"Anywhere around here doing a Jazz night?"

Cardiff You'd think based on previous posts that I'm a bit obsessed with maps and signage. I suppose I am. We live in a time when get from place to place as quickly as possible is a priority. It's also pretty important even in leisure time so that you can get as much done in the little time that you're allowed. Once I'd found the information centre in Cardiff, I set about trying to decide what I wanted to do for the rest of the day and that evening. I had visions of find a concert with some star who doesn't come within a hairs breath of Liverpool. Not that night. I could see Jerome from Robson & Jerome playing Tommy Cooper in 'Jus Like That' if I wanted to, but something told me I was best going to the cinema. Which is what I'd end up doing and I'll talk about some other time. What about after. I glanced across the flyer boards. There were Ghost Tours, but not on that night. Tuesday seems not to be a golden night in Cardiff. My eyes eventually found their way to a flyer for a Jazz Cafe and that night there was a Trad Jazz band from Cardiff playing -- so the night could end to a Woody Allen accompanyment.

I asked the counter man who'd agreed with me about the signs in Cardiff about it. He said it would be a good night, that I should make it, pulled out a map and set about descibing where it was. Now remember by this point I was pretty hot and very bothered, but through my stinging sweat filled eyes it looked like the place was basically around the block. I thanked him for his help and left, deciding to do Cardiff Castle (again some other time). On my way to the cinema later, I passed a Cafe Cuba with an A-board outside advertising Salsa lessons (not with these feet) and World Music later on. Which gave me another more attractive choice. So I resloved to return there first after the film, see if anything was happening and if not visit the Jazz Club. Insert Fast Show reference here.

After the film, I staggered back to the city centre. The cinema had been far further away than I thought and after all the walking I'd done during the day my legs were pretty tired. What I should have done is cut my losses, gone back to my hotel room and tucked myself in to watch NY-LON. Instead I decided to follow the plan. I dragged myself up to the Cafe Cuba. The Salsa classes were still going on but turned out to be glorified line dancing and there was no where for a live band to go. So I realised I would be going Jazz. So I start walking again. For a bit.

Then I realise I can't remember what the map looked like or were the Jazz was. I tried to visualise the map in my head but it came out all smugged -- all I could remember was that it was on roughly the same block as the Information Centre. By now my feet and legs seemed to know no fear. There was pain, lots of pain, but they'd come to an agreement to take me were I wanted to go.

I found the centre a lot more easily than I had the last time. It was closed. I tried to see the Jazz flyer though the windows, but they had a jaunty yet annoying frosting to them, blanking out anything inside. It seemed like a good idea, since it looked from my memory that it was on the same block to walk around and hopefully bump into it. I went from corner to corner but there was nothing other than a slightly annoying looking wine bar with arrogant blue neon lighting. Widening the search I went into the cafe district. Like a Dickensian homeless urchin I passed warm restaurants filled with people all having fun. Now and then I dodged into admittedly empty pubs and asked if they knew if there was a Jazz night on. No one knew anything or if they did wanted to keep it quite lest a potential client for their wares disappeared into the night.

But I was disappearing into the night. A determination had set in. Even as minutes turned into half hours, as time marched on I knew I had to find the place. I had a vision in my head of what my only night in Cardiff would be like, all music and drinking and it was going to happen if I spent all night doing it.

Then I gave up.

I was sleepy and I could almost see the comfy bed at the hotel lying at the door waiting for my return. But I had to have one drink so I sloped into a place called 'Is it?' which was an odd question just waiting for someone to write 'I don't bloody know...' on the fascade. It had big couchs which I hoped I could disappear into, my creeping uncalled for depression and all. Here began the second most depressing beer of my life. The place was empty except for three people sitting in the window, out for a drink after work, glasses piled up. I sat on the couch behind and poured my Budvar into a glass. As I supped my way through I listened to the three friends talking. About work. I'm on holiday goddamit. Can't you people talk about something else? But their chatter was relentless, metaphorically pulling apart the office photocopyer and work colleagues with equal abandon as though Office Space had never happened. Eventually my beer disappeared and I left, ready for the long depressing walk back to the hotel.

Then I turned a corner and found the Cafe Jazz. Painted in cream all over it shone like a beacon in the darkness. It was ten o'clock. I'd been looking for it for an hour and a half. I was late but here it was. I had to go in. Two enthusiasts on the door seemed suprised to see me. I looked across to the stage and it looked like the band were packing up.
"I'm not too late am I?" My voice was thick with desperation.
"Oh no -- the next set starts in a minute. That's be two quid since it's so late" My mind imagined an emphasis on those last few words.
I stepped through the cafe which was quieter than I imagined. It seemed new but was filled with people of an older generation, regulars. The few youngsters dotted about were family of the band. I sat at the bar, just as I imagined I would, and ordered a beer. The band began to play. And everything was perfect.

I stayed for half an hour. I still had to find the hotel and get a decent night's sleep. But the music was everything I imagined it would be, all bombast woodwind and deep gravelly voices. The only irritation was that the crowd didn't pay them much mind -- they chatted all the way through everything, as though the men in the straw hats with instruments in the corner were just a human jukebox. But they didn't seem to care -- the playing was the thing. As I left at 10:30, the enthusiasts who'd taken money said in that asking manner: "Going already?"
"Got to sleep.." I answered. The door clattered on my way out.

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