Don’t You Understand This City?

Don’t you understand this city? Confident kids from affluent backgrounds can only be disappointed here and your optimist’s dreams of a point to your life can only hold you back. The rest of us, we receive confirmation. Everything we knew about the world is true. Away from your certainties and trust fund futures, your newspaper academia and family ambition, we drink ourselves much closer to death in the pissing rain of insomniac nights.

Look again at Ruth now, twisted up in her bed sheets while the dawn creeps closer, listening to the looped bass lines and muffled voices of the living room.

Take for example this anonymous valley boy, curled up in a sleeping bag on a friend’s carpet, pistachio shells and ash surround him, he’s fantasizing about being forceful with somebody, maybe his sister’s best friend, maybe somebody like her, trying hard not to wake anyone with the secret movements of his hidden hand.

Consider the state of these finance types, shepherded out of the closing nightclub doors, child-eyed and pissed up and finally calm. Only some of them will end the night in violence, looking the wrong way or wandering into the wrong garden. Only some of them will end the night in illness. Others will consider it a complete success.

There is not a single lawyer here who will listen to your housing complaints. And rats poisoned by the council will be left to die and left to decay beneath your floorboards. Behind your walls.

Now look again at Alexander.

Don’t you understand this city? You don’t have a clue. Well it isn’t a place for you, so fuck off home.


This is an off-cut from an early draft of Cardiff Ghosts. It dates from before the third person narrator disappeared. The finished novel tells the stories of Ruth and Alexander from their differing perspectives. I think this extract can function as a kind of trailer.

Please get in touch if you would like to read the book. You can read a review of it here.


About Vince Stephen

You can find information about me on my blog's "About" page.
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2 Responses to Don’t You Understand This City?

  1. chris says:

    Well that depressed me.

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