Amy became the reason I wanted to stay, at least for a little while. They say it’s all about the people. Well, we’ve got our mix; just take a walk down King Street on a Friday night. But that’s not her scene, nor mine: bass, synth and roid-rage lads spilling from club doors, all Geordie Shore wannabes, pastiche of a bad pastiche, rattling down streets pocked with Wrigley’s Extra, seagull shit and a confetti of Gregg’s steak bakes. Tell you what, though: I’ve never had a bad night in Shields. There’s beauty in the most unlikely of places. When Amy comes, I’ll show her.
I’ll take her to The Groyne, watch fishing boats trundle in and out the Tyne. Wave at the DFDS ferry, voyaging to Amsterdam. I’ll take her in my arms, make a ‘Jack and Rose: Angels of the North’, spread out, welcoming the world at the very edge of England.
Herd Groyne Lighthouse
I’ll take her up the Leas to Souter Lighthouse, tell her the urban legend of the man who buried his dog there: its bark still biting throught the rasp of the wind. Try and spook her a bit: tell her how, on foggy nights, I sometimes hear it over the boom of the horn.
I’ll take her up to the old windmill on Cleadon Hills, the place I call the ‘hinge’ of the county, where Mackem rubs shoulders with Geordie.
“Time is like a ‘History’ folder on a computer,” I’ll say, “Nothing ever vanishes for ever; it just gets piled up so that all we see is what’s most recent. Just look at this…” I’ll point to the fields, the trees, the rooftops, splayed out like circuit boards. “Time was, when people would look out over this vista at a sky smudged by industry. Those days are gone, but the river runs on, the land still listens. It’s up to us to choose what it hears.”
“Amy”, I’ll say, “This whole world is spread out in front of us…”
And I’ll leave it hanging, hoping the enigma will seem mysterious, charming – enough that she won’t think of the final scene in Fight Club.
And she’ll take my hand, and she’ll squeeze it, and I’ll know that underneath those contact lenses, underneath her eyes, gleaming like Sprite cans, there’s fragility and hurt and longing.
“It’s beautiful”, she’ll say.
Jake Campbell is from the coastal town of South Shields. He graduated with Distinction for his Creative Writing MA at the University of Chester. In 2011 he won New Writing North’s Andrew Waterhouse Award, and in May 2012, Red Squirrel Press published his debut pamphlet of poetry, Definitions of Distance. www.jakecampbell1988.blogspot.co.uk Follow Jake on Twitter: @jakecampbell88 ; Amy Mackelden is from the Isle of Wight, and did the long distance thing with Newcastle for a long time before committing, which she finally did in 2008. She won a Northern Promise Award from New Writing North in 2011 and her daily microfiction blog, www.july2061.com, was shortlisted in the Blog North Awards 2012. Follow Amy on Twitter: @july 2061
Newcastle: My Heart In A Hashtag Part 1