Joe Dunthorne on Swansea: ‘At night I would be woken by the screech of stolen cars’

This post is by Joe Dunthorne from Books | The Guardian

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The author recalls joyriders, smokestacks and empty beaches, in a city with a cracked personality

Two sides of Swansea’s personality glare at each other across the bay. At one end is Mumbles and the pretty coastline, a necklace of lights along the pier, Catherine Zeta-Jones’s massive house. And on the opposite side, looking unimpressed, is Port Talbot and the steelworks: a knot of pipes and smokestacks filling the sky with yellow, blue and sometimes green flames. I grew up on the hill halfway between the two and, depending on my mood, I can see two completely different versions of my childhood.

From one angle, it was an endless summer spent swimming on Three Cliffs Bay, my sunburnt friends and I building fires, climbing rocks and trying to get off with each other. Looking the other way, I remember traipsing through a wet, grim city that could be genuinely frightening, a ...