Thursday, January 31, 2008

Doing The Butetown Shuffle

It occurs to me that it is a little odd that, despite my self-avowed obsession with semantics, I have so far failed to explain my most obvious semantic foible. Allow me now to remedy that by taking you on a trip down Lloyd George Avenue…

Metonymy has infected most political jurisdictions around the world. Westminster, Holyrood, The Hill, The Kremlin, L’Elysee; all instantly recognisable as the institutions based there. Wales is no different, with Cardiff Bay or just The Bay being metonymous with the Assembly. Which would be fine, if Cardiff Bay was, well, real…

In reality, there used to be a place called Tiger Bay and a place called Butetown, with a somewhat amorphous boundary between them. Then in 1987, something called the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation turned up and started building things. Fifteen years later there was the Barrage, the Wales Millennium Centre, the Assembly… And all this shiny architecture acquired the name of the corporation, a name so important it gets brown road signs.

Now this is all very well, but the Department of Metaphor has an important objection. In 1994, Bute Road station was also renamed Cardiff Bay, leaving us with the area east of the station;

The station itself;

And the area west of the station;

Can you tell what the metaphor is yet?

For all the shinyness on the east side of the railway line (and there’s no doubt it has done a tremendous amount for the general sense of civic pride in Cardiff and beyond), Butetown itself remains the most deprived area in all of Wales. Regeneration work is now starting there, but that is thanks to Cardiff’s Lib Dem council, not the Assembly.

So for now I’ll continue to walk down the Butetown side of the railway line every morning and I’ll continue to call it the Butetown Villlage, because until everyone has shared in the success, the Assembly cannot claim to have finished its job.


community helps itself said...

Very interesting that people from outside of my area feel the same as us. but in my experience there isn't much to differentiate between the political parties. Thanks for walking on the 'right side of the tracks. check out

_kate said...

I am actaully doing an investigation on this for my Alevel Geography coursework. If you have over time come across and kept any data to support this theory of segregation, it would be much appreciated if you could forward it on to me.