What a day! I met so many interesting people - and those words do NOT do them justice - and found out so much I probably have enough material to work on for the next 4 weeks. The idea of a 2-D map of Llandudno has already gone out the window: Llandudno consists of parallel universes, each isolated from the others by so many forces it is hard to comprehend the town as a coherent singular place.
Molly's Cafe next to the train station, a place full of locals known by name, and decorated with skylines from cities around the world. The universe I entered today from here was of homelessness and internationalism, contract killing and rare flowers, generosity and graveyards, churches and radical inspirational thinking, humour, dereliction and enormous amounts of energy. This is not a staid Llandudno of tourists and middle classes. It was raw and creative and edgy, of being outside the 'mainstream' (physically, mentally, economically and socially) and of the cohesive power of these self-contained alternative universes.
The centres of Llandudno for people I met in these universes were as diverse as: the steps of the church (where the homeless meet); the library (where books are arranged like modern gravestones); the West Shore (where parties can be held in the sanddunes) and the Welsh Church (where the Welsh-speaking community get together).
I've shot 2 hours of video, and I think it would make a film that would stand on its own as is. I don't want to say more about what they said here. People need to be talking of their worlds themselves. With many thanks especially to Trine (who spent 5 hours with me), and to Ley and Jenny for a mind-blowing half hour conversation outside Molly's.
Here's a little story from Trine, told to me next to the ruin of Tudno Castle (by co-incidence, it had been originally run down Tudno castle by Jenny's father into bankrupcy). I had to write down this story because by then, my camera battery had ran out:
"I met him twice. Sir Ernest Hall. He was a concert musician. A very good concert musician. A very successful concert musician. And he bought a property which is a seriously big property. Seriously big [large bus goes past]. It's an old carpet mill [looking over at the closing down sale of the bed shop on the corner]. It's in Halifax. If you've seen them in Lancashire/Yorkshire, you'll know how big they can be. This one is big big. It was going into dereliction. He rescued it and everyone thought he was mad [we pause to watch a man play air guitar on the traffic island as another character, also known to Trine as 'the Gnome' walks past with a huge upright dark blue knitted hat].
'What the hell are you going to do with it?' people asked. The mill was six, eight stories high. Big floor spaces. Five or six buildings joined together, all of which would have been to do with carpet production. Obviously with carpets you need a lot of space. There would have been the warehouse. There would have been production. There would have been finishing space and so on. And I don't know how, but he had a vision but that vision was to create a community. So he did.
"So in the building now there are banks and there are government offices. There are working companies. And the wealthy companies take a big amount of space but not all the space. There are some spaces not fit for their purpose. In those small areas there are secondary companies like radio, television, experimental spaces - there's art space, studios. Some of those are free because he created a mixed economy and he believed in giving people a start in life. Of course, at the beginning, people thought he was mad. As he got some tenants in, people started saying 'somethings happening at the Crossley Mill. I've seen peope in there, doing things'. And over the years, this big mill revived [we inspect the mushroom that Trine had found on his way to meet me, growing up in a crack in the tarmac - we found many mushrooms on our walk].
"Last time I went there was a guy with a start up business making furniture. A sculptor using scrap metal. I joined a poetry group there and we met in the board room. There was an art gallery. Classical concerts were held there.
A huge story of revival".
Here is the map of my walk with Trine: It's a lovely walk. You can browse it from a computer or take it with you on a phone. I highly recommend it!