I am delighted to be contributing to Northern Insight, Michael Grahamslaw's informed window on the world of the North East.
I should try to avoid mention of Brexit as we are all totally Brexit-ed out, realising that the only certainty is that no one has a clue what the outcome will be. Soft, hard, in a custom free zone and with an Irish border or not and how to value the £1m paid to the UDP.
Radio 4 is trying to lighten up the subject or inject some humour in it with a 2 week series by BBC correspondent Chris Morris entitled ‘Brexit: A Guide for the Perplexed’. Whether the wild scenarios presented make us better prepared for life out of the EU is doubtful.
What intrigued me was the title of the programme. Some will have recognised that ‘The Guide to the Perplexed’ is a famous treatise by Maimonides, the leading Jewish Spanish medieval philosopher in the 12th Century. A prolific writer, his Guide aimed to challenge the anthropomorphic view of the Deity, and to reconcile Aristotelean allegorical thinking on physics and metaphysics with the creationism in the Bible. It was written in Arabic entitled Dalalat al-haïrin and translated into Latin, Hebrew and Italian.
Interesting to note that those born in the Year of the Dog are said to be short-tempered, stubborn and argumentative as well as honest, faithful, loyal and with a strong sense of responsibility.Barry Speker
I hope borrowing this title does not mean Brexit is so esoterically complex; particularly because we are relying upon the likes of David Davis to make sense of it.
The Newcastle Chinese community treated us to the usual series of colourful and delicious events, this year celebrating 2018 as the Year of the Dog. This has involved me in banquets at Gosforth Palace, Landmark, Palace Garden and Sky as well as my party piece of after dinner speaking in Cantonese.
Interesting to note that those born in the Year of the Dog are said to be short-tempered, stubborn and argumentative as well as honest, faithful, loyal and with a strong sense of responsibility. Well known Dog Year people include Sir Winston Churchill and Donald Trump as well as Madonna and Michael Jackson. Note any recognisable consistency?
Who needs Cannes? We now have the first Newcastle International Film Festival from March 29th to April 1st headlined as A Carnival of World Cinema. The brainchild of Jacque Miller-Charlton, the festival will feature films from around the world with presentations of not Oscars, BAFTAs, Tony’s or Golden Globes but ‘Victorems’. Why these are not ‘Geordie-ems’ is a mystery.
I hope the events are well supported and live up to the promise of glamour and magic. There is more to it than Get Carter and I Daniel Blake. Will The Darkest Hour and Three Billboards be featuring?
The Angel of the North is now 20 years old and stands as a testament to the vision and ambition of Gateshead Council. Anthony Gormley’s statue was erected despite local and national controversy and the ‘Gateshead Stop The Statue’ campaign. Some locals nicknamed it the Gateshead Flasher.
However the 600 ton structure, made in Hartlepool, is now a landmark of the North East and listed as an ‘Icon of England’.
Gormley explains the three-fold significance of the angel as a reminder of two centuries of mining beneath the site, the transition from an industrial to an information age, and a focus of our ‘evolving hopes’. An amazing impact for a rusty robot and all for a mere £800,000.