Reality cinema

Juno always agreed with my stance on reality TV, that it is a far more enjoyable and informative pastime to sit and read the paper instead…

Newspaper

However, being an indoor cat she never got to experience the joy of cinema. Perhaps just as well, as on a recent foray around the old haunts of Cardiff, I became painfully aware of the impact of the recent trend for the multiplex. It is heart-warming to hear of year-on-year increases in cinema attendances, the video/DVD/Blu-ray predictions of the death of cinema are clearly premature. However, this is not the full story, and nostalgics and history lovers have some causes for concern.

Cinema, as some of us old gits originally knew it, has certainly suffered in recent years. The ‘joy’ of cinema is hardly exemplified in the outward projection of the ‘Gaiety Cinema‘ on City Road in Roath

Cinematic experiences

Having first seen ‘Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines‘ here as my first evening visit to a cinema back in 1966, I was saddened when the old place succumbed to a subsequent wave of cinema > bingo transformations. Clearly, the continuing appeal to a youthful demographic by converting the place to a venue for bowling, music and a bar seems to have secured its future!

Then, as I walked along Pearl Street in Splott, or Adamstown (that’s a geographical debate yet to be had), I was reminded of the dangerous outcomes of what you might put up on the big screen. ‘Splott Cinema‘ may have seen better days…

Splott cinema

… but with all the explosive action movies that have been the rage in recent years, it is my guess that ‘The Towering Inferno‘ was a film too far for this grand old local community cinema…

Splott Cinema after fire

As Juno used to often say to me, until we speak again “I’m watching you!”

You talking to me?

A dim view

What was all the fuss about? Here we are, having waited nearly 16 years since the last some such event, and Cardiff wakes bathed in clear blue sky sunshine. It is the perfect conditions for the much vaunted eclipse… and with many parts of the country blanketed in clouds the centre stage is set for the capital of Wales to stage the spectacular!

Eclipse

It is 9.45am, and I guess it was supposed to be a time of bright sunshine. Just as the light begins to fade, the drums start to roll, and then… it begins to brighten up again!

So, as my old friend Juno would have said: “Until we speak again, don’t blink!”

Culinary adornment

Stay out [4]

So, that’s where the ancestors went wrong… a 25 foot high solid wall clearly wasn’t enough to keep the historic hordes of marauding cats out, particularly at banqueting time. Cardiff discovers that every good castle needs the unfathomable wisdom of an ugly Health & Safety intervention. Just add a 10 foot high steel fence, and you too can commune with your local population, delivering a message that something special is happening here, but you’re not invited!

Stay out [5]

Clearly somebody forgot to tell Batman… a fence and a high visibility cone threat will do nothing to deter a super hero with a skateboard. As for the subtle human addition to the high-vis security… just set your egg-timer to suss out the frequency of patrols by plods-on-wheels cycling the whole perimeter of the prolateriat-diner-exclusion-zone…

Stay out [6]

So, what is all the fuss about, you ask? NATO are holding a summit… somewhere else!!! Yes, the summit is in Newport, about 15 miles away. Maybe, my reader, you have been to Newport, in which case you know it doesn’t need anything added in order to be twinned with cold war Berlin, or the present day West Bank or Gazza Strip! Cardiff largely ignores its scruffier little neighbour, and instead casts its ambitions wider by adapting the model of the Green Line in Nicosia, Cyprus, with a contemporary version of their no-man’s land.

Stay out [3]

It seems that dining out just got very expensive for all the residents of Cardiff, even though they will not be invited to the table themselves. The grandest nosh on the planet takes place in the setting of Cardiff Castle, providing the main distraction for world leaders desperate to get together to say nothing of any significance about a whole load of very significant world issues. As an exclusive meal it takes some beating, with a leeked preview (is that the Welsh version of ‘leaked’?) of the indigenous menu of laver bread starter…

    … cawl main, and Welsh cakes for pudding…

 

20120110-112246.jpg

… all washed down with a pint of Brains finest SA.

4. Brains journey [1]

The unanswered conundrum is why a meal that lasts no more than a few hours requires a month of security measures? Until we speak again send you answers nailed to the forehead of a peaceful protester to a somewhat disillusioned Juno.

funny cats   [Thanks to http://www.sodahead.com as the source of this image, and gypsy-willow.com for the previous food images].

YQ?

Food festival [3]

What is it about you humans? As soon as there is a sun-food-tent combination going on you just can’t resist the idea of forming long queues! As the 2014 International Food and Drink Festival descends on an expectant Cardiff, you seem to be joyously getting into a chaotic jumble of the single file arrangement mode.

Food festival [2]

So, whether it is something to do with your native country’s produce, Persia, the Orient, or even wholefoods (whatever that means?), you just get the whole ‘standing in lines’ thing going.

No such etiquette for us cats… just get on with lunch and then relax…

My feast! Fighting fit [3]

Until we speak again I fully expect to be a recipient of your sensitivity-oriented disgust, but what the hell this is road-kill Juno signing off in search of more prey!

A saintly celebration

People around these parts always celebrate the 1st March… it’s St. David’s Day for all proud Welsh folk. So as I was ambling around the neighbourhood I wondered what local tradition might a cat take up in order to join in the celebrations. They are helpful people, they even signpost the way…

Its Brains you want

I decided I would follow a so-called cerebral journey to see what Brains is all about locally. As good a starting point as any would be the brewery, conveniently located in the centre of the city, with a backdrop of the Millenium Stadium…

2. Brains Brewery [2]

… and even adorning the national rugby shirt.  

You get a wide range of views on the product from the local beer aficionados, ranging from it’s one of the best beers around, to it used to be one of the best before the brewery lost their mojo, to “is it called brains or drains?” My ‘personal taster‘ tells me that the capital city of Wales needs a clearly defined brand of beer crafted to the highest standards… meanwhile I drift off into another snooze.

Getting back to the task at hand, I am led to believe that breweries require loads of water, so this one seems nicely positioned on the bank of the River Taff (so that’s where the locals get their nickname from!).

3. Brains Brewery [3]Ignoring what some say, that there is little difference between what you see in the river and what you taste in the pub, I decide a cat needs to visit the iconic City Arms pub (the landlord Chris scripted that bit!!) in the centre of the city to check out the quality…

City Arms [1]With my old friend ‘Fat Freddies Cat‘ already filling the tank with anything but Brains, I was suitably impressed by the visual elegance of this local brew…

4. Brains journey [1]

5. Brains journey [2]

 

And it seemed to slip down very easily…

My investigations identified that strangely beer is not something you buy, in reality it is a product you rent; and pubs even come with their own built-in recycling plants for keeping the rental process turning over…

6. Brains journey [3]

 

 

 

Being a cat of impeccable values, my next question was one of the importance of recycling and what happens when several pints of this local nectar have been consumed? 7. Brains journey [4]

Look away now if you are a lager drinker! My best guess is that the in-house recycling plant produces a keg style by-product. What doesn’t return into the Taff for the short journey back to the brewery seems to retain the straw-like colour of the previous waste products, emerging as it does through several taps on the bar serving up brands of what is more characteristically known as European style juice.

My journey was nearly over, but a final surprise awaited. It seems that these emporia of the country’s good working folk also cater for the tastes of the modern day fat cats, with a specific beer crafted for the bankers of the world…

8. Beer for fat cats

 

I hope you enjoy your saintly celebrations, wherever you are; but until we speak again I will be a staggering Juno, as  wind my way back on a journey to my usual water bowl.

A christmas message for QE2

Dear smile-free zone, the President and Vice-President of my fan club were delighted with your card on the occasion of their 60th wedding anniversary, but I am reliably informed by my resident ‘Welsh Republican‘ that the photograph looks a bit formal and poker-faced. So, I thought I would cheer you up a bit on this festive occasion with a couple of pictures of my compatriots… some might tolerate this nonsense but your ‘local detractor‘ tried to get me into one of these poses and can now be contacted at the local hospital in the vicious lacerations department for their efforts.

Talking of ill-fitting circumstances, I was wondering how the Greeko-Germanic axis was functioning in your marriage these days? I get the distinct impression from various news sources that this type of relationship usually takes the form of German supremacy with a sprinkling of unorthodox Greek political incorrectness… does this sound familiar? Not difficult to see who wears the headscarf of power in central London, and who risks a beheading if he steps out of line:

 v 

Your ancestry seem to have cornered the xmas market; in fact German christmas markets are the rage everywhere, even here in Cardiff:

Xmas [3]

As for the perplexing question of what you buy the monarch who has everything for christmas, it seems that the good people of Cardiff have wrapped a castle (as if you didn’t have enough already!):

Xmas [4]

Royal arcade xmas [2]

They have a Royal Arcade in these parts and seem to have found a setting to use up a number of spare light bulbs…

But, also in honour of your historically dis-functional family there is an icy scene to greet you on the Hayes:

Hayes xmas [3]

 

 

 

All-in-all it seems like christmas in Cardiff this year is struggling to find any wise men (particularly at the local football club, with the exception of the local messiah Malky Mackay), but there is no shortage of stars to guide late night revellers down ‘inebriation walk’:

Xmas [5]

 

And in keeping with the Dr Who 50th year celebrations there even seem to be a few ethereal stars floating around the city centre in search of a TV christmas special to participate in:

XMAS [1]

 

I have been Juno, and before we speak again I wish you seasonal greetings; but I intend being busy at 3.00pm on christmas day away from any TV, so send your reply in the form of a New Year honour for me to graciously decline.

Call this an adventure?

They seem to think that I am not listening and taking in everything they say on the phone… not using the V-word eh? Seems like my resident nazi sympathiser has a trip planned for me; but little do they know I saw the postcard (addressed to me!) about my annual health check and booster vaccination being due. “It will be an adventure” they say, while slyly referring on the phone to some “trip to Hull and back” or a similar phrase. Well, I have my own plans regarding this forthcoming adventure I can tell you. Firstly, I try the hiding thing,

Try hiding

 

 

 

… but I guess the whiskers against the plain door kind of gives the game away. Never mind, there is always Plan B…

 

Check paper

 

 

 

 

Looking busy, counting the number of sheets of photocopying paper in the box beneath the printer. Being helpful should do the trick… Damn, this wasn’t supposed to happen, where did this cage come from?

Not sure about this cage business

 

All that work in the office and I must have taken my eye off the ball, and the devious servant’s only gone and rubbed a couple of brain cells together and come up with their own plan. So, if this is going to be an adventure at least I can expect a luxury limo to match my regal status as I glide around town…

Parking space no limo

 

 

… Ok, so I own a parking space, but who nicked the motor?

It looks like it is going to be the bus again. All that rickety, bumpy stuff, with both ends of the human age range asking their inane questions like “what have you got in the basket? Can I see the cat?” I might be mild-mannered in appearance but why can’t the disobedient one just invite them to put their fingers in through the grill?

The devil's waiting room

 

So here we are at last, in the devil’s waiting room. They try to fool you with nice young ladies smiling and calling me by name, when I know all too well that this is where I get groped and prodded, a sharp spike in the back of the neck, and the ultimate indignity of providing an indelicate home for someone’s thermometer! Why can’t they just ask me what my temperature is?

 

Never seen a bus looking so good

 

 

After an interminable few hours (ok, minutes… but quite a few of them), with me desperate to get back into that cage that I originally never wanted anything to do with, we are heading for the door. Escape at last… never did a bus look so good.

Thankfully, ‘to Hull and back’ is only an annual ordeal, but while I suffer the indignity of missing out on the chance to recline in a stretch limo, licking my bits and waving a paw to my subjects on the streets, I can at least move to Plan R… revenge on my resident trickster who tried to con me into thinking this was going to be an adventure. I could show them what post-adventure trauma looks like… perhaps coughing up fur balls on that light coloured carpet; or even feigning post veterinary dementia by thinking the litter tray was behind the TV in the corner of the room.

What I do for poached salmon

I guess hell is a place we all have to go to once in a while so that home can look a little brighter as the evenings draw in and the darkness of winter looms ever closer. The things a cat has to do around here to get a few morsels of the poached salmon!

I am Juno, I have experienced the road to hull, but I am back. If this is adventure I will stick with my complex lifestyle of sleeping, eating and, well you know the rest… I will speak with you again soon.