Friday, 11 September 2009

Feedback Friday :: Naked Prejudice

bulk :: 13st 5
exploratory rides :: 2
other exercise :: zero
tobacco intake :: elevated
insolvency threat level :: elevated
pages of The Da Vinci Code remaining :: 276
new friends made :: 7
new friends lost :: 1

Before I get back into the thrills, spills and humiliations of life in London, I thought I’d like to properly say goodbye to the North East.

On the whole, as I'm sure made clear, I didn’t enjoy my time up there. Although my sample jar – sociologically speaking – was clearly only partially full, I found it a suffocatingly small-minded place. I mean, actually like no other place I’ve ever been – quite striking in its negative incapability, with vast tides of the population seeming to exist in a state of almost intentional closed-mindedness, in a way that you just don’t see down here, not to that extent. In London, I think, people exist. Even if it’s often a rather confused, haphazard or accidental existence, forced by numbers. Up there they just drift through their soulless concrete cake-boxes like colossal graceless whales sucking up Gregg’s pasties and Bacardi Breezers, trading nods which sit firmly on the fence between suspicion and simple-minded friendliness; the men with their stone cold, lifeless eyes, their giant elastic guts thumping through their football strips like they’re perpetually starting a fight, jutting thighward like enormous chin-pillows of flab; the women with their tiny pinched mouths and surly ashtray children, Brian tattooed fecklessly to each and every neck; and everywhere, harsh empty faces slipping apathetically down hollow skulls, like dirty wet rags in a raw, unforgiving wind. You know?

But aside from all that, I wanted to say something positive about the area. To end on an upstroke.

The first thing I’ll really miss about the North East is the glorious coastline, which is raw and feisty and at points breathtakingly beautiful.

Actually, that’s it.

But something happened in the last week – on my penultimate ride to South Shields, I found something I’d hitherto missed, something which made me return with my camera for the last ride, two days before I came back to London.

It was this...


I just spent over an hour preparing the photographs I took. Around twenty of them, there are. And there isn't enough internet connection here to upload them. Not at the moment. Ah, well. All the more for next week.

Fresh start next week, you know.

Aaah, London.

In the meantime, have an exciting weekend, won't you, and happy 9/11!

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Anonymous said...

Bonjour La Bête,
I hope you sent a copy to the North East Tourism Board. They will love it, it's so picturesque.
Uncle did

Anonymous said...

Have you watched Anvil yet? I'm getting terribly bored of waiting for you to thank me for telling you to watch it whilst crying and telling me what an ace mate I am.

Swineshead said...

That passage about North England was nasty but brilliant... I might reread it.

Reminded me of Kingdom Come by Ballard. Not a great book, but good all the same.

The Princess said...

One other good thing about the north; they know how to make a cup of tea.

Anonymous said...

I'm not from the North of England, but, if I was, I'd be totally offended that some Southern type spent a little time there and came to the conclusions you did. Yes, the negative things you mentioned about the place are probably true but you, as an outsider, are seemingly incapable of seeing the positive things.

I'm sorry that you lack the imagination and the sensitivity to be able to see them.

Also, London is a shite city. There are far better cities in Europe to live in. Berlin, for one.

Anonymous said...

Well, it could be worse. It could be Swindon :-)

gongman said...

Jeez Bete are you going to return "oooop north" anytime soon....
The lynch mobs will be out and baying for blood.Better hide your identity,maybe by wearing a paper,on second thoughts,perhaps not.

But you are right in your descriptions.

I left England in 1992,and that was before the rot set in.Here I can wander hither and thither in safety,go to bed leaving the front door unlocked and I never lose my car keys.They are in the ignition,where they belong.

ellenscult said...

I live in the not-so-North North East. Well, in York. It's pretty sophisticated compared with, ooh, my older sister's summer holidays in Redcar.

And I have to say... be prejudiced! Call these people on their cigarette-smoking, beer-drinking xenophobia. The beaches aren't enough by themselves to make up for, ooh, anything apart from lack-of-sand.

And when you're back in London, please go to exhibitions and shows and let me know what I'm missing by being stuck in the North, if not (quite) the North East.

If you're in York, I promise not to freak out if you want to meet up for lunch. I'll even be the one wearing a bag on my head.

Best of luck!

the fly in the web said...

Why be commonplace and make the obligatory mention of 9/11? It's getting to be like Kennedy's assassination..and yes, I can remember where I was and what I was doing for both occasions, but then I can remember where I was and what I was doing when Geoffrey Boycott made his hundreth century..

LilLadyJo88 said...

So you are back "down south," as you would say, however you are still classed and "up country," to me being down the other end :P Well done on the weight loss, happy blogging!

Kate said...


I have to confess I liked reading the descriptions of the North - may not have been entirely fair but it was damn funny. I'll keep my eyes out for you in London

Kate x

CarolH said...

I live in the North East and although, firstly offended by your comments, I couldn't help but agree (to a certain extent). I'm not from the north east so I'm allowed to be. I can't help but feel I should point out the positives of the people and also the negatives of 'cockneys'. People in the north east are, in my own opinion, probably of the most friendliest you will meet. If you were lying spark out on the street, someone would help you. In London, however, they would simply step over you. I Love London but this love doesn't extend to its inhabitants (and no, I shouldn't be judgemental I know). Most people from London have a misguided sense of confidence and cockiness (is this where cockney comes from?). Obviously this doesn't include you La Bete!!!!! And also, if you hang around the likes of South Shields, its no wonder you're of this opinion.

CarolH said...

I take it all back!!!! Just caught some skanky scumbag pissing on the street outside my house. I hate the North East. carry on.

Anonymous said...

Happy 9/11? Bete, I think you need a dose of humility and compassion. You are verging on being really offensive, and I usually find your blog very witty and entertaining. Try and take it easy on the Northerners, Christians, and anyone who died in terrorist attacks, OK?

Maria in Oregon

Misssy M said...

Everybody loves coming home.

Nicky said...

You did pretty much keep yourself inside your bubble the whole time you were here though, I thought. I was sitting in a cafe in Newcastle the day after reading your blog on the ethnicity balance in the NE, and as a result I counted the proportion of white caucasians to pass the window in 10 mins. About 60%. It's probably better for you to be back where you feel less prejudiced: it can eat your soul away. So, enjoy (I spent yesterday walking along the Coastal path near Howick - glorious).

OOAK babies by Mina said...

Chin up love, and stop yourself before you get in that destructive phase again.
No more cups of 'bitter', hear?!

Anonymous said...

I will never understand why some people take criticism, or unflattering observations, of a place or country so personally. Like when I tell Americans that England is far more liberal-minded than the States, I'm treated as if I've committed blasphemy! I know what you mean about London. I lived in LA for a year and hated everything about it - mostly the people. There... I said it.