The reason I like Cardiff is, even though it's a city, it's small enough to have a community feel. There are circles that we mix in and people that we see all the time. There's the arty crowd from Chapter, voluntary sector workers, baby-wearing Steiner mammas... Wherever you go, you see people you know or familiar faces. (And if you go to the Farmers Market on a Sunday, you see all of them).
One person who seems to hang around in all the same places as us is James Dean Bradfield.
Encounter Number 1
It was New Year's Eve 1999 - the night the Manics were to play their Manic Millennium gig at the Millennium Stadium. Mr Meep and I went into town to do a bit of shopping - never my favourite activity. It was packed,
I had that horrible winter feeling of cold outside = thick coats = overly central heated shops = hot cross Meep. Everyone was pushing and shoving and rushing about. I had an existential crisis about the futility of the human condition (this happens every time I go to shops, especially Asda). In the midst of all the chaos, someone showed me that it wasn't all bad. Grappling through hoards of people trying to get into the Gap sale, someone stepped back, held the door open, smiled and said "After you." It was James Dean Bradfield.
Encounter Number 2
Fast forward to 2008 and Gwen about 18 months old. She's just got her first pair of shoes and, as with socks before them, her favourite game is to pull them off and fling them at passers by. We are in M&S stocking up on picnic food. Again, I've got a shop-on as it's lunch time and busy. Gwen doesn't care, she's busy yanking her shoes off. She struggles with one for ages, eventually gets it off and lobs it out of the side of the pushchair. It hits a bloke in the back. He turns round. "Oh, I'm so sorry," I say. "No problem'" he says and smiles. It was James Dean Bradfield.
Encounter Number 3
Tuesday night, I was at my photography class. It's break time and I'm faffing about at the cafe counter, pondering the merits of a soy hot chocolate versus a peppermint tea, and wondering whether to get the cookie with the smarties or the white choc chips. A couple behind me are looking at the menu too - I think they've got their eye on the curry of the day. I let them go before me. The man says "Thanks" and smiles. Who was it? Why, it was James Dean Bradfield.
What lovely manners he has.