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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, August 03, 2004
    Death Junction

    Death Junction, Cardiff. Bet the culture-regeneration-heads don't call it that, nor the estate agents, but everyone else does. The choking hell where five roads clash: Crwys, Albany, Richmond, City Roads and Mackintosh Place. A venomous, murderous, smoke-blackened collision-route where, off-peak, madness prevails, and on-peak, all is seething snails-pace despair.

    It was nearly Death Junction for me on more than one occasion. An impossible place for pedestrians to cross, but pedestrians have to try crossing all the time because it is the pivot of a number of densely-packed residential areas, arterial routes and shopping streets. Student area. I lived a road away. Once, halfway over Albany Road a Tescos bag in each hand, a car came towards me on the wrong side of the road, outside two lines of traffic, and swerved behind me (on the far side of the wrong side) to miss by an inch.

    There used to be a bloke turned up at Death Junction each rush hour, very drunk or very mad or both, stripped to the waist in all weathers, who would terrorise the motorists locked into traffic queues by walking up and down inbetween them all bashing on their windscreens and screaming at them. He was a malign avatar for those on foot - who channelled all our cowed agonies into retributive yells and body-panel dents.

    Lloyd Robson has brought all this back to me today. He's a Cardiff poet on the list of Niall Griffiths' Favourite Welsh Books and his poem :crwys; extract of cardiff describes so well the walk along Crwys Road - City Road via Death Junction.

    This is the final section of a great piece of city writing. Which is one among a growing canon of excellent Cardiff texts. Seems Robson's reputation is flourishing; Niall Griffiths said Robson is producing "some of the best dialect writing in these islands, ever." An Amazon reviewer wrote:

    "As if Iain Sinclair's bastard son had set off looking for his roots in the alluvial slurry of Cardiff... Robson's a star."

    And from Robert Minhinnick, poet and Poetry Wales editor: "Vigorous & exhilarating... now unignorable in Wales"

    Robson has generously put a number of his works online. I am reading them avidly today. And, greedily, I have written to him asking for more.