Tag Archive: Newcastle

Iggy at Hammersmith

I’ve been (and still am!) busy over the last few months moving house and otherwise making a new life for myself.  Despite this, I did find time to go a see an event that I never thought would happen

– James Williamson & Iggy Pop playing on stage together-

  • for the first time in 30 years
  • since Williamson got hepatitis, simultaneously cured himself of drugs, got fed up with musical rejection and went to pursue a carreer in electronics.
  • Iggy plodded on.
Iggy Pop by Alistair Campbell

The World's Forgotten Boy

I never rejected the music.  It’s always been there at top.  A talisman for me, if you like.  I even got a friend to paint a picture for me which has hung proudly in my house!  Ha Ha.

Anyway, this is the first two tracks (Raw Power immediately followed by Search & Destroy) of the show on the 3rd May, 2010.  And it was loud – really, very loud.  It was like a pure homage for many people there.

It was recorded on my Panasonic Lumix TZ7 which performed very well sonically (i.e. no distortion despite the extreme loudness) and fairly well visually….

The trouble with the video was that I didn’t have time to “prime” the autofocus at it’s maximum zoom to the range of the stage.  Instead, the band shot on stage with no warning and then the autofocus kept getting fooled by all the hands in the air, etc.  Add to that the fact that I nearly got knocked over when “Search & Destroy” kicks off…..

Still, it’s still pretty good, and excellent in HD on full screen played through decent speakers or headphones!  Ab-so-fucking-loot-ly!

Strange Wistful Yearning

When the band finally left the stage, Iggy was last to leave and then popped out for a minute to thank everyone for being there.  I swear that he was almost in tears with the realisation, perhaps, that the end of this life was near and that he’d finally “made it” into some sort of acceptance.

…or something like that.  It’s hard to describe, but it certainly wasn’t a normal cheerio that I’ve seen before.


More like the end of all the “Dirt” in his life.  I saw The Ig do this at the Newcastle Mayfair around about 1979 and it was one of the finest things I’ve ever seen – the tears were streaming down my face.

But at the end of that show, Iggy just finished like an old pro.  The end on the 3rd May was different, very much so.

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Tough Old Geordie

Strangely post on October 6th, 2009
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Gordon Moore's Bonk

Gordon Moore's Bonk

Like a metal mickey, old Geordie Gordon Moore (no, not him of Intel and his ‘law’) has astounded the medical profession with the recent discovery that a big hole in his head has grown back under the protective metal plate that was inserted to fill the gap.  (see the story here: Man grows new skull after horror car crash from the Newcastle Chronicle)

The thing that got me though, is that Gordon seems to be a bit of a disaster merchant, seeking thrills and escaping continuously….

  • He went to Iraq as a tourist when the war was still on!
  • He ran an offy, in Gateshead!
  • He ran a post office, in North Shields!

As if these aren’t dangerous enough, in his early life he crashed his car and got the metal plate in his head for his trouble.

A short while after, he crashed his car again and bent the metal plate in his head!!!

The question that’s bothering me and is the one you should be asking yourself is,

Would I get in a Car with Gordon Moore driving?

After all, he’s alright – but what about if you’re standing next to him?  I tell you, Ozzy Osbourne’s boy, Jack, has got nowt on this guy Gordon Moore.

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Colony Holidays and Tubby the Tuba

Colony Holidays

 I’ve just had a hit from someone looking for Colony Holidays…  Sooo I’d better write this down fast!  I’ve been meaning to do it for a while.

Typical ATE Centre (Bredenbury Court, an original Colony Holiday location)

Typical ATE Centre (Bredenbury Court – my first one!)

A few years back I fished around on the web to find out what had happened to the CCHS, Council of Colony Holidays for Schoolchildren.  I wanted my final child to have a crack at it.   I found it had morphed into ATE by getting in touch with Chris in his last tenure of office, but to my eternal chagrin, all my kids have now grown up and missed the benefit of a Colony Holiday like I did, something that I went on half-a-dozen times when I was at school.  The last child never made it and is now too old….

I’ve just read this article in the Telegraph which describes the organisation and all the real fun and confidence that children get from it.  True, my children had their times at our local council’s place, Kilve Court Residential Educational Centres, but when I visited – well it just wasn’t the same.

It lacked the joie and the vivre.  The madcap antics and bizarre quests.  The nutty tunes, most of which I can remember, and the practical tasks and games.

Tubby the Tuba

Chris Green (Tubby the Tuba) - an original from the Council for Colony Holidays for SchoolchildrenChris Green is a genius, and a very hands on genius at that!  He’s now 74-ish I suppose.  The picture is taken on our beloved Malvern Hills back in 2006.

I spent many a time up there on bizarre hunts and quizzes.  In total I went to;

  • Bredenbury Court
  • The Abbey (Little Malvern/Malvern Wells) – 4 weeks at that one, the best year of my life.
  • Ramsey, Isle of Man (forgotten the name)
  • Inverliever Lodge, Argyll

I think I had one other but it’s slipped my mind.

The important thing, I now realise, is the amount of work that Chris Green did.  The centres were dotted all over the country, and usually three or four were on the go concurrently – all summer if need be.  I think at the peak, maybe seven centres were running at the same time.  You could tell this from the catalogue.

Someone once said to me, “Hey.  I bet Chris Green is coming.  He always comes to every camp.  He makes sure of it.”

I said, “Who’s Chris Green?”

He said, “It’s the guy that runs it.  He’s Tubby the Tuba and nobody is supposed to know!!!”

It was at this point I realised that I had indeed seen Tubby the Tuba running over the Malvern Hills to British Camp, hiding (not very well) in bracken and heather around Inverliever Lodge, and yes, even on the Isle of Man.  True, he’d be doing his checks, staff and all, but it was the effort that I noticed at that point.

When I say Tubby the Tuba – it really was the same man, dressed almost head to toe in stiffened gold foil, face hidden, arms poking out the side, hands playing the valves at front, making muffled farty noises as he passed on the next clue.

The ramblers and holidaymakers didn’t know what to say…  it was just sooo funny.  A bit like Gert Frobe in “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines” – but covered in a gold tuba costume, of course!

So hats off to Chris Green and Tubby the Tuba.  A life well spent!

Nutty Tunes

When I get time, I’ll write some ‘lyrics’ out here and try and get the tune out as an mp3 to give a taste of them.  I well remember doing the tongue-twisting ‘Poor Old Man Crossing the Road’, ‘Old Abram Brown’ and others on the platform of New Street Station on the way home with my new found friends.  Then, as the journey lengthened, the party would get smaller and the volume quieter until eventually there was only me in Newcastle.

I’d stop singing then.

It gets a bit daft singing “steam engine with a chimney that sends smoke signals to Ceylon” repetitively on the 403 back to Ashington.

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Who’s Street View is Flawed?

Following on from the Google Street View roll-out, two issues have popped up – again;

  1. People’s privacy on the streets vis-a-vis a commercial organisation like Google
  2. People’s privacy on the streets vis-a-vis government organisations like local councils

For the first, the self-appointed guardian “Privacy International” have made an official appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office to shut down the service.  My view is that when you are in a public place, you should behave in a right and proper manner.  It’s your responsibility.  If you behave badly, whose fault is it – yours!

Having a camera photograph you in a fuzzy, non-targeted way is no different to having the hundreds of people who see you as passers-by as you walk down the street.  If you are embarrassed by the photo the surely, you’d be embarrassed by the gaze of your fellows?

So I’m afraid I’m with Google on this one.  Obviously there are exceptions, and Google will react very fast, but as Google said:

“The truth is that this is an empty and entirely predictable publicity stunt by an organisation that is far from impartial when it comes to the issue of Google and privacy” – said a spokesperson.  And that’s it – Privacy International have some very peculiar ideas when it comes to Phorm, for instance.

For the second issue, we find that since 2000, the number of organisations allowed to view detailed CCTV tracking videos and photos, intercept phone calls and emails etc, has ballooned from nine to nearly 800!!!   This is the dreadful RIPA and it’s ramped up fellow fiends against freedom, the imprisonment without trial laws etc. that we are now accustomed to…    …and which I predict in a few years will make this land no longer fit for heroes to live in.

We now find that any Tom,Dick or Harry council clerk with an axe to grind can tap your phone, get you sacked or worse without even leaving their office.  Averaged out across the country, there are about eight such fellows with these rights in each council.

Now remember that these eight will have partners and friends.   Now recall that we have “60,000 individuals trained in ‘terror’ prevention” (vigilantes) and you can see how an expanding miasma of corruption and consequent nepotistic clubmanship could spread across the land, all helped with easy spying technology.

It’s already started.  Read the links below.

This is wholly different to having a street snapshot at one moment in time, which is what Google Street View is.  Don’t get confused by the people who mush all aspects of photography and video into one thing – they’re not.  It’s how you do it and how they are used.

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Duffy’s Cut, Snow, US Medicare, Throckrington and The Welfare State

Highlighting the Differences in Public Health provision, the Attitudes to Death and Responsibilities of the State and the Individual to Public Welfare.

The title is the biggest bit – trust me.


This takes us from today’s news from America and the Duffy’s Cut project to a tiny hamlet in Northumberland, England, called Throckrington.

Duffy’s Cut Project – link

Duufy's Cut Mass GraveLast Friday, 20/3/2009, some archaeologists in Pennsylvannia, USA, dug up some bones of Irish labourers whose bodies had been unceremoniously dumped next to the railway line they were digging after they died, probably from cholera.  There were 57 of them.

This is a big thing for Americans! Despite the almost ubiquitous death penalty in that country and the hugely expensive but ineffective health care system (certainly if you’ve no insurance), and despite the twin foundations of that place being built upon the ideas of “the self” and “hand-on-heart god bless America”, this team of people on the Duffy’s Cut Project are spending hundreds of man-hours in a search for truth and to give the almost anonymous people some sort of decent burial, 175 years after the event.

Maybe there’s some sort of change happening after the excesses of the Bush era and the collapse and then public rescue of financial institutions and global businesses?  It’s almost a Welfare State!  Almost socialist!  Maybe they’ll move on to properly interring some of the tens of thousands of Native Americans killed in the various massacres during the colonial push?

Dr John Snow – link, link

Dr JohnSnowHe’s described variously as the ‘father of epidemiology’ and ‘the greatest doctor that ever lived’.  Probably rightly so.

Snow witnessed at first hand the arrival of Cholera into the UK in Sunderland in 1831 and it’s subsequent spread to Newcastle.  While having an annual mortality rate of ~5%, in an epidemic most deaths occur within a week or so, which made it particularly appalling in Newburn near Newcastle and down the Sandhill in Newcastle-on-Tyne itself.

Thousands died within weeks in the crowded streets in an area not much bigger than a football pitch.  Sandhill is just to the west of the famous Tyne Bridge.  It’s a hill up to Dean Street which is actually a culverted stream/sewer.  An original report on the 1832 epidemic is here (pdf file).

Whittle Dene FiltersBroad Street PumpBecause of this and subsequent events (e.g. the Broad Street epidemic now commemorated with a pump memorial) , Snow pushed for clean water for people to drink, actions that could either be provided by enlightened wealthy individuals or by the intervention and provision by the State.  That is, public welfare by the State.

In Newcastle, the first proper water supply came from Whittle Dene, and the (since expanded) ‘Whittle Dene Filters’ can still be seen next to the Military Road.   Since that time, hardly anyone has died from Cholera in Newcastle, a horrible way to go since you literally shit yourself to death.


See more images and a map here

Images © Copyright Phil Thirkell and Richard Young and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Throckrington is a teeny-tiny place set in the ‘Wilds of Wanney’ in Northumberland.  It has a cute little church and a farm that straddles both sides of the little cattle-gridded road.  It’s truly one of the most wildly tranquil and beautiful places on the world.

Yet just to the west of the Church are a few bumps in the sheep-grazed grass.  These are the remnants of the former village that was ravaged by a later Cholera epidemic, in 1847). (This is subsequent to the one witnessed by Snow in Newcastle).  The Cholera was brought by a returning sailor who’d passed through Newcastle.  The village was completely wiped out!

Remarkably, standing in the Churchyard, gazing out across this former village, if you cast your eyes down over the western tombstones in the churchyard, you’ll find one belonging to Lord Beveridge( and his wife), surveying the glorious western vista for eternity.

The Welfare State

William Beveridge as he was, was commisioned by the WW2 wartime UK government to produce a report which became known as ‘The Beveridge Report‘.  This laid the foundations for something that became known in Britain as the Welfare State and the National Heath Service (NHS).  And quoting from Wikipedia:

The Report to the Parliament on Social Insurance and Allied Services was published in 1942. It proposed that all people of working age should pay a weekly national insurance contribution. In return, benefits would be paid to people who were sick, unemployed, retired or widowed. Beveridge argued that this system would provide a minimum standard of living “below which no one should be allowed to fall”.

It recommended that the government should find ways of fighting the five ‘Giant Evils’ of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness. This led to the setting up of the modern Welfare State (the culmination of the Fabians’ project) with a National Health Service (NHS):

19.Plan for social security : XI.Medical treatment covering all requirements will be provided for all citizens by a National Health Service organised under the health departments and post-medical rehabilitation treatment will be provided for all persons capable of profiting by it.


It’s a long way coming, but it demonstrates the Buddhist principle of ‘the connectedness of all things’ and also the benefits of working altruistically for the common good, sometimes against huge peer pressure.   This last is part of something called the Noble Eightfold Path by Gautama Buddha, that is;

  • right view,
  • right intention,
  • right speech,
  • right action,
  • right livelihood,
  • right effort,
  • right mindfulness,
  • right concentration. .

Dr Snow had many obstacles to his now accepted theory on disease transmission from his fellow medical professionals.  Beveridge likewise had much opposition, only the arrival of WW2 made it happen.  An earlier Clinton presidency failed at making Welfare reforms.  There are some odious vested interests out there!

Yet despite it’s many curses, failures and problems, the UK still has it’s NHS, welfare provision, and public water supplies.  The population of the country is extremely healthy and despite complaints, are considerably better off than that prior to 1845.

The USA under Obama has plans to considerably reform ‘medicare’ and the costly private healthcare insurance system that leaves vulnerable people worse off and yet costs much more per capita than the UK’s NHS.  Let’s hope they do it right and fix all the other iniquities that have bedevilled that place.

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