When Mike Hodges made Get Carter in 1971, he could have been reasonably sure the watching world would believe that the 'cultural offer' of Newcastle upon Tyne extended not much further than the Pelaw Hussars Juvenile Jazz Band. Of course, even then, NE1 had Morden Tower, the Hatton Gallery, Alan Plater, Sid Chaplin, Lindisfarne, and plenty more besides - though Sting still hadn't quite got himself going, career-wise, and the Sage and Baltic were not quite conceivable.
But, any road... a bit like that Jack Carter (only in fondness, mind you - nowt bitter), I've got a spot or two of business in Newcastle over the next couple of weeks: business that will see us on the train from King's Cross to Central Station and back more than once. (Used to be my very favourite journey, that, until National Express succeeded in making me miss Great North Eastern Railways... Still, unlike Carter, I trust at least that I'll make it back hyem okay.)
Them spots of business, then: I'm reading, (from wuh buke, Crusaders, y'knaa) - and alongside the Burra's Richard Milward and Hartlepool's Michael Smith - at a charitable music/books event called The Good Vibration on Thursday November 27 (large-file PDF flyer here); these literary bits being scheduled between performances by various popular beat combos. A new challenge for me, this - quite a thrill, and I hope I can manage to charm the popular-music-loving crowd without getting plastic bottles of urine tossed at wor head, or otherwise going down about as well as old man Lawrence Ferlinghetti at The Last Waltz.
And then on Saturday December 6 I'm doing a bit for the Northern Lights Film Festival, which I've been pleased to use and endorse since its founding in 2003. In that case I'll be chairing a panel called Shock Horror: How to make a low-budget genre film (3.30 – 4.30pm, Tyneside Cinema), the key text under discussion being the movie Mum & Dad, represented by Steven Sheil and Lisa Trnovski, its director and producer.
All welcome, as they say.