Welcome Stranger


“Singapore? Oh Singapore is wonderful isn’t it? Well I actually haven’t been there but I’ve been to Hong Kong & that was really fantastic. I was a competitive sailor for 16 years & I’ve been all over – Sweden, Spain, France, the Caribbean – & now I’m back here & I make these fabric structures for indoor & outdoor events, sort of like a very specific type of architecture. But yeah, Singapore is great… I know sailing is a big thing there, right? I mean, Swansea is terrific & all, but I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side.”

Here’s a fact: it is impossible to go a single day here in Wales without having an interesting conversation with a stranger. Cafes, supermarkets, open-mic poetry readings… you just can’t escape them. It is a new, strange phenomenon, but not necessarily a bad one. If you have lived only in cities your whole life, the tendency is that you get used to being ignored, or overlooked, or worst of all, forgotten, & when someone starts talking to you over your morning coffee at the local bistro, you can’t help but be taken aback by this foreign human tenderness, by the simple want of having one’s life brushed against another for a few minutes…

“You’ve ruined my day.”


“That hash you’re eating looks amazing. I’m regretting ordering my beans on toast right now.”

After our long chat about traveling & nature & Chinese food, I asked Matthew John if I could take his picture to which he promptly responded “of course!”. Then he deftly took the camera from my hands & snapped one of me without asking.


I am again reminded of that verse: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2), & far from insinuating that I am some kind of heavenly being, I am humbled from being welcomed by a city of angels, generous in their hearts & in their time given.


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