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Thursday 5th June

05/06/2003

A sad couple of days….Newcastle/Gateshead didn’t win the bid, which was disappointing. But I’ve been thinking about good things about not winning (being an optimist). For example, there will be less car parks, coaches,and less hyped up events, and less tourists. Probably there will be fewer bouncy castles, men in suits talking into megaphones, less fireworks which frighten dogs.There will be less property developers, and luxury flats, and we won’t have to say Capital of Culture all the time, which is a bit of a mouthful. Also, it’s always true that losers are more interesting than winners…as my daughter Florence said, look at Liberty X ! And why do we need to be picked? Why don’t we just pick ourselves and say we’re the centre of anything we like. And why are we being so competing anyway? Why can’t there be creative cities everywhere. I was thinking about how brilliant Gateshead is, the way they have just carried on doing brave arty things without needing to be approved of by anyone from the outside. That’s what I don’t like about the Brian Sewell stuff (the art critic who has been bad mouthing Newcastle Gateshead)…I mean, who cares what he thinks? He doesn’t care what we think of London. It’s a funny, complicated thing, this loyalty to places. It gets you right in your gut. It’s how wars start. Thank god we didn’t win….we would have got all jingoistic and hysterical. Let’s just get back to what we were doing anyway.

Yesterday I did a poetry reading in Gateshead for an organisation called Equal Arts, who do brilliant work connecting artists with older people. This event was part of a project called ‘Being There’ and the audience were all brought to the venue in free taxis. I was reading from Sudden Collapses In Public Places, and Maggie Thacker and Charlie Buchanan were singing and playing songs in between poems. It was a really well organised, happy event. I would definitely take part if I get old. They will be going all over the place; art galleries, music events. Tonight I am reading at central library with the poets Annie Wright and Linda France. I am getting to know the poems now, and enjoying reading them. They feel quite truthful! I always worry about poetry readings; about going on too long, or boring people. In this case the poems are all about my experiences of breast cancer and hospitals, so I hope I’m not frightening people. I really like doing evenings with music, as it changes the atmosphere.

Got to go….I’m meeting someone for lunch. I keep meaning to write a guide to cafes in Newcastle. I am an expert. Love J

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