Category: Culture

Page of 12
JournalPART 1

Covid and me: some highs and lows

Peter Lathan

Somebody asked me what are the top three places I would go to once my incarceration is finished. That’s easy. I’d head for the bar at Alphabetti Theatre in Newcastle, the bar at Live Theatre, also in Newcastle, and the bar at the Customs House in South Shields. Not for the drink — I’ve got plenty of wine and single malt at home — but for the company and conversation of like-minded theatre-lovers. For I have missed all that so much.

Tyne Bridge: celebrating 100 years

Jane Neville

“ The whole region I am certain wants to see the Tyne Bridge restored to the magnificent spectacle it was when the Queen’s grandfather opened the Tyne Bridge in October 1928.”

Matt Vickers, an exhibition centre and ‘levelling up’

Scott Hunter

The basic idea that this region should take a more active role in the arts is, of course, a good one, but it’s not at all clear whether Matt Vickers has any idea about how to go about doing that. You just can’t help but wonder if the announcement is intended to do something other promote this manifestly unrealistic plan. Perhaps the real intention is simply to promote Matt Vickers.

The Great British Spring Clean: councillors and MP lend a hand

Dylan Neri

Kenton councillors Stephen Lambert, Chair of the Kenton Committee, and Ged Bell, Cabinet Member for Environment, along with Catherine McKinnell MP, joined local residents for a clean-up of North Kenton Park as part of the ‘Great British Spring Clean’ over the weekend.

EXCLUSIVE

The beauty pageant: breaking stigma and stereotypes

Jessica Ingham

When you think of beauty pageants you might think of ball gowns, glitz, and glamour. You might think of a competition like ‘Miss World’ in bygone days. You might think of the objectification of women. However, good or bad, the beauty pageant and the beauty queen are still something that are very much alive nowadays.
I recently had the opportunity of interviewing Harriotte Lane, Miss International UK 2019/2020 and it was interesting to hear what she had to say.
Harriotte is the only contestant to have won the crown in three divisions. She is also the only coach to hold this record.
Tell us about yourself?
Harriotte told me that she has been competing in pageants for eight years. It is her sole passion. She is a full time pageant coach and is dedicated to helping others achieve their dreams.
She said: “ I love being a pageant girl and have been blessed with so many opportunities to travel the globe such as the Miss International Global finals which were held in Japan. I have also been to Indonesia and America through the pageant systems alone.”
Let’s talk platforms.
Harriet’s passion is evident.
“My platform centres around pageantry and inspiring others to reach their potential. I wanted to create a community for girls getting into pageantry and support them on their journey where they can grow and learn new things.
“I have had a community for over seven years on my social media and started by doing one off coaching… The Crown Coach was born in 2019… I have really invested into my community and pageants and wanted to bring these together to help others.
What is Crown Camp and how can it help when preparing a pageant?
“Even if you are not taking part in a pageant the experience is so beneficial for everyone/ It caters for people 12+ and is an amazing opportunity to make friends and gain confidence. I have camps for different ages depending on which division for example Teen and Miss.
“The camp is designed to build up your confidence and gain valuable coaching as well as getting to experience and learn what pageants are all about. It is also a way for girls from different pageant systems to learn about each other and prepare without the added stress of the competition. Its sort of like a dress rehearsal before you step on the stage for real.
“Crown camp is a two-night stay in a beautiful mansion, on arrival you receive an amazing goody bag filled with crown coach merchandise. Throughout the experience you also have the opportunity to have a photo shoot with one of the best pageant photographers in the industry, Charlotte Clemmie.
“During the two days stay we also host a Pink Party where it is totally pink themed, and everyone dresses up to match the theme. This year we have even got a pink themed room. We also host a PJ party.”
Tell us about the good and the bad?
“I think when you are starting out the most daunting thing can be the fear of how you are going to be treated and all the preparation that comes with being a contestant.
“I want to put your mind at ease by letting you know pageants are based on sisterhood and empowerment. All the girls are super supportive. You literally make friends for life. You are going to gain confidence, experience and life skills as well as being exposed to amazing opportunities. There is no negativity.
“In my experience the best things about pageants are the opportunities to travel… I have also been able to step into modelling and presenting through being an ambassador for Miss International. I have made lifelong friends and dare say I have a friend in every part of the world. It is truly amazing.
“I have also had some big names sponsor me such as BMW and was given a beautiful car that was branded with my name and title. I was sponsored by Naz, an amazing designer, who has created some of the most beautiful ball gowns that I and other queens have worn.”
Harriotte’s advice is to never give up… Be persistent and follow your dreams. She advises everyone to prepare and research so that they can succeed.
Is it all glitz and glam?
The girls, women and men who compete in these pageants work hard all year-round fundraising, running campaigns, modelling, presenting, creating awareness alongside their normal jobs and hobbies. They demonstrate their dedication and showcase all their achievements while promoting a healthy active lifestyle.
Pageant opportunities
Pageants are broken into divisions and many people can be crowned at the grand finals. These typically include Miss, Mrs, Ms, Little Miss, Miss Pre-Teen and so on. This means individuals of all ages can be given the opportunity to shine and gain sponsorship from celebrities, fashion designers and more.
This also allows people from different backgrounds to come together and compete nationally. Every year someone gets to take home a crown to their hometown or city. This is a tremendous achievement and contestants are often featured in local, regional, and national newspapers; and when the opportunity arises even international. Many queens have gone on to have successful careers in parliament, government, fashion, business and have become role models and ambassadors making a real difference in their community.
Inspiration and empowerment
Many contestants have come from backgrounds where they have been abused or exploited. They can use this as their platform to create awareness and help others who have suffered similar traumas. They are very inspirational people.
There is also a wonderful community that can be found in every pageant system. This means endless support and friendship. Most queens feel as though they create and maintain lifelong friendships and bonds that fill them with confidence. Empowerment is one of the main things someone can take from a pageant.
Pageants for everyone
There are pageants for everyone whether that be tattoo fanatics, plus size, male, and children. There are transgender females who have won competitions too.

Women in a ‘man’s world’
When beauty pageants where first starting, they were traditionally looking for physical attributes from their contestants. At that time women were seen as objects of desire and men had the money to fund these events. As women have broken their silence and gained more responsibility in a ‘mans world’, we have developed careers, businesses and overall, our dreams that were shunned for centuries. We are allowed to be individual and daring and pageants are a clear example of women developing over the past century alone.
In a world where people are developing and working on themselves like never in history, pageants can shape the way for women who are trying to make it in the world. It is a chance to showcase achievements and gain help in any ventures to improve their career and passions. We celebrate change and growth. Pageants are about empowerment, success and beauty with a purpose. ”

Pride in the UK: Bylines podcast

Bylines Network Podcast

At the height of Pride month, join the team at the Bylines Network podcast, as we discuss the history and state of LGBTQ+ rights in the UK and across the world.  Hosts Chris Davis from Brighton and our very own Connor Lamb from Newcastle share their own experiences. The podcast also includes a fascinating and interesting […]

Animating Hexham: stories and memories

North East Bylines

Inspired by Hexham’s heritage and funded by Historic England, Animating Hexham aims to discover stories and evoke memories of the town’s high streets and buildings collected by Northumberland Archives and Hexham Libraries to inspire animations and conversations.

Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor interview: part 1

Dylan Neri

There is a real passion for the community and the region which permeates everything Mayor Driscoll says. It is clear that he sees the enfranchisement of the local communities and local businesses as the key aspect of his plans for the region.

Poetry Corner

The Beekeeper

Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

Together, to gather
whenever the weather
rises seven degrees
the voracious bees
leaze merry the meadow
in glorious glissando.

Opinion

Writing a diary entry: 3 June 2021

Peter Lathan

You’d have thought that, as it now seems that we are emerging from the abyss of Covid-19 and the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is perceptively brightening, and with the government aiming to loosen all restrictions on 21 June, my mind would be reacting with greater positivity, with a surge of energy, greater hope and optimism.

Poetry Corner

We are each other

Harry Gallagher

We need a brother of the blues; come blow your horn, light a fuse beneath the tinder of our fickle lie-down-and-take-it, ever-so-humble, bowing, scraping days.   We need Sister Rosetta to rasp and wake us better, shake our crumbling foundations, hold us up to a mirror, come deliver us from ourselves.   We need to […]

Teesworks Heritage Taskforce: cancelling culture?

Scott Hunter

Now that the South Tees site is being redeveloped, a new task has emerged, which is deciding on the preservation of some of its most important structures. Redcar MP and co-chair of Teesworks Heritage Taskforce, Jacob Young, is committed to commemorating this region’s industrial heritage.

Social media: an improvement on the letters page?

Peter Lathan

Now, however, we have the internet and the outlets open to them have multiplied enormously, for there are not only comment sections on every news story published by every media outlet but there are groups of all kinds which invite – nay, beg for! – contributions from Joe and Josephine Public

Opinion

Colonialism: how to resist and change

Bill Corcoran

I shout at the radio when someone says “north of Hadrian’s Wall” meaning Scotland, without knowing it goes along Shields Road; and associate themselves with the “civilised” invader, not the resisting Briton. I grimace when people think that we are Vikings “because we are north”; think we need their elocutionary education when we had electric light, proper mass transport, posh shops and high wages first. I end up swearing under my breath….

Poetry Corner

The Durham Dom

Kim Sanderson

One murky morn the Tories went
A-fishing’ in the sewer;
An’ catched a fish upon their heuk,
They thowt leuk’t very queer.

Party city: memorable moments in the Toon

Peter Benson

I enjoyed my scenic walking route to the hotel on the Gateshead quayside close to the Baltic. The shops pubs and restaurants were all busy and everywhere signs of life and vitality were evident. The scenes reminded me of pre- lockdown days.

BREAKINGTheatre

Big panto takeover: North East and beyond

Peter Lathan

One of the biggest international producers of Musical Theatre, Crossroads Live which has offices in Los Angeles, London and Sydney, has announced the acquisition of Qdos Pantomimes.

MusicReview

South Shields singer, Jen Stevens: new single

Yvonne Wancke

Jen Stevens is a talented and perceptive singer and songwriter who has just released a new single, She sleeps, which features poetry by her late mother who died in 2012. Everything about the song, the lyrics and the production testifies to the truth that the ‘folk of Shields’ really are an amazing, special and artistic people.

Film premiere in the North East this week

North East Bylines

This week sees the North East premiere of a brand new film. The Constant Sea is the first page-to-screen project by Newcastle based writer and director, Margaret Frayne, who also features in the film. Film locations include Seaton Sluice and Newcastle.

Jesmond Community Festival in full swing!

Yvonne Wancke

“We’ve loved taking part in Jesmond Community Festival over the last five years. The children love getting the chance to perform so it’s disappointing that we sadly weren’t able to this year due to Covid-19. However we did manage to hold two brilliant open classes, one face to face at Jesmond Pool and one via zoom.”

Theatre

Dance theatre spectacular in the North East

North East Bylines

The Two Fridas is motivated by one of the world’s most famous self-portraits [The Two Fridas by legendary Mexican artist Frida Kahlo] which is being brought to life from the canvas to the stage through an intriguing mixture of storytelling, dance, music and live performance.. It is a dance theatre spectacular.

Poetry Corner

End of an era

Norah Hanson
End of an era

Always a welcome behind this door.
I knew where to find tea bags and kettle
There would be hot food, wine, banter,
fierce debate and fresh sheets on a warm
bed for me to lie in. Ties of blood, spirit
and love brought me here to festivals,
protests, celebrations, family gatherings
and my dear friend’s funeral.

North East People

Finish

Jim Walker

I describe myself as a retired teacher. But I’ve also done work as actor; book-keeper; building labourer; ice-cream seller; interpreter; long-distance bus-driver; newsreader; paint salesman; pharmaceutical rep; proof-reader; property manager; and ski rep.

Poetry Corner

For Sylvia

Nicola Tipton

A very touching poem about a shared experience and sisterhood by Nicola Tipton