By Rhys Thomas.
This is an ode to Cardiff’s finest departed pub, Y Mochyn Du. It was a place that held a special place in my heart as well as for many others. Apart from being a place where you could get good local food and a decent pint, it was one of the few genuinely Welsh places in the city rather than an insipid conformity that you could find in any British conurbation. All the staff were Welsh speakers, and for any big event involving a Welsh team (particularly Rugby) there was a real togetherness and feel-good spirit. This month’s Six Nations was tailor made for the Mochyn, with plenty of opportunity for fans in the capital to support their nation in a warm, passionate atmosphere. It played a key role as a community hub, with weekly Welsh language classes hosted there along with its own choir. Its most recent Carol Evening and Winter Walk event raised over £7,200 for Velindre Cancer Centre. It didn’t just pay lip service to community spirit, it was a living embodiment of it.
What is it to be replaced by? Of course, it’s a soulless chain. The Brewhouse and Kitchen will be opening it’s eighteenth venue in the United Kingdom on the Mochyn’s grave. CEO Kris Gumbrell was born and raised in Cardiff, but it is clear he has no empathy for the city of his birth by replacing a local institution with bland, low-quality monotony. The new venue will patronisingly have a beer named ‘Y Mochyn Du’, an insignificant reminder of the beauty that had once been. The propaganda spewed out in the Western Mail made no mention of live Welsh sport for which the old place was known, and the insides have been gutted and replaced by tedious flooring and furniture which you’ll have experienced a million times over – a look at photos of their other pubs offer an insight into the drab and dreary nature of their business. There are already enough places in the city for those who are too scared of trying something genuinely different from the norm.
Clearly, it’s not just the Mochyn, and it’s not just Cardiff. Pubs, clubs and more around the world are succumbing to the gnashing and relentless jaws of globalisation which societal elites constantly tell us is wonderful. People who put profit before heritage are chasing the next dollar at the expense of our communities; and the worst thing is that they are allowed to do it with impunity. There is pitifully little resistance from the people who it affects, and as a result places like the Mochyn which are loved and improve the character of a place are kicked to the curb, with everyone now indulging in the same characterless blandness, paying excessive prices for barely edible food in a turgid atmosphere.
There’s a long list of other places around the city that have also lost the battle. Gareth Bale may be a Christlike figure in Wales but his Brains-run bar Elevens tragically wrecked an important venue for live music in the city. The Save Womanby Street campaign is critical in this regard, and they are fighting the good fight against the scourge of similitude and mundanity. The Rummer Tavern (which dates from the early eighteenth century and is believed to have been built on a medieval burgage plot) has undergone a substantial makeover, with the pub falling prey to a gutting which has changed its character from quaint and traditional to painfully vulgar. The list of departed friends is long and distinguished, and with each deceased establishment, the city loses another part of its soul.
So, farewell the Mochyn. This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.