THE NEWSDESK: We need to start singing from a different hymn sheet
THERE is something about people around here and our love of hyperbole.
If we are tired, we are not simply tired, or even shattered. Instead, we could "sleep on a chicken's lip". I've seen that phrase a few times on social media in the past week, usually from parents who are getting to the end of their tethers during the summer holidays.
I had a friend in school whose dad would tell me every winter that it was "the coldest it's ever been". When my friend mentioned the Ice Age, friend's dad retorted: "Including the Ice Age."
We considered ourselves told.
I love the creative use of language, something which, of course can also be heard in our nicknaming. Forget Evans the Milk, meet Dave Cakes (works at the cake factory), my grandfather Burma Bill (having served in the country in the Second World War) and Glyn Sandwich, whose name was not in any way earned because of proximity to bread products. As this is a family newspaper, I shall draw a veil over the alleged incident which led to a nickname that stuck for more than 50 years.
The hyperbole amuses me and entertains me, as does the self-deprecation, the black humour, the finding the absurd in difficult everyday life. The philospher and writer Albert Camus, who said we should seize on that kind of absurdity to find some kind of meaning, should be proud of us.
But sometimes, that hyperbole and self-deprecation goes against us.
Take the case of the need for action in Newport City Centre.
People have for years been comparing it to wild west ghost towns, tumbleweed blowing across the faces of the local saloons.
There have been so many false dawns that people, understandably, find it difficult to believe that there will be real change for the better.
So now, when things have reached a genuine crisis point where there is urgent action needed, people from the outside of our fair city might thinks us the town which cried wolf a little too often in the past.
So now when the taskforce which is looking at the city centre's regeneration has its sessions when people can bring forward their ideas, I hope that those who go there do so with ideas and not just to moan about the state of the nation.
There comes a point where we should be past wringing our hands and complaining. Sometimes, I feel we are a city which should just stop and listen to itself.
And hear what others hear. And just stop whinging and start thinking about what it is that can and should be done.
I would love nothing more than to see a vibrant city centre packed full of people living on site, businesses which do not rely simply on selling us stuff over a counter, an environment which welcomes people and a night-time economy which is family-friendly and not just simply based on the consumption of vast quantities of alcohol.
And so, taskforce, for what it is worth here is my opinion: this city has a rich and proud heritage as a sea port. It is a place where music did and does still matter. It is a place which has already lost enough of its historic buildings, and needs to preserve those which remain.
What I think the city centre is crying out for is the sort of cultural quarter which would bring in people with a fair amount of disposable income and create jobs and buzz at the same time, something which would celebrate Newport's past and present as well as giving hope for the future that life is not merely one big shopping mall experience.
The Riverfront is a mainstream success and could be a keystone upon which to build something much more ambitious over several different venues.
Last year's Busk on the Usk festival, which was organised as part of the Cultural Olympiad, opened everyone's eyes about who could be attracted and what kind of pent up demand there is out there for such a one-off event.
Imagine the impact if, far from being a one-off, the city's music, arts and culture was the heartbeat and story-teller of its regeneration.
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