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…


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?

Cognitive dissonance

[aka Fucking with your mind!]

Be confused… be very confused! If you were brought up on the myths and legends of a corner of Cardiff known as Tiger Bay, then the latest extension of the 21st century docklands redevelopment will mess with whatever is left of your functioning brain cells. After air-brushing a major part of local history out of the picture for a few decades, the latest in local bureaucratic administrative hype is set to house, employ and entertain you. Put your hands together and welcome the vision that is Porth Teigr!

I live here

Whatever that is… because what is emerging out of the primordial slime of Roath Basin bears no relationship to the proud badge of Tiger Bay; and it isn’t even in the same place as the original! Not that the location of the original has anything of architectural merit to draw the attention of the discerning student of urban mythology… the southernmost boundaries of the original, relatively small Tiger Bay area, is demarcated by some prime examples of skyline blight, which actually looks even more attractive than the low level flats and houses that hold many of the original street names…

Tiger Bay [1]

Porth‘ is Welsh for ‘gate’… so in modern parlance are we supposed to have created a misdemeanour on such a scale that it becomes ‘Tiger Gate‘? Well, if you look at the blandness of the 1960’s architectural replacement for the previous Victorian ‘slums’, perhaps we have. Social engineering had become a slight of hand for so-called urban redevelopment… a destruction of world renowned character makes way for the monumental achievement of bland mediocrity.

Why are we so reluctant to celebrate our gritty historical reality when it doesn’t conform to the textbook presentation of swords and sandals, or castles and stately homes? Here we have the site of the very first multicultural society in the UK, built on the necessity of world trade, and testimony to the power of the melting pot to bring people together in local harmony. Heaven forbid that we might put the cost of demolition and reconstruction into refurbishment of what already exists. Or perhaps the forbears of the Ukip tendency were subtly at work, with a long-sighted determinism to break up any thriving community based largely on immigration. It becomes less easy to blame it on the immigrants if we have the tangible evidence of their hard-working contribution to our financial and cultural wealth.

As a cat who originates from London but was duped into relocating into the old docklands of Cardiff I am intrigued by all this Tiger-stuff, and hope to bring you more of the true history of this historical and cultural landmark. Until we speak again I have been ‘Immigrant Juno’, scrounging off my native ‘repatriated refugee’, and contributing mainly through my litter tray!

A cool vibe

As the May weather occasionally offers promises of the warmer things to come, but just as easily snatches them away, what is there for a cool cat in Cardiff to do? I ponder what kind of place might best suit my quintessential laid back demeanour… somewhere that exudes the love as much as it nourishes the soul.

Sending the love

It’s a time of the year when the concept of ‘pace’ becomes a thing of the recent past, a means for traversing colder climes, a time for taking stock of one’s surroundings with the speed dial turned down very low. If I was to try capturing the vibe in a word, that word would have to be ‘lounge’… a place where lizards retire from the heat of the day, where ‘smooth’ mingles with ‘smoky’, and laid back assumes a sweet repose just short of the horizontal.

If you can’t find such a place I can strongly recommend creating your own:

Juno Lounge

All that is required is an inviting space…

Juno Lounge [3]

Juno Lounge [7]







A menu to energise tired bones at any time of the day…

Juno Lounge [6]



… to satisfy the pallet of carnivores and vegetarians alike, washed down with a range of the quaffable stuff, such as a tasty Rioja maybe…

Juno Lounge [4]







Then it is a matter of getting the music set just right for the ultimate in a chilled out soundtrack to your newfound life of relaxation; here is a suggested list for getting your vibe into cool mode:

1. Cafe del Mar: Erik Satie Gymnopedie No 1.

2. Clannad & Bono: In a Lifetime.

3. Ennio Morricone: Cinema Paradiso.

4. Eumir Deodato: Also Sprach Zarathustra.

5. Herbie Hancock: St. Louis Blues.

6. Moby: Porcelain.

7. Robbie Robertson: Somewhere down the crazy river.

8. Sachal Studios Orchestra: Take Five.

9. William Orbit: Barbers Adagio for Strings.

10. Zero 7: Look Up.

Then there is always the track to get you up and moving as you integrate back into the still night of Roath… Mas by Kinky.

Until we speak again I am going to continue my general demeanour of Juno the Cardiff Cool Cat.