The elastic band effect – in conversation with Meryl Cubley

In this week’s person to person, we sit down for a chat with Meryl Cubley, Cardiff-based journalist and writer.

meryl_cubley_by_lorna_cabble

Cardiff is my home – despite not being born here. I’m originally from a very small village located on the Staffordshire Moorlands (very Heathcliffe) but I spent much of my childhood growing up on the coast of west Wales.

You could say that that particular part of the Welsh coastline is intrinsic to who I am – it certainly makes up a good 70 per cent of my childhood memories. It was a very special time for me and the friends who I grew up alongside in west Wales: mainly Welsh, though two or three of us were English. These were dark political times – significant tension existed between the local Welsh and the English interlopers who had holiday homes – but never used them: basically pricing locals out of their own areas of birth because they could no longer afford the house prices.

It was also a time of miners strikes, huge unemployment and a change in the cultural landscape of Britain that we have never recovered from. Yet despite these difficult times, tucked away in a tiny part of the world seven coves long, we enjoyed a halcyon childhood that many will never experience. I know that I feel incredibly lucky to have such amazing and special memories of that west Wales coast; and whenever I go back now, I immediately feel all the stresses and strains of everyday life disappear as soon as I smell the sea air, or look at the different play of light there, or look up to see a canopy full of stars. It is a very special place – and I simply wouldn’t have those memories if it weren’t for Cymru – the people and the place.

Being a country girl at heart brought up pretty much on horseback; I knew I’d have to move to ‘the big smoke’ if I wanted to live the exciting kind of life I dreamed of and read about in the countless novels and biographies I often had my head stuck in. So I left home at a very young age; and over the years lived in London, Manchester and Bristol among others; and leaned my street smarts the hard way. Each city had its charms, its time ‘on the map’. There’s no question that they have influenced my passion and love of arts and culture, music and society. There were incredible music scenes, new political ideas, a change in style, culture and fashion: we’re talking about in particular the scenes in Manchester and Bristol here – London always seemed like a rat trap to me.

But Cardiff had me hooked from the start. I was living in Australia, pretending to be a surfer chick, on a gap year before they were called a gap year; after a particularly nasty accident left me in a wheelchair for eight months. I got a phone call from my Mum at home in west Wales, to say I’d had an unconditional offer from Cardiff’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies – one of the top rated institutions in the UK for media training. I think it’s significant to note that I was seriously considering studying in Sydney at the time – but I knew immediately that I wanted to study and live in Cardiff.

After three years of hard graft and like many students, I decided to stay and work in Cardiff after I had graduated. I’ve worked for all of the Welsh media institutions at one time and another – and learned a lot – and had a lot of fun doing so.

When I did leave in 2003, to edit a graffiti publication in Bristol; I honestly didn’t think I’d be back – but lo and behold – nine years ago I did come back to live and work in Cardiff once more. It seems I just can’t stay away!

Since coming back I love the range of things on offer here. If I had friends visiting for the weekend, this would be our weekend itinerary:
  • Friday night – local drinks – which ranges from the Albany pub to Milgi to all the choices on Wellfield Road.
  • Saturday – brunch at Porro or Cameo – or one of the greasy spoon cafes if it was a really good night! Then follow that by a walk around Roath Park Lake or Bute Park. In the summer it’s great fun hopping on the little boat docked near the Bute Park entrance; and zipping down to Cardiff Bay. A walk across the barrage to Penarth is a must, blows away the night before, feels like a million miles away – and is an awesome spot for collecting marine fossils. Grab the train back to Cardiff, have a brief siesta; then the fun starts all over again! Dinner at Il Pastifico, Potted Pig or Cafe Citta, followed by cocktails at Dead Canary; and dancing over at Gwdihw. Then on to an after party wherever that happens to be …
  • Sunday involves, bed, cat, papers and ordering in!

***

Meryl Cubley is an Editor, Journalist and Writing Consultant. You can see more of her work at merylcubley.com or follow her @merylcubley. She currently lives in Roath.

Meryl was photographed by Lorna Cabble at Cameo Club on Wellfield Road.

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