Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Article excerpt


ON the other hand, I told the posh lady at the Alnwick Playhouse, there are journalists whose work I DO trust. I had been speaking at a reception for the Friends of the (truly wonderful!) Northumberland Theatre Company and obviously not putting up too convincing a case for the British press, because she was impishly minded to inquire of the Tabloid Colossus before her "whether or not one ought to believe ANYTHING one reads in the newspapers?" Certainly not everything, I told her in a moment of blinding honesty; to unquestioningly believe, for example, those right-wing commentators who insist that our government knows what it is doing would be, in my view, the political equivalent of believing Luis Suarez to be a vegetarian.

"On the other hand ..." And this was where I reeled off Banksy's most trusted: Polly Toynbee's social commentaries in the Guardian, Bob Fiske's Middle East polemic in the Independent, Andrew Norfolk's incredible and brave four-year Times campaign to uncover institutionalised child abuse in Rotherham and beyond... and last, but by no means least, The Journal's very own Secret Diner.

A shadowy figure imbued with taste and an unquenchable appetite for fine living; a fingerpost pointing the way to the best bites to be had, from Bishop Auckland to Berwick. I follow his recommendations slavishly, especially since my beloved Red Lion earned a brief complimentary mention from him a year or two back.

Reader, what I would not give to become the journalistic equivalent of Jimmy Five Bellies, but that role is taken so I have embarked on a campaign for a similar column - one with emphasis on the pious rather than the pies.

The idea was conceived when fellow columnist Bernard Trafford invited Gemma and I to a Carols and Christingle service in Kirknewton Church the Sunday before Christmas. And lo! The Sacred Diner was born.

My mission, should the editor choose to accept it, will be to surreptitiously take communion at every church in the diocese, giving marks out of ten for food (wafers trad or crinkle-cut, fundamentalist or flavoured) and quality of wine (does the vicar know which vine would best suit vespers? …

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