I don’t know what I was looking for when I first took the train a whole ten minutes North into Newcastle – billowing chimneys and red brick rows? The grim, blackened air of the 19th Century, the dark Satanic mills of the past?
What I found was a certain austerity, the cut of a Georgian facade giving way to warmth and welcoming at the slightest invocation. I crunched fresh snow into cobbled streets, perched on bridges that spanned centuries with a paper-wrapped pasty to warm my hands. I made conversation at traffic lights, in buses and corner-shop queues, drank in voiceless stops and sudden swooping dipthongs.
What I found was the wonder of wayward youth, my clan careering from haunt to haunt, raising a cup to camaraderie. The music that became me, in arenas and backstreet bars, and followed us back to a common room floor where sleep battled ringing ears.
What I found was a 4AM wonderland, lilac dawn brushing silent streets, hill-rolling, heart-rending, hope rising. We clambered along ancient walls, scuffing boots and scraping knees, rode the stone lion East. We lay side-by-side somewhere on the Tyne, neither one place nor another, laughed at the sky and felt the earth move as the day’s first commuters passed brusquely by. We shivered in a churchyard and huddled for heat, laid to rest secrets that set us free.
What I found was a future.