Caerdydd

I went to university in Cardiff. Looking back, an ideal city in which to study. I loved the place, probably less than 30 minutes’ walk from the city centre, wherever I lived (Roath, mainly), and studied in a leafy area adjoining the centre.

I suppose I had my fair share of ups and downs. My first time away from home, my first loves… Academically I did quite well in the end (BSc Physics), despite my poor attendance in the second year. I worked in the main university building, a beautiful Victorian construction, and very grand.

I liked Cardiff so much that I didn’t want to leave. But, in a way, I didn’t have to make a clean break. In my final year I dated a girl who was at a different stage of a different course. She didn’t finish until the year after me, so I went back quite regularly. But Cardiff was different. Every street, so-and-so used to live there. Used to. So, the place became quite melancholic. In the end, the girlfriend finished her course, and enrolled on another in London, so my visits to Cardiff became rarer, although I still had friends who worked at the uni. In any case, the girlfriend and I split up a few months later.

In the years immediately after I graduated, I had a job in Oxford. A couple of hours away, so allowed me the occasional day trip.However work started becoming busier, I started travelling on business, so visits dried up.

Fast forward a few years, it was the late nineties. I had been to the USA and had come back. I now lived in Southampton, too far for day trips, although I did take my girlfriend (now my wife) there for the weekend for a glimpse of my past. And, we’ve been back several times since. Even with daughter, we took her to see the place too. It helped that Doctor Who, and, later, Torchwood, were filmed there, as my wife loves her sci-fi. It also gave us a chance to see how the docks area had been redeveloped – in my day, it was a no-go area. Now, it was full of daleks!

I think the last time we went, our visit even clashed with a Wales rugby match. Really, to visit Cardiff on a match day can’t be beaten, although I never got into the sport itself despite my fanatical Welsh friends.

I have so many good memories of Cardiff, and, in fact, my first visit to Salisbury is linked. My girlfriend and I would get on the train for a change of scenery, and found both Salisbury and nearby Bournemouth on day trips. Little did I know I would end up here.

Schooldays

I remember the first time I ever got into trouble at senior school.

I went to an old-fashioned grammar school, which selected just 90 pupils each year from the whole of the Liverpool area. It sent a few people to Oxbridge each year, and had pretty good sports teams etc.

I must have only been about twelve or so, and a group of us were trying to work out nicknames for classmates. We had a guy in the class whose name was Meneer – this sounded vaguely like “manure”, so we decided to call this guy “horsey”. Real schoolboy hunour.

Unbeknown to us, this guy didn’t like this name, took it personally, and complained to a teacher. This chap never said anything to us – with hindsight this might have been enough, certainly a quiet word from a teacher would have been. It was the kind of place where pupils respected teachers, especially twelve-year-olds.

So, the next thing I know, I’m being publicly identified as the person calling this guy names. I can’t remember what eactly was said, but I remember thinking it was all so unnecessary, especially when the guy had himself been taking part in this game with us. It’s funny with the passage of time – you forget the details but remember the feelings. I remember being baffled, because this chap had said to us that he liked the name, yet had subsequently complained.

It’s funny, in seven years at that school, I never particularly got on with this teacher after that. I suppose I realised which way the cards were stacked.