Sunday, April 18, 2010

Up in the Land of the Geordies

Since childhood I have been a Newcastle United fan. Passionate about a club and an ethos of football that are tied into a community to which I do not belong. I am a born and bred southerner. Hundreds of miles and the damn near impossibility of getting my hands on tickets have over the years combined to keep me away from St James'. Relegation last year removed the latter problem, I refused to let the former stand in my way.

Long story short, seats on the goal line, Newcastle 6 Barnsley 1, dream come true!

The roar of the stadium put shivers up and down my spine. The football filled an optimistic hole in my stomach. The Gutierrez spiderman mask made me smile (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uV-d3Hg54YE&feature=related). The final whistle bought a tear to my eye.

Around the Toon

Coming from the other end of England, we made a weekend of it and I found it the city a revelation. Newcastle is an upbeat, picturesque city. I have always loved Geordies and been thankful for how they welcome the odd southern pansy like me into their football fold, but, being said southern pansie, I had assumed Newcastle was another gray northern city. What I found was far removed from that narrow misconception.

Streets of elegant buildings cut of local gray-beige stone. Remnants of industrial riches. From St James', the hill upon which the city clings slopes down to the Tyne. On one side, the local Sunday market stretched in each direction, staffed by genuinely friendly people. On the other, renovations of Gateshead – Baltic, a hefty industrial building turned cutting edge art gallery and an out of place bulbous glass exhibition centre. Over the top the famed bridges.

A couple of wonders of the industrial age are joined by high modern bridges and the shiny new swing millenium foot bridge. One raises, another turns and the rest soar above. From a mile down the river you have a view of the lot of them, crossing below and over the gorge. I have genuinely never seen a stretch of water like it.

I felt a real sense of pride in this city. On a northerly cold outpost of the European continent, hard-work and ingenuity (and more recently government subsidy), have built a vibrant centre of life.

The short skirts...

This small piece on Geordie land would not be complete without a mention of local night habits. A sample of the town on a Saturday night was more than an eye opener. The place is taken over by hormonally driven mayhem. On a bitingly cold night, not one bloke (except for me) dared to wear a jumper. Some serious machismo, no doubt fuelled by ladies atire. Of course I have seen short skirts before, but usually in one's or two's. Not in droves. If you look, left right, up or down, everywhere are ladies in skirts that leave nothing (or less) to the imagination. Not only young, but older and old. A spectacle which kept me and Christina comically entertained all night. Unique. Odd. Interesting. Maybe it is the viking blood in these parts?

And off...

Everything considered I really fell for the charm of this north eastern gem. The city and its people come as an inseperable part of the club I love.

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