Saturday, 6 February 2016

Ovingham Bridge and an electric railway

I was obviously mulling over Colin Tapping, the Hexham Courant (see and Ovingham Bridge in my sleep. I awoke with this perfectly formed. So Mr Tapping acknowledges Prudhoe is larger than Hexham but his best advice is learn to live without Ovingham Bridge. Many of you have (his evidence?). In this expression of fraternal concern, there is this point to be made. Next time Hexham bridge falls, Mr Tapping will not be in the least bit put out if we suggest that Hexham learns to live without it. After all, they have the bypass bridge just to the west and Corbridge to the east. No difference at all to Prudhoe, Bywell and Wylam. Hexham could happily and without agitation do without Hexham bridge. This line of thought is clearly so preposterous that it leaves you wondering why has Mr Tapping written as he has? To cynically ensure his letter columns fill for weeks?

Mr Tapping's views however tap into something else deeply worrying about the north east in the 21st century. Our region seems entirely unable to pull together. When Prudhoe and Hexham can argue amongst themselves, when Ashington can stuff Morpeth, when Prudhoe's own are unable to agree without hesitation that a new road to the A69 is essential, when Sunderland and Newcastle cannot work together (instance Sunderland museums being pulled from the joint service), when people cannot agree who should chair the LEP, etc, etc, the North West and Yorkshire run circles around the North East. Middlesbrough and Tees Valley don't even want to be part of the North East. The reason they run circles around us is because they have learnt to come together and share. Greater Manchester (as in Tyne and Wear) has effectively been reconstituted and each council (large and small just like the EU) takes it in turns to chair. Is Nick Forbes in Newcastle willing to come up with that?

Problems both in Prudhoe and in the region may seem worringly complex and intractable. However I think they come down to simple roots. Will you trust others and will you share? If you won't, look forward to a lot more of the same and the best folk packing bags. On the horizon is another instance. Mr Tapping threw into the mix the electrification of the Tyne Valley line as a reason for Prudhoe not getting a new connection to the A69. I have news for him, according to Network Rail electrifying our railway is on a par with the Barton on Humber branch. Something not remotely on the radar. However doubtless he could retort "well at least the coming Arriva rail franchise, promises us new trains for the Pacers to go". News there as well, if you know which meetings and briefings to go to , which newsgroups to look at, it is now ABSOLUTELY CLEAR Arriva are not bringing new trains to the North East. The many new trains they are buying are going to Yorkshire and Lancashire. What you will see passing through Prudhoe station is something called a Class 158. A nice train in itself but here is the rub, already 26 years old and as I will attach a photo below, a type of train Tyne Valley communters were used to riding in the early 1990s. Until we can get our act together, this is what we are worth, other people's cast offs. Even so this will be a 90mph train running on a 65mph railway so the real challenge is as Mr Tapping suggests the infrastructure, but there is so much to do to it before wiring becomes good sense.

The winter of 1990/91 at Prudhoe and a Class 158 four car rake handles the commuter traffic. This is the new train Arriva will deliver to us in a year or so.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015


Is Trump going to be the Corbyn of the USA? Differences: Corbyn has become the leader of the Labour party, and the two people are as chalk to cheese, I would hope neither ever lead a nation but I would choose Corbyn over Trump any day. We need quality leadership from the USA, the world has always done well when that has been the case. Obama has done many things for the good, health care being one, he has not been forceful enough on the world stage but that does not mean Mr Trump would be a better option. Then you really would have an insane race war as IS seeks. Did anyone see Simon Sebag Montefiore on Spain last night on BBC4? A beautifully crafted documentary (1 of 3). Not difficult to discover how Islam flourished with all its outstanding skills (Cordoba made London look like a pigsty) by its military skills. So different from a religion which must refer itself back to the life and death of a failed carpenter who is God. That is the offence of Christianity, it is a religion breaking all religion's rules. What Trump utterly fails to understand is that whilst he might, if he tried be able to ask some sensible theological questions, to take the brutish tack he has of labelling and judging by the million is to lower himself into the cesspit all tyrrants of whatever religion do. In Moorish Spain, horrible sexual practice and power gaming at the top was the norm. A concubine (a sex slave) was valuable because they brought no dynastic baggage. They were a nothing who could be made a something for as long as Master wanted. That ethos was wrong a 1,000 years ago condemned by what Jesus knew. It is wrong today for the same reason.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Music favourites, quick checklist

Music Favourites Quick Checklist

This went to Facebook on

The creeds:


I vow to thee my county

Let all mortal flesh keep silence words no words

Be thou my vision

Mussorgsky Great Gate of Kiev

Mendelssohn : The Hebrides (Fingal's Cave) - Overture Memorably heard on the tannoy of Calmac's Columba wallowing in the swell off Fingal's Cave on a round Mull cruise in 1984.


Der heimliche Aufmarsch  Hans Eisler

Bella Ciao politically I am for equality of opportunity which does not mean we are all similar, I believe in diverse lives, but not a diversity which cloaks bullying as culture. Fascism, Nazism, Islamisation, they are the same, evil.  My choice for Bella Ciao is an Italian priest singing it in Church. What memories he had?

The Socialist ABC

Land of the Pennine God by Mike Donald on his North by North East Album, a Settle Carlisle piece and darned difficult to find online. I have the LP.

Spanish Ladies Sarah Blasko (into the world of sea shanties, the song of the waters)

Both sides of the Tweed Hogg and sung at

The Yew Tree Battlefield Band

Jock o Hazeldean in some measure because this is a short cut into debating the Border Ballads and Tynedale. Another Auden case of missed locations.

"Wha'll be King but Cherlie?" Silly Wizzard version I can enjoy very much music from Irish republicans and Jacobites. I can understand how it works but don't assume I agree. I know which side I would have been on in the 1715, and 1745. And I know which way my vote, if I had one, would have gone in 1706. I am a British Unionist.

Related "names"  Hey, Johnnie Cope by Ewan MacColl

and Bonnie Dundee

Parcel of Rogues  Corries

St Laurence O'Toole

Dark Iniseoghain     Deanta (more or less anything from them)

The Old Ways Loreena McKennitt (most of what she does although I do hold it against it her that she has never played in the Anglo-Scottish Borders). Note this song refers to Clare, a mix that is sacred to me.

Dante's Prayer by Loreena has to be listed

Bonny Portmore by Loreena we love TREES discussion

Hot asphalt a Joe Plunkett song  this one is done by the Dubliners

Johnny Jump Up Gaelic Storm

The Shoals of Herring Ewan MacColl version which directly links Great Yarmouth and Shields and thereby the two rivers so much of life has revolved around. I will always attend to songs of the sea. Also Come all you gallant fishermen  "Norfolk Boys and Lads from Peterheid, Buckie Chiels and Men from Shields". These were Britons.

Heart of the Ocean by Gaelic Storm

Patriot Game (actually anti war, anti the IRA and nationalism) Dubliners

Goodbye Saigon Billy Joel

Goodbye Saigon Wil Ferrell

Holding out for a Hero Bonnie Tyler

Casino Royale


In praise of limestone   Auden  (the version with the dildo!)

There is an amount of Auden out there to listen to but not Amor Loci or New Year Letter though bits are in which is thoroughly Pennine biased.

The Grand Inquistor, Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gielgud's monologue.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Nasty Party

I love enthusiasts, passionate people but I hate nastiness. For quite some time the Nasty Party has been a phrase. People have used it on my timeline. The Nasty Party is cross party. Yesterday a wheelchair using Independent newspaper reporter was viilified by the crowd at GMEX. Other neutrals were affected. The protests outside GMEX do not impress me, if they have a good case, they do not need nastiness, nor egg throwing. There is a lobby that use Facebook thinking they can call either for a new election now, or Scottish independence quick time. All of which is a refusal to accept democracy. It is fair to say some Tory politicians are out of touch, many might say the Corbynites are too (and will be disappointed as their leader does a Tsipras). Teresa May apparently spent £1,400 on her conference dress complete with gold zip. Totally out of touch and her speech whilst right to worry about the scale of immigration and the challenge of cohesiveness was wrong on the matter of economic effect and since it attracted the ire of the Institute of Directors who called it irresponsible, not serious politics beyond her pitching for leadership. So I don't like Mrs May but it is not about nastiness, it is about reasonable debate. In her audience were immigrants and the children of immigrants. Two Tory MPs in my consciousness refer to that heritage Boris Johnson and Guy Opperman. Wrapping up, honestly, if being nasty gives you a hit, if you think this party or that is The Nasty Party, quietly remove yourself from my Facebook friend list.
(from my Facebook timeline)

Monday, 28 September 2015

Low life (not the Low Light at North Shields)

At one point in the weekend's three church services (ordination and retirement, of a Baptist minister and an Anglican Cathedral Dean) and two church meals there was some consideration of Jesus being with the low life, tax collectors and prostitutes. It is to me a key question: I believe we are called to turn from sin, to turn from belittling others. But we might rapidly think that means no to tax collection and prostitution. Yet tax collectors are essential. One of my FB friends who I have actually met several times lobbies for sex worker rights and protection. Perhaps I am more low life than high life anyway and glad of it. I can be happy at the end of a railway platform. One person I follow on Twitter is Frejadottir. What would Jesus say if he encountered her? Would it be no big deal, lets chat, what you wear is none of my business? Would he be concerned lest the children were upset (think children's comics)? Could he be critical by simply saying this is an extreme end of fashion, personal vanity? Or might he think (as I tend) that dressing this way is a form of art with your body? We can be sure Jesus never met a rubberbeing, he did however meet with a lady of the street who shocked those around by covering him in Oil. and .

And if you follow the Bible link you will see that the different treatments of the event quickly take you to the challenges of the Historical Jesus. Yet the story is so extra-ordinary, so counter intuitive that I personally believe it. Some event like this happened. Focus as well on "belittling". Does that not actually go a long way. Were'nt the Hadj pilgrims belittled in the care shown for their safety? There is no doubt a proportion of pornography belittles but the religious person may judge that more belittles than actually happens. If you are brought into the country and forced to be a prostitute you have been belittled. But if you freely choose that path, is there any belittling going on?

Sunday, 27 September 2015

My Christianity

I will point out how simple my Christianity is. Relationship is central, that's about the Trinity. God is on the receiving end of everything, that's Incarnation and crucifixion. Love is the parent of justice, not the other way around. The exercise of power is about service and stewardship. I believe those four key thoughts could answer many of the challenges of the modern world.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Jeremy Corbyn

Today it is very likely Jeremy Corbyn will become the new leader of the Labour Party. Listening in the last 30 minutes on R4 whilst I will wish him well, I remain uneasy. Simply because, and we shall see whether he distances himself from this, it looked as if it was being presented as a victory for the Working Class. Maybe it is that but to believe that is a basis for winning the country is so divisive. I am simply not interested in arguing whether I am Working Class, and for Fiona the same goes, although her railway worker parentage is impeccable. There is every difference between leading a group who think blue collar unionised workers are the most important bloc in society to whom all others are answerable and against that running your politics on the basis of appealing to EVERYONE concerned that we live in a land of equal opportunity, where the sick and vulnerable are properly cared for, which has decent public services, which works hard to eliminate poverty and is a serious player in world leadership. To do all of the last requires wealth and there should be no tension in not being a blue collar worker and in being able to support the Labour Party. And raw numbers will play out in any event, presumably the Corbynites will not know what to do with the self-employed? They (including both of us) who are 15% I believe of the workforce and growing and who if the Labour Party are ever to hold power again, they will have to persuade. And none of this even mentions the mountain facing Labour called the SNP.