Monday, 17 December 2012

So Goodbye to Manchester and on the train to Newcastle via York, mildly uneasy- still delays on York to Newcastle line due to the recent deluges but fingers crossed. There were significant delays in York and freeeeezing, ho hum. Delays meant Vic had to go straight to rehearse at the S+S while I checked in. Stayed at the Staybridge Aparthotel, great position, staff and view of the Tyne and bridges. Downside? It was hermetically sealed, and I can't be doing without fresh air, so although I wouldn't stay again if you don't mind air conditioning I would recommend.
Mixed feelings about this one and turned out a bit of a roller coaster of highs and lows, energising, inspiring and deflating. I was on a personal pilgrimage and had an emotionally charged mission to carry out in Newcastle as well as being there in the Vic 'management' (ha ha) capacity for Vic.ism at the Star and Shadow. I have close ties here, my dear sorely missed Pa, Charles, was born and brought up in Hetton-le-Hole, he played cricket for Durham at the Riverside, Chester-le-Street (earlier this year it took 6 and a half hours getting here on the way home from Dundee-ended up near Carlisle at one stage-still got to see a lot of countryside and villages probably wouldn't have visited otherwise) was scouted by Sunderland FC (his mother wouldn't hear of it as he was destined to study medicine at Edinburgh University and be a dedicated and much loved GP, retiring at 79) and he was a life long Newcastle supporter. Always looked forward to the many holidays spent with my grandparents Gertie and George and all the aunties and uncles and the places Easington, Easington Lane, Seaham, Peterlee, of course Durham, many more. Anyway I've kept relics in my bag since May, planning to leave them in places important to Charles and here in Newcastle I planned to make an offering to the river gods of the Tyne on his behalf. So while the lads were rehearsing I took the opportunity to go down to the Quayside. I walked towards the least inhabited stretch, where it was darker and mist rose over the river, the lights from Gateshead and the Tyne Bridges receding and it being so bloody nippy there weren't many people about anyway-luckily- had been a bit concerned that any passers by might think I was going to hurl myself in as I was blubbing a bit and as as soon as I had said my piece and thrown my offering in I was a bit of a wreck. Glad I did it and was on my tod as had time to recover the equilibrium, though the melancholy mood lingered on.
Had to get back on track, it was a short rehearsal/soundcheck a lot to fit in- as well as Vic and the Sobs, there was Pauline Murray and Thee Potato Four. Time for the 'hunt for food' quest. In fact after a short parky fruitless stroll back along the Quayside (Pitcher and Piano was full) had a delicious meal practically opposite the Staybridge at Dadyal 2 Howard Street-highly recommended,rarely eat well on gig days but this was an exception. Sufficiently sated and mood lifting so headed to S+S, great venue and Michael Clunkie always a convivial host, hope to get the Catalan doc on there next year. Was a bit late and missed Pauline M and TPF but heard they were much appreciated but the Sobs and Vic/Sobs were a revelation, up there as one of the very best gigs I've been to. The sound was exactly right and the atmosphere buzzing, Vic and the Sobs were obviously enjoying themselves immensely and it showed with Vic, Davy, Douglas, Graham and Simon sparking off each other. It looked like Vic felt right at home with them and vice versa, great performance- I mean look what it did to them- (Photo courtesy of Susan Mowatt)
The deflating part? Merch on small table, most of t shirts (all except 5)on said table on or in suitcase on chair- glass of red wine-bag knocks glass-wine sprays over table and open suitcase-tears before bed time!!
Fun at the station next morning on the way to GLASGOW. Apart from the cold and ongoing delays had a surreal 'conversation'? with a man working in the info office. Had lots of tickets and like to be sure that it's the right one for the right journey, these looked a bit confusing to me (I know, I know), anyway my question was 'Do the tickets mean a change in Edinburgh' simple yes or no was the expectation but noooo. His response 'Are you from Newcastle or Glasgow?' Me 'Neither, London' Him 'Where in London?' Me, Confused 'South West' Him 'And what underground line do you use?' Me, more confused, starting to worry about time ' District' Him 'And what stop do you get off at? Me, baffled 'it depends where I'm going' Him,dogged 'What is the final destination on the front of the train?' Me, losing will to live 'It varies and depends on direction' Him, persistent 'What destination does it have on your ticket?' Me, I've got you now 'None I use and Oyster card' This seemed to stop the flow and so, none the wiser, took the opportunity to flee, asked the same question of an East Coast employee on a platform who answered with a simple comforting yes. Train was already about an hour or so late and like nearly everyone else was anxiously scanning the board hoping for a platform and actual arrival time. Eventually the train arrival and platform were announced and hordes descended on the ANNOUNCED platform. We all watch as a train arrives on the opposite platform and then panic sets in as we all realise they have announced the wrong platform. Mass surge towards footbridge, and a race for the train on the verge of departing. Made it, though anyone infirm, with a lot of baggage or small children wouldn't have stood a chance. It was full and the odd squabble about reservations- 3 trains into one but generally very good natured crowd,glad to be aboard. Goodbye Newcastle, can't wait to come back. If you were there you know what I mean if not here are some videos courtesy of Lee McFadden/Tracey Holloway and the Star and Shadow to give you an idea of what you missed: Photo by David Hall


  1. Our train was direct to Glasgow. Arrived on time! The only thing was a sizeable proportion of the carriage was a group celebrating one of the gal's 40th. As the drinks flowed the voices got louder - but I couldn't really moan - as I managed to wangle a glass of Bucks Fizz off of 'em - good way to start the day!

  2. Not sure why the links aren't working so I'll consult the Oracle and report back, meanwhile this will lead to more-
    and this one-