Section: UK

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.

Opinion

It’s still a man’s world

Peter Benson

By contrast, Labour has put forward 17 male and 17 female shadow cabinet members on The Andrew Marr Show. On Sophy Ridge on Sunday, 18 male shadow cabinet ministers and 17 female shadow cabinet ministers have made an appearance since the first lockdown.

North East People

My first 10 years

Jim Walker

I was put in Rose dormitory, which slept about 12 of the youngest pupils; we were allowed to take a cuddly toy to bed with us, so I had my woolly elephant. I had to give him up when I graduated to Thistle dormitory 18 months later.

“Never again”

Julie Ward

The narrative that someone else is to blame for our woes sadly continues to this day with politicians increasingly pandering to nativist calls to pull up the drawbridge and look after our own. “Britain First”, “Go home” and “Make America Great Again” are redolent of the calls that preceded pogroms.