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Hey, Tourists, Come And Visit Wales, The UK’s Poorest Relation


"Forget Detroit – try Riverside at night and get mugged by experts.”

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May 28, 2008

Let us travel now to sunny Florida where Mr Elmer J Fudd Jr. is perusing the latest brochure detailing the delights of Cardiff and South Wales.

“Gee, Honey, looks like the real deal here. Place called Splott, claims more cracked pavements and potholes than anywhere outside Albania. Here’s another. Forget Detroit – try Riverside at night and get mugged by experts.”

Meanwhile, in Osaka Mr Hiro Akimoto beams at the missus. “Hey, wanna see the filthiest, most decrepit back lanes in Europe? Come to Grangetown.”

And for boarded-up pubs and shops, book the Valleys Tour. See the Rhondda – before half the houses fall down. And the good news is that the Office for National Statistics reckons Wales is the poor man of the UK.

Well, of course, our tourist people haven’t really printed any brochures like that, which shows just how far behind the times they are. Okay, so we’ve got a castle, a Bay and a folk museum, but so has just about every other touristy place in Wales.

The Big Thing now, you see, is something called Slum Tourism and as a dedicated wanderer around our town and the Valleys, I reckon we’ve got plenty going for us. Take a look yourself.

In India, hotels actually advertise “slum tours” so after finishing your bottle of champagne (costs two years’ pay for a peasant) you are taken to a place called Dharavi where a million people live in squalor. Have fun hopping across the open sewers, taking care to miss the kids playing in them. But be careful of the exposed electric wires hanging down. Admit it, wouldn’t holiday snaps of Dharavi be more interesting than the boring old Taj Mahal?

According to the New York Times, slum tourism began 16 years ago in Brazil when holiday-makers were escorted into the huge and frightening shanty towns around Rio. Now it’s coining money for operators from South Africa to Mexico and any other place it seems where the rich can see how the other 99.999 per cent survive.

Like last month when a luxury hotel in Bangkok treated guests to a tour of a destitute village before going back for a 10-course dinner. Total cost of expedition, £150,000.

So it’s a pity we got rid of our worst slums, those little courts and alleys around the town centre. Blimey, they’d be tourist goldmines these days. But we’re getting there – I’ve seen parts of my old Grangetown stamping grounds straight out of the Third World, while the boarded-up shops, the desolation in the Valleys might interest that hotel owner in Bangkok.

So there you are, tourist people. The bandwagon’s waiting. Hop aboard.

Chitling and a pint of daaark, butt – that’s proper food!

Meanwhile, they seem to have totally ignored another money-spinner. In Cardiff, we’ve got Greek restaurants, Italian restaurants, Chinese and Indian restaurants, French restaurants. Thai – you name it.

Listen, tourists can get those anywhere. But where is there a CARDIFF restaurant? When you go to the Costas or Corfu you like to sample the local grub, right? Paella, stifado, whatever.

So we open our eaterie outside the pampered town centre, Roath or Canton maybe, where it would blend in with the crumbling background. No Bay of Naples on the wall as seen in every pasta parlour. Just the Bay, as it used to be, Tiger Bay not Cardiff Bay. No Chianti bottles with candles. Just old Brain’s flagons.

No problem finding a cook – chef? Don’t be daft – because Cardiff fare (none of that “fayre” stuff, either) is simple fare.

MENU: Clarksie’s pies, ate, yes, ate out of page three of last night’s Echo, the only way to eat a Clarksie as any expert will tell you. Ask Frank Hennessy. So no need for knife and fork, thus cutting overheads.

Followed by chitling, poloney, pigs’ trotters and tripe. On Fridays, salt fish and winkles. Dessert, “arfters” in Kairdiff speak, is bread pudding, navvy’s wedding cake, in half-pound, one-pound or giant economy-sized portions.

Tea? There it is, stewing on the ’ob, to be served in huge cracked mugs, milk available straight from the bottle. You’ll find the bottle on the tablecloth – again, last night’s Echo (Old Cardiff joke: “I read it on the tablecloth.”)

And, naturally, no rubbish booze like Sol or Bud. Just Brain’s SA, straight from the barrel. For the ladies, Brain’s Dark.

Waitresses weigh in at 16 stone, tastefully attired in headscarves and wraparound pinnies, black daps and Norah Batty stockings, plus Park Drive with arferninch of ash dangling.

No, don’t go. Haven’t talked about the cat sleeping on the counter yet or the holes in the oilcloth or the grease on the wall or the spiders’ webs all over the place (to catch the flies of course) or the . . .

Tourist people, those Yanks will LOVE it.

icwales.icnetwork.co.uk

"Forget Detroit – try Riverside at night and get mugged by experts.”



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