Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist[.]

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist[.]

Article excerpt

Byline: COLUMNIST DAVID BANKS

STUART the mechanic had the shifty look of a convict licking a roll-up.

"Looking on the bright side, Banksy, spring is only sixteen days away," he said with a wink. "Days out, picnics in the park, warm weather ..." His voice trailed off; he could see I wasn't happy.

"Looking on the bright side presupposes that there exists a dark side upon which you would prefer me not to gaze," I replied, loftily. "Does that mean my car's knackered?" "Only for the time being," he pleaded. "Transmission computer is faulty. A job for the main dealer, I'm afraid. Expensive..." He looked downcast, brightening only slightly to suggest yet another 'bright side': "Passed its MoT though."

Steering my lurching steed from the cheap 'n' cheerful repair shop downtown to the main dealer who charges like a wounded bull I came to the conclusion that spring is never THAT good.

Not everything changes for the better: Billy the Kid's round-theclock sheep midwifery watch keeps him out of the domino school for weeks on end while the Red Lion's new fishermen's chalets will have the landlord offering five-star service to the tourists instead of looking after the locals.

Meanwhile we have to put up with Morebottle the 'orrible arable farmer bemoaning the poor price of potatoes (just when DID potato farmers abandon the plough and an army of pickers in favour of trawling the Chicago Futures Market's website for tattie prices?) and Klondike celebrating his farm's finest cash crop as the spring winds turn his turbine vanes.

'Twas ever thus up here in Godzone. Spring always brought mixed blessings, even in the war years. The Byreman tells a great yarn about a German prisoner of war who was assigned to help a local widow tend her garden each week until he was repatriated at the end of the war in 1945.

"She said he always seemed a nice, friendly chap," the Byreman told his buddies at Goswick Golf Club. "But when her crocuses came up in the lawn in February 1946 they spelled out 'Heil Hitler'!" AFTER almost sixty-three years on the throne HRH sees her image engraved on British coinage for the fifth time and it occurs to me that no one under the age of 50 will have filled a pocket or purse with coins showing different monarchs. …

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