Monday, 19 May 2008

Supper # 17 & 18 - Newcastle

A nightmare ensued when I attempted to depart from Bishop Auckland. The van suddenly was just too big for the carpark and cars kept on getting in the way of my attempts to turn Jimmy loose. A het up neighbour came out shouting the odds about this not being a parking lot - like I'd wormed my way in here for the hell of it. I made an impossibly nice remark and she suddenly looked very embarrassed and tried to help. Too late sister - I had to get to the BBC.

Past the Angel of the North I glided, over the Tyne, past St James' Park and the Freemen of the Toon's cows and into another carpark - this one with a lot more space and a much friendlier reception. Jonathan Miles was interviewing me for the mid-morning show. I sat in the van, he played the customer and we cooed over the various different chocolate I had on board. Within minutes it was over and I was up out of there, following the heaven-sent Lillian back to her flat in her BT van.

Lillian is a friend of my auntie's from their annual pilgrimages to Lourdes. She is the kind of person you'd want with you in a crisis. As she told me - "There are no problems, only solutions" and spent the whole time I was with her fixing all my logistical conundrums: Where to plug the van in - "oh no bother, Paul up the road has a drive and his Mam's just phoned to say we can go round there in ten minutes" / Where to buy local milk - "there's a shop a few streets away - jump in the van and follow me" / Board spray? Carpet stains? Wifi connection? Car wash? Each question barely had a chance to leave my lips before Lillian was already tackling it.

I had two meals with Lillian. Each was perfectly laid out, all ready and waiting as I entered the room. Night one we had starters of avocado, tomato, lettuce, ham, cubes of Red Leicester and coleslaw, then minty lamb chops with sweet potato mash and spinach with peas. A huge glass of rose sat alongside a little goblet of limoncello.

We talked about the difference between Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesborough - and how 'Borough is classed as the worst place to live in Britain. Religion came up and I heard about the excuses she hears as a magistrate - "Allah told me to do it" and about the local priest who has no sense of taste or smell. (What a bummer). Since job cuts at BT Lillian now does the job that used to require ten people and she drives all over the north and Scotland getting stuff done. Londoners get on her wick and she finds them really unhelpful and with barely anyone speaking English. I'm shocked at this - I don't especially find Londoners unhelpful...but I suppose I'm used to the routine and where to pitch my expectation. Geordies do seem pretty frickin' lovely - as someone told me "a village sense of community, but in a big city".

The next evening I was treated to a 'classic Geordie tea' - fish, chips, mushy peas, carrots and bread & onion sauce. Sadly I couldn't finish it and had to slope off to bed for an hour before stealing off into the night to pick up Selina - the first of my friends to come and find me - from the train and onto Tynemouth...


Anonymous said...

Like the sound of the traditional Geordie dinner but what's all this about the huge glass of rosè and a limoncello chaser!?!That's a hell of a 'depth charge' Ferdi & I weren't even going for those sort of combo's on our BBB (Bergamo Bar Bender) Chuffed you saw the Angel of the North. Don't forget to pick up some Newcy Brown - might come in handy- honest! Love Beps.
ps- do you sign off like that (love Beps) or is that not in the blog eticate...I don't know!

Petra Barran said...

No etiquette round here Be-Bop - just no swearing! XXX