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City laughter beats cows' moos.

Byline: By DAVID WILLIAMSON Western Mail

Terraced houses present more exciting vista than fields 'IT'S not much of a view,' said my landlord's son, gesturing at the window of my attic bedroom. What was he talking about? Through the double-glazing I could see the backs of scores of terraced houses, each filled with windows like my own.

When the Cardiff sky began to darken and the first stars pricked through the dusk, the windows would start shining as electric light was projected from behind a hundred different curtains.

This was an image I'd seen in storybooks during the first 18 years of my life. Many people long to be able to look out on fields but - trust me - soggy grass is not nearly as exciting as the panorama of humanity which greets an urban eye.

I now live one minute's walk away from a park which, on a sunny day, fills with people who want to play. City dwellers are supposedly isolated and aggressive lobster-like beasts, but a combination of sunlight and Frisbees makes them frolic happy as lambs unaware of the sinister side of mint sauce.

In these splashes of green in the heart of a city you can find more species of roses than in a million miles of hedgerow.

The cows I conversed with during my rural years were good company, but their meditative mooing cannot compete in the stimulation stakes with the sound of laughter and glasses clinking.

Getting trapped in a downpour in the countryside is like being locked in a power shower. But in a metropolis, it's a delight to dive onto the sofa of a coffee shop and be served stimulants by English Literature undergraduates.

Most great leaders seem to spend part of their lives living in exile, in a prison, and in a city. In the first two they learn resilience and their convictions gain clarity, but in the latter they are exposed to the miraculous diversity of human life - it's an experience which transforms as much as it delights.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 20, 2004
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