For me, this week has been a celebration of the old and the new, namely, The Kardomah Café in Swansea City Centre and TIKTOK.
Having said that, I had a rather strange start to the week hosting a very strong VIP guest list for the Centenary Lounge at the Swansea.com Stadium.
Over the years the room has played host to football icons like Manchester United’s Bobby Charlton and Bayern Munich’s Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. We’ve welcomed Millionaires, even Billionaires as well as Foreign and Domestic Royalty.
To be honest I’m never quite sure who will be in the lounge until I arrive a couple of hours before the game. Occasionally, I might suggest to the Hospitality team that a particular VIP or Celebrity might want to see a game. You just never know what connections can be made to help the club going forward.
The previous Sunday I found myself listening to Cerys Matthews on BBC Radio 6. I knew that she and her family were massive Luton Town fans. I have known Cerys for the best part of 30 years. I think she and her band Catatonia did their very first radio broadcast on my afternoon show from the BBC Studios in Alexandra Road. I mentioned that to the team, and they asked if I’d like to send Cerys an invitation. Within a day or two it was all arranged.
When I arrived at the Stadium on Saturday, there was one big mystery on the Table plan. One table was simply filled with Carolyn Harris MP and guests of Carolyn Harris MP. Now I know Carolyn is a popular Swansea MP, but I wondered why she didn’t name names. It was only when some heavy looking ‘security’ arrived to check the room that we knew this was a very important VIP.
Sir Keir Starmer
When he arrived with his family the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, couldn’t have been more friendly. I’d met him a number of times over the years as Carolyn used to be his Parliamentary Private Secretary and they’ve been good friends ever since. He was more than happy to pose for selfies or have a chat about football, but I don’t think anyone mentioned politics. Maybe he will come back when he’s Prime Minister!!!!
It was a joy to see the surprise on the faces of the sponsors and the other guests as they recognised our famous guests, although I must say, I thought it rather rude of Cerys and her family to take back all 3 points to Luton.
Over the past few weeks, at the encouragement of my daughter who has recently returned from London to live in Swansea, I have been paying a weekly visit to Swansea Market. As I mentioned in previous blogs my daughter has travelled the world and on her return to living in this ‘Ugly Lovely Town’ she wants to rediscover and celebrate Swansea.
This week’s visit started with our usual Cortado at ‘Storm in a Teacup’ before a slow wander around the stalls. We bought some Swansea Pies and some fresh Gower vegetables for tea before putting some trousers in to be shortened which we will collect next week. My daughter has been researching other City Centre highlights and suggested we take lunch at The Kardomah.
Mal at the Kardomah
The Kardomah. Just saying the name brings back so many memories. Originally the Kardomah was one of a chain of Cafes across England and Wales. There were even a few Kardomah’s in Paris. The first Kardomah was in High Street before moving further down the road to Castle Street. That was where the arty types of Swansea gathered in the 1920’s and 30’s to talk art and politics and girls. Amongst those ‘wannabe’ bohemians were artists Alfred Janes and Mervyn Levy, Composer Daniel Jones, and poets Vernon Watkins and Dylan Thomas.
Years later in a BBC Broadcast Dylan would say The Kardomah was,
‘where Swansea’s rich artists and poverty-stricken business men used to meet, on separate floors, to discuss shares and pictures.’
Sadly, the Blitz of 1941 saw their Kardomah ‘razed to the snow’ as Dylan so beautifully put it in ‘Return Journey’
My Kardomah in Portland Street dates back to 1957 and it hasn’t changed a bit since then.
The trouble with progress is that sometimes people and businesses keep redesigning and redecorating for the sake of it. The reason the Kardomah looks so good is that it feels original. It has the same impact as when you walk into one of those New York diners or an Art Deco Parisian cafe. It has depth, it has history and it has class.
Also, you can tell the staff care about you and their reputation. They couldn’t have been more friendly or helpful. That was exactly how I remember it when I used to go there as a child with my mum on those special visits to town. It’s good to know it’s not just the décor that remains the same.
It seems I wasn’t the only one to take that trip as a child. I posted some pictures on social media and the response was immediate and overwhelming. Just like Swansea Market, The Kardomah is special.
I’m just wondering what Swansea treasure I will ‘rediscover’ next. (All suggestions very welcome)
From the old to the almost brand new…TIKTOK.
I’m old enough to remember when everyone said you had to have a MYSPACE page. Since then I’ve got a website, a Facebook Page, an Instagram Account and of course Twitter. Last week I had a meeting in the market with Ian Parsons, the man who books my Theatre dates. We met to discuss our short tour in the Autumn. Ian suggested I go on TIKTOK as it has been shown to be a great marketing tool. It’s hard to actually explain what TIKTOK is or does but it appears to be a series of short, often funny videos. I was pretty sure I had joined at one stage, but I hadn’t really done very much with it since.
The first thing I did was search for my name on TIKTOK. There I was, @malpope and I had posted just one TIKTOK back in June 2021. Then as I continued to search the site I realised there was another TIKTOK account, @malpope3, with exactly the same profile picture…an imposter. The really annoying thing was they hadn’t posted any videos at all and they had 20 times the number of followers that I had!!!
Since then, in an attempt to stake my claim to be the ‘Real Mal Pope’ I’ve posted a new TIKTOK every day. In fact one of my first TIKTOKs was all about the fact there was an imposter on the site. I’ve made an official complaint about the other guy but as it stands he still hasn’t posted anything and he still has more followers than me, but I’ve not got the bit between my teeth…@malpope3, I’m coming to get you!!!