Thursday, 9 December 2010

Pallion Aldi

We’ve now visited every station in the Tyne and Wear Metro network. We’re totally exhausted, but I feel like we’ve accomplished something really special. 60 stations over the course of two days is no mean feat. We didn’t just pass through them, we got out and had a proper look around. We’ve been to Gateshead, Jarrow, Sunderland and South Shields. We hurtled almost as far south as Durham, and all the way north into the Northumbrian foothills. We even visited an airport! Newcastle's airport is a funny little place. Whilst London airports are filled with posh perfumeries and sushi bars, Newcastle airport has a Greggs!

The last stop

I’ve started to collect statistics about the Metro network. It’s apparently the only underground system in the country where you can use your mobile phone. All the signs for Wallsend – or Segedunum – are written in English and Latin to celebrate the influence of the Romans in the area. And we’re learning a great deal more from fellow travellers. Every day, people come up to us wanting to tell us what THEY consider to be the most interesting places to visit within an area. Some try to encourage us to visit a local church, or a beach, or beauty spot, but one lady today said she felt we’d love Pallion because it had an Aldi! What she forgot to mention was that there was the most astonishing scrap yard by the side of the Metro tracks in Pallion, which I instantly fell in love with. Sadly, I couldn’t find Aldi!

Alistair on ferry

I did feel I was being recognised by strangers, however. Alistair said he’d seen a number of people trying to wave at me, and when we got off at one station, a whole carriage full of elderly people were waving like lunatics! That's what comes on being on the local news every night!

The highlight of my day was definitely a ferry trip across the Tyne from Southshields to Northshields. I don’t know why I found the experience quite so moving; perhaps it’s because it seemed so genteel. We sat with a group of old ladies who were nattering away and I suppose I imagined the same journey being made come rain or shine way back into the previous century, and perhaps even earlier than that. I like routine. I like things that never change.

Heaps of snow

My great friend Sam sent me a wonderful email this morning, which included a document written by the composer William Byrd in 1588, in an attempt to persuade everyone to learn to sing. His final point is somewhat questionable, but he was completely on the money in every other respect!

FIRST, singing is a knowledge easely taught and quickly learned, where there is a good master and an apt scoller.
SECOND, the exercise of singing is delightfull to Nature, and good to preserve the health of Man.
THIRD, it doth strengthen all parts of the brest, and doth open the pipes.
FOURTH, it is a singular good remedie for a stutting and stamering in the speech.
FIFTH, it is the best meanes to procure a perfect pronunciation, and to make a good Orator.
SIXTH, it is the onely way to know where Nature hath bestowed the benefit of a good voyce: which guift is so rare, as there is not one among a thousand, that hath it: and in many, that excellent guift is lost, because they want Art to express Nature.
SEVENTH, there is not any Musicke of Instruments whatsoever, comparable to that which is made of the voyces of Men, where the voyces are good, and the same well sorted and ordered.
EIGHTH, the better the voyce is, the meeter it is to honour and serve God therewith: and the voyce of man is to be employed chiefly to that ende.

350 years ago, and Pepys was awoken early with the news that one of the ships in the Navy's fleet had been caught in a gale, and had sunk with the loss of twenty men. Pepys spent the day in Westminster delivering this particular message to various people, most notably Lady Sandwich, who engaged him in conversations about beauty. Readers who have been worrying about Pepys' mother’s bladder stones will be relieved to hear that she was well when he called in on her later in the day. All good... except the boat sinking, which was bad.

1 comment:

  1. If you've never seen it before, while you're up in Newcastle you should really try and catch some rapper sword dancing - traditional dancing from the north east of England and (in my biased opinion) the most exciting form of folk dancing there is!

    There's lots of teams in the area, try http://www.kingsmen.co.uk/ for a start (and some video).

    And if you're thinking that that can't possibly fit into a film about the Metro... the rapper team I belong to has danced on trains, trams, and the NYC Subway so I doubt the Metro would present a challenge :)

    All your writing about Tyne & Wear is making me homesick... looking forward to my trip north at Christmas.

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