I’m standing below High Force on the River Tees, looking up at the most impressive waterfall in the North of England. It’s in full spate, crashing down both sides. I’ve followed the river down from Cow Green Reservoir, alongside the water as it races down Cauldron Snout, and I’m on my way to Middleton-in-Teesdale. A great riverside walk.
Optimism over adversity: Highlights Rural Touring Scheme is still very much a force for culture in the North East
I have been to see many Highlights shows in the past and I never fail to marvel at the creativity, the professionalism, the variety and the very warm welcome. The Covid-19 rules may make the experience a little different from before but the experience of sharing in the energy, warmth and sheer vitality of the performances will not go away.
As the psychologist Jussin (2017) notes girls’ low-take up of STEM-based and IT subjects has less to do with ability or discrimination than the fact that girls who excel at maths/science are as likely to be good at humanities based subjects. Young women she concludes are ”better all – rounders, but too few of those who are good at science choose it as their specialism post-16.”
Being a dance teacher and choreographer by trade – in usual circumstances – that is when we aren’t in the middle of a global pandemic – I take great pleasure in frequent visits to the theatre. It is one of the things I have missed greatly these past few months and I am really looking […]
“Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every time you ache
Every sound you make
We watch over you….
Oh don’t you fear, ICU is here
When your poor heart aches
And your life’s at stake…. “
We biked through the seasons: Spring, sakura blossom,
Summer, sardines by the river,
Finally on a beautifully hot July afternoon I finished the novel. The next few hours I wandered around Kreuzberg, hearing the explosive cheers, then jeers and woe, from the locals packing out the bars as their team crashed out of the World Cup, while my initial elation slumped into a fatigue that saw me beered up, sprawled on a sofa in an all-night bar near Tempelhof, muttering ‘I just finished a novel. A f****** novel.
New Year’s Day, 2021. Boris has it all. Brexit done, a deal, and the premiership – just as ERG, Cummings, Farage etc wished for. Certainly a ‘weird’ alliance. Many of whom, having wreaked their havoc, have also vanished into thin air the ‘bubbles’ of the earth, or in their case, hedge-funded, tax avoidance futures with back up European citizenship and their concerns moved. Some to Ireland.
In 1989 my Uncle Jack (only known as Jack in Sunderland; it was John down south) died and Alan inherited some family papers which inspired what he described as a “dormant interest” and he set about inquiring into the family history. He searched through parish records, census returns, even visited graveyards and gradually drew together, not just a family tree but details of the lives of our Dent ancestors.
Emerging as a sound system concern and then band, Asian Dub Foundation have fused a wide variety of music styles (including, dub reggae, drum ‘n’ bass, punk, ragga, electronic and traditional South Asian genres), in a highly original, dynamic and incendiary manner, that has won them plaudits for over two decades. Seen as one of the most exciting of all live acts during this time, ADF, though not one dimensional or simply a ‘political band’, were never ones to shirk from tackling contemporary issues head on (capitalism, exploitation, racism, domestic violence, climate change…). One of their members even refused to accept an MBE some years back.
Squelching through mud, straightway the wood embraced me. Filled me with its magic; light filtering from the sun, low in the December sky. Chased away my troubled early dreams. Ears strained to hear the whispering wisdom of the trees … splendid in their nakedness… above white noise of distant traffic. Constant now, unlike April’s lockdown. M25. Where are all those people essentially travelling to? Small birds sing unseen and a crow calls.
That everyone could see
we are all ants scurrying
round the palm of a sometime
to the final stair,
Populism requires hate targets as well as the illusion that there are simple solutions to complex problems.
The North East is a melting pot and no amount of British nationalism can erase that. The Big Ben Bongs at 11 pm on December 31 to herald Britain’s freedom from the EU signify nothing other than blatant English nationalism. This will be a date in which I lose part of me, detached without will; it’s not a new year heralding something new, it’s a death. The death of the future I had planned for myself, right up to retirement. It’s out of my control, a sort of prison without visible bars.
No Prime Minister can cancel Christmas: no more than he can damage our resolve and our spirits. He cannot take away what we value most, family, friends, hope, determination, love, peace and justice. Solidarity friends.
A book to read:
Poems from a Runaway, A True Story by Ben Westwood – An autobiographical anthology that charts Ben’s life as a serial runaway, evading the care system and the law, sleeping rough in London before finding salvation in music and poetry, and eventually reuniting with his family. I had the privilege of meeting Ben when he was a keynote speaker at a conference in the European Parliament organised with Missing Children Europe and the Child Rights Intergroup (which I co-founded). You can find out more about Ben and buy his book here
Frozen H20 floats immiscible on ponds As blades score surface with festive bonds. Snowflake fractals float upon a breeze Defying gravity, concealing lost leaves. Ilex aquafolium bleeds a hoary frost, waxy cuticle, cloaks shivers – no water is lost. Satsuma segments of time zones split and the world’s turn slows on the axis as tinselly-string […]
English Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge visited Castlerigg stone circle in 1799 with William Wordsworth and noted that “the mountains stand one behind the other, in orderly array as if evoked by and attentive to the assembly of white-vested wizards”.
Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse
That wasn’t the case
Father Boris was waiting
A mask on his face.
In these northern latitudes, the light is sparse and winter bares its white and weathered fist against the fastnesses of night. We decorate the darkness, cannot stand its plain finality. Daub it with tinsel dress it in baubles, switch on season’s greetings in the streets. Perhaps God is dead; perhaps the shortest day will dwindle […]
Here in Ireland we had a longer autumn lockdown than you’ve suffered in the UK, including a 5km travel restriction from mid-October to December 1st, and even now, a request to stay within our county. In our case, that would allow us to sample the delights of Dublin City, but we have restrained ourselves, having no wish to actually go looking for the virus, like the famous shellfish vendor; “She died of a fever, and no-one could save her, and that was the end of poor Molly Malone”.
Gathering garlands I forage
for fronds of evergreen
to make eternal circles
Why not click the links for some fantastic Christmas craft ideas?
t’s going to be seven-ish at the earliest before I’m ready to eat again. I always find Christmas Pudding too heavy, so perhaps a classic Panettone (dried fruit rather than the chocolate variety) would make a good replacement. I had considered making a Panettone bread and butter pudding but I think I’ll have it with custard. Not very Italian, I know, but I love custard and as I’m cooking for me and me alone, custard it shall be!
There’s a Robin in the meadow,
Nocturnal soloist in darkest night
Sing your song, as notes fade to dark
but burn bright, with breast alight.
The North’s cultural industry has been hit hard and faces an historic challenge as the global pandemic continues to affect our everyday lives. The Northern Culture APPG will promote and champion the huge economic contribution made by the North’s cultural sector, build consensus and fight for what the government needs to do to level-up and build back the North’s cultural potential now and in the longer term.
There are moments profound,
tissues all round, talk of hope, coping strategies.
Rose Island is delightful. It is funny. It is sad. It is intriguing and compelling. And it is ultimately inspiring. I wish I could see it in the cinema.
“We know that freelance performers, technicians and artists have really struggled while venues have been closed, and many people have been unable to access government financial support – so it’s vital that we do our bit to help. Christmas with the Hobs gave us an opportunity to bring together North East arts professionals to create a magical Christmas gift from Northumberland. We hope you enjoy it!”