Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Off the Cuff

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Off the Cuff

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jamie Diffley

See that picture in the top right of this column. See that twinkle in those wide-eyes. That fresh-face. That earnest expression. A head full of hopes and ideas.

That was taken in December 2002. My first week at the Chronicle. Happy days.

Now look at the picture at the bottom. That picture was taken this morning. My final week at the Chronicle. February 2007. Four years and two months later.

The twinkle has been all but extinguished, those eyes narrowed as they evolved to adjust to the lack of natural light in a windowless office. The earnest expression has been replaced by one of a hounddog and the head full of ideas is now full of aches and pains.

Life has been tough at Stalag Chronicle. But now it's over. The tunnel is finished and I can see the light. The stench of freedom is in my nostrils, and I am to make good my escape.

According to the lines scratched on the wall, I've been here for.... well a while anyways. I lost count after 1,500. That's a lot of lines.

My point is, I'm off. I'm upping sticks and heading into the Tyneside sunset. Off into the distance. Well South Shields.

I'm well practised at leaving. I've left more jobs than Kevin Keegan, but it still doesn't get any easier. The saying goodbyes to the good friends you've made over the years. The bank of happy memories you store up. Good job it's the Chronicle I'm waving farewell to.

It was a blustery December weekend which saw me leave Lancashire up the M6 and across the A69 to my new home in Tyneside four years and two months ago. The land was new and foreign. I'd heard of Newcastle, even seen it on TV in programmes like Our Friends in the North and Badger. And I'd made the odd visit here to see a pal who had made the trip from Rochdale long before me - like a pioneer (the Rochdale Pioneers were the forefathers of the modern Co-Op), but it's not until you get here and live among the locals that you begin to get an understanding of the place. …

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