Since I started sitting in this room in Newcastle University they have nearly completed a whole building opposite. What an achievement. All over Newcastle we are watching buildings emerge. The new music centre down by the river looks like an alien’s head! There are hotels sprouting up everywhere for the tourists we are expecting. When I first came here there wasn’t a tourist in sight. I found it quite a relief, as I came from Winchester, where there were too many tourists. I was watching the film ‘Get Carter’ with my daughter, and it was all about that old Newcastle, with shabby bars and alleys, and concrete, and hard desolate landscapes. When I first got to Newcastle I went down by the quayside, with the bridges towering over your head, and the river full of rubbish, and it felt dangerous and brilliant at the same time.Like a dreamt up city. I knew I would never live anywhere else. I think alot of people feel like me at the moment…a kind of nostalgia for something that’s disappearing so fast we can hardly remember what it was, mixed with pride at the indisputable beautiful bridge and the sheer ambition of the city.
I went to my friend Tom Shakespeare’s wedding on Saturday. I have only been to three weddings in my life, but this was easily the best. It was a quaker do..which means that people stand up when moved to say things and there is no formality. It was extremely moving. It made the C of E look very pretentious and unimaginative. Tom was marrying a woman from Australia who was bravely moving from Melbourne to Hebburn. They looked so perfect for each other. Afterwards we drank champagne and danced. Small children raced about, as they always do at weddings, and older people shook their bodies vigourously. Usually I feel rather cynical at weddings, but I felt completely full of goodwill towards the human race.