I took this photo in 1995. It’s of the High Street of a small mid-Welsh town called Lampeter. I went to university in this small mid-Wales town, part of a cohort that doubled the population from about 1,500 to about 3,000 during term time. Those 3,000 souls had thirsts quenched by nine pubs and an equal number of churches. The university had just changed its name from St David’s University College to University of Wales, Lampeter. It is now called University of Wales Trinity St David and is a merged institution with Trinity College Carmarthen and Swansea Metropolitan University. My degree, and indeed my department, has no name today. Both are long gone.
Lampeter closed on Sundays, not that there were many people around to witness it. Something strange happened. People seemed to arrive in rooms or shared houses without having gone via the streets. The campus was apparently dead and yet the union bar rarely empty. My team won the union bar Sunday lunchtime pub quiz one term with the entire 10-week competition being settled on a tie-break when one of our number correctly guessed the number of players on a korfball team. He had however been thinking of netball which has a different number. Lampeter was kinda like that.
I mostly had a great time and got a 2:1 but stuck around for a disastrous postgrad year of attempting to pull together an MPhil on Language Contact & Change in 19th Century Wales. I reckon had I not been a mostly-drunk and unfocused delitante and had I had a department that gave a crap something good could have come from that. As it was that particular dark night of the soul ended when I somehow got a job in London and I moved away from Shut on Sundays to Open All Hours.
Next year’s intake in Lampeter will have been born in the year I started there. With my wife I made a flying visit this weekend. It was Sunday and raining. Lampeter was closed. We walked the empty streets feeling like everything wasn’t quite where it should be. Some things had changed, some were the same. There didn’t seem to be a pub quiz going on in the union bar. I took this photo and then we had lunch and left. Lampeter is still a mid-Welsh town with a university but we don’t belong there any more.