Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tom Gutteridge Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tom Gutteridge Columnist

Article excerpt

WHEN Brian Aitken, editor of The Journal, took me to lunch and invited me to write a weekly column, he was very persuasive.

"What on earth would I write about?" I asked, flattered that anyone would ask me to contribute to such an important institution.

"Your glamorous life," he said.

"It's not remotely glamorous," I said, thinking of our windswept farmhouse. I had moved back to the region a few months earlier with my girlfriend, after 5 years in Los Angeles. Joanna and I wanted to get away from the world of entertainment to what we were convinced would be a rural idyll. It was a very hot summer when we visited on holiday - 2006, if you remember it. Jo thought this was the most beautiful place in the world. So we moved here.

Having been brought up in Northumberland and schooled in Newcastle, I'd spent the previous four decades in London and America making television programmes. Finally I was home, with big skies, noisy sheep, and mud. Particularly mud. For it transpired that 2006 was a one-off. The cold reality of Northumbrian life was now ours; glamour was no longer on the agenda.

"Just drop a few names," said Keith Hann, my ex-RGS schoolfriend who had suggested the column to Brian. "Write about all the famous people you've slept with."

"I haven't slept" I protested, then, realising that Keith knew too much, murmured: "Well, they're not that famous."

"Besides, you'll only stick it for 9 months," said Brian. "Then you'll run out of material and start to repeat yourself. All columnists recycle their stories - look at Banksy."

Then he added without a hint of irony: "Not that anyone notices, of course."

And so it began. Nearly 400 editions and a quarter of a million words later, enough for several bad novels, it's finally time to sheath the pen. Or, rather, close the Word folder. For this is my last Monday column.

As far as I know I haven't actually repeated a story, and I hope I haven't breached too many confi-dences. From Chris Evans to Amy Winehouse, David Dimbleby to Emma Thompson, I know I've namedropped for England, but you've been terribly polite by not complaining. …

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