Posts Tagged ‘Newcastle’

Sorry We Missed You, East Dulwich Picturehouse 14 November

November 15, 2019

sorry

So after I, Daniel Blake we get another tale of the deserving poor of Newcastle.

The story concerns Ricky Turner, a construction worker who turns ‘self-employed’ delivery driver and the effect the gig economy has on him, his wife Abby (employed as a carer) and his children, Seb and Liza Jane.  The lad playing Seb did an excellent impression of a schooldays friend of mine from Brotton, say 60 miles away, but then the deserving poor of the North East do not go in for much variety.  Liza Jane on the other hand was just Lisa Simpson with a spelling mistake…There were times at the beginning when the actress playing Abby seemed to be overcome with world-weariness at having to mouth such dismal platitudes…

Unlike Daniel Blake, we got a lot of how people in Newcastle talk as imagined by those who have never been there, and very few nostalgia-inducing shots of the pace itself.

The family seemed to be living in rental squalor in a run-down upstairs Tyneside flat, which already begins not to make sense–if you’ve got a family and no money it’s at least worthwhile putting your name down for a council house.  We also got to see an overcrowded A&E and the houses of various clients of Abby’s who share with her improving moments of working-class history.

The hospital was after Ricky had been attacked and robbed of his valuable packages by a group of scrotes who had come prepared with a sack to put stuff in so they must have known where he would be, but how?  Maybe ESP.  That was early in the morning when he had a full load and we got to see the hospital in the evening, yeah it makes sense.  You could ask why he wore his Man U shirt so encouraging timewasting banter when he wanted to get round quickly or what happened to the money he made when he was providing blameless service on a good route or indeed  lots of other things.

Then again I had some sympathy with the boss Evil Bastard Maloney, who unlike the others had clearly read his Marx before expounding his views on the cash (now modernised to data) nexus, but if you are really living by results rather than incarnate evil you don’t immediately crack down on somebody who has previously been a good provider.

It is probably pointless to point out that operatives who are told what to do, how to do it and when to do it would not count as self-employed for tax purposes or to complain at Seb’s obligatory Black friend (about 2% of the population  of Newcastle have at least some African ancestry, so it’s possible but very formulaic).

Apart from the caricature of life in Newcastle, the real problem is that you need to start with the characters and their relationships and then the way that external circumstances get into them if you’re going to call it a drama, otherwise make a documentary.

 

Feminist surgery and private schools

October 4, 2019

surgery

This announcement outside a private girls’ school in Newcastle made me wonder whether it represented a welcome broadening of girls’ aspirations or a further entrenching of class privilege.

The answer could regrettably be both, of course.

You could say that they may be inviting kids from all local schools (in relatively small letters).  But this is Jesmond and if there are any state secondary schools (or their pupils) in the immediate vicinity then they will be having a hard time of it.

Looking at the prices

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and list of participating institutions

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on the website leaves little room for optimism.

So you tend to think that this is just a piece of advertising aimed at well-heeled local parents, since the girls at the school will know well enough what is in prospect.  Generally in the North East you would say that limited and limiting aspirations for girls are far more of a problem than the evil that is private education, but Jesmond is different…

 

Too few and too many–I outsmart myself

February 8, 2017

tyneside

The quiz questions about this street somewhere around Heaton were:

So can you see why this street has to be:

i) in the North generally?

ii) not on Merseyside?

iii) specifically on Tyneside?

with the intended answers:

i) many burglar alarms

ii) not enough burglar alarms

iii) two front doors per ‘house’–these look like terrace houses but were built as upstairs and downstairs flats (rather than being converted) and are known as ‘Tynesiders’.

But I may have outsmarted myself there–this also looks like what’s called an ‘avenue’ locally, which means that there’s just pavement (perhaps some flowerbeds too) out the front and vehicle access is up the back alley…

Some pictures of Newcastle upon Tyne in the rain

November 5, 2016

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That’s a street running towards Bigg Market…

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The River Tyne…

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Now that’s not a bad photo

The Suppliant Women, Northern Stage Newcastle, 04 November

November 5, 2016

****

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Picture from Wear Valley Advertiser–don’t blame me if it’s from another location

 

You have to admire the sheer audacity of this production, and the attempt to make Greek drama the central event in the life of the city, the way it used to be.

As everyone knows, the basis of the story is that the 50 daughters of Danaos have fled to Argos from Egypt to claim sanctuary in their ancestral homeland (though they look foreign–it’s complicated) and avoid marriage with the 50 sons of Aiguptos, their cousins.

At the beginning, Omar Ebrahim introduced the play and a local dignitary in charge of Arts and Education who thanked the audience for providing 50% of the funding, the taxpayer for 40%, private donors for 5% before suggesting that the remaining 5% could be made up from bar takings.

The standout feature of the evening was of course the chorus of local women (well, lasses more like) who sang beautifully and danced effectively–when the chorus sang in parts accompanied by drum and aulos that really was something alien and beautiful.  We did also get to enjoy Aeschylus as a religious thinker, coming to the idea of a supreme god and the doctrine of grace without benefit of revelations in the Judaean or Arabian desert.  And as a convinced proponent of democracy–Pelasgos although king refers the decision as to what to do about the Danaids to the citizens of Argos, and  they decide, well,…

What didn’t work so well for me was the way that towards the end the adaptor David Greig after holding out valiantly could no longer resist falling into modern feminist and human-rights attitudes–Aeschylus is more complicated than that, and so is our life.  The whole point of Greek tragedy is to abstract and distance and transcend the categories of thinking they normally used (never mind us). But a production that realises the main thing is the ideas, not some sordid family misfortune, and the main way of conveying it is  the chorus is very very close to the right path.

And what daring, what audacity, what vision…