Category: Culture

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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.

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.

Poetry Corner

Snowdrops

Nicola Tipton

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

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.

Singing to breathe : help at hand for Long Covid

Carol Westall

People with Long Covid will be taught the breathing techniques of top tenors to help them overcome symptoms in a new NHS England therapy. Imperial College and English National Opera (ENO) teamed together for this programme in partnership with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. The programme uses the techniques used for singers to improve quality of breath and help manage the anxiety that breathlessness often produces. Singing is shown to help retrain breathing, so ENO Breathe is using lullabies and singing exercises to help improve those with shortness of breath.

Dance teacher in lockdown

Helen Wilson

“I’m just going to put you on mute because I can hear your tumble dryer”
I continue to dream of the day I can stand in a studio in front of my students and not worry about social distancing, appropriate ventilation and a virus that has brought my profession to its knees.

Poetry Corner

This is what hope looks like

Harry Gallagher

This is what hope looks like,
two wee cinnamon dots
clutching mom’s hand tight,
peering out at the wide, wide world
through childish curtseys and wonder,
not stopping to think about
white hooded badmen
now drowning in shame.

‘This is Us’ with Natalie Ibu at Northern Stage

Carol Westall

“As a 17-year-old Black Scottish working class girl, I decided I wanted to be an artistic director because I longed to work in community – with a team, with artists, with a place and with audiences. Northern Stage is exemplary at this with its commitment to its local and regional community…”

“Democracy is precious, democracy is fragile”: the inauguration of the 46th President

Julie Ward

Biden might be the 46th President of the United States but it’s the women and girls of America who are taking a lead in so many ways, from Kamala Harris as the first black woman and Asian American to hold the office of Vice President to Jill Biden’s commitment to continue her work as a teacher and working mum whilst also officiating as First Lady, this administration looks and feels like never before.

The memories that make me me

Peter Lathan

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.

The glass ceiling hasn’t been smashed but it is fracturing

Stephen Lambert

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.”

“Every breath you take”

Carol Westall

“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…. “

Goodbye to Berlin

Robin Tudge

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.

Political lessons from the Bard: musings on the Scottish play

Nicola Tipton

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.

A tale of two cousins

Peter Lathan

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.

Review

Asian Dub Foundation – a force for solidarity and internationalism

Ade JBones Van Vliet

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.

Dissolving into nature: an antidote to excess

Nicola Tipton

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.

Poetry Corner

New year’s wishes

Harry Gallagher

That everyone could see
we are all ants scurrying
round the palm of a sometime
benevolent mountainside.