I’m a child of the 70s, hitting puberty in the 80’s and becoming an adult in the early 90’s. They were great years, particularly if you lived in my hometown. Newport is a city now but back in the day it was a dirty old town with a kick-ass nightlife and the type of social spirit that was admirable – same faces, same pubs (to be patronised in a particular order on a set route) and a music scene which was legendary (Kurt Cobain proposed to Courtney Love in an indie club here I’ll have you know… I have no evidence for this). You went into town at 8 0’clock in your finest, spent twenty five quid for the whole night and went home with a chicken kebab that you’d even consider eating the following day. In short, it was awesome.
Of course, it wasn’t all good, as it wasn’t for many industrial towns across South Wales. Many industries continued their decline. High streets effectively ceased trading. Unemployment was still an issue for many. My rose tinted glasses aren’t opaque but I can’t deny that my relatively innocent teenage years were blessed. I was lucky that it continued into my twenties, when Zanzibar was the nightclub de jour and you could buy an alcopop called Cuban Fire which nobody outside of Newport seems ever to have heard of. Good times indeed.
These memories formed much of the inspiration for my “quick read” poetry collection (think Pam Ayers meets Goldie Lookin’Chain) about growing up in South Wales,and Welsh life since then. Much of the city has benefitted from rejuvenation and investment since those days. You can now find restaurants and even a department store in town again – not just hairdressers and nail salons. But I’m not sure if the “new” Newport could quite inspire the same poetry in me.
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