Section: UK

Poetry Corner

Kite

Nicola Tipton

From the side hatch,
across the river,
I saw four walkers
on the tow path opposite –
Two couples and a dog-
Standing still in distanced line
their backs toward me,
heads upturned…

Cross border services working group reports to the House of Lords

Kate Bredin

British citizens resident in the EU were protected by the various Citizens’ Rights Agreements (CRAs). They were all assured that they could continue their lives after Brexit in broadly the same way as before. The WA/CRAs did not make good on this promise, failing to protect major rights such as the full recognition of professional qualifications.

Is Britishvolt two timing Blyth?

John Jacobson

On Valentine’s day this month Britishvolt, the investor for the proposed ‘Gigaplant’ car battery manufacturing development for Blyth, professed its love for Northumberland in a Facebook post. The ‘post’ featured in a previous North East Bylines article highlighting the company’s changed affections from its earlier avowed intentions to locate the facility in Wales. The day after, on 15 February, Italvolt announced its plans in a press release for a new 4 billion Euro ‘Gigafactory’ to be built in an as yet undecided location in Italy.

Dear Mr Opperman: an open letter to the Tory MP for Hexham

Carol Westall

The UK has recorded over 3.9 million positive cases of Covid-19; of which more than 15,449 live in Northumberland. This means that, at least 390,000 people in the UK and 1,545 in Northumberland will continue to live with debilitating effects of Long Covid for many months, if not years, to come. Long Covid is the hidden health crisis of the pandemic.

North East People

Unsupervised play

Jim Walker

The window didn’t shatter, so I thought that I had proved my point. But it turned out that I hadn’t. Anne, Peter’s little sister, had been looking out of the window at the time and had got the fright of her life when an airgun pellet made a neat little hole in the pane of glass she’d been looking out of and had shot by her left ear, just missing it.

I am from Eastern Europe: I am fuming and I have been for a long time

Michal Chantkowski

I am fuming when seeing the way in which the government, the press, the authorities and other actors of public life treat Eastern European EU migrants. The issues related to the oversubscribed, under-resourced and woefully inadequate, digital-only EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) are well known. The government has also promised that any EU citizen who registers […]

The Queen’s consent

Dylan Neri

The urgent, orchestral tones of the television news channels demand our attention – the semi-Pavlovian conditioning means we regard the ‘news’ as part drama, part sensation and part entertainment (like the telescreen of Orwell’s dystopia; who are we hating today?) Our phones buzz, vibrate, flash as the notifications are beamed in from every news outlet […]

New batteries from old, or will it be just the same old story for Blyth?

John Jacobson

It is a really remarkable story for a company formed just over a year ago, on 31 December 2019, by one person living in Sweden with no experience of electric battery manufacture and with an initial 100 shares of £1 nominal value each. The company balance sheet to July 2020 … notes that “During the period from incorporation on 31 December 2019 to 6 July 2020 the Company has not traded and received no income….”

Vaccine hesitancy: a need for trust

Carol Westall

“Trust would be improved with local discussions within communities. One example was Bristol and a suggestion of mobile vaccination centres with the involvement of religious leaders and local organisations in discussions. Money could be ring fenced to organisations so that they can create some trust within their care organisations to answer questions directly. She thought that hearing the same message from someone in your community could change someone’s mind.”

Review

It’s a sin

Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

Once or twice in a generation an era-defining TV series comes along, and Channel 4’s It’s a Sin is a contender for just that. The five-part drama. set in London between 1981 and 1991 to an iconic -pumping soundtrack of Lennox, Blondie, Queen, Erasure, Almond and of course the title track – moves us along with a group of gay friends through their wild parties and ultimate journey of self-discovery while they explore their sexuality and emerging careers.

Why I didn’t clap for Captain Sir Tom

James Robinson

Free, widely available public healthcare has long been exuded as one of the great successes of British history. However, Conservative rule has left the NHS close to breaking point.
Our health service needs cash, not claps.

Theatre

A “complete curveball” and a “safe haven” in Live Theatre, Newcastle

Robin Tudge

Feedback from all involved has been fabulous. Live Youth Theatre member Connor reflected that the film was “a complete curve ball to what we knew as theatre. It allowed us to explore our emotions, opinions and current experiences about lockdown while living in the moment, displaying an incredibly intuitive mixture of theatre.

Recipe

Cracking the perfect poached egg?

Yvonne Wancke

I even once (or maybe even twice or more) started to do some research about the best way to poach eggs. I found myself reading all sorts of seemingly tricky stuff about creating s vortex (apparently some of the top chefs and hotels do this) and so on. There was also plenty of often conflicting advice about whether to use vinegar or not, the same with salt and whether to use a deep or shallow pan. Oh and to keep the pan boiling, or cover and switch off the heat…

Hares and tortoises in the Covid-19 vaccine race

Giuseppe Bignardi

Countries acting individually will not deliver the number of vaccines the world needs (Zosia Kmietowicz in the British Medical Journal on 6 February). Joint vaccine procurement schemes, as used by the EU and the African Union, are slower to set up but ensure equitable vaccine distribution at lower prices.

Child poverty: a matter of urgency

Kate Bredin

Despite the government’s frequent statements on levelling up the country, only 19% of the British public think it is doing all it reasonably can to tackle child poverty according to a new online survey carried out in recent weeks. The survey was carried out by the End Child Poverty coalition, which consists of more than […]

Under the spell of ‘Mr Newcastle’

Stephen Lambert

Historically, we’ve been here before. One variant of this can be seen with the rise of the charismatic town hall boss T. Dan Smith in Newcastle. Dismissed by many as a corrupt politician on the make, Smith is now the subject of an alternative perspective by writers ranging from former Wear Valley Lib-Dem leader Chris Foote Wood and Tyneside historian Nigel Todd.

Poetry Corner

Snowdrops

Nicola Tipton

Hush!
Listen to the earth
awakening from winter’s sleep,

Peace hanging by a thread?

Peter Benson

We all know the history of Northern Ireland but on his last visit there Boris Johnson clearly said there would be no checks on goods imported into the province from the UK. General Election 2019: Johnson insists no NI-GB goods checks after Brexit – BBC News Could this political lie cause the peace process to unravel in Norther Ireland?

Educating the future electorate

Stephen Lambert

Let’s provide space in the national curriculum in the form of citizenship lessons for learning about democracy, democratic processes, rights, responsibilities and justice, and developing all students’ skills sets. This alterative is based on education and intellectual enquiry, not just surveillance – important as this is. For liberal and representative democracy to be real, people need skills, knowledge, confidence and contacts. The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, called politics the ”master science” – its purposes being the common good of humanity.

The Scottish creel industry: on the brink of collapse

Diane Morphew

Scotland did not vote for Brexit, certainly not in the case of self -employed skipper Phil from Lochaber who works his eight-metre boat, Jaqueline, usually single-handedly. He works an eight-hour day usually six days a week, landing an average of 20 tons of mixed shellfish per year from around 300 creels.