have escaped to a café near the station to enjoy my usual herbal tea. I thought it would be a good idea to remind you of why you are in Cardiff and what your thoughts were between turning 29 and 30.
So, on opening this letter it will have been exactly three years since leaving London behind. Yes Cardiff might not have as much going on, but remember that’s a good thing, instead of running around trying to do everything listed in Time Out – from theatre to gig, to art show to three clubs in one night, wake up and repeat. There is that feeling of anticipation in Cardiff and an enjoyment in and of the moment rather than constantly charging on to next, next, next.
In hindsight the move and career change from working for an art collector to student liaison officer – private to public, although an initial shock, has taken you out of the comfort zone you were in danger of falling into, coming to Cardiff to be a bit more selfish; write, study and work.
Yes, frustrations underline your work, but don’t forget the freedom the post has allowed; working from your own initiative. Working with the three universities and the council as the Student Liaison Officer is a unique position across the UK. The post has helped make the city and its students safer, cleaner, and hopefully greener, more socially aware and responsible. It’s helped people to invest in their communities and become enveloped within the city outside of the student bubble. The work empowers the community and changes perceptions. Follow-ups to the Buy Nothing Day and the first ever Speed Dating litter picks should have come about, work progressed towards ‘Get it Out For Cardiff’ charity collections throughout the year, and ‘cardifference’, Go Green and ‘Lock it. Hide it. Keep it’ campaigns launched, and added onto your website cardiffdigs.co.uk, a website for all student housing and living needs.
If when you open this letter funding has run out, then you know that forces outside your control took possession. You have taken the job as far as it could go, perhaps it is time for that move into the charity sector or maybe into social marketing as you’ve been mulling over in your thoughts.
I wonder if you are still living in Grangetown? Remember not to take the ability to walk everywhere for granted. And look up more – you must have brought a second hand bike by now for further explorations.
Do you remember that man on a night out casually taking a poo against a wall in full public view on a less than salubrious street like it was normal behaviour? In Cardiff you constantly need to keep digging deeper to avoid the shit on the streets. Finding uniqueness stops you giving up on humanity and retains your optimism for the city. Don’t get blinded by selfish attitudes, the consumerist city clone, our throw-away society, bad manners/litter or underlying cliques – it’s finding the off-the-cuff parts, seeking out interesting people and places that make this city remarkable.
If you still haven’t dedicated time to writing then it’s time to put pen to paper again. You will have graduated with a certificate in higher education, subjects in philosophy, psychology and social marketing, by the time you open this but that’s no excuse to not have continued learning. You had thoughts of sociology and such like up your sleeve so I hope as much time this past year has been spent holed up in various libraries.
At the time you were listening to Steve Mason, Stevie Wonder, Laura Marling and the XX on repeat. This was the soundtrack to Cardiff.
You’d just finished reading Buy-ology, Master and Margarita and Wind In The Willows, and hope some headway was made on the stack of books by the bedside.
A weekend with the SWAT adventure group was impending – if you haven’t organised something this year, then why not? Remember how much fun things like the Llama trek, Go Ape, trips and walks to Snowdon and Brecon were.
Hopefully you’ve found an additional volunteer opportunity, been on another conservation holiday, got more involved in the Cardiff Rivers group, community radio and Radio Cardiff, and found a creative outlet.
The last week is fairly typical in that you’ve met up with close friends played squash, gone to the cinema, had a veggie dinner somewhere, gone for tea and cake, seen something random like Celtic wrestling, ice hockey, circus, theatre or gig and taken those dancing shoes for a good old shuffle around. You know who these people are that make this city into a bonanza, so pick up the phone now if it’s been more than a few weeks.
I leave you with this:
“At 30 a man should know himself like the palm of his hand, know the exact number of his defects and qualities, know how far he can go, foretell his failures – be what he is. And, above all, accept these things.” – Albert Camus
So yes you are still nauseatingly cheesy but happy birthday, from me (nearly 29) to me (30).
Kieran McCann is slightly addicted to chocolate soya milk, loves having breakfast for his tea, gets guilty pleasures from reading comics, has only walked through the new St David’s 2 once, can’t pass an open charity shop without going in and is still fending off having a personal profile on facebook. He is the founder of cardiffdigs.co.uk ; you can follow his work on the blog: http://cardiffdigs.blogspot.com/
Kieran was photographed near the Taf at Tudor Street by Adam Chard.
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