Thursday, 31 January 2008

Newcastle chaos

It took me nearly three times as long as usual to get into work this morning.

bus journey is fourteen minutes or so. It takes longer than that at rush hour, but never more than half an hour normally. This morning, it took me one hour and twenty minutes.

I'd heard on the local news that Jesmond Road was closed between Portland Terrace and Sandyford Road, but not why. That's close to my route to work, but not actually on it. I assumed it was just an accident. These things have usually cleared up by the time you hear about them on the news.

I didn't realise that this time, it was a fire at a local hotel and that the police had closed the road because of all the fire engines. It was still closed when I got to Newcastle. It took the bus a long, long time to get through, moving all of a mile an hour I would guess.

I got off the bus in the end, grumbling to myself about how it would have been noticeably quicker for me to walk the whole way rather than get the bus. I walked across the front of the hotel; I wish I'd counted the fire engines; there were a lot. Smoke was pouring out of the roof still and the firefighters were in that crane thing, playing water onto the roof; no flames were visible, but the smoke was thick. The air smelled of bonfires and attached itself to my jacket and my hair. At first I thought it was just in the air, but it's been windy today and the smell was present when I turned round long after the gusts of wind would have blown the last scraps of smoke away.

My gym is in that hotel. I'd planned to go today. Apparently it's untouched, but it'll be closed for a short while. Hopefully it'll open again soon.


It snowed at lunchtime. The wind whipped it across the air, almost horizontal. Apparently it's going to get worse tomorrow.

(Three posts in less than 24 hours? Count yourself lucky!)

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Taakin' Geordie

I found myself unintentionally using a word of Geordie dialect in conversation today, for the first time ever.

The word in question was 'tret'. The past participle of the verb 'treat' in English is usually formed in a regular way, as 'treated'. But Geordie has an irregular past part participle, which I love. I much prefer irregular verbs to regular ones. I know they are a nightmare for foreigners learning English - hell, even for some native speakers - but I still love them.

And I've been wanting to use it for years. But I couldn't use it deliberately - that would be cheating. I had to wait til it just came out on its own. And this morning it did. It's started to be part of my language.

When I first moved up here, I didn't think there were many words of Geordie dialect still current. But that was partly because most of the people I knew when I first moved here were not natives. Students, mainly, and lecturers. It wasn't til I moved up here the second time that I started meeting people who had lived here all their lives, hearing the way they talk.

But even then I didn't really get it. I thought that a lot of the words they used were just a different accent to standard English. But that's not really true. Some of my friends say 'the morra' instead of 'tomorrow'. That's not an accent thing; that's pretty old English there. Sounds almost Shakespearian to me, although I'm not sure it really is.

Gannin' is another. I heard that as a different way of pronouncing 'going' at first, but it's blatantly not when you look at it. And 'haim' - that's 'home'. I do often say 'gannin' haim', but that's a deliberate choice rather than a part of my language. 'Gannin oot' too - apparently these are phrases that had started to die out, but have started to make a comeback.

Grass is clarty round here, not muddy. You kna things, not know them, or if you don't, you divvent kna. People say wor, not our, especially for their relatives.

These words and phrases are starting to be part of my lexicon. And yet my accent remains solidly neutral, almost nondescript. To locals, I'm a southerner. To the north west, where I grew up, I'm generic northern... or sometimes posh Scouse. (I don't understand that label at all.)

The words are filtering in, but the voice that says them is resolutely the same as ever.

Exciting book news

I am going to a signing at the weekend.

This makes me go 'eeeeee!' and 'yayayayayayay!' and other such vowel-heavy exclamations.

Caroline's blog is actually the place to be at the mo. She has also got an e-book coming out soon. It's a free download, but there is a voluntary donations page for One in Four,
an organisation run for and by people who have experienced sexual abuse.

Because Caroline is the coolest. And she cares.

(She even sent me badges, but I have to sort out my camera situation before I can show you proof of that.)

There is even a trailer:

If you haven't already read In Search of Adam, what are you waiting for?

(and I say this is nothing to do with Geordie life, but the book is set round here. And it's amazing. And you should go buy a copy. Did I mention that bit? It will even be on the three for two deal in Waterstones. How exciting can you get?!)

Saturday, 26 January 2008

The metro.

The metro is up to win an award as one of the best train operators in the country.

I really do love the metro. I think it's a fantastic transport system. Or at least, potentially a fantastic system.

Look at the map. There are whole swathes of the city that are missed out - the East End, for one. The whole chunk in the middle of the loop between Wallsend and Northumberland Park. Blaydon, which is to the East of Gateshead. There are lots of possible extensions listed in wikipedia, but the only one listed as being considered at present wouldn't make much difference really.

It's a shame, because if you live somewhere near a metro and want to go somewhere near a metro, it's a great service. But for many people, including me, one end of the equation falls apart. I want to go somewhere near a metro station, but don't live near one.

Although when I'm in town it is still handy to get from Haymarket to Central Station in a hurry.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Heath Ledger is dead! Fuck!

You should go click on...

this link to Newcastle Daily Photo, because it's fantastic. The ornate building in the reflection is one of the Waterstones stores - in fact the one I bought Harry Potter from, that I mentioned here. Behind it, with the dome, is Monument Mall.

Sometimes I forget how beautiful Newcastle is.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

The North's angel

I couldn't believe, reading this, that the Angel of the North has been there for almost ten years. I was one of the nay-sayers at first; couldn't believe such a large amount of money was being spent on such a ridiculous sculture.

But that was before I saw it for myself.

I was driving up the A1 to visit some friends; this was before I'd moved back to Newcastle. Just past the turn off for the A194, I was completely floored by the sudden visual impact of the Angel appearing, seemingly from nowhere. The road bends around to drive right next to it. As you drive past, it towers above you; like a guardian for the north east.

It's a shame that you can barely see it from the train. If you don't know where to look when and which precise angle to crane your neck at, you'd never see it. It's hard enough in the day, but it's not lit up so at night it's almost invisible from the East Coast Main Line.

But it's beautiful.

Car park destruction

I've written before about the Get Carter car park and my mixed feelings about its potenial demolition. Well, it's happening, so the skyline of Gateshead will be changing soon.

If you're not convinced that it's a good idea, have a look at this photo. It's taken from Grey Street, voted the best street in Britain by Radio 4 listeners. Why would you not demolish it?

Thursday, 10 January 2008

i'm still not really here

but i just wanted to see if anyone was horrified at the same sentence i was in this article.

update: BW has guessed which sentence appalled me. (Apart from, like, the whole thing.) Yes, it was the thing about estate agents telling people to get rid of their books to sell their house. Specifically, the phrase 'tired and middle aged' made me swear at the computer. Ain't no way I'd be moving my books just to try and sell my house.

I read. All the time. My husband D loves it; he wasn't encouraged to read as a child and he's fascinated by how fast I read. Our flat is slowly being taken over by books. Soon there won't be room left for us. I love it. One of my friends find reading difficult, but now he's discovered the Sharpe books, he has started to branch out into other things. But because he was treated as though he was stupid at school, it's taken him over a decade to get to that point. I can't help but wonder if that is the case for a lot more of those 16-24 year old men. Because these days boys are doing worse and worse in school, and noone seems to care.

Something's rotten in the state of education, and it's not being tackled.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

the lack of posts

OK, people, this isn't going to happen for a few days. The post is written in my head, but my TMA is taking too much time. It's submitted Friday, so by the end of next weekend I should have got over the lightheadedness and managed to write something. In the meantime, there are loads of archives over there on the right (points --->) and loads of links to help you plan your next trip to Newcastle. And Pierre and Loria I will reply to your emails soon. Thank you :)

I can deal with conversations in the comments though. How are you doing? Tell me the most exciting thing that's happened yet in 2008.

Thursday, 3 January 2008


Remember the fakeout? Where I thought it snowed and it hadn't? This morning I woke up and thought it had snowed, but then remembered being wrong before thought thought it must be frost.

Apparently not, this time. It snowed on and off all day, whirling flakes and soft hailstones, making the pavements in town treacherous. It's freezing hard tonight.

I am trying to get a load of stuff out of the way right now. I'm getting there, but not finished yet. Probably Sunday before I post again.