Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In My View

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In My View

Article excerpt

Byline: By Robert Handyside

"o wad some Power the giftie gie us/

To see oursels as ithers see us"

The immortal words of Robert Burns came to mind recently.

A modern translation might be "wouldn't it be great if you had a fly-on-the-wall documentary of yourself?"

It was a weekend in Newcastle entertaining a friend from a posh part of London. A Chelsea supporter who is more familiar with the Caribbean than anything north of Watford.

A character that thinks that the average Northerner gets up at 5am, puts on his miner's clogs, has a hearty breakfast of deep-fried whippet and sets off with a Woodbine in his mouth, a cloth cap on his head, and his lard sandwiches in his pocket.

His imagined Northern landscape is pitheads and slagheaps, cobbled streets filled with urchins with no shoes. A land where men are still men and women are glad of them. Where a man downs eight pints of Brown Ale of a Friday night and heads off with his mates for a spot of bear-baiting.

So it was a source of great pride to show him what a fine city we now have with its dramatic architecture, its buzzing nightlife and its rich cultural scene.

And a football team that can beat his.

Perhaps it was the taste of sour grapes that spurred him on to desperately look for something that would confirm his preconceptions of Life in the North.

He searched in vain but saw nothing except soaring bridges, radical art galleries and bold new concert halls.

Designer clothes and designer lagers. Accents from all parts of the UK mingled in the colourful street markets as bright young things sipped lattes in swish coffee shops.

And then he found it.

The banner advert on the front page of a local paper. There was a note of triumphalism in his voice. "So that's the sort of offer you have in Newcastle," he crowed. And there it was ( "Buy one giant sausage roll, get one free."

He nearly choked on his celery.

I immediately tried to counter attack with "what do you have in Chelsea, free lobster with every tin of caviar?" But he wasn't listening.

He'd found his litmus test. How do you sell more copies of a newspaper in the North? …

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