A day in Newcastle (pet)


So, here I am in Newcastle and this is the view from my hotel room window. Twenty years after living here, I’ve been sent to report for the Telegraph on how it’s changed. The transformation is astonishing. All the tumbledown areas by the Quayside have been transformed into flats, or new business quarters, or restaurants. Or the Law Courts. There is no Disco Boat bobbing on the Tyne. Instead, on the opposite bank is the giant Baltic and the beautiful shiny Sage concert hall, which looks like some sort of oceanic shell-like creature.I was sad, though, that my old (and first) office at Tyne Tees TV has been demolished. Tyne Tees was such a great place for a first job – I was allowed to rush around and be enthusiastic, and was shown the way by brilliant people in the TV industry.

One of the people we interviewed was the designer Nigel Cabourn. Quite a character, is Nigel. Been in the business for years, he sells £2,500 parkas and has the country’s largest order for Harris Tweed.


He loves vintage menswear – he’s got 4000 pieces in an amazing collection including wartime lifejackets and WW1 caps. His latest designs are inspired by stuff worn by Robert Scott on his last, doomed trip to the Antarctic. His office is in the back of his garden, and this is what you see if you open a door on his back wall. Yes! This is where Newcastle Cricket Club plays! Isn’t that astonishing?

The whole reason we were in Newcastle was to report on the new style and zest within the city, and see whether the old cliches are maintained. When I told friends I was going up there, they all started going way-hey, talking about bonny lasses and the Blaydon Races,  and calling me Pet. Seems as if Newcastles’ image issues lie largely in the head of people outside the city, not within it.

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