It’s our chap tradition.
Part of my slightly eccentric idea is to give the Boy roots in his city. There are cafes, pubs, barber shops and market stall traditions that we share. Our rounds are one of the constants in his life and a ritual.
A haircut with the gents down the small staircase into a world of Bay Rum, industrial language, sporting analysis and bonhomie. Seeing the biggest fish on the stall at Ashton’s, a giant pysgod he was convinced for years was the same poor creature called Horace. Sweets in the Market: the eternal debate between Pick N Mix or a quarter of Mint Creams. A passing of the time of day with the gentlemen at Hatts Emporium, the vintage menswear stall. A pork pie from the butcher next door. A pint of Dark for Dad and a lemonade for a boy in the back bar of the Old Arcade. Pipe tobacco, cigar discussion, and a hello to The Bear, the grumpy l0oking double-height taxidermical citizen of Cardiff, loved by generations of children since being shot and stuffed in the era of the Tsar’s father. Some days it’s a lunch stop for magnificent pasta with Puccini accompaniment and extra garlic at the tiny Cafe Minuet, with steamy hospitality and chequered tablecloths as home in Little Italy or Soprano New Jersey as it is in Cardiff’s Castle Arcade. Often a fitting visit upstairs to Wendy, the expert tailor who brings my vintage buys to finely fitted swelligence, adding new linings and refitted seams to cheaply-rescued heavy suits and peaked-lapel overcoats made on Savile Row when steam powered the railways and smoking was good for you. An audience with Lady The Little Dog, snoozing in her suitcase as Dad buys Bay Rum and Derby razor blades.
The best of all in a cold day or a lazy afternoon is Sully’s Cafe. It’s been the background to him growing up, as the lovely staff greet him like a family patron. Sully’s has booths with leatherette benches, Formica tables, and glorious smells, with a coffee machine that could have powered the Queen Mary. As his height has increased and his vocabulary expanded, he’s now allowed to squirt his own ketchup, but the order hasn’t changed. A Grand Slam fry-up for Dad. The same in miniature, with His Own Toast for the pint sized consigliere. Milky coffee, milk. Job done. We eat, we chat, we talk to people from every part of the world in the brilliant melting pot of Our City. Tidy.