Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tom Gutteridge Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tom Gutteridge Columnist

Article excerpt

WE'D love you to write a weekly column for us, said Brian Aitken, the editor of The Journal.

What on earth about? Anything you like, he said. Yourself, your famous friends in Los Angeles, your new life in rural Northumberland. Then he added, rather unkindly: You'll probably run out of material after a few months, maybe a year. That was in October 2007, exactly six years ago. 300 columns later, here I am, still prattling on about random things that I hope may amuse the odd reader.

In the process, I've penned well over 200,000 words, enough for three chunky novels.

During this time, my old friend and colleague Erika Leonard turned roughly the same number of words into a trilogy called 50 Shades of Grey.

She now has as many million dollars in the bank as I have friends on Facebook, but she's still one of them and occasionally says she enjoys reading my blog, the repository for all these columns I've written over the years.

I'm sorry my writing hasn't been as spicy as hers, but I don't think that's what Brian Aitken intended when he asked for something stimulating for the discerning Journal reader on Monday mornings.

Erika's life has been transformed by her writing. Me? I've just enjoyed sharing some personal experiences during my time back in my home region.

I've had the odd rant: from the state of Northumberland's potholed roads, to the disrespect with which London politicians and broadcasters treat the North East. The increasing north-south divide has been a recurring theme, but I've also written about Newcastle United, the Olympics, inefficient, ugly windfarms that are destroying our beautiful landscape, the lack of decent road links to Scotland and the stupid and dangerous No-Car lanes in Newcastle. You've politely listened (or turned the page) while I've mused on solutions for Libya, Pakistan and Israel, immigration and education.

Together we've watched the recession arrive and its effects stay with us, despite what they're saying in the London papers.

I've regularly namedropped people who have been significant milestones in my life, even if some of them have no idea how important they were to me. …

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