A little over a year ago I found myself on a train with a rucksack heading to meet a friend in London. I had decided that I was going to move there. It seemed like a natural step, I had been at University in Southampton for three years and had grown used to my independence and suddenly I was back in Cardiff and living at home with my parents. I needed to get away. I had done the sums; I had enough savings to last me a few months’ rent in London while I looked for a job there, and I had a floor to sleep on for a few nights while we looked for a place to stay.
I had always loved London. The idea that there was always something to do – that there was always something going on – appealed to me. I had resolved that it would be impossible to ever be bored there. “Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty” said Wordsworth of London. It didn’t take me long to realise, however, that the idea of London had been romanticised in my head, that the hustle and bustle wasn’t a sign of stimulating activity, it was a sign of stress. This was a lot of commitment and a lot of money to hand over to something that I had just found out I didn’t want. I went back and forth in my head about what to do but I eventually made a decision that it wasn’t for me. I came home.
A year later I am in my hometown of Cardiff finishing up a Masters degree. Though study has taken up much of my time, it has not been the most important part of my being back. Cardiff has fuelled a lot of big things for me this year, and this past year will always be an important one to me. It is since being back that I finished my debut novel and found a publisher, something that I would never have dreamt of happening. Also, since the 1st of January I have found myself undertaking a project that sees me release one original song every day throughout 2011. These are certainly projects that take personal dedication, but I also think that it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to consider my geographical location in all of this. Cardiff has a thriving creative community. And it took a few years of my being away from here to realise that. I grew up here, and so perhaps I had forgotten to appreciate what was on my doorstep. Workshops, exhibitions, book groups, gigs, plays, comedy nights, music and arts festivals. Creative endeavours are springing up all over the city from thinkARK to the Cardiff Arcades Project to this website. I think the fact that this has only recently come to my attention is down to two things: 1) I had grown used to Cardiff and so wasn’t engaging with what it had to offer, and 2) This is a city that has grown up around me, and what it has to offer is growing all of the time.
As I finish up my course and begin looking for full-time work, my seeming desperation to move away from this city has entirely diminished. This is not to say that I would never move away, but there is currently nothing dragging me out of this city, and the list of things keeping me here is growing all of the time.
Ardie Collins is a novelist, radio producer, MA student, and singery-songwritery type person born and based in Cardiff. His debut novel is entitled ‘Cult Fiction’ and is about a man who, inadvertently and through very little fault of his own, sets up a cult. It was released on the 1st of September 2011 by Knightstone Publishing, and is available on Kindle. The Cooper 365 project can be found here. Ardie’s main webpage can be found here. He is on Twitter as @ardiecoll and @coopersounds
Ardie was photographed at Trout Books in Castle Arcade by Amy Davies
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