Friday, October 14, 2016


Wallsington Woods Update
Newcastle City Council counts on subjects being docile shocker!


Meanwhile ... The person or persons unknown who burnt down the Grade II Listed Hall nearly a year ago during the very popular 'Arsonists Festive Season' are still at large. Police are no further forward with their enquiries. We think. They are not saying much. In fact, everyone concerned just wants Newcastle Wildlife to go away.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Arts and graft

Sometime ago, last century, I had an unfortunate encounter with the head of a local quango. I wanted to have a conversation with him about the role of the arts in regenerating this city. He was unused to speaking to oiks and dismissed my suggestion by addressing the room with his views about avant garde art that, in his view, consisted of little more than perversion. I think he may have felt his own enthusiasm for 'High Street U.K.' here on Tyneside was under some sort of threat; or, perhaps depressed at the string of failures of Newcastle's Public Art projects, expensive and very public. He saw only a golden future for retail developments ahead, where people borrowed money they could not (soon, soon) repay to buy stuff from glitzy shops – some of the biggest of whom were being enticed to open branches in Newcastle specifically to perform the task –  stuff they did not need at prices they could not afford, creating ... Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (U.S.) and Leman Brothers went under and the rest of the world followed shortly after, and the rest is, well, where we are now.

Mr High Street went on to higher things, "too big to fail".

The shops struggled and the posher ones failed to roll up. Instead the city centre is awash with coffee houses and 'pop-up' galleries and artsy venues.


But it gets better! News just in ... (link)

So the arts are riding to rescue the city after all. This event promises to be exceptional and proves the underlying point that creative endeavours (such as the tireless volunteers and others working to open the new independent Star and Shadow film theatre and collective bang next to Battlefield) are making an enormous contribution.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Battlefield to Baltic Part the Second

The second a final part of my walk to the Baltic Art Gallery on the Quayside.

When I first came to live in this city, Newcastle Quayside enjoyed a certain reputation. Not a place to stroll along for fun; absolutely not at night. The Tyne was a sewer.

Now look at it!

The first time I ever saw a Salmon leap was here a few years back.

It followed some much needed civil engineering in the 70s and the saving of the Newcastle Quayside from the plans developers who wanted to demolish all of it (!) to build offices. Thanks to the Amber film collective who, under the late Murray Martin had set up on the Side when it was very unfashionable (still there) this absolutely appalling idea was dropped. Much has resulted from that epic decision, some good, arguably some less so. People regret the loss of 'character's' and the edginess of Tyneside and its replacement by swank and money. But I think that's nostalgia; the old Quayside was no haven for anyone by the late 20th century. What's there today works for more people. It has also brought something to this city that was missing up until recently, a 'critical mass' of people who are willing and able to support the arts and leisure industries.

The Quayside is certainly a place to take visitors from anywhere to see what this city has for spectacle and splendour.

The Kittiwakes like it.