Sunday, 26 March 2017

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

You Might Find The Other Half

You Might Find the Other Half Keywords: o Asperger, o obsession, o compulsion, o memories, o odd, o personality, o coldness, “Look at him, he has everything arranged like a regiment of soldiers!” Mam was speaking about dad. We didn`t know at the time that he had Asperger`s Syndrome, a higher functioning kind of Autism. We certainly knew that he was obsessive, compulsive, you name it. The behaviour was put down to him being “odd”. Kilner jars stood on top of the bread bin, the first full of sugar packets gathered from various cafés, the second held ill gotten sachets of mayonnaise, horseradish sauce and the third jar contained objects that baffled us all. As he loved jam tarts, after each one he folded the silver circle container into three and popped it into jar three. Regularly mam gathered up all of his carrier bags, which he also collected. They were found stuffed in drawers, bin liners and cupboards. She dealt with the fallout later when he discovered their absence. These were minor habits, the apparent coldness or lack of interest was more difficult to handle. When his sister died, the news came to him when he was watching Tv. Mam had rushed to see the family. Dad`s comment stunned everyone. “I was going to go too, but it was the last episode of Get Some In.” As a child of eight, I didn`t understand the arguments which usually began with: “Where have you put…..?” or “What has happened to…?” The memory of a disagreement which will never leave me was on a day to the seaside at Cullercoats Bay near the lifeboat station. A difference of opinion had arisen. Mam flounced off to another part of the beach wearing her bathing suit with a towel wrapped half around her. Dad hauled himself up onto a surrounding wall. I found a small crab among the rocks and offered it to him to cheer him up. He took the crab, found an old corned beef tin in a nearby bin, put the crab inside and nipped tight the rim. He buried the tin in the sand. Each time I made a move to rescue the doomed creature, he stopped me. “Leave it, it`s trapped like me!” The tide came in and I couldn`t tell where it was. It was my fault for having shown it to him. I went along with dad to the park, swimming in the sea or for long walks. We rolled down the grassy banks together, but when I grew tired, he often rolled down a few times more. At the time, I imagined that he was taking me out for the day. My brother was born some years later and he summed it all up by saying. “I realised that I was tagging along with him. When I didn`t want to go to the places he liked, he went on his own anyway.” Mam endured the marriage by having her own life. She interacted with family and friends and he was happy to leave her to it. He often asked her out to the cinema on Friday nights, she agreed, then he would hide the newspaper or some other thing. “I don`t know, I ask you out and you move my things, this is what I get!” To which, she would reply “It doesn`t matter, I`m not going.” This suited dad down to the ground, he would have a night out on his own and save money into the bargain. A friend of mine once asked me why he would do this. I answered “I suppose it`s a bit like those kids you remember from school who empty a packet of sweets into their pocket. So, when they offer you one, you refuse and they get them all to themselves.” I wouldn`t want anyone to think that I had a miserable childhood. I remember the times when dad taught me to draw, when he made me a sledge and a bogey, how he cracked hazelnuts and would pop them into my mouth. He loved to sing and dance. He just wasn`t aware of others feelings sometimes, not his fault really. The marriage lasted for twenty nine years before she finally left him. He continued to enjoy his pass times, swimming, drawing and dancing. Dancing,...although it means interacting with people, dad could ask someone up for one dance without any commitments. Line dancing suited him just fine. He wore his cowboy hat with tie underneath the chin and a silver medallion around his neck which hung from a leather string. The last year of his life was spent in a care home, he suffered dementia. We have a photograph showing him sitting in a chair near the lift and there is a pink carrier bag stuffed under the cushion peaking out at us. When we cleared his flat, we found dozens of tapes on which he recorded stories, songs, jokes and little messages to my brother. They were carried out in three languages, he knew German, Italian and French. When he listened to one, my brother said: “I can remember seeing him recording stuff when I was a kid. He always turned it off when I came into the room. Such a shame that he didn`t feel able to talk to me like he did to the tape.” Now that he`s gone and I can look back on his life, I wonder if it would have made any difference had we known about Asperger`s. Would we have been any the wiser? Would we have thought of him any differently. As a family, we all have our happy memories of dad. How he volunteered to help paint St Mary`s lighthouse at Whitley Bay when he was seventy eight years old. He rode from Newcastle on his push bike with his favourite decorating brush and a pair of dark blue overalls tied to the back with a piece of string. The time when he bought a pair of flip flops to take on holiday, didn`t like the way they flipped off and on his feet, so he bought the thickest, whitest elastic and attached it to “Keep them on” At Christmas, when we all received our cards and asked: “Which language is yours in, mine`s in French?” When he found half a snooker cue in the back lane, gave it to my son and said “Here, keep this, you might find the other half.” He once bought a very thin long spoon from a charity shop even though he had a drawer full of the things. We arrived at the flat to witness dad wielding a small saw, hacking through the handle of the spoon. My husband, David, offered to carry out the task. This took over fifteen minutes to hack through it. David asked dad to bring a file, he spent another five minutes smoothing the handle. Dad took the newly formed spoon to the kitchen and we heard him going through the motions making a cup of tea. He brought the cup through, with less than a quarter of an inch peeping above the rim. “It`s too big!” It`s nine years since dad passed away, my brother and I were there with him. We had alot to think about. And while Asperger’s isn’t classed as an illness, it’s on the autism spectrum, the effects on us as a family, at times resulted in depression, anxiety, confusion or as a threat to our well being. I believe that wherever he is now, he`s wandering around till his heart`s content. This person who was once a childlike being trapped in a man`s body, who was waiting to escape is free to be who he is.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Krista Puranen Wilson(Lady Koo) Birthday and screening of her film Jaakon Matkassa

Great birthday celebration for Krista at Tyneside Bar Cafe. We all enjoyed Deb's lovely home made cake and watching the film which featured Krista singing in her band, showing a fellow Finnish director around Newcastle and into her home. She took him to her art studio and they discussed art, vintage clothing and design.

Arthur Joseph Young 24/2/2015

My grandchild was due on the 17th February and the little treasure turned up on the 24th on my birthday. Best present ever. Arthur Joseph Young.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Tyneside Bar Cafe (Newcastle upon Tyne)

I'm proud to say that I was the first customer when Tyneside Bar Cafe opened last year on Friday 22nd August. I celebrated with a glass of Presecco with pal Ashley Phillips and Craig Puranen Wilson who is the Programmer/Producer of the venue.

Since then I have enjoyed Electrobella nights hosted by Andrew Belshaw, taken advantage of the free films on offer and the food. During the day when I visit, my favourite is the salmon and cream cheese bagel, a reunion with some lasses from my teens - we ate the scrummy toasties. But last night, me and pal Olya headed to Tyneside Bar Cafe for a meal and to take part in our first quiz there. 

The staff are young, vibrant and friendly in this trendy venue. The beautiful auburn haired Laura took our order and bubbly, pretty Gemma brought our food, checking that everything was ok.

Olya ordered a starter Grilled black pudding with poached egg and hollandaise sauce. For her main - Shallots and caramel tart tatin with blue cheese. The photo shows how beautifully presented her meal was. Another of my favourite foods here are the Smoked haddock fish cakes with creamed leeks and fries. Instead of your ordinary shaped fish cakes, the chef creates balls of crunchy coating with tasty filling. I shared Olya's salad from her starter, crunchy and tasty. When my sweet arrived, sorbet, there were four of them!  Gemma had the foresight to bring two spoons. Delicious.

The quiz was great fun, Music and Movies.  There were five rounds, the first being to recognise photos of performers on screen,  We didn't do too bad - 6 points out of ten. I was amazed that at 63 years of age, I actually recognised Axl Rose! (Can't take credit for it though as my son once had a T shirt with him on the front) Carmen Miranda, Seal, Shakira, Lou Reed and Peter Sarstedt (Got an extra point for spelling his name correctly) We puffed ourselves up when we were awarded 12 points for the next round which was to listen to a piece of music, name the song and singer. However, we were slapped back down for the third - a big fat Zero.  Next time I attend a quiz will make a point of joining forces with a young team who know all of the current music trends. There was a composers/musicals section, lyrics to recognise, all very well organised.  Unfortunately, I had to leave at 10.45 for my bus, don't think we won anyway. But I will be brushing up on my general knowledge for the next one to take advantage of the prizes of free cinema tickets and food.

Photo: Olya Bowers enjoying her meal.


Tele: 0191-2275522

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Monday, 29 December 2014

Should Auld Aquaintance.......and Auld Lang...... Thingy...Syne

December is coming to a close and the Grainger Market book is nearly there. Around forty interviews and only a few to check for errors. I'm working with Juan Fitzgerald, photographer and there are excellent portrait shots, people at work and more artistic photos. Musicians Steve Daggett and Jim Hornsby have both written songs of their memories, John Grundy has agreed to write the introduction, Vanessa Heston editor and David Hepworth of Tyne Bridge Publishing are making links with Tyne and Wear Museums. As the market is celebrating its 180 year history in 2015 we are working with Dr Keith Armstrong on interviews which he carried out in the seventies and looking at his poems on traders. This is where my free bus pass comes in handy, I jumped the 28 bus to Beamish and used the resource centre where I discovered some excellent photos which I can use. The staff are really helpful and can advise on certain pics which need copyright approval. K's hen party at the Town Wall was full of surprises. We were split into groups of five and given a bag of toilet rolls each to "dress" one of our group in a paper wedding dress, pass the parcel with shot glasses, quiz and good food and drinks. I decided to keep fit before the xmas festivities began so joined a tap dance class for beginners at Dance City After a long break from performance I enjoyed reading at Telling Tales at Blakes Cafe which was hosted by Jeff Price. Enjoyed listening to other contributors such as Olya Bowers, Simma, Pauline Plummer, Aidan Clarke' Jeff Price and open mic slots available. Another good evening of drama at the Black Gate by Suspect Productions, a bit nippy in there this time of year but everyone brought their own food and booze, so very soon it wasn't an issue! Diesel Therapy were great at the Cluny, haven't been there for ages and one of my new year resolutions is to get back to listening to live music more often in 2015. Xmas lunch with family at eldest son's home. It's a real cooperative, we supplied the ham and champers,E's mother C set down a delicious turkey and chocolates, E&G cooked the vegetables and prepared prawn cocktails. My daughter in law's sister K looked amazing in her beautiful dress. The wedding at Doxford hall was perfect, live music from Hip Operation, a really bluesy rock band. To round off the month I am now at younger son and daughter in laws P & B's home in Bedfordshire and will enjoy a chill out time (they won't allow me near the sink) B was grappling a saucepan from her mothers hands when I arrived from St Pancras earlier today. But I think between us we can run rings around her. S & D are playing chess, and even though D sometimes can sit for half an hour plotting his strategy, S always wins. I'm updating this blog which hasn't been touched for around eight months, so keeping up with entries will be my second resolution and for a third on the list, I vow to finish things during next year. Hence I have brought a batik with beads which has been on the hoop for months, 9x9 inch knitted squares (of which I have to date completed 39) I need around 60 which will form a throw when done. I also have 250 cotton patchwork squares which lie in an old whisky box. It drives me nuts knowing that I have started these items and they all seem to scream "finish me now!!!" I promise not to start craft projects until I have sewn up, knitted Or clagged together before starting new ones! This also goes for books, but I won't even bother to resolve this issue as I know that this is not possible. I am reading three at the same time at the moment. Attended my first People's Assembly this week, brilliant idea. Donatiobs of food and clothing are collected to give to the homeless and crisis centres, cakes and biscuits are made, tea and coffee served, we sang songs with a live band, watched comedy sketches, listened to poetry and stories. Held at the Stand Comedy Cafe in town. The children created drawings, wrote stories and created a gingerbread house. Definitely will be back in January. Also, it's a great place to bring clothing which I have bought and never worn......see, two more resolutions.... Clear out and recycle.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Divine Trash at Star and Shadow

Get me to the church on time

Bloke and his other at the bus stop last night, he was pissed and she wasn`t. Him "Wassa marra wi yi...wassa marra.... wassa marra wi yi?" Her "Nothing!" Him "Wassa marra...wassa marra like....can yi tell is wassa marra?" Her (Silence) Him "Di yi wanna chip?" This continued on the journey. Has no one ever told him that when a woman answers "Nothing" that there is bloody something "the marra" And I would hazard a guess that it was him being a complete and utter monkey. Another great night at Hot words at the Chilly last night, packed, although Barry West`s new art installation at Newcastle Arts Centre and spoken word event clashed. Would have been standing only if that hadn`t been on. Good to headline with Jeff and Eve, haven`t read my poems for a while and the short story went down well. Jeff Price is experimenting with a new project for Radikal Words and will be showing at Blakes Café, a great venue for spoken word. This one will be 5 minutes to tell a tale on Crime and Punishment. Which reminds me, my pal Lorna Windham launches her new book on the subject in November at South Shields Library, her third in the series. I`m still battling with my new one on the Grainger Market, only eight interviews in so far and need around 30 to represent most trade genres. New job is going well. After my eighteen month contract for the reader organisation ended I could only see myself working on the odd reminiscence session and the book, but when the offer came I really wanted to give this a try. Originally meant to be nine hours a week but sometimes its sixteen and others twenty two, but that`s the nature of the work and it`s great working in so flexible an environment. Sometimes with different team members, but we are at a range of venues each session, sometimes schools, community centres and outdoors. We take a range of healthy foods, peppers, tomatoes, onions, beans,fruit and herbs etc, work with parents, children and the elderly encouraging them to join in making healthy options. There are talks on diabetes, food hygiene, portion sizes and nutrition. Events are well attended and we offer crafts and storytelling at some venues. Big Cook/Little Cook is a great project, the parent cooks with their child, photos are taken and put into a journal of the course for the family to keep complete with recipes and craft work. Books are selling well since the Chronicle asked to sell them. The advertising is an extra benefit. Dave Morton, editor has asked me to write a piece for a new supplement on the West End, so that is done and ready to go. Star and Shadow hosted a brilliant event organised by Divine Trash. We watched a really cheesy film which was good fun as the audience was shouting out. Then competitions for the best dressed, performance etc. Some fantastic outfits, well done all. Looking forward to Sheena Revolta`s next do - Crispin Hellion Glover`s Big Slide Show Plus What is It? and Bella Duvall will be hosting. Simma has his new album launch for Lychnobite at Central Bar in Gateshead. The wedding of my son G to E went brilliantly. Started off the week having our gel nails done. Friday night, me, E, her mother, sister and bridesmaid stayed at Newton Hall. We had three rooms which were all joined together by connecting doors. It was massive, the main room had a corner sofa, marble table and chairs and a door which led to a beautiful garden and views beyond. We went out for an evening meal and prepared for the wedding next day. E had bought us all goody bags with bracelet, chocolates and fun presents. There was also a wine glass each, engraved with Mother of the Groom, Bride, Bridesmaid and sister. The champagne was flowing. Next day E was so excited for the ceremony to begin at 1.30, she woke everyone to go for a walk on the beach! We donned our overcoats over pyjamas and drove down to the bay. The sky was a fantastic colour and the cobwebs were blown away. Fabulous ceremony, I read my poem which E had chosen for me. The hall, food, rooms and gardens are fab. Taking a look at where everyone was staying, wow!!! Stayed on another night, half of the guests left at 12 on a bus laid on for town and around 40 stayed over. Next day we went to Newton beach for another walk, wonderful. The Jingling Gate later on Sunday, but only around fifteen there as everyone else seemed to be bushed. The couple went off to Venice for honeymoon and arrived back yesterday. Can`t wait to see the photos. Course, not sure if I will ever have gel nails done again! It was a bugger to get them off. We were advised not to use ordinary nail polish remover, but neat acetone. "Dip you fingers in a cup full" my skin turned white and I didn`t trust it not to wear my finger ends down to the stumps, so tried rubbing it off with a cotton ball. Wound up picking the bloody things off, which took me best part of fifteen minutes and the surface of my nails feels decidedly furry. Nope, think I will stick to my Sally Hanson clear, and one coat only.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Money for Nothing and Chicks for Free

At last the third book in the series is now finished and out of my hair. The launch went well with 65 people attending and a sell out event at Central Library for my part in the Books on Tyne event. Since the Evening Chronicle requested my publisher to supply them with all three, sales are going extremely well. Now for the next project in the new year which is The Grainger Market. I have spoken to civic centre staff who are really supportive. Looking forward to meeting new people, Taking photos and working with artist Paul Goldsmith who has offered to supply his art work for the front cover and illustrations. It`s been busy the past few weeks meeting up with old pals. The Station Hotel offers a three course lunch for £10, so we took advantage of this for a couple of get togethers and afterwards at one of our favourite haunts, Las Iguana`s. Have four of my drawings and batik silks in Laughing Cat Café in town. The café supports local artists and a few of us, who have had exhibitions here, have been given 3-4 spaces for the next couple of months. When a piece is sold, we can replace. I`ve sold one so far and have two new ones on the go. I`m ashamed to say that I spent my first time at Derwent reservoir this month. Work started here in 1960 and there`s something quite spooky to know that cottages once stood on the spot where this teeming mass resides now. I stayed with an old school pal in her parents cottage for a few days and we drove there to walk. We were lucky enough to witness the decent of a flock of Canadian Geese which was amazing. A few gorgeous black bulls became very nosey at out approach and a delightful bullock accepted our offer of fresh grass. Why have I left it so long to visit here? We walked for four miles and I loved every minute. My new year resolution? A group of us attended the Richard Burton Diaries lecture at Newcastle Unversity. It was excellent and focused more on Burton`s academic life rather than going over old ground with Lizzy. Afterwards we called in to Quilliam Brothers Tea Rooms at Haymarket. It wasn`t a cold night and no ice to be seen, but I cut through Eldon Square on my way through town, slipped and fell flat on my back. Luckily I was wearing my haversack and it broke my fall. The only thing I can think of where this ice came from was from the overwatered plant stands which were in the shadow of the George and Dragon statue. My camera would usually be in my back pack, but I had been using it at an event earlier that day and it was in my shopping bag. In the past, I might have moaned regarding my sore wrist and embarrassment, but now that I`m getting older I`m so grateful that I didn`t knock myself out or break something! I supported my friend and fellow writer, James Fisher by reading at his book launch of Downstream, Andrew Belshaw provided his own photos to illustrate the book. A group of us also read at the Literary and Philosophical Society to raise funds for the Phillipines, wittily named The Lit and Phillipines, over £200 was raised and we all enjoyed mulled wine and cakes. Another excellent event was held by the Heaton History Group at the Corner House on the Cullercoats Fish Wives. The team who delivered the talk complimented it with slides, clog dancing, poems and singing. Keith Fisher`s new book Castle on the Corner was available for sale and will be of great interest to residents and ex residents of the Heaton area who want to discover the history of Heaton Hall Estate and the secrets of King John's Palace. The book is made up of photos, drawings, maps and a very well written historical and social account of this area. Xmas lunch - for the fourth year running at eldest son`s home with a houseful of adults and kids. Looking forward to the day. Have applied for my state pension and free bus pass. Because the dates have changed from automatically receiving said funds at age 60 have changed, I have had to wait 1 year and 10 months before being in receipt. I apreciate that there has to be a cut off point, but surely if a body has paid into the system for over 40 years this should figure? A woman only need have contributed 35 years of full stamp to obtain full pension, so why discriminate with state pension and bus pass by setting unrealistic dates? Women who have had children and received family allowance will have had 15 years of full stamp already paid for them, so I suppose there is some justice here, but we certainly get nothing for free. Poster in West End Library

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Fat, Hiking Hillbilly

After watching a programme on the 10 creatures David Attenborough would save from extinction I was taken by a little fella, a Solenodon. I keyed in the name, hoping to see some photographs, spelled the way I half heard it - Selenodon - and pages of Celine Dion stuff came up. This has been happening on my mobile, due to too fast typing and it`s amusing to see what the spell check intercepts. Keyed in fast wrongly - fatty. Hiking - hillbilly. I want to shout at it "I didn`t mean that!" Must switch off predictive text. I digress, the Solenodon - a rat like ant eater looking creature with cute ears. They live in caves most of the time, so have an albino appearance. Never seen one of these before. Also the Cane Toad - very impressive creature. The male does his bit for women`s lib as he gives birth to the young from his mouth. The egg is held in a chamber by the male in his mouth after the female has given him responsibility for the egg. It must be our age, but my spam e mails are full of casino adverts while my husband`s continue to be bombarded by viagra ads. Maybe they imagine that I am striking the slot machines to start a new life and he needs more life in...well. whatever. Mails which are more insidious are when I receive a message from a pal who I know for a fact doesn`t travel abroad. It informs me that she has been mugged in Sierra Leone and has no money to fly home, can I just pop some cash over there to help? Should have told them to try their luck on a slot machine. I can point them in the direction of countless gambling joints.

Cuts in Newcastle upon Tyne (March to Civic Centre)

Monday, 21 January 2013

Newton Hall and Hot Words at the Chilli

Must work out how to put photos in order on this site. A trip to Newton Hall with G and E and E`s mum C. We looked round the venue which is wonderful. They have booked for their wedding in April 2014. e got to see all of the rooms and my favourites are 4 and 8. 4 is a Chinese theme with a sunken bath. 8 is more traditional, but it looks out towards fields and the sea with a raised floor in a bay window and a huge stand alone metal bathin which you can sit and take in the views. We took advantage of a hog roast stottie, the lad was turning it on a spit and it was delicious. The gardens are great, but we couldn`t take advantage of a wander because of deep snow. The other pics were taken at the Chillingham Arms on Friday at Annie Moir and Aidan Clarke`s new poetry and performance event wich will take place once a month. It was quite clear when I arrived, but soon afterwards the sleet started and not wanting to be stuck over there I left early much to my annoyance. I could have kipped on Jan`s sofa as her and Johnny were drinking downstairs, she said I could have, but home I went. The next event is 15th February and it will be amazing, a great line up. Stuck in the house for the third day, but hopefully can get to the meeting at Central Library tomorrow, against the cuts. The last meeting I attended at the Old Assembly Rooms was good, Lee Hall and Anne Cleeves spoke along with Peter Mortimer and others, a really militant crowd with Ann giving a really moving talk about the people who will be affected such as the elderly. Lee Hall roused everyone with a challenge to the council, quoting figures and inspiring folks to consider camping out in the libraries.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Jazz Man Go-eth

Pleased that this bloody cold has finally gone. 10 days over xmas of enforced lethargy. I became hooked on newspapers and tv. I have aquired the box set Star Wars, Men in Black, Eat Pray Love, and Prometheus. Pal P bought me The Ascent of Man 4 disc box set, he was going to loan me his book, but thought that this would make a good present. I missed xmas dinner at my sopn G and his partner E`s house, but was cheered up by the news that he had proposed to her on the day itself. He chose the ring himself which was a complete surprise to her. Next up is a trip to Newton Hall for one of those wedding fayres. Hope the weather is ok for this Saturday! Keith Crombie "The Jazz Man" died in hospital. He will be a big miss at the club and also I will miss the chats we had in and around town. He always gave me books that he thought I could use at my reminiscence sessions, particularly Geordie stuff. He knew when the charity shops put their rubbish out and once told me that he often went to the back door of certain shops in town, when I asked him where, he said "Oh, Yvonne I can`t tell you that becasue you will go and get the good stuff" I remember one Saturday night at the cafe, when the band finished he pulled a screen up and showed Tina Turner singing Nutbush City. I enjoyed the Pink Lane Poetry and Performance nights the second Tuesday every month, a time gone by. There will never be another cafe like this one. Folks gathered outside the cafe where his cortege left for St Thomas Martyr church at Haymarket. The horses were beautiful black creatures with plumes on their heads pulling a glass coach with two coachmen, wonderful tribute to the man. Around 400 people marched behind an Orleans style band. I was on the Tyne Idols touring bus behind and managed to get some snaps of the folks. At the church there were another couple of hundred people. Afterwards at Town House for the wake, it was good to hear memories. Two bands playing and people dancing. Keith would have loved this, what a shame that a party like this couldn`t have been staged during his lifetime to honour his contribution to this city. Ordered a new batik pot, I already have the chanting, silk paints and wooden frame to stretch the silk on. I went to stay with an old school pal K who lives in Woodbridge, Suffolk for 4 days in December. She was crotcheting snoods and cushions. This inspired me to seek out a piece of silk I had held on to since the 80`s. I had been working on a Tall Ships Race wall hanging and was using a piece if silk as a tester piece for colours. Usually I would throw testers out, but for some reason, I kept this one. When I got back from my stay, I sought it out and began embroidering and sewing beads on. It just needs to be framed now. Woodbridge is a lovely place, we took trips into Aldeburgh walked on the beach, visited Seckford Hall and Lavenham. Bought some xmas presents at Snape Maltings and ate lovely home cooked food around a roaring coal fire.
Our event at Bar Loco went really well, we got dressed up and performed to a full house. Songs, comedy, burlesque and raffle. Between peformance sets I collected £27 for the raffle. Prize was a bottle of Champagne and chocolates. We didn`t get to put a show on at Pride Cafe, it will be rescheduled for later this year. Andrew Belshaw`s new photo exhibition is at Tyneside Coffee Rooms, check it out. He collaborated with writer in Residence Sheree Mack which resulted in a book launch at the Lit and Phil, great event. Next one will be on Thursday 24th Feb "Abstractions of Verse". Started a new batik today, an elephant with a monkey on it`s back, It`s meant to be Hanuman, the monkey god. I am interested in Indian art and Pre-Columbian art, will also make a representation of an Egyptian marble head. As if I haven`t enough to do, my publisher has asked if I would start a third book, Westenders 2, this really appeals to me and I have three stories already. Three interviews lined up and a visit to a Co-operators Guild, a group of women who still meet after having worked at the Co-op all their lives. I will take a group photo and one account from each person to make up a collective story. On the weather front, I am no longer afraid, I own a pair of pull on grippers for my boots and I haven`t slipped once. I scoff at folks wearing plaster casts on a leg or arm. I am turning into my mother in law "It wouldn`t have happened if you........" I watch people teetering around patches of ice, scuttling onto a piece of grass, sticking to the outskirts of the path or the road. I am striding along as my grippers slice through the ice like cheese wire, ah how liberating. Mind, I still had to drag the trolley through the snow yesterday full of random stuff on my way to hold a recycle project with families at Riverside.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Drew Berry Animations

The sights that you see when you haven`t got your gun!

First Annual Alternative Miss Loco (Andrew Belshaw hosting as Bella Duvall

Dear contestant,

thank you for entering the Alternative Miss Loco 2013 competition. Please read on for some information about the event which you will need to know if you are to be a successful applicant.

-There are 12 places available for the competition.

-To apply you must submit the attached questionnaire completed in full by 25th November 2012. (You can make the answers up if you like but try and be as entertaining as you possibly can as these question and answers will be part of your performance you will be judged on.)

-You should be available for the evening of the 14th December 2012 from 630pm.

-The costume you wear in part 1 is the costume you are judged on regardless of whether you change for your performance in part 2. Make it count!

-All catwalk and performance music should be submitted to Luke Bevan by December 13th.

-You will be judged on two parts of the evening


Catwalk - you will have the opportunity to strut your stuff on stage to the music of your selection for about 1 minute showing off your outfit and strut skills.

Questions and Answers - you will be asked some of the questions below by Miss Bella DuVall. Dont worry about remembering the answers as she will have them in front of her and she will be able to prompt you. Not all questions will be used. The most entertaining answers will be used. Be creative.


Performance - you have up to 5 minutes to do your thing. Whatever is your talent then we want to see it no matter how off the wall it is. If you are going to be performing live and need a mic then you must let Luke Bevan know so that microphones can be organised for you. If you have any other props that will be part of your performance. Please let us know as soon as possible once you have heard if you are successful in your application. This probably wont come as a shock but any performance where bodily fluids or excrement are part of it are prohibited.

Judges comment - the judges will each speak about your catwalk, outfit and performance at this stage. They may want to ask you some additional questions too.

And thats it! Your application is the questionnaire below so get it completed and returned to! And good luck!

love Bella x x x

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Las Iguanas

Audrey Guthrie`s new book (Benwell, Buses and Boxing

A good friend of mine, Audrey Guthrie will be hosting her book launch in November. The book is published by Summerhill Books (Who now has a Facebook page) This is my publisher and he will be posting photos from his publications on this site.

Thriller - Chiller

This year`s Benwell Reunion was attended by around 70 people, much down on last year`s number which was 140. At first I imagined that this would be the last year that I would organise it as the room hire has went up from £60 to £75. I didn`t think that there would be enough raised from the raffle, but it earned enough for me to book for next year. I will advertise it more widely and put posters up to attract more guests.

Began work with Youth Village this week, the staff are totally dedicated. We are working with the 13-19 year olds at various venues in Newcastle, on fields in tents!  The thought in this weather is offputting, but it has been an extremely enjoyable experience, working alongside great people who have the interests of the youngsters at heart. The theme is folklore and myths so Halloween fits right in, ghost stories, masks, cartoons and old games, sayings and Geordie jokes, my shopping trolley was fit to bust. There have been zombie dancing, to Thriller, Ghostbusters, pumpkin carving, cookery, rapping, advice on health issues, Wii games and much more was on offer. I have two more sessions to do and then next week back to my regular sessions.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Tequila Worms

Popolo`s Tequila Night

Five tequila`s to experience and Richard giving a talk on origins and history. We were given a glass to measure tequila`s and a glass of water to clean our palates after each shot. Shots were very large, so I collected an empty glass from the bar, tasted a mouthful of each one then poured the remainder into my glass. Didn`t want to end up under the table. A came in a little later, after me and J got there, so he missed most of the talk, but benefitted from my collective tequila shots as I was not going to drink that. We all dared eachother to eat the worm, yuk, when you bite into it, the little sod squirts.