Archives for the month of: July, 2015

I’ve just listened to the latest episode of Desert Island Discs. Noel Gallagher shared his history and his thoughts with Kirsty Young.


I could sit and listen to him for hours as I love hearing his thoughts on music. He should have his own radio station.

I second guessed most of his choices (Smiths, Pistols and the Beatles, of course) but was surprised by Let’s Dance by David Bowie.


It was wonderful to hear Voodoo Ray by A Guy Called Gerald on Radio 4. The song has great cultural and personal political significance to a certain generation.

When The Ronettes’ Be My Baby started I realised for the first time (d’oh!) that must have been an inspiration for The Jesus and Mary Chain. Play the opening lines of Be My Baby and Just Like Honey and judge for yourself!


The current episode of Desert Island Discs featuring poet and artist Imtiaz Dharker is wonderful. She shares snippets from her life and work and tells us about some of her favourite sounds.


Her first choice, the Sachal Jazz Ensemble’s version of Take Five had me bouncing round the house.

Desert Island Discs is the perfect radio programme template. Life, the universe and everything can be discussed with presenter Kirsty Young.

Dharker discussed Pakistan, poetry, Scotland, marriage, India, family, documentary film making, Wales, art and brought along great music.

Listen again

and check out Sachal Studios videos on Y** T*be


Fancy theatre in the open air? Fancy paying what you think it deserves? I think you do. Can I suggest Theatre Space North East’s Plays in the Park 2015 season? I just have!

This theatre company specialises in theatre alfresco in Sunderland’s parks. Ten days ago I watched Hamlet in Roker Park. It was amazing. I became so engrossed in the play’s final scene,  I missed Queen Gertrude’s death throes. This was because  I was willing Hamlet to win the sword-fight. Silly I know but this shows the power of the performance.  I knew the protagonist was going to die but that didn’t stop me wanting our tragic hero to triumph in front of me.


The company is set to perform Treasure Island in Mowbray Park on the 1st and 2nd of August and Twelfth Night in Barnes Park 13th to 16th August.

For more information about Theatre Space North East visit

For my full review of Hamlet visit

Last Tuesday:  7/7/15. A time to remember what I observed on that day ten years ago.

I was one of the many confused and bewildered London workers trying to phone or text from central London streets that morning. What was going on?

Then we found out what was going on.

Last Tuesday I had not one but two poetry appreciation groups to attend. The first was the poetry appreciation group of the mid-Northumberland U3A. If you don’t know about the U3A, you’re missing out. The University of the Third Age has almost 350,000 members in the UK! See for more information.

The poetry group meet near Longhirst once a month and share favourite poems over coffee and biscuits. It was wonderful to see and hear the similarities between this group and our Poetry with Friends groups in North Tyneside.


I shared my own work as well as introducing the group to poems by Mary Oliver and Vicky Arthurs. Members also shared Heaney’s The Tollund Man and Rhythms for Sonny by Easton Lee.

easton lee

I hadn’t read Lee, a Chinese-Jamaican poet before. I also hadn’t heard about Centre 42, playwright Arnold Wesker’s  idea in 1960 for spreading the best of culture beyond the elite. Thanks to mid-Northumberland U3A for enlightening me! I thoroughly enjoyed my morning.


In the evening we had our final Tuesday evening Poetry with Friends before our summer break. We gathered once more in the Station Masters’ garden next to Whitley Bay metro and shared work including Long Lion Days and Days by Philip Larkin plus work by David Bateman and new original work by group members Alan, Elizabeth, David and Linda.


We talked about 7/7 as three of us were in London that day. One poem shared had the line “London’s Bent Citadels” and I misheard a poet’s name, mistaking it for Pam St Clements, actress from soap opera Eastenders. Jason Connery and Hilary Mantel popped up in conversation too.

Sadly Larkin’s  “hammer of heat” did not hit us. We were freezing and wound up finishing early and legging it to nearby pub, The Rockcliffe to defrost.

The weekly pub quiz was running. We should have entered as I reckon we’d have cleaned up. But what would we have called ourselves? Why  “Are ‘Friends’ Poetic?” of course. It would be a nod to 1980s culture when pub quizzes were all the rage!


Poetry with Friends at The Mission in North Shields will return in September. Meanwhile our Thursday group will meet in the Station Masters’ Garden this Thursday at 11 am. If you would like to join us please book a place by contacting Gail on 07752356880 or email


Still nodding my head and tapping my fingers against last night’s pint. The evening lingers….


I made the short walk in glorious sunshine last night to Whitley Lodge Snooker Club. Why? To see a debut gig by a local band from North Shields, I See Red.
Ah…the debut gig… I know the feelings well. Fear & excitement beforehand, disbelief at being onstage then that wonderful waterchute comedown fuelled by lager, band bear hugs and slaps on the backs from mates.
I See Red ‘s line up is: Joshua on vocals, Dean on bass, Rob on lead and Martin on rhythm guitars with TJ on drums.
The band’s short set comprised of three covers and one original composition. Cover versions might seem like the easy option but new bands should be cautious performing them live. Classic songs covered by fledgling musicians will show up the cracks in the newly-formed bands.


I must stress this was  NOT the case with I See Red. The band are tight, polished and full of life. They owned their covers of Animal I have Become by Three Days Grace, Your Betrayal by Bullet for my Valentine and Toxicity by System of a Down.


Their fourth and final song was original and I look forward to hearing more of their own material.
I See Red made a wonderful noise and looked fantastic on stage. To find out where and when they play next visit



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