Made in Wales

So, let me talk you through my Cardiff Adventure. (I am actually writing this on the train back to London on Tuesday evening – I’ve been in Cardiff for two days and two nights, which counts as an adventure in my book.) I was in Wales as the guest of Go Faster Stripe, otherwise known as a man called Chris Evans, who has decided that the only way to fund the folly of putting out endless DVDs of Richard Herring is to make a bestselling audiobook. Because Frederick Forsyth was already taken, he asked me, which is why I’ve spent most of the last two working days sitting in a recording studio in the depths of Cardiff’s magnificent Millennium Centre, reading out Where Did It All Go Right? into a microphone for another man called Gerald, whilst sat at a table covered in soundproofing foam and trying not to make stomach noises or pop on words with the letter “p” in them.

This is the view from the cubicle, with me on the other side of the glass. This is what Gerald, the sound engineer has been looking at for two days. (Chris and Gerald made the excellent little film of Richard and I doing a podcast, available on the Oh Fuck I’m 40 DVD.) Although I suspect Robert Powell would have made a better job of it, it would seem weird for him – or anyone else – to read out a book about me. So I did it. I am much cheaper than him anyway. I only cost the equivalent of two nights in the Holiday Inn, an off-peak standard return, some spicy carrot soup and a Thai chicken sandwich, a chilli con carne, a couple of coffees, a smoothie and one or two refreshing cold drinks in the hotel last night while the snow fell outside.

I’m glad I travelled out on the train on Sunday night, as by Monday morning, London was at a standstill due to the inclement weather and I wouldn’t have been able to get to Wales. Oddly, Cardiff was spared most of the snow that turned Britain into a post-apocalyptic wasteland and filled the newspapers with cliches and nonsense – maybe it’s because it’s coastal? – and this morning, as I sat eating my chilli in one of the Millennium Centre’s many eating outlets, I gazed out at blue skies, bright sunlight and hardly a trace of last night’s snow on the ground. Look:

This is the view of Roald Dahl Plass, the open-air amphitheatre named in honour of the famous writer.

I could hardly imagine that my own city was up the spout. I hope it allows me get home from Paddington station. Anyway, here are some some photos I took of myself using the MacBook’s excellent PhotoBooth application. I’ve tried not to get in the way too much.

This is me, waking up in the Cardiff Holiday Inn on Monday morning. You can see the Castle over the road.

This is me, waiting to be picked up by Chris and Gerald in Gerald’s car to take us to the Millennium Centre.

This was what Cardiff looked like on Tuesday morning. Not exactly at a standstill, although the schools were still closed.

This is the Millennium Centre, from the inside. I really liked treating the enormous place like a hotel for two days. Our studio is owned by the Welsh Language Society, I think. To get to it, you have to walk through some offices and use a secret door, as if perhaps it’s MI5. There’s a secret toilet, too.

This is me doing the actual hard graft. You may scoff, but I was actually exhausted after the first day. My throat hurts today. But I managed not to lose my voice, and we nailed it in two days. (I had worked quite hard on editing the text, rewriting some parts and shortening others. So it’s officially abridged. I don’t know when you’ll be able to buy it, but I’ll keep you posted.)

A big thanks to Chris and Gerald for helping make the whole thing go off so smoothly and for being good company too. It seemed very fitting to be in Wales, reading out the chapter about holidays in Wales, and trying really hard to pronounce the placenames correctly. I really like Wales. And I even got the chance to have a touristy wander around the redeveloped Bay area. I saw the Norwegian Church and the Welsh Assembly building (with a single policeman on guard outside), and a lovely cormorant and some coots, and on points, I decided that the new Cardiff looks lovely. I really had trouble remembering what it was like before. I wonder if the locals like it as much as I do?

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