You can’t go the same pub twice

Dressed as Doctor Who

At the weekend I went on a stag do to Cardiff. The main reason the groom-to-be chose Cardiff was its Doctor Who connections. This is a perfectly acceptable reason to visit the city, however for me there was an additional draw. I went to University in Pontypridd and knew Cardiff from those days.

The chance to see how it had changed in the, nearly, 20 years since I graduated was exciting, and as an added bonus it gave me the chance to catch up with an old-friend who still lived there.

It was clear from the outset Cardiff had changed a lot. New buildings, pedestrianised routes, and a Cardiff Bay that was unrecognisable from 20 years ago meant the City had a different energy about it. Even the weather was better. In my memory, Cardiff was a grey, rainy place but for two days the city glowed in bright sunshine.

One change that isn’t for the better is the rise in stag and hen dos visiting. I know this sounds hypocritical since I was there on a stag do but when you’re faced with pub after pub of blokes in dresses and women wearing ‘L’ plates with spangly hats it does tend to get a bit much.

For the record, we wore Doctor Who t-shirts.

The staggering number of stag and hen dos was my motivation for suggesting a stroll to Cathays. Cathays is home to the University district and I thought there we could escape the clichés and find some more entertaining, student-focused, bars. This was me remembering the Cardiff of 20 years ago with rose-tinted spectacles.

Unfortunately, the redevelopment of Cardiff, and my wandering memory, meant finding the uni. district tricky. I knew to walk to the end of Queen’s Street, but beyond that?

After 20 minutes walking I had to admit defeat. My fellow walkers need for refreshment (and lavatories) had used up their reservoir of goodwill and it was time to reassess.

Thankfully we found two others who looked like they may know the way. We stopped them, explained our plight, and asked to be pointed in the direction of the nearest student-friendly public house.

“Student pubs?”, came the reply, “Everyone just goes into the city centre these days. There’s nothing around here really.”

It was foolish of me to think otherwise. 20 Years since my last Cardiff night out. Of course students have changed their behaviour. I should have realised things would change. Why didn’t I?

We notice the changes around us all the time. People of different generations have different outlooks, the places we live develop and re-imagine themselves as something new. I see it with my family, friends and home town all the time but didn’t expect students in Cardiff to have changed where they drink in all the time I wasn’t there.

I guess I was guilty of wanting to relive, just for a short time, a piece of my own history. For one moment to go back in time and see life again as an 18 year old with novels to to write and political systems to change. To forget that I haven’t yet achieved those grand aims.

You can’t do that though. I can’t go back in time, and I can’t expect time to not change the places I used to go and the people I used to know. All we can do is go forward from where we are now. I haven’t changed the world yet but I won’t look back with regret. Instead I’ll look ahead to see if I can find a way of changing the world in the future.


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